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----------------------------------------Heart Break Hotel, the Sharon Wolf Story----------------------------------------

October 9, 2003 - For the past few weeks, I've been having pretty severe chest pains.  I was unable to get into a doctor for 3 days, finally I called the administrator and they talked me into going to the ER.  In the ER, they did an EKG, Chest X-ray, labs, and exam.  The doctor was unable to tell if it was me having another heart attack or not.  He said they will probably Never know because my EKG is so messed up.  You almost can't read it.  The Cardiologist has still not put me on any medications.  My primary care doctor did put me on blood pressure pills last Friday.  My blood pressure is running about 188/118 and no matter what, we can't get it to go down.  I feel like I am at the bottom of my ladder now and am praying to get to see my daughter and two grandchildren on Christmas this year.  I have my tickets and am just praying I get there.   This will be my very first Christmas with my daughter and the babies. 

July 28, 2003 Update to the following story: 
I had an appointment with the Cardiologist today.  This would have been my first visit since my surgery.  The doctor called me a noon today and said that he was cancelling my visit and for me to see another doctor. 

Hi everyone, I would like to introduce myself.  My name is Sharon and I am a 45 year old wife, mother of one, and grandmother of two.  I’m glad to be here to tell you this story, but I wish I didn’t have to tell it.  I wish it had never happened to me and I hope it will never happen to you.  I hope that in some way, this story will help you from becoming a victim of Kaiser.  Let’s see, where should I start?  How about at the beginning? 

It all started a few years ago, actually.  I started to get really tired, run down and feel terrible for days at a time.  My daughter was just finishing up high school and getting ready to get married to her sweetheart from high school.  My father had already passed away from Heart disease and I was completely devastated to think that I might have heart problems too.   I went to Kaiser and told the doctor of my symptoms.  We discussed the fact that my blood pressure had been so high for a lot of years.  It usually ran about 168/110, but instead of finding out why my blood pressure was so high, I had been given medication after medication.  We also discussed my cholesterol, which was 448 at the time instead of prescribing or discussing diet modifications for cholesterol management; the doctor focused only on my smoking.  He finally sent me to Dr. Chan, a Cardiologist. 

When I went to see Dr. Chan, he decided to run a few tests on me.  The first one was a Stress Treadmill.  He called me into his office after that test and said he wanted to do a Heart Cath on me because he wasn’t sure of the treadmill results.  We went ahead and did the Heart Cath a few days later.  While I was in the Cath Lab, Dr. Chan came out and told my mother that there were no signs of Coronary Artery Disease and that everything looked fine.  A few days later, he called me into his office and said he thought that the back half of my heart wasn’t working properly.  He did absolutely NOTHING about it, except to refer me back to my primary care doctor. 

This is where the story actually begins….. 

On June 23rd 2002, I was starting to have chest pains.  At first, I didn’t know what to do about them.  I was told that I turned white and just didn’t look right when it happened.  I made an appointment to see my primary care doctor and went in.  On the 26th of June, I was scheduled to fly off to Indiana to witness the birth of my first grandson.  I was so worried about the chest pains that I decided it would be wise to see the dr. before I went on the trip.  I showed up in his office and waited about 2 hours to be seen.  I told my doctor about the chest pains and me turning white and also about flying to see my grandson being born in a few days.  All he did was to suggest I was being a “hysterical” woman and gave me Xanax to take while I was gone.  He took no tests, didn’t listen to my heart, did absolutely nothing. 

I took off on the 26th of June to Indiana.  I got there about 3 weeks early so I could help my daughter fix up my grandson’s room and so I could spend some time with my 1 year old granddaughter.  We got to my hotel room about 2 in the morning (I was with a friend and her granddaughter).  At 4am, my daughter called my room and said her water had broken and she was on the way to the hospital.  I took off and went immediately to the hospital also.  I’m proud to announce that my grandson was born on June 27, 2002 about 10am.  I even got to deliver him.  It was the most wonderful experience anyone could ever have.  I was completely in love with this baby and, of course, with my granddaughter. 

I had been in Indiana about 4 or 5 days when I started getting chest pains again. Since my grandson had been born, I decided to, come on home.  It sure was lucky the little guy decided to be born early.  When I got home, I was tired – more tired, than I had even been.  I had no energy.  My unpacked luggage sat in the living room for days.  My husband and I decided to drive to the coast so I could relax and swim in the ocean, which is my very favorite thing to do.  We got to the coast and the first thing I wanted to do was to find a hotel and take a nap.  We should have known that was a sign of trouble, but we didn’t.  The next day, we went to the ocean, but I couldn’t even walk through the sand to get my feet wet.  I was just too tired and out of breath.  My husband tried to carry me to the water, but I was a bit too heavy for him.  About an hour later, we decided to come on home. 

The next Monday, my husband had to go to a deposition for a court litigation we had going, so he didn’t go to work that day.  I wasn’t feeling that well, so I stayed home and worked on the computer.  This is when everything began.  This is when my life turned upside down. 

It was approximately 4pm on August 19th, 2002 and I was sitting here at my computer, writing a letter, I believe.  All of the sudden, I got sick to my stomach.  I tried to stand up, but, instead, I fell down ground.  I tried to yell for my husband, but I had no voice.  I was lying on the ground, sick to my stomach, trying to get this awful elephant off my chest.  Yes, it did feel like an elephant was sitting on me.  The pain was absolutely awful.  I thought I was going to die.  Finally, my husband heard me getting sick and came back to my office to see what was going on.  He saw how I looked and immediately got scared and wanted to call 911.  I just kept screaming “NO”.  All I wanted to do was to get in the water because I was so hot.  I kept thrashing my arms around and screaming.  My husband put me in the shower and called 911.  This will sound a bit strange, but while I was in the shower, a voice told me to go get an aspirin and even told me where the aspirin was.  When my husband got back from calling 911, I told him where the aspirin was, and sure enough he found it, and gave me one before dragging me to the living room to await the paramedics.   I remember the paramedics getting to my house and then I remember waking up at 2am at St. Agnes hospital where I had just had surgery.  My surgeon was Dr. Jon and he was standing over me when I woke up.  He kept saying the date, August 19th to me, over and over again.  Finally, I asked what happened and he explained to me that I had just had a heart attack and he put a stent in one of my arteries and that is when I noticed how distressed and angry he was.  I would have to be in the hospital for a while.  He also told me something that I will NEVER forget.  He was angry, so angry that it actually shocked me.  He told me that my heart attack was 100% unnecessary.  He said the entire situation could have been prevented and he was holding my doctors at Kaiser responsible for this.  He said if they had been watching me, they would have seen that I had an artery that was 100% occluded and another that was about 30% occluded.  I lost my father in 1993 to Coronary Artery Disease when he was younger, yet, they never checked me.  I couldn’t understand why?  Especially after I had told them about my father and had all the other risk factors.  He also said that if they had gotten my blood pressure and cholesterol taken care of this never would have happened.  Would you believe I never saw Dr. Jon again?  Somehow, when I got out of the hospital, he was no longer working with Kaiser.  I wonder why???  Also, while I was in the hospital for the heart attack, I had to have two Cardiac Caths done because I was still having chest pain when I moved around.  Nothing was ever said about those other tests. 

I got out of the hospital about 2 weeks later and my daughter flew in from Indiana to help me for a few days.  That she was with me and that I’d even survived that first heart attack were true miracles. It was wonderful to see her.  I never thought I was going to see her again.   When my daughter went back home, I started trying to do things for myself.  I also went to a Cardiac class to try to help myself.  I was told during that class what kinds of food to eat, what kinds of things I can and cannot do.  We were even told that we should start walking about 1 month post heart attack.  The nurses told our class that we should increase the walking every day, but to contact our physicians immediately, if we found that we were not progressing with longer walks. 

I was so strict on myself.  I wouldn’t buy anything at the store that had more than 1 or 2 fat grams in it.  I wouldn’t buy anything unless it said no salt added, and I started buying fish and didn’t buy red meat anymore.  I also started to do my walking with my next door neighbor when I was supposed to.  Things started off pretty good.  We were able to walk about a mile the first day.  The second day, it was just short of a mile.  By the end of the week, I couldn’t even walk around my block.  I went back into Kaiser and told my doctor about it.  He didn’t seem too concerned, but told me to make an appointment with the cardiologist in about a month or two and see what happens.  I was then given some more medication and stuffed away, again.  At this point, I became more worried and more emotional with every passing day.  I was so afraid that I was never going to see my beautiful grandchildren again and that I was not going to be here for my daughter and husband.  A black cloud hung over my head.  I felt more helpless and hopeless as the months passed.  My friends were all very supportive, but they urged me to get answers.  “This is Not all there is, “ many said “You’re entitled to second opinions—even third and fourth opinions.  Get some!”  Everything they said made sense, but all I could think of was how I’d been called “hysterical” by my primary care physician before the Indiana trip.  I just couldn’t bring myself to face that, again.  But when my friends and my daughter continued fighting for me, doing research and finding helpful resources, I realized that they were as worried as I was. 

In October of 2002, the chest pains got worse.  I went to the emergency room and was admitted to the hospital again.  This time, I was in the telemetry unit at our hospital.  They did another Heart Cath on me, but did nothing more.  Whenever I asked about the Heart Caths, they would tell me only that my stent was still intact.  After a week of hospitalization and unanswered questions, I was still there, but now I was crying all the time.  I knew something needed to be done. Time was flying by and I was getting worse, but I still had no answers…none at all. but nothing was done. When ever I would ask about the Heart Caths, they would tell me that my stent was still intact, but that’s all they would ever tell me.  I asked questions, yet, got no answers. I stayed in the hospital for about a week and came back home, still with no answers. 

My granddaughter’s 2nd birthday was on December 18th and I wanted to go.  I wasn’t sure I was going to see too many of her birthdays, so I asked my primary care doctor if I could go and he said he didn’t see why not.  That made me happy, but then, I realize now, he usually said all the right things—just enough to keep me happy.  I had no idea he was covering up his own mistakes, all the while. 

My husband and I flew off to Indiana to be there for my granddaughter’s birthday.  Now, this is a man who has NEVER flown anywhere in his life because he doesn’t like to fly, but he was worried about me making the flight and the trip by myself.  He’s a good husband.  We got to Indiana and everything was wonderful.  We were having such a good time with the grandchildren.  In the back of my head, I was trying to burn those memories in my heart for safe keeping.  I wasn’t sure I was ever going to see the kids again, so I wanted to remember every minute of it.  The day of my granddaughter’s party, my daughter and I went to the store to finish buying everything we needed.  As we were walking through the store, I started getting hot, sweaty, and started having chest pains again.   I had my daughter drop me off and I went to the hospital without letting anyone know.  There was no way I was going to let this ruin my granddaughter’s birthday.  Well, the short of it was, I did have another “little” heart attack, but no damage.  We came home the next day. 

The black cloud got darker and darker over the next few months.  I kept going back and forth to Kaiser, to see my doctor Yang and the Cardiologist.  I arrived with questions and department without answers.  That’s so darned frustrating!  When I went to see Dr. Erteza, he’d change my medications around.  Finally, it got to the point where he had no other options.  While he had succeeded in getting my heart rate down, the medications had not affected my blood pressure and any further change of medications could very well slow my heart rate too much.  He more or less threw up his hands and said “I’m not sure what to do.” 

On March 24th, after two days of leaving messages and receiving no phone calls from him, I went in to see my primary care taker, Dr. Yang.  I was no unable to walk across my house without stopping for air, and told him about this.  They did an ECG, cardiac enzymes, chest X-ray.  By that time, it was already too late.  My cardiac enzymes showed that I had had a recent cardiac incident—or was about to have another one.  I was, again, admitted to the hospital for observation.  At that time they did yet another Heart Cath, the results of which should absolutely have shown a big difference from the earlier caths.  But I was never to know this, because these films were lost—or so I was told. 

This was April, and my next appointment with Dr. Erteza wasn’t until July 11th.  I was sure that I wasn’t going to make it until then.  With all our concerns, and still no answers from Kaiser, Steve and I finally decided in May to go outside of Kaiser for another opinion.  This cardiologist visit cost over $700.00 only to have the doctor tell me that he couldn’t tell me anything until he saw those (lost) March films.  This meant that we’d have to start the testing all over again—at our expense, but something had to be done.  As the testing progressed, I felt as though I were a ball in a ping pong match.  One day, they would suggest open heart surgery, and the next that I could be treated with medications. 

In May, Steve and I decided to go to Monterey, the coast again, for some relaxation and fun and sleep.  I went to see Dr. Yang a few days before we went.  I had heard that swimming in the Cold water of the ocean was an absolute no no, so I asked Dr. Yang…he told me to go right ahead and swim in the cold water.  He also told me that I could do anything I want there, I’m ok and I can even go whale watching.  On our way to Monterey, I thought seriously about what Dr. Yang said and had decided that I didn’t want to take any chances, so I stayed out of the water and out of the boats.  It was a wonderful trip anyway, and I’m glad we took it. 

The next Friday, I was at the grocery store and I started having sharp chest pains.  I couldn’t get them to go away.  I actually had to leave the store and go home.  I went and rested for a little while.  The next day, Steve and I went to breakfast and then shopping.  While shopping, I began to have even worse chest pains.  We decided to stop off at the Kaiser ER and see if something was wrong.  When we got there, my blood pressure was astronomical and it frightened everyone.  I was given IV blood pressure meds three times, but nothing helped.  Once again, my heart rate kept getting lower, but not my blood pressure.  The ER ended up having to put me on a Nitroglycerin Drip and admit me into the CCU unit.  I was there for a few days when my vitals had stabilized and sent to the telemetry unit. 

 While hospitalized, I continued to see Dr. Yang and whatever Cardiologist was on duty that day.  Nothing was happening; nothing was being done and still no answers, just medications.  Finally, toward the end of that stay in the hospital, I ended up getting Dr. Sandu who, at the last moment, decided to do a Presantine Test on me.  It’s an awful test, but it shows a lot.  When they were finished with that test, I was brought to my room and served dinner.  As I took the first bite of my meatloaf, the nurse ran in the room and told me not to eat anything.  Not knowing what was going on…I spit the meatloaf out in my napkin and sat there waiting for the nurse to come back.  The nurse finally came back and had explained that the doctor saw something on the test and he needed to take me over to Saint Agnes Hospital, again for another stent placement and Heart Cath, but they were closed for the day and I was done the next morning. 

Now, I was confused.  One minute I was being told they’d be treating me with medications, because my heart wasn’t that bad (I guess), and the next day, medical personnel are rushing me into surgery for a stent.  What did I miss?  How did I get lost?  Or…was it even me?”  While doing the Stent Placement and Heart Cath, Dr. Sandu stopped the procedure to come talk to me.  He apologized for not thinking my chest pains weren’t so bad.  He thought I was making this stuff up.  Now, I ask you, who would make it up???  He did apologize again and told me that I needed bypass surgery…now!  He called the Cardiovascular Surgeon, Dr. Poierer and they decided to wait 4 days to get the plavix out of my system. 

I couldn’t believe it!  How could this have happened so fast?  But, it hadn’t happened that fast.  No indeed!  This had been going on for years!  As I lay there facing open heart surgery, thoughts gone from no one caring about my chest pains, through being accused to being hysterical over “nothing” of suffering through stent surgeries and swallowing or being injected with at least a warehouse-full of medications---and, all the time, being led to believe that the medical experts were “working on it” only to end up once more in a hospital bed, but this time facing Open Heart Surgery.  Now I am starting to get both frightened and angry.  I’m frightened over the surgery, but angry that no one caught the fact that I had 2 occlusions at 100% and 3 occlusions at over 50%.  If someone had just cared enough to check me out, I could have avoided the open heart surgery.  For that matter, I could have avoided the heart attack that brought all this to the light.  I could have been a normal healthy grandma and had a perfectly normal life.  I have lost so much time, I have spent so much time being frightened.  Why did this happen to me?  Why wasn’t it caught? 

While anger and indignation have their places, a hospital bed is not the most effective place from which to preach medical care reformation.  It seemed as though the worst was behind me, and—as frightening as it sounded, Open Heart Surgery did appear to be my best hope in my battle against Heart Disease.  I promised myself that when I had recovered sufficiently from my surgery, I would do all within my ability, to help other patients avoid the agonizing journey that I had made in my battle to stay alive and watch my grandchildren grow.  Of course, I didn’t realize that all that time that I would continue to be the victim of additional medical misjudgments because Kaiser professionals were, once again, either unwilling or unable to care about their patients, as you will see. 

Well, it’s the day before surgery and my daughter arrives from Indiana to be there with her dad and I for the surgery.  It was kind of funny, while I was still at Kaiser, I was getting a little panicky waiting for the paramedics to transfer me, so when they came into my room, they asked if I was Sharon and I said “no”.  They had to go to the front desk and grab a nurse that knew who I was.  I couldn’t help but play one more practical joke for the road.  Don’t worry, I apologized to the medics while were on our day.  They got me to a dingy room at Saint Agnes.  I got into the dingy bed. 

 Finally Bre, my daughter came.  I was never so happy to see a face before.  Not only had I not seen her for several months, but also with the surgery facing me, I needed her with me.  In spite of her strength and compassionship and I had a panic attack.  I couldn’t help it, I was scared out of my mind.  I had no idea what to expect.  All I could remember was my father’s surgery 17 years ago and how bad he looked. 

Remembering that image, I decided to make a run for it.  Yep, I tried to escape.  Bre and the nurse had to tackle me to get me back into the bed.  I was still panicking when my husband got there.  He tried to calm me down and tried to make me eat the awful dinner that was being served.  No, not me, I wasn’t going to eat that stuff.  I finally calmed down and apologized to everyone and hung my head in shame.  It was now time for visitors to leave.  I’m so lucky that this panic attack wore me out and I fell fast asleep. 

It’s now the morning of surgery.  Bre and Steve came back to the hospital to wait with me.  They took me down at 10:00 am and said they would start the surgery early and take me back to the OR at 10:30.  We sat there and sat there, no one had a clue what was going on.  Now it’s about noon and we get word that the surgeon had an emergency case he was working on.  Well, we waited and waited some more.  The more we waited, the more scared I got.  Finally, they came and got me about 3pm.  The next thing I knew, I was waking up in the SICU (surgical intensive care unit)  It was 1 am and they were trying to extubate me.  Unfortunately, I failed to breathe on my own, so back to sleep with the ventilator still hooked up for a little while.  I woke up again at 3am.  This time I stayed asleep. They tried, little by little to get me off the ventilator and I finally was taken out at 5 am.  Yeah, I can now speak.  The nurse that early, early morning was a real sweet person.  We had fun telling jokes, etc…  When I would tell her I was in pain, she would just reach in her pocket and give me an injection of Demerol. 

  Unfortunately, she had to leave at 7am and I got my day nurse, I nicknamed her Nurse Ratchet.  Actually, she was a young nurse named Marie, just in the United States for 4 months now from Scotland.  She was awful, just awful.  She treated me like I was a sack of potatoes.  Bre really noticed it while she was around and so she tried to stay around as long as they would let her. 

Marie was going to be with me until 7pm that evening.  I don’t know if I can handle her for that long.  When I would ask for my pain medication, she would leave the room for about an hour and a half and return with a Darvocet.  When you have just had your chest ripped in half and your heart worked on, then Darvocet is going to be like drinking water.  It is not going to help the pain, no not at all.  I told Marie that and so did Bre.  It didn’t matter, she was going to do what she wanted.  As a result, I didn’t sleep for 36 hours after the surgery.  I was in so much pain, I thought and almost wished I would die.  I was too afraid to close my eyes and forget to breathe.  I know that sounds silly, but you really never know. 

 I was extubated this day at 5am and at 10am they came and got me and had me sit in a chair.  They said it would help prevent pneumonia, so I sat in the chair for two hours.  The pain was absolutely incredible. Earlier in the day, when Marie had given me my lasix in my central line, I started to get a burning sensation.  I asked her about it and she said, it was nothing, not to worry about it.  The next dose, Bre was there.  As soon as she shot it in me, I started burning again, only this time it was spreading.  My face was bright red and it scared Bre so much, she ran to get Marie.  Marie could see there was a problem, but kept saying it had to be the antibiotics that I was allergic to.  She said it was not possible to be allergic to Lasix.  I asked her not to give me the Lasix any more.  I didn’t want to take a chance.  Later that evening, she came to give me my meds again.  I saw her start to give me something in my central line.  I asked her what it was she was giving me, she said it was something that started with the letter z and it was for vomiting and nausea.  I said, ok then, give it to me.  As soon as she started to push it in, I immediately, this time, started turning red and couldn’t breathe.  Marie reached into her pocket and gave me an injection of Benadryl.  When it started to get better, all she said to me was….”Yep, I guess it was the lasix you were allergic to, that’s what she had given me and lied to me about. The reaction I had to the Lasix was so bad that I could do nothing other than cry.  It was so bad, I could do nothing but cry. 

 The next morning, (day after surgery), the nurse came in and removed my chest tubes, drains, sutures, and both central lines.  All without being medicated.  Ouch, that hurt like mad.  The good part is that when they removed everything, they were sending me back to telemetry and I can finally get away from Marie.  They transferred me to my bed and took me and left me in front of the nursing station.  It was there that I heard my “wonderful” nurse giving report to the next nurse I was going to have.  Being by the desk, I could hear every word she said.  I couldn’t believe my ears.  She told the new nurse that I was a pain in the behind, a real crybaby, and a hypochondriac.  That completely tore me up.  I cried and cried like you wouldn’t believe.  Well, at least I won’t have her for a nurse anymore.  Honestly, if you are going to say bad things about your patients, then for heaven’s sake, don’t say it where they can hear you! 

Except for being in a lot of pain, the rest of my stay was pretty unremarkable.  I had a roommate that was a little on the “strange” side.  She absolutely took command over the television, and would tell me to be quiet while her shows were on.  I didn’t feel that great, so it was pretty easy for me to do that.  I had a lot of respiratory therapy, four times a day.  I had physical therapy, six times a day and I tried to nap between those.  Finally, Monday came at it was time to be released, I was never so happy to be home. 

We finally got home around noon and it took me quite a bit of time to walk from the car into the house.  Oh gee was I sore and tired and I felt like quitting, but I couldn’t.  I had to keep myself going no matter what.  I used a walker to steady myself, but it was so heavy to me.  The pain was incredible.  That wasn’t the scary part.  I was sent home on Monday and Tuesday, my husband had to leave for a class for the next 3 days.  I was sure I couldn’t make it here without him, so we arranged for my neighbor to come and help me, along with Uncle Harry.  Uncle Harry was the chief cook and bottle washer and Gloria helped me in the bathroom and shower.  Uncle Harry took me to Kaiser on Tuesday because I had put a call into the doctor about home health care from Kaiser, which my plan includes.  I never did get to see Dr. Yang, but his nurses took me in and called him.  He said yes to the home health and I was told that they would call me and set it up.  When I got home, I did get a phone call, but they said they didn’t see why I needed the help and denied me the care.  I explained to the nurse that I had open wounds and carried staph and thought it would be safer for me to have help.  This is just a side note, because of Kaiser’s negligence, when they put a central line in me a few years back, it got infected with staph and I will have it the rest of my life. 

A few days later, I got to where I couldn’t stand the pain in the leg anymore, besides…my leg looked like a tree stump, it was so huge.  I started calling every morning at 7am to see if I could get in to see Dr. Yang.  He never answered my phone calls.  I tried this for 4 days straight.  Every day they would say Dr. Yang would call me, but everyday, I waited and there was no phone call.  Unfortunately, my leg was getting worse and worse.  Finally on day 5, and still no answer from Dr. Yang.  We decided to do a “walk in” hoping that when Dr. Yang saw my leg, he would be able to help me.  We sat in the waiting room for about an hour.  I was in a wheelchair and was sweating, had nausea, and in pain, and white in color.  Someone finally called my name.  Uncle Harry and I went inside and there was a woman who said that Dr. Yang said I was “medically stable” and for me to see Behavioral medicine (here it goes again, the “hysterical” woman part).  I got extremely upset and started crying.  How could he do this to me?  I had been his patient for so many years.  I had overlooked many, many mistakes because I thought I was “helping” Dr. Yang.  He never even looked outside his office door.  It would only have taken him 30 seconds at the most to see that my leg was infected.  No, that was too much for him to do, so he turned me away. 

I know I was visibly shaken because lots of people kept asking me what was wrong.  As we were leaving the 4th floor, I ran into a couple that were sitting in the hallway.  I see them there all the time, so they asked me what happened.  I was so upset, that I just told them what had just occurred.  Barbara asked me which doctor and I told her.  She looked at me and said he had done the same to her at one time and that she switched doctors.  Her husband, Larry told me that the reason he goes with his wife to the doctor is because unless he is there, they don’t take his wife seriously.  They gave me the name of some doctors and told me to go to 2nd floor, member services and change doctors and file a complaint against Dr. Yang.  We went down to member services and the lady, Blanca, told me she would contact Dr. Yang and see what was going on.  She finally called me around 5pm that evening and said that Dr. Yang wanted to continue to be my Dr.  I thanked her, swallowed deeply, and said I would like to have another doctor. 

The very next morning, my leg was still bad and I knew there was a problem.  Harry and I went to the ER at Kaiser.  After waiting about an hour, they called me in and saw that I had cellulites and staph on this left leg from surgery.  I was incredibly sore, sweaty, had a fever, and looked like “death warmed over” They admitted me to the hospital that day.  I had to wait in the Hallway of the ER and was even examined in the Hallway by the doctor and stayed there for about 9 hours.  Luckily, they had given me morphine and I wasn’t in as much pain. 

When I got back to my “home sweet home” the telemetry floor at the hospital, I was greeted by the various nurses who had befriended me during the 4 or 5 times I was a patient there.  I told them what had happened and each and every single one of them told me, either privately or in pairs, to get an attorney.  They had been watching me die slowly for the past year and were tired of it.  They all knew there was much more the doctors could have done for me. 

I stayed on that floor receiving both IV antibiotics and blood.  I knew why I needed the antibiotics, but had no idea why I needed the blood and no one would tell me.  When Dr. Yang walked into my room the next day, I really wanted to hear an apology from him.  Not only did he NOT apologize, but he acted like it was my fault and I was being a big imposition on him.  I asked him if he wanted me to switch doctors, but all he said was…”no, I will continue to see you”.  I guess he was doing me a favor, in his mind.  That was the straw that broke the camels back.  The nurses gave me suggestions on which doctors to choose and when I was released from the hospital, 6 days later, I chose another doctor. 

It was great to be home again.  I was feeling pretty tired, so I sat in my bed and accidently fell asleep.  My daughter woke me up by a phone call around 3pm.  I looked and my leg was HUGE again.  In the two hours that I had been home, was my leg had become extremely swollen and was now looking like a tree stump again.  I called Kaiser.   That day, they were going to admit me again, but a thoughtful doctor decided to let me stay home that night and come back to be admitted the next morning.  When I called the next morning, that’s when the fun began.  Kaiser and Saint Agnes were playing ping pong with and I was the ball. 

I received a phone call from Kaiser that morning, telling me to call the surgeon who did my Cardiac bypass.  I called the surgeon who told me to call Kaiser.  I called Kaiser back and they said that I was the responsibility of the surgeon for 90 days and to call him back.  I did so, he said he couldn’t treat me because Kaiser wouldn’t pay for me to be admitted to Saint Agnes which is the hospital where he had his practice.   I phoned Kaiser once again and explained this to them.  They told me that was “hogwash” and to call the surgeon back, again.  By now, I was getting so darned frustrated, I didn’t know what to do.  Finally, Dr. Poierer’s office called and said for me to come at 11:45.  I saw Dr. Poierer that afternoon and he thought it was water retention that was making my leg swell.  He would not, however, put me on a water pill.  I knew there had to be another water pill available other than Lasix, but he wouldn’t hear of it.  Well, I took his suggestion and elevated my leg 8 inches above my heart for 30 minutes at a time, 4 times per day.  Guess what?  That didn’t help.  As of today, July 20th, 2003, my leg is just as big as the day I called his office. 

That next Wednesday, I called the doctor to get an injection for pain.  He was wonderful to order it.  I couldn’t stand anymore pain, I needed a little break from it.  While I was at Kaiser, getting my injections, a nurse came up to me and whispered in my ear “get an attorney”.  She said she had NEVER said that to anyone before in her life, but she had watched Kaiser try to kill me at least 4 times over the past year.  She said she was watching and praying that I was strong enough to last.  She kept seeing what they were doing to me, but she couldn’t do anything about it.  She gave me a hug and told me to go for it and not look back. 

A couple of days later, I had my first appointment with my new doctor.  I think I’m going to like him.  He had a pretty good attitude.  While he was looking through my chart, I said “I know I’m a pretty difficult case”he stopped me right there and put his hand up and said “Never a case, always a person”  Well, that was certainly a step in the right direction.  He also noticed that I had been anemic for a long time and asked if Dr. Yang had ever told me.  I had NEVER been told by any doctor at Kaiser that I was anemic. 

At Kaiser, if they don’t know what to do with you, they just medicate you.  I guess they figure if they can mask the physical pain, all is done.  Not all is done, there are people whose lives are at stake.  People who might have just become parents.  Parents who might have just had a child.  Grandparents who love their grandchildren.  Brothers and sisters.  You name it, it’s out there.  Just think of all the pain and suffering, both mentally and physically I went through, just because I was “a hysterical woman”.  I was NOT a hysterical woman, I was a frightened woman who was having chest pains.  Did I deserve a death sentence for that?  After my surgery, I was told that I had another 3 – 5 years left by the surgeon.  I won’t even live to see my grandchildren grow up. 

Thank you for reading my story.  I hope I didn’t bore you, but I thought the truth needed to come out.  I don’t want any of you to go through what I experienced. 

Hugs, health and happiness, 
Sharon Wolf 

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