Let me begin this post by telling you the moral of the story you are about to read: DON'T GET SICK IN ARKANSAS.
That is not to target ALL Arkansans (because I haven't met every single one of them), but the ones I and others I know HAVE encountered have convinced me that the Arkansan stereotype came AFTER the Arkansan, not before. The following account is further substantiation of that stereotype. It is completely factual, and in fact some specific names and places are mentioned in order NOT to protect the guilty.
It's September 22nd, late in the evening, when my brother (who is an over the road trucker) calls me with an extreme sense of urgency and pain in his voice. He has parked at a truck stop near the Rudy exit on Hwy 71 in Arkansas (ten miles north of Van Buren, Arkansas) and is suddenly struck with excrutiating pain in his lower abdomen. I recommend that he go inside and have the attendants call for medical assistance, which they do, and he is soon taken by ambulance to the nearest hospital: The Summit Medical Center in Van Buren, Arkansas.
Upon arrival at the emergency room, the nurse on duty almost immediately diagnosed his symptoms as being a kidneystone that was making its way to the outside world and gave the man his first taste of morphine to help quell the pain. A CT scan soon confirmed her diagnosis and he was admitted in order to monitor him during the "birth". After reaching his room, his nurse Olga the Russian skillfully and painlessly drew his blood and told him a doctor would be in to see him in the morning. At 8 am, Dr. Stephen Carney (aka, "unicorn" due to his almost mythical existence and rare appearances) popped in to the room for ten seconds and told him that they were going to run some more tests and see if they could get the stone to pass. Meanwhile, the morphine continued to freely flow. A night and a day passed, and Tuesday arrived. He was being given fluids via IV as well as drinking water on his own in an effort to flush the 3mm stone out. Urination was always done into a container so that the nurse on duty could strain it and catch the stone if it had arrived. When his container was nearly half full, he was promptly attended to by a Venezuelan nurse who quite routinely emptied his container into the toilet. "Hey, aren't you supposed to strain that?", he slurredly asked her. "Oh, are we straining it?", she replied quite surprised. "Well yeah, it helps to catch any kidney stones I might have passed. That's why I'm here." This was where it began to be apparent just how lacking common sense was in this institution. The remaining events that transpired served only to confirm what was at this point only a suspicion.
Tuesday, noonish. A "nurse" comes in to take my brother's blood pressure and for several minutes fumbles to try and connect the sphygmomanomoter (fancy word for blood pressure device...I'm sure the nurse wouldn't have known it by that name) to the IV MACHINE. After watching this for several minutes, my brother kindly offers assistance. "I don't think that plugs in there...that's my IV machine". "Uh, oh yeah, I know that", the nurse stutters as he briskly walks out of the room never to be seen again. "That's right Toto, we're in Arkansas now!"
Tuesday, 4 pm. My brother is very congested, so much so that he can only breathe through his mouth. He calls the nurse's station and requests some decongestant. "We'll get right on it", they replied. At 7 pm he calls them back because apparently "getting right on it" meant something different to them. The nurse on duty comes into the room and he asks her politely, "did you forget my decongestant?". She replies apologetically, "Oh, I'm sorry. The pharmacy closes at 5 pm. We'll have to order it for tomorrow." "Well why don't we just order it for Saturday instead then and see if we get it by then", my brother replies. "I asked for it an HOUR before the pharmacy closed!". Without responding to his comment, she asks him inquisitively if he has sleep apnia, because she noticed that he was breathing through his mouth while he slept the night before. "oh my god", my brother said, "I'M BREATHING THROUGH MY MOUTH BECAUSE I'M CONGESTED". Exit yet another of Arkansas' finest medical professionals.
Wednesday morning arrives and my brother is told he can't have breakfast because Dr. Carney has ordered some tests on his gallbladder. "WTF?!?!? My gallbladder?!", my brother asks, more than a bit concerned. "Why the hell are we doing tests on my gallbladder?". "I don't know", the nurse responded, "that's just what the doctor said". So, no breakfast. Doctor never comes. No lunch. Doctor never shows. Nine and a half hours later, they wheel him down to get a sonogram on his gallbladder, despite his emphatic assurance that he was NOT paying for it since his true dilemma was a KIDNEYSTONE. They returned him to his room at 6:30 PM that Wednesday evening to what he thought would be a welcomed meal after an entire day of starving, only to be told by a nurse that he wasn't able to eat because the Urologist was coming in the morning to see him and he might want to perform a procedure that precludes eating. MIGHT want to perform a procedure??? For another night, my brother was starved AND dehydrated (couldn't drink anything, either, for some reason). At FIVE P.M. THE NEXT DAY (Thursday), the Urologist saunters in and tells my brother that he wants to run some tests the next morning. It turns out that the Urologist, one Dr. Bell, was the first person he had met after the first day who actually seemed to know what he was talking about and had a decent amount of common sense about him. My brother relayed to the doctor all that had transpired, interrupted only by an occasional "my my" from the doctor's wagging head. Dr. Bell assured my brother that he would make sure he was tested early the next morning. Turns out at least he was good to his word.
It is of note here that my brother's soon to be ex wife (we'll call her Jules (which is a nickname for her real name) out of respect for my brother, not her) text messages him from Ozark, Missouri to find out when he's coming to pick up his kids. She always plans her weekend getaways with her boyfriend around my brother's visits with his children (convenient babysitter). He writes her back to let her know that he's in the hospital, on morphine, and doesn't know when he'll be able to make it. Her one word response: "bummer". That's love for ya.
Still Thursday evening. My brother has had enough of the Summit Medical Center diet plan, and shuffles his way down to the cafeteria to get some food for himself. He let the nurses know his intention to violate their "certain death" care plan on his way past their desk, interrupting their gossip and solitaire, only to find that the cafeteria was closed. He raided the only vending machine available and returned with an aging sandwich and a cupcake. By the time he reached his room, there was a tray of something resembling food waiting for him. Hmm. Fancy that. After that meal, because of the tests ordered for the following morning by the Urologist, he was again not allowed to eat anything. 7 am the next morning, just like Dr. Bell said, they wheel my brother down for another sonogram. But this time, hallefrickinlujea, they actually looked at his kidney! Miracle, or just chance? You be the judge.
It's Friday morning, my brother is in bed waiting for his test results. The amazing, mythical Dr. Stephen Carney, MD (wonder what that really stands for?) comes in and actually holds a conversation with my brother. They discuss the fact that my brother declined to participate in the gall bladder fiasco. "I came to this hospital because I have a kidney stone, not because of my gall bladder", my brother tells him. "When you take your car to the garage for a blown motor and they also notice that you have a hole in your muffler, YOU FIX THE MOTOR FIRST [moron], NOT THE MUFFLER". "I'm not stupid", the doctor replies, taking great offense at the analogy though it's doubtful he actually followed it. They discuss the fact that my brother removed his IV himself, which was left in his hand yet unattached to anything for the past two days. "Why did you remove your IV"?, the doctor asks him, "I really think you should keep it in". "Why?", my brother asks. "So that you can stay hydrated", Dr. Stephen Carney replies. "Oh, you mean like drinking water so I have plenty of fluids to help wash out the kidney stone, LIKE I'VE BEEN DOING WITHOUT AN IV?", my brother asks in frustration and unbelief at Dr. Carney's total lack of common sense. "Uh, yeah", the doctor replies sheepishly. My brother then vents on Dr. Stephen Carney, relating to him all of the acts of utter STUPIDITY that he has had to endure. The doctor, as with every other employee of Summit Medical Center in Van Buren, Arkansas that he had the displeasure of trying to reason with did, DEFENDED the moronic actions and judgments (or lack thereof), and in very specific words, called my brother a jerk to his face. He told him that he had done nothing since he arrived except become a bigger and bigger jerk, and since this wasn't a prison, he could leave anytime he wanted to. In fact, he encouraged it sooner than later. "good lord", my brother replied, "welcome to Arkansas". "What's that supposed to mean?", Dr. Carney asked somewhat offended. "Nothing", my brother said. "Hillbillies". Exit one moronic Dr. Stephen Carney, MD.
Soon after the good doctor left the room, enter one nurse Debbie Pike, RN. Ah, now here was a piece of work. All of the feedback my brother had been providing to the good staff at Summit Medical Center had made its way back to her, including a visit my brother had with Debbie Pike's supervisor, and she was more than perturbed. As with everyone he encountered, my brother gave her the benefit of the doubt and explained the fiasco that had been taking place since he arrived FOUR DAYS ago. The bright and shiny gall bladder that had, as a new toy to a child, not only attracted the attention of the entire staff and Dr. Carney, but had utterly erased from their memory the real reason he had come in; the nurse who had admitted that it was his very first day on the job who could not for the life of him manage to plug a blood pressure machine into an IV machine; and the pretty Venezuelan nurse who (also admitting it was HER first day on the job!) had non-chalantly emptied the urine my brother had been diligently collecting into the toilet, bypassing the strainer that would have captured any passed kidney stones. "I have been your nurse every single day", nurse Debbie Pike retorted, "and I know for a FACT that your urine was never emptied directly into the toilet". "Really?", my brother asked her, "were you here 24/7?". "No", she replied. "Is it possible then that when you WEREN'T here that a Venezuelan nurse working her first day on the job might have dumped half a container of my piss down the toilet?". Nurse Debbie Pike was more than angry at being called out, and, as Dr. Carney had done only with far more emphasis, told my brother he could leave right now. She highly encouraged him to get his stuff and go find medical help someplace else, in fact. "I'm not leaving until I get my test results from this morning", he said. "I need to know if the stone is still there or not". "Fine", she said heading out the door, "I'll get your paperwork ready for you". A few minutes later Nurse Debbie Pike called his room to tell him that his test results showed that he still had a kidney stone and that he should go to Springfield to get it looked at. "I need to talk to the urologist myself", my brother replied, "THEN I'll leave".
A while later he got word from the urologist that the tests looked good...there was NO kidney stone, apparently he had passed it at some point. What? That's right. Nurse Debbie Pike completely FALSIFIED the test results just to rush the exit of my brother from their fine medical establishment. At that point my brother began planning to leave, and waited for the nurse to finish up the discharge paperwork. Even when he was their top priority (they really really wanted him out of there), it STILL took three hours to get his paperwork. In the meantime, the hospital administrator came to have a talk with him to find out what had been going on. He relayed it all to her, in great detail. As with the urologist Dr. Bell, this individual seemed to have a good degree of common sense as well and was apalled at what she was hearing. Nurse Debbie Pike was relieved for the remainder of the day, and who knows what actions will take place when she returns. The good administrator then found my brother a shirt (the one he had come in with had puke on it...he had vomited repeatedly because the pain was so great) and had the hospital pay for a taxi ride back to his rig at the truckstop. Finally, the ordeal was over.
For any Arkansans who read this...I know that ALL of you aren't to blame, I really do. It's the majority of your brethren, though, that are giving the whole lot of you a really, really bad rep. People hate stereotypes. I even hate them. But man, stereotypes don't come out of nowhere. They are based on the behavior exhibited by the average individual in any given group. Arkansans are dumb hicks? Not all of you... but oh my gawd, enough of you are to tarnish the reputation of the whole lot! You Arkansans who CAN read and cipher, PLEASE, make it your life cause to rehabilitate your brethren and share a little of your book lernin with them (if possible). At the very least, when you mingle with the rest of society, make it a point to SHOW us that you're not all like that!
Okay, I'm done venting. No matter what you think of the opinion that is definitely laced throughout the account above, don't ignore the facts of the matter. Folks, if you're in Arkansas and find yourself ill, head for the nearest border and cross that line before you check yourself in to a hospital (especially Summit Medical Center in Van Buren, Arkansas)...otherwise you may not survive it!