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A medical emergency in the Santa Maria household

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I’m madder than Marcus Welby with a broken stethoscope and splintered tongue depressor over the fact that I didn’t decide to become a doctor even though I had the chops to do it thanks to my years learning CPR as a Raven Hall Pool lifeguard in my days of yesteryear.

Look, you all know that if I had followed my original calling — instead of chasing girls and meatball sandwiches — then I would have saved tons on medical bills by simply diagnosing me, my kids, and my lovely wife Sharon’s medical ailments.

Speaking of medical ailments, my bride of 44 years went to bed after supper the other day and saw flashes of colorful thunder in her eyes that reminded her of the time she had a stroke two decades ago. Now, most people faced with such a situation would immediately call the 911 and catch an ambulance to the nearest hospital asap. But I don’t need to tell you that the ol’Screecher is far from normal. Just the thought of going to a hospital late in the evening and have a grueling wait before being attended to was giving me a stroke. Not wanting me to go through such an event, my wife argued that tomorrow she’ll call her doctor and ask to be seen immediately because the night before she had stroke symptoms.

So we hit the sack.

Now, you’ve all heard me complain many times about the treatment that our silver generation receives whenever we go to the hospital. As far as I’m concerned, the Hippocratic Oath wallows in pure hypocrisy.

However, today I’m here to tell you that my wife’s stroke became a stroke of luck because it taught me about a concept so refreshing, so totally reassuring, and so darn righteous for the sick, infirm, elderly, and patients of all ages. They are called “patient representa­tives,” and they are worth their weight in gold.

Now to be totally fair about it, hospitals and their staff have way too many patients and problems and at any given moment you are just one of thousands that need immediate help.

Of course, the when we woke up we couldn’t get an appointment with our doctor so we decided to go to the SUNY Downstate urgent care facility housed in the former Victory Memorial Hospital on 92nd Street and Seventh Avenue. I had written a couple of columns on this “meet and treat” service that offered instantaneous medical attention. Normally, that is the case, but in this instance, the MRI was down, and staff there told us to hightail it to the hospital emergency room.

I remembered recently seeing a picture of an old friend Doug Jablon in my colleague Joanne Delbuono’s “Standing O” column, showing Doug getting a citation for all the thousands of patients he helped. Doug is a vice president of Maimonades Medical Center, in charge of patient relations, and I got him on speed dial, so I immediately called him and told him of Sharon’s dilemma.

“Carmine,” he said. “Get her to our emergency room and I’ll have a patient rep meet you at the door.”

We got there within 10 minutes because even after she’s had a stroke, my wife can drive with the best of them, and it was as though we said “Open sesame” and all the technology, medical care, and concern of the Maimonides Medical Center opened up to us.

Now, remember when I said Sharon drove. Well that was a joke, because my saint of a nephew Anthony not only drove our car, but was the leader of our expedition. I couldn’t get Access-a-Ride to get us there because you can’t book a trip on the same day. So without Tornado to take me, it was Anthony that had to secure a wheelchair and actually got one that I fit in.

My stroke of luck was further confirmed when I saw the size of that wheelchair and knew that everything was going to look up. The stream of nurses, doctors, aides, and patient reps that looked after Sharon lifted all of our morales. The emergency room was jam packed and these patient reps got around to all of them, acting as their guardian angels. Sharon was hospitalized for six days and finally released Monday afternoon.

Thanks to patient Reps like Don Ramos, Gabe Haber, Pat Aguisto, and dozens of others and especially to Doug Jablon for his Guardian Angel Army.

Screech at you next week!

Read Carmine's screech every Sunday only on BrooklynPaper.com. E-mail him at diegovega@aol.com. Can't wait until Sunday? Read it Saturday at BrooklynDaily.com! But don't tell anybody we told you so.
Updated 10:12 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Jim from Cobble Hill says:
While the younger generation is slowly dying from Monsanto poisoning, these old fat fu(ks get an MRI in the middle of the night... or maybe we can get hit by a car being driven by a woman who may have just suffered a stroke. ...genius.
June 23, 2013, 3:38 pm
Paul from Boerum Hill says:
Carmine, while I enjoy your writing style and I know this was a very stressful occasion, in the future I urge to immediately go to the hospital at the onset of any cerebral symptoms, such as your wife's vision episodes. Delay can result in a number of tragic outcomes, including death. Stroke like symptoms can result from lack of blood due to a blockage or from a burst vessel, which could extend into brain swelling, which could further the damage.

I hope the good folks at Victory gave you this advice. Your wife may not have wanted to go for a number of reasons, some of which could be the result of a stroke, but delay can be debilitating and fatal. Her decision making powers could well be impaired, and it's up to you to make sure she gets immediate care. If something is wrong, call an ambulance and get to a hospital immediately.
June 24, 2013, 10:53 am
Paulie from Bay Midge says:
Wait..what exactly was wrong with her?
June 24, 2013, 6:14 pm
old time brooklyn from slope says:
Jim - save your knee jerk bigotry - read the article - his nephew drove - and when are people deemed lees worthy to live - Nuremberg or Roe vs Wade?
June 24, 2013, 9:22 pm
ty from pps says:
old time -- Mr. Morbidly Obese *added* that paragraph about his nephew driving... it wasn't there originally.
June 25, 2013, 8:51 am
old time brooklyn from slope says:
=I saw it at 9 am Sunday and no posts were on - fact
June 25, 2013, 10:12 pm
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
People might be less worthy to live when they go back and retroactively try to fix journalistic errors (or in this case outright untruths) and deliberately make it seem that such an error never existed in the first place ...like habitual liars, or Fox News (you know, the ones who pay the "Carmiester" to write this crap).
June 25, 2013, 10:20 pm

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