Why I May Not Return to the Pellas Hospital

The Pellas Metropolitano hospital is a very good hospital and has received international accreditation. But there are many good hospitals in Managua and two very good ones in Masaya. Lately the Pellas prices have been rising and the recent care I received there was less than satisfactory though it may have been an isolated incident. I recently had a serious medical condition which forced me to admit myself to Pellas since our Granada doctor was out of the country.

It all started on a Saturday morning when I felt some stomach or intestinal pains. This is not that unusual since it is common to have parasites or various intestinal infections in the tropics. Usually a visit to the doctor, some good antibiotics and you are better in a few days. At first I thought I would tough it out which men often do for no good reason in a country where a doctor visit is about $15, Sunday I began to feel worse but not bad enough to want to bother the doctor on his one day off. Monday I felt a little better and was able to publish the Nica Nuggets but Tuesday I became very ill and finally went to see our Granada doctor on Thursday.

He diagnosed that I had an intestinal infection and prescribed some medicine for it. I started to feel a little better but by Saturday I was starting to have serious lower abdominal pain that was obviously more than an infection. We tried to contact our doctor but he was out of the country. By then the pain was so intense that I was ready to go to any hospital just for pain relief. We considered the new Cruz Azul in Granada but we understood they would not accept credit cards so Amy and a friend insisted we go to the Pellas hospital. By then, the pain was so intense that I would agree to anything.

We arrived at the Pellas emergency room where they admitted me after getting all the credit card info and making a large deposit. The great thing about Pellas is that they have all the modern equipment so over the next few hours I was x-rayed, ultra-sounded and put through the MRI. They discovered that not only did I have some lower intestinal infections I also had a two inch stone that had attached itself to the wall of my ureter. In addition my diverticulitis was acting up which usually happens on an annual basis. But it was the large stone causing the intense pain.

Since the prior Thursday I had not eaten and could not sleep for more than 30-40 minutes before the next pain spasm would wake me up. I would spend nights laying on the sofa watching Friends reruns and I hated Friends when it was a live show. They are the worse actors ever on television. Though painful, it is a good way to lose weight since I lost 20 pounds over two weeks.

I was immediately admitted into the hospital and put on IVs since I had no hunger nor thirst. None of their drugs would do more than reduce the pain somewhat. Still could not eat and had not been to the bathroom in days. They scheduled an operation for Monday to remove the stone. The only time I finally felt no pain was when they put me under prior to the operation. It was sweet bliss!

Upon regaining consciousness, I was surprised to find I still had intense pain spasms. So I remained on IVs and ineffective pain medications were provided. It would dull the pain somewhat but I still could not eat or sleep. It was a living hell! The next day the doctor arrived and explained the stone had been removed by laser but a catheter between my kidney and urethra was inserted since they thought some damage had been caused by the stone removal and the catheter was causing the pain. I explained that the pain was almost as bad as the stone but the doctor wanted to leave the catheter in for four weeks and he stated I would get used to the pain. You do not get used to such pain levels that many times I would scream out in pain. They even gave me morphine but even that helped very little. I have had morphine before and believe me, you feel no pain immediately so I have to suspect it was watered down like they water down paint here to make it go further.

For another two days I endured intense pain with no sleep until the doctor finally agreed to another operation to remove the catheter. They finally removed the catheter on Thursday which greatly reduced the pain spasms. $1700 for the first operation and $1500 to remove the catheter. Good prices but I felt the second operation was due to complications from the first operation.

In what I considered poor customer relations, every other day the hospital administrators would show up and insist we pay all bills to date. It wasn’t like I was going to escape from paying the bills. The cost of this care was almost $2000 a day and Amy asked if this included all costs such as the operations, consultations, etc. and they insisted it covered everything. Of course, they were completely wrong as each doctor and consultant visited me with their own bill for their services. By then the bill had climbed over $10,000 and I was still in great pain since my other infections had not been cured.

Now it was Friday and I informed them I wanted to be released because the bills were escalating, I was not getting better and I wanted to see my own Granada doctor. They resisted greatly but finally agreed to let me be released. It took another six-seven hours for them to prepare the paperwork for my release. During this time I made several phone calls to Arlen who has helped several friends with issues at the hospital. She is the department head of medical tourism. She was not available and did not return any of my messages.

Amy had stayed with me several nights which helped greatly. No one wants to die alone. This day she had returned to Granada since she had art classes to give. So with the doctors’ release I put on my clothes and prepared to leave the hospital. This freaked out the nurses and stated I could not leave by myself nor drive home alone. After haggling for a couple hours they agreed to release me if I would sign a statement releasing them from all consequences. They still insisted that I be put in a wheelchair and taken to the pharmacy to get the medications which cost another $100. Slowly I drove home and reviewed the past five days. Yet I was still in great pain.

I immediately made an appointment with my Granada doctor and gave him all the x-rays, ultrasound results and MRI readings along with the chronological list of actions taken by the Pellas doctors. They are quite good at documenting everything. It had now been two weeks of eating very little, experiencing great pain and very little sleep. He suggested different medications from the Pellas medications., gave me a shot that completely relieved the pain and prescribed all new medication. Immediately I started improving but it took almost two weeks to get most of my strength back and even now feel 20 years older but it is getting better.

I’m not looking for sympathy since we all have our lives to deal with, warts and all. Pellas is an excellent hospital with modern diagnostic equipment, a good staff and can address most medical problems. I still believe they are a good choice for most medical issues but have less faith in them when there are complications or multiple medical issues at the same time. It was their modern equipment which found the stone. I did not appreciate waiting a whole day to see a doctor and feel they do not have proper pain management techniques. I felt insulted they would visit a patient in great pain and insist we settle our bills every couple days. Adding insult to great injury when I was feeling so poorly made me glad I was not armed at the time because I might have attacked someone.

No, my next medical emergency will be to a hospital my Granada doctor recommends and will likely not be the Pellas hospital. My thanks to all the friends and associates that extended their best wishes and hopes. To those that heard me scream like a little girl, my apologies but I am not experienced in how to scream in pain in a more manly manner. My greatest regret was in worrying my wife so much yet she stayed by my side. I could never find another woman like her in three life times.

Note – This article generated a lot of responses both good and bad. Again, I consider Pellas an excellent hospital but perhaps they have rested on their laurels. They have already contacted me to apologize and would like to meet to see how they can improve their procedures. I respect them for that. To be fair I have offered them an opportunity to write a rebuttal which I would publish. Even hospitals and doctors have bad days.