Though not his story, Johnny’s deserves telling

Many relatives and friends have asked me to tell this story. I hesitated because this is not my story but Johnny’s. I know now that he would have wanted me to tell it.

Sometimes doctors make the wrong diagnosis. Sometimes they treat the symptoms and never care to continue the examination to finally determine the causes. In my Johnny’s case he was vomiting constantly. He was taken to the emergency room at Maui Memorial hospital in Wailuku. The doctor on duty had his head examined.

No concussion was noted so Johnny was sent home with some medication. The very next night he was found to be extremely dehydrated and sent by ambulance back to the ER. There he inhaled some vomit. After two weeks on the respirator, Johnny died in my arms after kissing me goodbye. Johnny was a person of need, my brother. We had lived together, caring for each other, for 15 years. I miss him.

You need to be aggressive when advocating for your loved ones. Doctors do a lot of guessing and dismissal. In Johnny’s case, instead of continuing the search for a proper diagnosis, it was easier to discharge him. As it turned out, Johnny had an intestinal blockage which an X-ray could have found.

Maui Memorial hospital and its emergency room are places that scare us. We have learned that the doctors and nurses are not always available to attend to their patients as needed. Their attention is divided between patient and computer. I have learned that Medicaid and elderly patients and persons of need receive less attention and are frequently ignored.

Frank Gomes



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