Saturday, September 8, 2012
I was admitted twice to St. Luke's Global City the past few weeks. The first was only for one day because my scheduled surgery to remove my gall bladder/gallstones was postponed at the last minute. I was already being wheeled out of my room, done all the preparation when the cardiologist said, stop, we have to postpone. I heard wheezing in her lungs. What the....? I was all psyched up to get it over with and now this. The surgery was rescheduled for the next week. Meantime, the wheezing would be treated for one week. I have to be careful with what I eat to avoid being an emergency case. Can't join my friends on night outs this week. Drinking is best avoided anyway because we might end up needing to check www.thesobrietysolution.com.
I have to say I was disappointed with service during my overnight stay but I reserved judgement until after my second stay at St. Luke's Global City, the following week. All my and my daughter's previous hospital confinements were at The Medical City and I have always been very happy with their service.
Admission was quick seeing as there was no one else being admitted at the time. Via got our number at the door of admissions office. The regular private room was P2,500. I got de luxe private room, P3,500. All rooms have flatscreen TV, refrigerator and free WiFi. You can also borrow a DVD movie to watch. The procedure itself, laparoscopic cholecsystectomy, would range from P30,000-P110,000. Gosh.
I must say everything was high tech. The bed was push button to move up and down. Via enjoyed checking out everything in the room. The refrigerator where she made ice, the bathroom, the faucets, the bed, the bell to call the nurse, the hand sanitizing dispenser, everything she could get her hands on.
There is a pantry where we could get hot and cold water and heat up food in the microwave oven. There is a waiting room for relatives of patients undergoing surgery (below). The facilities in St. Luke's Global City were impressive.
My surgery took three hours from the original estimate of one to two hours. The ultrasound showed a normal gall bladder despite the gallstones but during the procedure, the gall bladder was found to be very, very thick. My doctor said sometimes these things don't show up in the ultrasound. My surgery was at 9am and finished at 12. Then I was brought to recovery. I woke up from the general anesthesia at 2.30. I felt nauseus which was a side effect of the anesthesia. They gave me another hour before bringing me up to my room. On the way out of recovery, we passed Via and Tita waiting for me and we all went up together. I spent until the rest of the day and night drifting in and out of sleep. I was not allowed to eat or drink yet.
The next morning, I was told to try liquids and observe how my stomach reacted. If it went well, I could progress to soft diet for lunch. So I drank juice for my breakfast. Around mid-morning, I noticed Via was having difficulty breathing again. The day before, she started coughing. She might have caught something during their trips to the room and OR waiting area. I had Tita bring her to the ER because it progresses very fast for her. Within a day, her lungs get filled with phlegm and it becomes pneumonia.
My lunch was brought in around noon. I was still nauseous but terribly hungry. I thought I took the liquids well so I devoured the lunch. After polishing it off, the nurse came in and asked if I had already taken liquids. Huh...well, I said I had orange juice and I just now ate all my lunch because I was starving. The nausea went away after I ate so that was probably from hunger not a side effect from the pain killers. I asked the nurse what problems would I have if my stomach cannot tolerate solids just yet. She said, gas. Whooops! Right after eating I felt my tummy tighten up and bloating. But it was manageable and it was better than feeling nausea from hunger.
I stayed in the hospital three days. Checked in Sunday, Monday operation, Tuesday recovering and resting, Wednesday discharge. So how do I find St. Luke's Global City. Overall, it was fine. It's just that when I compare with the service I was used to having at The Medical City, SLGC pales.
They are little things, but they matter to me as a patient, and they do add up.
- At billing during discharge for my first confinement, I asked for a copy of the billing statement. They would not give me one because it's fully paid by my company. Huh? At TMC there's always a billing statement in triplicate.
- I was given a prescription of medication to take for one week. Only one copy which Mercury Drug takes for their file. TMC gives a duplicate copy so I have a copy of the schedule when to take the medication.
- For the first confinement, I asked for the discharge slip a 1pm. I finally got it around 4pm. The second confinement, I asked for the discharge slip at 7am because I wanted to go to my daughter's pedia to have her checked despite having emergency treatment the day before. I explained this to the nurse in charge. I received the discharge slip 10am. At TMC, I get the discharge slip within the hour of asking. It's like there's a disconnect between the needs of the patient and their service. They didn't get why I was rushing the discharge. The nurse just kept repeating that it's been requested.
- My cousin asked the nurse if we can have the gallstones after the operation. She said it's already with the lab. When my surgeon stopped by to see me, he asked if the stones were sent to me. I said no. He told the nurse to send them. It came later that night.
- The nurses seemed tentative in putting in the IV. I got the feeling they didn't have much experience. One nurse needed five tries to put the IV in and still wasn't successful. Don't even talk about the pain while they tried five times. The anesthesia doctor had to do it when I got to the OR.
- After the operation, my right hand where the IV was started swelling. By evening the next day, it was huge. I had asked three times before to remove it or do something with the swelling. Nobody came. When my doctor visited, I showed him my hand and asked that it be removed. He called a nurse who looked like he had no choice but to do it. I felt like the swelling scared them in dealing with it.
- Upon admission, I was visited by a dietitian regarding diets. On the admitting form, I indicated Seventh Day Adventists for my religion. We don't eat pork or shellfish and we don't take alcohol or caffeine. Too much alcohol consumption would lead to a need for staying sober tips. The dietitian took note of all it BUT look at what they gave me for lunch after my operation. Pasta with shrimp! This never happened in TMC.
Like I said, overall it was okay. Considering all the hype, my experience was disappointing. It was lacking. I expected more from them. My first choice would always be The Medical City.
Thursday, September 6, 2012
I've been having terrible back pains starting around July 2011 coupled with bloating and tummy discomfort that felt like having an ulcer. I did not connect the two as being gallstone attacks. I ignored the bloating and occassional tummyache and had physical therapy and later on, accupuncture treatments for my aching back.
Last July, after satisfying a late night craving for corned beef (I ate the whole can), I felt indescribable pain on my stomach and back. No matter what I did, it was excruciating. I wanted to go to the ER but Via had fever that night. The pain started around midnight. I finally drifted off to sleep around 4am. When I woke up, the pain was gone.
I went to a doctor that morning and during the discussion about my health history, I mentioned that gallstones were appearing on my annual physical exam since 2007. Since I wasn't feeling any pain, I was told to leave them alone. Apparently, all the tummy and back pains were from the gallstones culminating in that excruciating gallstone attack after eating corned beef. I was told to have surgery immediately but I hesitated. P was due to arrive within the week and we had a full schedule while he was here. I didn't want to ruin our precious family time. Besides, if I was careful with what I ate, I won't have any more pains (I hoped).
I finally had the surgery, laparoscopic cholecsystectomy, scheduled on the last week of August. I was to have it done at St. Luke's Global City because that's where my doctor was affiliated with. But at the last minute, the surgery was postponed. That would be another post because I realize this post is already several paragraphs and it's only the beginning of the story.
I'll end with information I learned from my experience.
So how do you know if you have gallstones? Well, you don't unless like me it shows up during some other medical exam. You could have it for years and not feel any symptoms.
If you do find that you have gallstones, as long as it's asymptomatic, you don't have to have it removed. What you can do is change your eating habits. Gallstones developed from eating too much fatty food. There are also cleansing diets that some people swear have helped them pass stones naturally. I haven't tried it.
If you've been having gallstone attacks, then doctors urge you to have it removed because it will keep on happening once it starts. Better have it out using laparoscopic surgery than having reached emergency proportions and having open surgery.
With laparoscopic surgery, recovery is much faster. Some people I hear even have it done on out patient basis. It's best to stay in the hospital at least a day though because after the surgery all you want to do is sleep.
I'm glad I finally had it removed. Like magic, all my pains are gone and I'm recovering quite well.