On November 3, 2005 I was butchered. On September 30, 2010 I was butchered for the second time. The first time as most of you know was during an ovary removal…by a doc whose name I won’t reveal quite yet, just in case. Now during that surgery, there is no question that the doctor punctured my intestine with the trocar (a spear type intrument that pokes the initial hole in the belly for laproscopic procedures). He failed to note this 5 mm hole, even though he knew he had gone thru the omentum which is a filmy covering that lays on top of the intestines. He also ended up having to cut me open (laparotomy) due to finding adhesions in the pelvic cavity and not being able to get to the ovaries the way he needed to.
Now it may or may not matter to this scenario at all, but he was scheduled to leave on his family vacation some hours later (was his mind on the surgery or on his flight plans?). At any rate, he left me in ICU and went to Disneyland. For three days in ICU I grew more and more ill. High temperature, delirious, swelling, copious drainage from the incision. My husband kept telling the nurses, who said they had told the doctor on call for my original obgyn. The nurses were even getting angry that the group doctor wasn’t doing more. Finally on the fourth day a general surgeon was called in.
When she cut me open from breastbone to pubic bone, she was aghast at what she found. My abdominal cavity was so full of infection that my intestines were the consistency of tissue paper and literally fell apart in her hands in sections. But she could clearly see the hole that went thru one side of the small bowel thru the other right under the umbilicus. She didn’t understand how it was missed. My abdomen was left open for almost a year, first about softball sized opening, gradually to about a pingpong ball for my intestine to poke thru. I had a wound vac attached to drain the infection. I wore ostomy bags to collect waste. I had drainage tubes. I had central lines in my chest, peripheral lines in my clavical area, IV’s in my arms. I was fed intraveniously. I was in a coma and on a ventilator, as I went into respiratory failure due to the sepsis (blood infection). My family was told to get my affairs in order in the beginning. I endured around sixteen further surgeries to correct the damage, some to remove parts of bowel, some to debride the dead tissue. I developed necrotizing faciitis (flesh eating disease) in my abdomen. I had pneumonia (hospital acquired). I had many blood infections due to the various lines. I developed blood clots. I had to go thru physical and occupational therapy to try to build my body back up. My hair fell out due to stress and nutritional deficiency. My electrolytes were dangerously out of whack at different times. I spent most of a year in three different hosptials, including the burn unit and a nursing home type floor.
I missed holidays and birthdays. My son graduated high-school and left for Marine bootcamp and I wasn’t able to celebrate with him and the family or prepare him or send him off as I would have had I been able. The day he left for bootcamp, I truly believed I may never see him again, and I could barely get my arms around him to hug tight enough, then I sobbed like a baby.
There were moments during that year I can’t remember, mainly during the first three months…its pretty foggy. But thru it all I can vividly remember the pain…horrendous pain. I mean I was eviscerated, literally. My insides were on the outside. When they would change dressings I would be screaming in my head, if not outloud (but there was plenty of that as well). The couple of times they pulled my vent tube out were extremely traumatic, suctioning was a nightmare…as they disconnect you from the vent and you literally cannot breathe while they suction the mucus from your respiratory tract…I remember laying there, looking up at the respiratory therapist while he watched the tv on the wall while suctioning me. I was terrified and he wasn’t even looking at me, I wasn’t a human. During much of this time I felt non-human. There were periods where my hands were tied to the bed, for my own protection to keep me from pulling lines or tubes out, I can’t tell you how awful that sensation was. I felt like I was going insane, and in fact at one point they diagnosed me with drug induced psychosis and depression…well, duh!
In November 2006 the general surgeon was able to finally close my abdomen up, they also inserted a mesh to try to fix the abdominal wall because all my muscle tissue was gone from the flesh eating disease and all the surgeries, this mesh has since then failed and I believe contributes to the pain. I can’t tell you how thrilled I was to finally be closed up. I had scars like a map, no belly button and still had pain…but it was closed and my bowel was reconnected! I could eat! The pain gradually got worse and worse but I wanted to stay as far away from the medical field as I could, so I just took over the counter meds by the handful and limited my activity. Then in July of 2007 we were rear-ended in a car accident. I got whiplash (my neck was unstable from having neck surgery in 1999 and degenerative disk disease), I went thru a couple months of therapy for that, then was sent to a pain center where they started me on pain medications. I never heard of Pain Centers before, so was thrilled there was a place that gave medications for people in pain…not just injections which I had received in my neck years ago without relief. Meanwhile my abdominal pain continued to worsen. I saw my family doctor who said I would always have pain but did a CT scan, which just showed a large ventral hernia from breastbone to pubic bone. I went to the Cleveland Clinic and that surgeon said it was a shame, but that no doctor would touch me with a ten feet pole with the condition my insides were in. My abdomen is full of adhesions/scar tissue, all the organs are basically glued together. I’m not a candidate for surgery because the surgery would be too dangerous, probable perforations and possible death. That the only way a doc would go in was for life or death, as in the event of an obstruction or death of bowel or strangulation of bowel. So these doctors said all we could do is manage the pain and change my diet.
So at the end of that Summer, while at the pain clinic being checked for my neck meds, I asked those docs if they thought they could do anything about my abdominal pain. After their exam they said the pain was caused from many factors, the huge hernia, the adhesions, neuromas (little tumors on the ends of the nerves after being cut and resewn so many times) and just the movement of the intestines as they digest food (since they are glued to the abdominal wall and other organs)…it is a horrid pain, I can only describe as a burning, tearing, ripping and stabbing pain. It’s worse with any increased abdominal pressure, such as laughing, crying, sneezing, couging, blowing my nose or lifting or pulling, also with prolonged standing or sitting or walking. At any rate, these wonderful doctors put me on strong enough pain meds that it takes the pain from about an 8 to a 6…which means I live in constant severe pain…but it’s duller than when I don’t have the meds, and I’ll take it!
I have to watch what I eat, as anything gas producing kills me, I can’t eat lobster, shrimp, redmeat, raw veggies/fruits or anything high fiber. I spend most of my time in bed, on the computer, watching tv or reading. I work very little and its a sitdown job. I can’t do alot of things I used to do, like ride a bike, dance, hike or walk for long. My hernia makes my belly look about 7 months pregnant. I must wear an abdominal binder 24/7, and they are uncomfortable and hot. I can’t pull laundry out of the washer. I can’t run the vacuum. I can’t do alot of things. My husband and daughter must handle alot of the housework, and care of our three not quite trained dogs. (But I must say, my life wouldn’t be the same without these dogs, they are with me on my bed most of the time and provide me with companionship and affection when no one else can.)
So, all that sounds like enough tragedy…does it not? Well let me add a bit more. Now, I know alot of people do not believe in law suits. I never liked them either, until this happened. Now we have no money, so my husband went to a firm when I was still very ill, and for whatever reason they turned down the case and somehow my husband ended up with an attorney who did take it. It was filed within the 2 year time limit for medical malpractice cases. Then due to the many hoops one must jump thru in the state of Indiana to get a case like this to court it took until September 27, 2010 for it to go to trial. A jury trial, with seven jurors. Now, we don’t have money for a good attorney…do you think the doctor had money for a good attorney? HELL YES. His attorney had around 10 partners and many assistants. They had all this high tech stuff that looked impressive! Had 4 doctors testify on his behalf. Criticized our expert witness. Tried to make me sound like a drug seeking liar. Had the nerve to blame my fibromyalgia, claiming I had been on narcotics for that since 1997…which I was most certainly NOT. My lawyer was outgunned in my opinion. I don’t place blame on him, I mean he tried, but it was clear by day two that we were not making our case clear enough…my lawyer only called me, my husband and our expert witness to testify. That surgeon who spent so many surgeries fixing the damage? Yea, she refused to testify on my behalf, saying it was a mistake (she in fact herself has been sued more than 5 times I now find out). A mistake….yes, the whole trial his “people” kept calling this a mistake, a mal occurance, a recognized danger of the surgery. They kept yelling that I signed the consent KNOWING a perforation of an organ was a possible mal occurance of this surgery! I agree. I knew it could happen…but I also was told that should anything go wrong…someone would FIX IT!!!!
The wise jury of seven, took less than 45 minutes to find him NOT GUILTY of malpractice. When the verdict was read, that butcher doctor and his slimy lawyer smiled, laughed and patted each other on the back, then celebrated with the rest of their deceitful cronies, while we left the courtroom. Stunned. What the hell just happened? How? I cannot tell you the feeling. It was much like the rape victim being victimized allover again on the stand. That’s what they did to me. They used my past medical history to make this surgical “mistake” look like either my fault or not that big of a deal. At one point during the Butchers testimony he said he prays for me every night and that he was so happy when he saw me because I LOOK so good! Anyone who knows me, knows I am one tough cookie. I also have pride. I also try to look my best whenver I can. So, yes…I had combed my hair and put on mascara and a pants-suit and was standing erect. I had taken my pain meds so I could bear to sit thru this trial. Was I sposed to look my worst? Not comb my hair? I have a wheelchair, I could have used…but I don’t do that. I don’t show my agony to the whole world!!! Only my loved ones really know the extent of my pain. They see me crying almost daily, in the fetal position in bed. They see my limitations. I don’t want the worlds pity! I don’t want that bastards prayers! I WANT JUSTICE! He should fess up to what he did! Yes, the lawsuit was for money, as distasteful as that is! But I will have medical bills for the rest of my life due to this one event! FOREVER! I suffer every minute of everyday. I was owed restitution. Instead I got butchered, yet again.
My lawyer said we can’t appeal…and I figured, fine. But when I started looking stuff up, that doesn’t seem to be the case….but I’m still looking into that. If I can’t appeal, I have other things in mind. It won’t get me monetary restitution from him, but it may get me just a minutia of justice, even just mental. I need to make sure anybody who is thinking of going under the knife realizes the danger they are in, not to blindly trust their doctor. Really be careful about who you choose as your physician. Study about your illness or upcoming surgeries. Dont’ just go to Healthgrades.com and accept their rating of the doctor, because if they have settled cases out of court it wont’ be there, neither with most malpractice cases or info. I will try to educate people about that, and also try to change some of Indianas laws regarding malpractice, because quite frankly, they are bullshit.
So, here I am again, another Friday night in bed with the dogs, watching reruns. But I’m not dead yet. I have a fire in my gut of another kind. This isn’t over…like I told my friend Julz…”It aint over til the fat lady sings, and I haven’t even cleared my throat!”
Thank you for reading such a long post, I left some stuff out for lengths sake. Let me make it clear…I didn’t present every iota of this case nor was this doc found GUILTY of negligence. 😉
this blog is the property of tammy spice and tammy spice only
I will prevail. I will. Wait for it. You will know it when it happens.