Stories from Florida

Cindy's Story

Cindy Schwarz was stunned, like anyone is, when they told her the lesion(s) found on her left lung were most likely cancer. This happened in a Florida emergency room after a car accident. The doctor said timing was everything; get to a lung doctor ASAP. Navigating the medical field was a nightmare. One person said and did this, another the opposite, another spouted he only prescribed to a “Gold Standard of Care” – whatever that meant – and still more were undeniably lackadaisical in offering information, treatments, and solid understanding. Worst of all was the  lack of questions answered, compassion, or any real sense of care. Cindy finally found a facility in Orlando, Florida who’s thoracic surgeon came highly recommended. This was after other pulmonary doctors had strongly urged for an open thoracotomy stating that that procedure was the standard of care for that type.

This new recommendation steered toward a robotic procedure. On her own intuition Cindy opted for the robotics with scant information. Upon meeting that surgeon – Cindy was given a lone 15-minute consultation. Afterward, Cindy awaited a biopsy appointment to determine if the lesions were cancerous. (A previous biopsy was inconclusive.) No appointments were forthcoming. Instead the surgeon instantly scheduled for the surgery. The facility sent Cindy a booklet touting a team in place for help, questions, answers, after care groups, and spiritual guidance at the ready. None of this ever materialized. Despite numerous phone calls to the surgeon’s office information was non-existent. Scared, bewildered, alone, and reticent to proceed, Cindy told the staff she hadn’t agreed to any surgery. “Why would I have my upper left lobe taken out and I don’t even know I have cancer?” she told them; and since no questions had been answered, no specific information explained, she was not having any surgery. Instantly, she was scheduled for a surgery consultation 10 hours before surgery. The pre-anesthesia appointment was scheduled immediately prior.

Both appointments were screaming matches. Medical staff bullying, belittling, and badgering Cindy into having this surgery. The surgeon sitting at Cindy’s side screaming into her face that he HAD answered each and every question, that he was 95% certain it was cancer (the first Cindy had heard this) and what was her problem in all this. During the anesthesia appointment Cindy’s allergies and side effects to the drugs were disregarded. “Those aren’t valid side effects,” Cindy was told.

Not knowing what to do, Cindy reluctantly left, trying to decide. The surgery was scheduled for 5am. A few hours later.

Figuring the surgeon had had a “bad day” Cindy decided to go ahead. Upon entering the pre-op experience Cindy was immediately accosted with belligerent staff. Cindy decided to leave. However, family talked her into staying. From that point on Cindy was abused, sexually abused, and treated with contempt.

She was stripped totally naked in the OR as soon as she entered. Cindy was kept naked throughout. When she pleaded to be covered and a gown and blanket put on her, she was pumped with more drugs. When she awoke again, she was still naked. Throughout there were male techs and staff in and out of the OR witnessing, performing intimate procedure on her. When she pleaded for a blanket male staff jeered her saying she wasn’t getting one “they’ll just take it off you for surgery.” She tried to leave again but was given more drugs.

When she woke up once more, a doctor said it was time to start. There was no help from staff, no discussion, no one talked to Cindy throughout. Cindy was woken up after the bronchoscopy, and before the actual robotic procedure, by the surgeon screaming at her to get herself over onto her right side for surgery to begin. At that point she’d been covered with a thin sheet. The surgeon ripped the sheet off her demanding she “MOVE! NOW!”

All along Cindy was freezing. Shaking uncontrollably. When surgery was done Cindy was again woken up entirely naked. A PA demanded Cindy get herself to the gurney. “You’ll get a gown and covers when you do this. MOVE! NOW!” The PA poked and poked Cindy’s back to get her to comply.

 In recovery Cindy went into hypothermia. The nurse covered her with foil blankets streaming hot air in from blowers. Cindy pleaded to die. “Just let me die. I cannot take any more abuse.”

“I cannot believe how bad of shape you’re in,” said the RN. After surgery the surgeon continued his assault and sexual abuse on Cindy in her hospital room.

Nothing was ever done about any of this horrific, traumatic care. “We don’t treat patients like that,” the Orlando hospital stated over and over. No other federal or state entity intervened. The surgeon and anesthesiologist “lawyered up” on demands made by the Orlando facility’s admin.

To date, Cindy suffers medical trauma and PTSD and is in therapy.

NOTE: Cindy went to the appointments alone. Trusting the medical community.