Access Denied

I was denied medical treatment today not because I wasn’t insured; I have insurance. I’m over insured. I was denied treatment over a piece of plastic that was manufactured back in 1970. 

You see folks, I have what is called a ventriculo perotaneal shunt installation (VP shunt) which prevents hydrocephalus from happening. I have an over production of cerebral fluid. Everybody has cerebral fluid the brain floats in. If we didn’t we all would give ourselves concussions every time we moved our head.

My VP shunt goes around my skull, down my neck and right shoulder draining through my kidneys. But what I didn’t know was there are several kinds of shunts.

Route Location of Fluid Drain
Ventriculo-peritoneal shunt (VP shunt) Peritoneal cavity
Ventriculo-atrial shunt (VA shunt) Right atrium of the heart
Ventriculo-pleural shunt (VPL shunt) Pleural cavity
Ventriculo-cisternal shunt (VC shunt) Cisterna magna

I may possibly have a sublaxation- a partial dislocation -on the left shoulder, so I’ve been in a sling for 2 weeks now, not really being able to maneuver my wheelchair by myself. I’ve had a lot a help since then.

I was sent to the hospital to get an MRI to verify my diagnosis. I arrived 45 minutes early to check in. I went through the paper work which everything was approved and ready to go. As I was waiting for my turn a crude,tall,lanky nurse comes out to ask me about my VP shunt.

She gives me a stern look and without a simple hello or pleasant introduction she looks down at me and says. “it says here you have a shunt, What kind is it?” I say a “vp” and then she says “what is it made of?” “Is it programmable?” “When was the last time you had it checked?” I give her a perplexing look and then I say “I don’t know, plastic? And then I say “It was installed in 1970. The year I was born; in Galveston, TX.” And she gives me this “fuck you”look and continues with her interrogation. “Who installed it?” “When was the last time you had it checked?” And I say “never.It’s made of plastic. It doesn’t need to be checked or replaced.” Then she asks me in her crude tone “Is it programmable?” Do you have it programmed?” And I say once again, “NO, IT’S MADE OF PLASTIC!” Which in reality I didn’t know because it’s been there for so long.

After she drills me about my shunt. She informs me the doctor needs to know the material it’s made of because it’s a safety issue. 

She goes back to discuss with the doctor what I had conveyed meanwhile I make a frantic phone call to my mom about my shunt because she would have this information but to no avail was my phone call a success. 

The nurse returns and says with her crude tone “we’re going to need an X-ray of your head.”  and so I was taken back to one of the rooms and had my head X-rated. When that was done I was taken back to the waiting room.

And so I sit and wait to see if I will have an MRI done today. 

Guess what happened! That’s right folks, the nurse comes back only to tell me it’s against hospital policy to give patients like me MRI’s because it’s a safety concern. Since they don’t know or can’t tell in the X-ray what my vp shunt is made of; they can’t risk it. “If something were to happen, it would be on us.” She says. I’ve had MRIs done before just not here. She repeats herself which is making both of us very irritated and continues to say, “You could talk to the doctor yourself if you want but he’s just going to tell you the same thing.”  By this point in time I was already extremely angry; answering her politely and generically so not to explode in front of her and without an apology or a “Have a good afternoon” this ill mannered woman turns and walks away.

So you can imagine my fury this afternoon as I head out the door. An entire afternoon wasted. My VP shunt has never been a problem until now. So the next time I go for an X-ray, MRI or any similar procedure I’m going to have to carry information about it.

Two good thing came out of this little venture. I’ve learned there’s more than one kind of shunt and I’m going to have to do some research so this will never happen again.


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