St. Luke’s Memorial

Ordeal at St. Luke’s Memorial, Lufkin, Texas

It’s probably not ordinary to have a page like this one on a website but then I’m not ordinary.  This story and its effects on my life have a direct bearing on this website because it has affected me in many ways.  The event changed my life and sent me in a new direction.  I’m still working out the kinks in this new life.  Based on other’s accounts and other sources, here’s the story:

I am a patient of the Veteran’s Administration.  I have been for decades.  My regular doctor at the time of this medical incarceration was Dr. Hassle.  He’s a good doctor.  I went to see him on August 29, 2020.  I had a little congestion.  He detected a little heart defib.  He suspected Covid and sent me by ambulance to St. Luke’s Memorial Hospital in Lufkin.  From that point on the story is vague and based upon speculation and very little solid information.

I communicated with my wife around one AM.  I was fine.  The Covid test was negative.  I had an IV with antibiotics and was expecting to go home in a few hours.  But after that, nobody knows what happened other than the perpetrators at the hospital.  My wife tried to call, thought I was asleep, and waited to hear from me.  At around noon she received a call that I was in ICU with a tube down my throat giving me oxygen.  They told her I quit breathing.

I do not believe the skimpy story they told my wife.  According to the medical personnel at the time I had just quit breathing and they intubated me.  A single report from someone who was there disputes this, saying I was awake and fighting them to prevent the tube from being inserted.  She said I was the angriest man she’s ever seen.  I can only speculate about what happened.  Either I witnessed something I should not have, I received treatment meant for another patient, or perhaps I was given a sedative and it caused the episode. Or something more nefarious was happening.  I know, because I have read part of my records, that I was administered large doses of Propofol from the morning of August 1, and that medication can cause patients to stop breathing, especially those my age and older.

I remained in the ICU for a month and a half.  In that time I spent 22 days with the tube in my throat and then got a tracheotomy.  I was given a PEG tube to feed me.  The PEG tube was inserted improperly, leaked into my abdomen, and developed sepsis.  On August 29, 2020, my 64th birthday, I was operated on because of sepsis.  It was very bad. After a week or so the doctors spoke to my wife about placing me in hospice.  They were sure I would not live long.  She and my children refused that idea.  I was placed in another hospital, the Post-Acute Medical Specialty Hospital, (PAM for short).  That facility is located on two floors of St. Luke’s but is a separate business.

The PAM unit, as it was called, was horrible.  I woke up there.  In the beginning, I suffered a lot of pain, especially in my legs.  The remedy was me so many pain medications I became delirious and psychotic.  I had delusions.  Eventually, the doctor weaned me off pain medications and gave me a pain patch.  Then I suffered an episode of internal bleeding so bad I had to receive seven pints of blood.  I said something to a doctor about getting iron supplements once due to anemia and in response, he prescribed four IV bags of iron, likely to make me incredibly sick and probably kill me.  Fortunately, I discovered what he’d done in time to stop them from giving it to me.  Overall the doctors in that unit who cared for me seemed incompetent and lackadaisical.

The nursing staff was a mixed bag.  Some were very nice and helpful.  Some, but not all.  The overnight shift was considerably worse than the rest.  Getting help with needs late at night was very difficult.  One particular nurse assigned to me was a bitch.  No other word describes her.  She was older, complaining, demanding, and neglected her duties.  She did nasty things to me I can’t mention here.  I requested she be replaced and then all the nurses, especially the night crew, got angry and I was more neglected.

I cannot say for sure if PAM personnel were malicious or just stupid and incompetent.  It was a strangely run unit, all records were on paper, and turnover was terrible.  A new nurse came through every day.  Others left.  Those that were there had to spend hours documenting.  The absurd lack of electronic records and aids was astounding in this modern era.

On the first of November, 2020, I was transferred to a “rehab” hospital in Humble, Texas.  They worked with me some but I was not able to do much.  I demanded to be brought home so I was brought back to Lufkin in an ambulance.  I arrived home in sad shape.  I could barely move.  I could not lift myself.  My left side was numb.  The hospital told my wife I was terminal and would not live the year out.  Like everything else, they were entirely wrong. 

The VA provided a ramp, wheelchair, hospital bed, patient lift, and home care for me.  I worked hard and got better quickly.  I was out of bed in a month.  I put away walking aides in another couple of months.  In the spring we broke down the bed and stored it.  I have gotten increasingly better.  I have not become entirely well and probably will never be.

The hospital staff and doctors were wrong about many more things than they were right.  They said I did not have a stroke.  They told my wife I had an MRI but actually, it was a CT scan.  I did have a stroke.  My wife was sure of it all the time because of my symptoms.  My left side was unusable when I woke up.  It recovered much more slowly.  It took many weeks for me to learn to control my left arm.  That was difficult because I am left-handed. 

As I recovered, a few problems remained and even became more pronounced.  I live with a kind of mental fog that makes everything I do, including this website, more difficult.  I have tremors and nerve spasms.  I am slightly dizzy and unbalanced.  These are all symptoms of a stroke.  I saw a neurologist not too long ago outside of the VA who said he was sure I’d had a stroke, too.  I believe that whatever happened in the early hours of August 1, whatever it was, led the hospital to force a tube down my throat.  I believe I fought back and was restrained and then dosed heavily with propofol, a bad drug for people my age and one that erases memory.

I know, but cannot yet prove, that St. Luke’s Memorial in Lufkin perpetrated malpractice on me, and maybe worse.  I believe the Covid scare gave hospitals carte-blanc to do as they please without any supervision.  My wife was not allowed to see me at all for eight days and then only briefly.  I have attempted to sue them but the attorney who took my case dropped it and told me the hospital saved me and I should be grateful.  I have no doubt he was friends with people at the hospital and held my case for some time to help run the clock out.

At this point, I have far less than a year to make a case and I have yet to find an attorney who will help.  I cannot trust anyone in this small town and finding someone in another city is difficult.

This is my story to this point.  I will update it as I can.  My physical and mental condition slows down and interferes with my work, both on this website and writing.  It does not end it nor make me incompetent to help others or provide guidance.  I will just work harder and do the best I can.  That is all I can do.

H.J. Ted Gresham