Picking up where we left off… “It ain’t over till it’s over”, as Yogi Berra legendarily used to say…
Here is a 48-hour tale about the medical crisis of a friend’s mother-in-law who resides in the Independent Living section of an assisted-living facility. When you’re finished reading this harrowing tale, tell me if you still believe you’re “done” once your aging parent is housed in a residence of some sort!
March 3, 2014 – It Starts in the Morning
Mom awakes with a sore and swollen leg. Thinking it was a spider bite, my friend tried to get a doctor to make an immediate house call. This didn’t happen. Instead, the facility’s doctor arrived just after lunch. Doc recommended they take her (at 94 years old) to Emergency for an ultra-sound to ensure the painful leg wasn’t a blood clot.
My friend’s husband was still at work with their car. She asked the home to send Mom via ambulance to a nearby hospital with which they were well familiar; they’d made plenty of support trips there for years. Long ago, they’d learned you sometimes get priority over walk-ins if you arrive at Emergency via ambulance.
Close-by hospitals were no longer accepting patients that day. Instead, they took Mom by ambulance to an inconvenient downtown location where my friend and her spouse met up around 5:30 p.m. They waited in the Triage hall with Paramedics for about 45 minutes. Once wheeled into Emergency, her stretcher was parked in a hallway next to the Central Nursing Station for several hours.
The Resident Doctor finally took down details at 10:30 p.m. The ER Doctor needed to see Mom so tests could be ordered. She didn’t get to the waiting trio until 11:00 p.m. due to other crises.
March 4 at 12:30 a.m. – Come Back Tomorrow
When all was said and done, it was so late there was no one left to do the ultra-sound! There was no other option but to repeat the whole ordeal the next day!
The new appointment time for tests was slated at 9:30 a.m. They were to return Emergency as a priority patient so the Doctor could provide treatment.
In the meantime, another complication arose overnight. Mom had to be taken first to a local lab to perform tests and adjust her blood thinners. There’d be no ambulance that day.
March 5 – Let’s Try This Again!
My friend had to take another day off work. She and her husband are entrepreneurs. By the way, sometimes people assume that those of us who are entrepreneurs have an easier time of eldercare. Not so! But my heart truly goes out to employees who get docked pay and more for needing to take such time “off”. More on that in another Blog…
In any case, they finally spent the morning of day 3 at the downtown hospital. Ultimately, Mom was bandaged up after the infection was deal with and sent packing with seven days of antibiotics. A quick pharmacy trip before supper-time was left.
Still, my friends checked in at the home every day for a week to ensure all ailments fully cleared up. During that entire distressing period, they averaged four hours of sleep per night.
Naturally, there is SO much I could say about their experience. Bear in mind that whole adventure was just one slice out of a 365-day year whilst supporting this aging mother for over a decade.
Did you note how this couple essentially handled everything themselves? The facility isn’t really present in any solutions. And anyone should wonder why I come across growing numbers of caregiver burnout magazine articles?
Let’s not even discuss this example of Canada’s healthcare model! Stay tuned for my follow-up book Coping with Un-cope-able Systems: ADVOCACY for Eldercare for publication in the spring. Until then, you can pick up Coping with Un-cope-able Parents: LOVING ACTION for Eldercare at www.copingwithuncopeableparents.com.