News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to

Monday, August 18, 2008

You want WHO running your healthcare?

The incident touches many of our current political issues: teen-age drivers, health care, especially healthcare, law enforcement records, and insurance laws. And dealing with bureaucracies.

We were less than a hundred miles from Denver, just passing Fort Morgan on I-76 a few minutes after 7 p.m. the day after Christmas. A long string of emergency vehicles was lined up on the right shoulder with yellow lights flashing and flood lights illuminating the scene. I slowed down and moved over to the left lane into the cautious line of traffic that was carefully obeying the laws about how to proceed around emergency crews.

As the procession of vehicles moved past the police cruisers, fire trucks, and ambulances, I saw no vehicles approaching us in the rear view mirrors. As we passed the emergency vehicles, I noted an unusual amount of smoke around one of the patrol cars, and just as we passed it is when I felt the jolt and heard the bang. I said to my wife, in the manner of the mayor of Hiroshima, “What the f*** was that?” I thought a vehicle at the side of the road had exploded. I was pushed onto the left shoulder of the Interstate, but could not slow the car or bring it to a stop, so I drove onto the median hoping the snow would help slow down our car, which it did and we came to a stop.

It was not an explosion. We were rear-ended by a 17-year-old girl in a car with three other kids. This I learned from a state trooper who came to the emergency room where we were being treated and gave us a report. We were hit from behind by a car going at a very high rate of speed and because we were in motion, the impact accelerated our speed. The line of traffic in the left lane was doing about 40; the young woman was doing about 80. Apparently, with the impact, my hand struck the cruise control lever and the car was resuming cruising speed and that is why it was difficult to bring the car to a stop. But that is a small part of the story,

Our car carried our rescued greyhound Ingrid in the back seat and a load of Christmas presents in the cargo area. We traveled quite some distance before I could bring it to a stop and it took some minutes for emergency personnel to reach us. They had witnessed the collision. I managed to get out of the car and saw that our rear end was totally mashed in. It was 7 degrees outside, so I put my coat on and in doing so felt twinges in my back and neck. A fireman named David was the first to reach our car and he, of course, asked if we were okay. Neither of us was sure. We were confused about what had happened.

An ambulance drove up and some EMTs thought that we should be checked over at the hospital. They asked us to get out of the car and take off our coats and back up to those hard, flat back boards that they strap you to and immobilize you with. We were strapped and taped down to the boards. However, Virginia had found our cell phones, had one arm free, and had our Aberdeen insurance agent on the phone while we were still in the ambulance. I was in the emergency room for about an hour strapped to the board, but any pain I felt was from an arthritic hip that was protesting at being immobilized on a hard board in a very uncomfortable position. All I needed to do was to be able to elevate my knee a bit to relieve the pressure, but the medical personnel said they could not loosen the straps and I must remain immobilized until I was checked over. After an hour or so, I was given a cat-scan and finally an MD came in. He said, “You’re neck is a mess.”

I have been dealing with arthritis problems in it for years, and I replied I was aware of that. My concern was that the impact may have aggravated those problems. The cat-scan showed that the impact probably knocked loose some bony tissue, but nothing of note seemed broken.

Except for the emergency and health care system in which I found myself an unwilling victim.

Virginia had made sure that Ingrid would be taken care of before we were transported to the hospital. If Ingrid gets off leash, she sometimes gives in to the urge to show off her speed. (She won or placed in 35 of her 84 career races.) We feared that she might take off down the Interstate. Emergency personnel assured us she would be taken care of.

These people were doing their best.

However, the emergency room was another story. The personnel were in no hurry to examine us, but once they did they were clearly very anxious to get rid of us. However, we were interviewed by a state policeman for his report. He is the one who told us we were rear-ended and the young driver was cited for a bunch of stuff. We were given some vials of Vicodon and 800-mg. Motrin, I was put in a cervical collar, and told we could wait for whatever rides we had arranged in the reception room. No one asked if we had arrangements to go anywhere or any way to get there.

Dr. Lang, the emergency room physician and the other medical personnel were clearly anxious to be rid of us—once they were sure they had all the billing information they needed. They ushered us to a waiting room and said we could wait there until our transportation arrived. That was the last we saw of any hospital personnel.. I was having muscle spasm that felt like I was being hit in the back with a sledge hammer. The Vicodin and Motrin were useless.

We had a hotel room reserved in Denver. Both my oldest daughter, my son, and a nephew live in Denver. We called them and told them what happened, and they immediately left their evening jobs and piled into two RAV4s to come get us and haul all the cargo to Denver. They arrived after an hours wait in the waiting room, and we went about the business of collecting Ingrid and retrieving the items from our wrecked car, which included our coats, our eyeglasses—which we found missing while we were in the emergency room, and must have flown off from the impact—and our luggage and the gifts.

Getting Ingrid was no problem. A deputy sheriff had taken her to the local animal shelter. His dispatcher called him and he met us at the shelter, and Ingrid was happy to be reunited.

Getting the stuff out of our car was another matter. The tow-truck operator had locked our car in a compound, and he refused to come out and open it up because it was late and he had settled in for the evening. We had to return in the morning during business hours if we wanted our belongings.

So we headed to/Denver in zero-degree weather without coats, turning up the car heat, and drove the two hours to our hotel in Denver. Daughter Leslie stopped by her house and lent us some parkas and t-shirts we could use for pajamas. We were glad to get the hell out of Ft. Morgan.

The story goes on for seven months, involving surgery, and a car that was returned to us in July after $18,000 had been spent to repair it, and it had over 20 visible errors in the work done. There are some good parts of the story, involving health care in Aberdeen;, but also some not-so-good parts.

It all raises the question of who should be in charge of emergency treatment and healthcare? What we have now just ain’t working.

[To be continued.]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My name is Marcy Barnes and i would like to show you my personal experience with Vicodin.

I am 23 years old. Have been on Vicodin for 3 months now. Is very relaxing, is the perfect medice for pain and eit calms you and mellows you down the best

I have experienced some of these side effects -
constipation, dependecy, nausea and stomach pain at morning.

I hope this information will be useful to others,
Marcy Barnes

Vicodin Prescription Information

Blog Archive

About Me

My photo
Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States