Thursday, October 20, 2011


Time does not heal all wounds. I awoke at about 6:30 AM, with the memory of my husband lying on a gurney in the observation area of the Jewish General Emergency bleeding to death. The memories stream together like a chain.
It was early in 1992, but I cannot forget.
The time my husband was left in a bed in emergency with blood pouring from his arm into a small puddle on the floor. A nurse had taken a blood sample and walked away. The fact that Cliff was on Coumadin, a blood thinner, was apparently not part of her area of concern. I was sitting right beside his bed when I suddenly saw the red puddle forming on the floor below his arm. I started screaming for help. What would have happened had I not been right by his side?
The time my husband was lying on a wet gurney in the Emergency FOR HOURS while I pleaded with orderly Jean Francois to come and change him. The result was a painful, ugly bed sore. The only wound my darling husband ever had in the twenty years we were together. The only time I had ever seen a bed sore. And he never complained. He never said a word about it. But I still feel his pain.
I had changed Cliff again and again while I was able, but I was finally so exhausted, so burned out, I couldn't. I just couldn't. And Jean Francois passed by again and again over the many hours and he would not help. I never forget. 
While this was happening in the observation section, I was suddenly rushed forward into the Emergency area and subjected to a painful blood gas extraction because the doctor thought I was having a heart attack.
And finally the days and nights I stood by Cliff's gurney in the hallway of the observation area, sopping up the blood from his gums with stacks of gauze pads. The bleeding wouldn't stop.
Cliff was on Coumadin, but haematologist Dr. Archie Rosenberg thought that taking him off the blood thinner for three days was long enough to make it safe to have a wisdom tooth pulled. The doctors insisted that the tooth be removed because it was loose and "he might choke on it". I was scared, worried about the risk of bleeding, I told the doctors I was afraid.  The tooth never bothered him. But they assured me it was safe and necessary to pull it. And the tooth came out easily and Cliff had no pain. But the bleeding never stopped. And Cliff bled to death.
My beloved husband was almost 90 years old. But he was the world to me. And the mistakes and negligence we experienced in the Emergency haunt me to this day.
Oh, yes. I remember it well. And I am sure that there are other patients and patients' loved ones who have not forgotten their ordeals due to negligence and mistakes in hospital. But they are silent. The dead are silent because they are dead. The families are silent because they don't want to remember. But I do. And this suffering will go on as long as doctors and nurses and hospital corporations keep covering up the mistakes and the negligence.

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