A Medical Nightmare in Santa Monica

Al and his wife are living a medical nightmare.

This is not a good time in the House of Martinez.

What began as relatively ordinary hip-replacement surgery for the lady of our dominion, the ebullient Cinelli, has escalated into a nightmare of physical pain and emotional turmoil that has me wondering about the efficacy of the medical community to deal with a simple procedure.

It has been six weeks since the surgery at a highly-regarded orthopedic hospital and nothing seems to have gone right. A few days after surgery, Cinelli was sent off to a nearby convalescent home where therapy was to begin.  She was anxious to get past it all, to be well again.

That was not to be.

Pain and light-headedness characterized those first therapeutic efforts, but it wasn’t until she began vomiting that her caretakers decided that it was more than just another complaining woman. Finally responding to her insistence that something was wrong and to excessive bleeding from the surgical incision, tests determined she had a low blood count.

Cinelli was returned to the hospital for a blood transfusion. It caused an allergic reaction that left her in an even more weakened state. After a few days, she was deemed able to return to a different convalescent facility, undertook therapy and then checked out, still trying to tell anyone who would listen that something was not right.

At home, her recovery was uneven at best but no one appeared concerned. Then a physical therapist-not an MD-came by, examined her and said it seemed like an infection and informed her doctor. She was returned to the hospital again and tests proved that the PT was right.

A second surgery was required to clean out the hip area, during which it was determined that she had a staph infection. Antibiotics made her feel better, but her blood count was still too low, so they gave her another transfusion. This again resulted in an allergic reaction that required immediate treatment. A third transfusion followed without a negative result.

Cinelli remains in the hospital as I write, due to come home-again-in a few days. The whole family is in a state of emotional turmoil, hoping that this time her recovery will be complete.

We have learned from this six-week ordeal that the medical community must be called to account for its mistakes or errors in judgment and I intend doing just that. This isn’t over until answers are forthcoming.

But we have also learned that we must advocate on our own behalf; push for action when we know something is not right; question the medical community. In other words, empower ourselves in the face of those who might consider themselves all-powerful.