About two weeks ago, I posted the first in a series of medical negligence stories from my life. As I mentioned at the time, I have found that it’s extremely difficult to write about these experiences, because I still suffer from their impact on my body. So I decided to jump-start the process by sharing the letters I have written to doctors following such incidents.
Here is the the follow-up letter I wrote about the wart removal from hell. Dr. C.’s behavior was outrageous and inexcusable, and half a year later, I’m still suffering from the consequences. To his credit, though, Dr. C. did take immediate accountability for his actions and apologize — first by leaving a message on my voicemail, then by sending a formal letter.
In our lawsuit-happy society, that shows a lot of integrity. Dr. C. responded in an ethical way, by owning up to his mistake, instead of scrambling to cover his ass.
January 31, 2008
Dear Dr. C.,
I honor the courage, integrity, and compassion you demonstrated in your phone call a couple of weeks ago and in your recent letter. I know it is not easy to admit to someone that you made a mistake and to apologize for it, especially when you know that person is angry about your behavior. So I really thank you for that, and I accept your gracious apology.
I’m sorry I did not get back to you sooner, but things have been a bit overwhelming recently. On that note, I wish I could tell you that the experience amounted to a bit of a fright and nothing more, but unfortunately, my right eye has not been okay since the incident.
As I mentioned in my previous letter, right after you poured the liquid nitrogen, I felt a mild stinging in my right eye. I didn’t immediately connect it to what happened, because my focus at the time was on protecting my legs from the liquid.
When I went shopping afterwards, however, the stinging persisted, and I felt other unusual sensations that were difficult to describe right off the bat, but left me feeling that something was wrong with my eye. Those sensations also persisted, and some of them got worse.
As I said to the on-call doctor I talked with that night, I experienced not exactly blurriness of vision, but something more akin to a very fine mist or film in front of my right eye. I also felt a nerve sensation extending towards my right ear and toward the right side of my nose, and I felt a mild sense of of disconnect, or laziness, in my right eye.
I wanted to know if I could wait until the next day to see a doctor, or if I needed to get to an emergency room that night. The doctor said that if there was any speck of liquid nitrogen that had touched my eye, my tears had washed it out by that point, so it was just a matter irritation and okay to wait until the next day. He advised me to see an ophthalmologist, which I did the next day.
Meanwhile, that night, I found that watching television hurt my eyes, to the extent that I had to turn it off, and I also found that I was sensitive to light — both of which were unusual experiences for me. I also felt a faint sense of pain when I closed and opened my eye — like there was a mild irritant on the bottom center of my right eye.
That pain was gone the next day, and when I saw the ophthalmologist, I was relieved that the exam showed my eye to be normal. I assumed that my eye was just irritated, and that all the strange sensations would go away in the next day or two.
While the mist/film sensation did go away within several days, and while the hypersensitivity to television (and, as I discovered, the computer) decreased somewhat over the next several days as well, I still felt the sensation of my eye being disconnected or lazy, and the nerve pain was getting worse.
On Tuesday, January 15, I called my mother’s optometrist and told him what was going on. He suggested that I use hot and cold compresses several times a day, to see if it would help with the irritation. I immediately started doing that.
Next, I called my bodyworker, who is a combination of cranio-sacral therapist, acupressure therapist, and nutritionist. The next day, she called back and advised me to take an anti-oxidant formula, which I began taking right away. Meanwhile, I booked her next available appointment.
The compresses (three hot and one cold compresses, in both the morning and evening) and antioxidant formula helped tremendously, as did the bodywork session. Within a couple of days, the constant nerve pain subsided dramatically. Within a week after that, I was able to get by without too much irritation, when only using the compresses in the evening. Though my eye was not yet back to normal, it was improving.
This past Monday, however, when the corner of my right eye was itching, I lightly rubbed my finger against it. I felt immediate pain and hypersensitivity in that corner and the area surrounding it. The hypersensitivity has not left. In addition, the pain got worse — pain in my actual eyeball, as well as the previous nerve pain extending to my nose and ear.
I also began feeling an on-and-off sensation of glass in the upper right side of my eyeball, and today, my eyes have been crazy sensitive. For example, a few times when someone stood close to me, it physically hurt my eyes to look at that person.
My eyes have never been a problem for me, and to be honest, I’m feeling a lot of distress about what’s happening. I suffer from chronic pain as it is, and now I have yet another pain issue complicating my life. Among other things, it is affecting my ability to work, is taking time out of my days, is putting me further into debt, and is leaving me anxious.
I’m assuming that either a speck of liquid nitrogen or the vapor from the liquid triggered a nervous reaction in my right eye. I don’t know if it’s something that Western medical instruments can pick up, or if it’s something that can only be addressed through Eastern medicine. I have scheduled another ophthalmology visit, as well as additional bodywork, to try and figure out what’s going on.
I appreciate your concern, and I’ll keep you posted on how things go.