After my medical post I was flooded with so many e-mails sharing similar medical horror stories that I've only managed to get through them all just recently. Of all the tears and pain and mind-blowing medical incompetence, though, Saudade's story trumps them all. (Not that this is a contest, of course.) As horrific as her experience was, though, I honestly think you need to read it. All of you. You need to know how you might be treated some day, and you need to know what lengths you may have to go to, for yourself or your loved ones, just to get the care you literally need to survive.
In a nutshell, Saudade was belittled, berated, and ignored while she bled internally in the ER for six solid hours. Her ER nurses apparently thought she was just another hysterical pregnant girl, and so claimed that each of the *three separate machines* showing her rapidly dropping pulse were faulty, until Saudade simply had no pulse at all. She was moments away from death before anyone - ANYONE - took her pain seriously.
She has had the surreal experience of a nurse breaking down into tears as she rushed Saudade into emergency surgery, and a doctor pounding on her chest screaming, "breathe, dammit!" - which I honestly thought only happened in movies. She nearly died, several times over. She did lose her child. She was on a respirator for days. And two years later, it all happened again.
Saudade's corresponding emotional journey is also something I thing you should see, because while it has equal horrors of cruel and clueless "counselors," at least it has a happier ending. It's taken nine years, but Suadade's finally stopped blaming and punishing herself, and - here's where I'm going to cry again - she's started drawing again.
And out of so much pain, there blooms something so, so beautiful:
Saudade wrote to thank me for helping her feel brave enough to finally share her story. I think we should thank her for taking this leap, and for allowing us to see the dangers we must guard against in our health care system. If I've taken anything away from her story and the countless others you readers have shared, it's that you have to trust yourself more than your doctors, and you should never let anyone tell you you're fine when you know you are not. Sadly, playing nice just isn't an option any more when it comes to your health. Make someone listen. Don't stop. Look out for your loved ones. And whatever you do, whatever people say, please, don't blame yourself. There are good health care workers out there, so let's make stories like Saudade's a thing of the past, together.
Go here to read Saudade's story. Then forward it to your mom, and your sister, and your doctor. Get the word out. Then find someone with a story like Saudade's, give them a hug, and remind them it's not their fault. I bet we'll be surprised by how many of them need it.
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