I am pissed. It is 1 am, I just got back from the hospital, Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz, CA, where I went for the minor procedure of getting 3 stitches removed, it was the worst experience I have ever had in a hospital. I died in one once. This was worse.
I showed up about 11:30, I went late to avoid the more crowded daytime hours thinking the wait would be minimal, it wasnt, though I cannot hold that against Dominican, thats just how it happens in the ER. I give my basic info to the first receptionist and was almost immediately called to receptionist number 2, "wow, that was fast" I said with a look of hope on my face "Oh," says receptionist #1 "Dont let that fool you, we are really slow here." Awesome. After receptionist number 2 I take my seat in the waiting room and inhale the stale hospital scent mixed with the stagnant aroma of multiple cups of old coffee left on the table next to me. As I sit amongst fellow patients and the friends and family of those who have already been admitted, I am inevitably drawn to the television. Dominicans waiting room television policy: think of the kind of television that would be least appropriate for a hospital waiting room, turn that on and turn the volume up. We are watching a show based on hurting people, how funny it is, and being rewarded for it, MTV's Silent Library. In the hospital waiting room. My head is buried in my hands, the only man more miserable than me is being rolled by on a stretcher, a punk kid fights to stay quiet as he gets whipped by a jumprope in the whirling hands of a boxer, I have been here for 12 minutes.
The wait continues in a similar fashion, the occasional stretcher, the moments of hope when a receptionist starts calling names, the fat man with nipple clamps attached to RC cars. I try to zone out, slip away from the waiting room. "Jackass up next." You've got to be kidding me. Back to back episodes opening with Johnny Knoxville getting kicked in the balls by kindergartners. An hour goes by. Finally the moment of hope turns into actual progress as my name is called. I get up, walk with the nurse and I swear I did this, she asked me how I was, and, im serious, I smiled. I looked into her eyes, smiled and said I was doin alright. Somebody saint me. Get the pope. Damnit St. Brendon is already taken.
So I am finally getting somewhere as I follow the doughy figure adorned in urban camo scrubs to my room. She gets her suture removal kit and starts poking at my stitches, apparently the doctor put them in very tight and she will have to do some digging to get under the stitch. Great, fine, please, I told her "dig to your hearts desire, I can handle it". So she starts digging, and no, no iodine, no alcohol, not a single sterile wipe or even a request to wash my straight-from-work hands. I had three of these funky stitches that are only showing the knot on one side, as my skin had grown over the tight loop on the other side. She successfully got her snips under the knot, a quick snip and... wait, no I dont think you quite got it, you just snipped the ends of the knot off, I can see the knot still there in my skin, you see there are only two tiny pieces of the suture in the tray, oh you are moving on to the second one, okay. She snipped the second one successfully and to my surprise it pulled all the way around the other side with no trouble. On to stitch three and she snips it fine, just has to pull the remaining piece, and... she cuts it right off, leaving every bit of suture in my skin that was already in there. She continued to suggest that she had taken out the sutures and I would question her every time. When I point at the black knot still clearly in my skin on the first stitch she said it often will look black at first. When I ask if it is okay that some of the suture is left inside, she tells me she thinks we are lookin great. She is wearing urban camo scrubs. I am confused and full of suture bits. Nobody is looking great. She leaves to get the doctor, telling him "Room 20 needs a final look, I just took his sutures out."
I am sitting there looking at my hand that still had the majority of the stitches left in it when the doctor comes in, a red headed dude with a mustache, he looks like the MAD magazine kid 30 years later. A quick glance at the job and he turns into a fountain of "It looks like we are going to be fine." About three of those and he heads for the door, it was no longer than 10 seconds he was in the room before he starts to leave. I ask him to wait, ask him whether some of the suture could stay in, show him the knot still in my skin, show him the few bits of suture in the tray, tell him that only one came out. The fountain starts again, 7 more "It looks like we are going to be fine." Though apparently I am convincing enough for a second look and after taking an actual look at me, he does see the knot still in my skin! After acknowledging that I was right, he wants to just leave it in, but I insist he could do whatever it would take to get it. Camo pops around the corner "He has been so brave!" With little effort Dr MAD fishes it out, cuts it and pulls it through, painless, simple. Again he tries to leave. Again I stop him. There is still another stitch, the third one. He takes a look. "It looks like we are going to be fine." The stitch is in there, just like the first one was. Is that okay? "It looks like we are going to be fine." I sit, mouth gaped, as he walks out the door. Camo nurse comes back in and I continue my protest with her, and I start to get an attitude. I never ever get to that point with people, especially strangers, I was being totally dismissed and it was getting to me. I ask her how it was okay to leave the stitch in there, which she insists was normal. Why did I have to come in to get it removed if you were just going to leave it in? I thought you would clean it and take all the stitches out, how am I done here? I ask her all of this in an uncharacteristically rude tone and she dismisses it all. I sign some pink piece of paper in a huff, though I shouldnt have, and storm out the door.
I don't know what I can do about it, but I feel like I should do something. I know that removing sutures is not the most important thing on the doctors plate, but to address my concerns like they did, and for the nurse to insist that she had completed a procedure that she clearly hadnt, the doctor to completely fail in his faux check up if not for my insistence that he do something, it was horrifying, degrading, seemingly unsterile, and definitely a waste of my time, I am 100% certain that I could have treated myself better at home with a swiss army knife, with just the scissors.
What can I do?