4 days ago my girlfriend, Nova, got sick with a bad cold which triggered her already severe asthma. After several trips to various clinics, a multitude of steroid injections/breathing treatments and a trip to the Emergency Room - nothing seemed to be helping. We were simply told to "hang in there".
On the evening of Sunday the 10th, I was cooking us dinner at our home. I had contracted Nova's cold and we were both moving very slow. Nova was sitting at the kitchen table and as I started to walk toward the living room I heard her call my name. I turned around to answer and saw her looking absolutely terrified, clutching her throat. She struggled for a few seconds and then gasped for breath. She told me that her throat felt rock-hard and after squeezing it, somthing broke free and it felt like "fluid" was rushing up both sides of her neck. She also told me that she could no longer hear anything. I rushed her to the hospital for the second time that day.
Arriving in the emergecny room, her lips and fingers were turning blue. She was rushed into the main emergency room and given a CAT scan. When the results came back, they showed an acute case of "Pneumothorax", "Pneumomediastinum" and a partially collapsed lung. Essentially, Nova's cold combined with her asthma triggered violent coughing, which burst part of her left and right lungs - the air from her lungs escaped into her chest cavity and started pooling between her wind-pipe and the skin in her neck (compressing her airways and causing breathing problems). The air was also trapped in both shoulders, her arms and her face. Her skin felt like freshly-baked rice crispies (due to the millions of air-bubbles beneath the surface) and all of the areas where the air was trapped appeared swollen and puffy.
The hospital informed us that this complication is fairly rare and because of it's uncommoness, they didn't have a doctor that specialized in it's treatment. They told us that the were going to transfer us to a new hospital. After a 12-hour stay (overnight) in the emergency room, we were informed that they could not locate a specialist and checked us into the Direct Observation Unit (DOU) upstairs.
During our 3-day stay in the DOU, Nova was subject to countless CAT scans and throat/chest x-rays. Aside from the "Pneumothorax" + "Pneumomediastinum", her asthma was causing major problems so she was given dozens of breathing treatments.
I was sick from the cold I contracted from Nova, but I stayed in the hospital with her all day and night for the duration of her stay. I had to fight for her every day. I had to argue with nurses about giving her additional breathing treatments when she couldn't get any air. I had to constantly be on top of her medication (cough medicine, Ativan, painkillers, upset stomach meds, etc.) I had to continuously check with the nurses on the status of the specialist that they were trying to find to treat her. By the end of our stay, I had an entire notebook filled with doctor names, medical reports and every tiny thing that happened while we were in the hospital. It was like I worked on the ward. I felt like I had a full-time job just making sure that the hospital staff were taking adequate care of her.
Ultimately, the hospital told us that they're specialist wouldn't help Nova because he didn't want to work with a patient who had no insurance. Nova had to cancel her medical insurance a few months ago because her asthma medication is so insanely expensive that she couldnt afford paying for insurance AND the medication. She had to choose. I did some research and called a couple other hospitals, searching for a specialist. I was informed that denying a patient care because of their insurance status was illegal. I reported back to our head nurse that the legality of our situation was in question and that I would be taking further steps to persue justice. That evening, the hospital found a specialist. The specialsit told us that he was going to do a final CAT scan and if it showed little or no improvement - they would have to do surgery. We signed off on the risks of this surgery and were totally prepared to go through with it. Luckily, Nova's condition seemed to be improving. They informed us that they wanted to observe her for one more night.
On day 4, Nova was given a chest X-Ray in the morning which further confrimed that she was indeed getting better. We were told that she would be discharged sometime in the afternoon.
Upon Nova's discharge, we were given the hospital bill. There are TWO seperate bills - The first being the "hospital bill". This includes her bed, her room, her medicine and her breathing treatments. This particular bill is $19,000. If paid in the next 7 days, the price goes down to $5000. The second bill is for doctors, nurses and radiology (CAT scans and X-Rays) but we are yet to recieve our balance. We're expecting it to be as much or more as the first bill. On top of these two bills, Nova was given an Emergency Room bill for our initial visit when she was mis-diagnosed and sent home. The E.R. bill is $1600 dollars.
Essentially, 6 days remain until our $5000 dollar bill turns into a $20,000 bill. We have the $1600 E.R. bill and anditional bill for doctors/nurses/radiology on the way. Since Nova cancelled her insurance to be able to afford her asthma medication, we don't get any 3rd-party assistance.
As you guys know, Nova and I are both artists. Neither of us have ever done a "GoFundMe" before as we are both entirely content with the love and support you guys show our music. It truly means the world. Unfortunately, this is a situation that we absolutely cannot afford. If you can lend any help at all - it would be greatly appreciated and definitely won't go unnoiticed.
Thank you all for the well-wishes and love that you've sent as we navigate through this previously uncharted territory in our lives.
- Dustin Buchanan
- Oliver Lauber