View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Dad back in the hospital

It's an eerily familiar scenario.

A senior struggling with health, a phone call from the nursing home - going to Emergency - my own trip to the hospital, sitting in an Emergency Department room talking with someone who is seeing things - ants on the table - and looking so frail.

When did this former heavyweight boxer and all-star athlete lose so much weight?

Pneumonia. Low oxygen count. Fever - 101. Pulse racing at above 105.

As I sat there with dad Thursday I kept thinking of all those trips with Nana, until we reached the point where I told the home to stop sending her to the hospital as the trips were doing nothing except reducing the quality of her life.

As for dad, by last night he was in a room, at least for the weekend, stable, fever down, but still not thinking straight, still looking so frail. I stopped by to see him after school, found that the home had not sent his teeth or his glasses, so I drove to the home to pick them up and returned to the hospital. The man should at least be able to eat and watch television.

I asked about his condition. His nurse, who was basically seeing him for the first time, did not know, didn't even know if he could receive pain medication for his arthritis - even though he'd been on pain abatement medication for years.

The nurse never came back, so I went to the desk. No one knew anything. Ask his nurse, they said. His nurse walked past me into a room behind the desk. No one said anything to him. They had all stopped talking to me. Busy. I finally snapped, "Guess I don't find out," and walked away.

A few minutes later a nurse practitioner showed up to dad's room, apologized, and went over a few things - but she had no idea how long he would be there. At least the weekend. Maybe more. The doctors had left no notes. She searched through the documents for my name and phone number - I'm his proxy. No luck. No sign of the papers that had been with him in the Emergency Room, so she had to take down contact details.

Then the nurse came back and apologized. I did too for my sarcastic tone.

Dad lay in the bed. I'm not sure how much of this he understood. He wanted to be back at the home. He wanted to play bingo, and cards. He was going to miss the communion service. He started talking like he was in the home. Where's my dresser, I want a chocolate. I reminded him he was in the hospital. He looked at me, puzzled for a second, then said he knew he was in the hospital.

I kept thinking of those last months with Nana.


Anonymous Carol said...

That's outrageous, Lee, the whole thing. And I've seen it too often myself. Speaking from both ends of it -- as both caretaker of my mom and later as caretaker of others as nursing aide, I've learned that it's ok to get angry, or at least to make yourself verrrrry present. Neglect in any medical setting is truly not done on purpose, and I am sure your dad is greatly loved and respected, though it seems not -- but it is indeed crucial for you to be tenacious and to confront folks, because in what is actually understaffed places/times, the patients/family folks who can be set aside for now, are set aside for now. Don't be more heartbroken than you have to be--remember that your dad has got his angel from God Himself with him, always, and that you can appeal for his protection. Hang in there.. We'll all remember your dad today.

9:04 AM  
Blogger Persis said...

My prayers are with you and your family at this time.
It is sad to say, but your experiences are not isolated. I have worked in the elder care industry for the last decade, and have also had personal experiences w/ the health care system (I use that term loosly, system to me suggests "organization" which is something sorely lacking here in our area).
My best advice to you and to all who read this post is to be "pro-active" in your healthcare and that of your vulnerable friends and relatives. Do not let your questions go unanswered and if need be, be a real "pain in the a--", go up the chain of command in the hospital or nursing home, and if you still don't get answers, contact "Lifespan" (at least here in the Rochester area), they have people that can help, and if you still don't get what you are looking for, start calling the NYS agencies that handle accredidation.
And finally, it is so important for all of us (young & old) to have "advanced directives" and a health care proxy that knows, understands and can execute your wishes should you not be able to.

I could ramble on forever about this situation, as it is a big part of what is wrong with the system. I have many resources and contacts that can help. If you or anyone else needs more information, or help in wading though the system, please do not hesitate to contact me at I will help in anyway I can.

God's peace, healing and blessings to your Dad and your family!


9:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's tough - really one of the most difficult things I've ever had to do, taking care of my father when he was terminally ill. Looking back, I wish I had been more proactive in some of his's so stressful. I'll say some prayers for you.

By the way, re; your novel, are you aware of the online Catholic Fiction Writers Conference coming up this month?

Also, I agree with you about George Bush.

1:30 PM  
Blogger Ben Anderson said...

prayers for you and your family, Lee

8:45 PM  
Blogger In the choir loft said...

Prayers for your Dad and your family too, Lee.

9:29 PM  
Blogger Lee Strong said...

Marc - thanks for stopping by.

Yes, I heard of the writers conference, but not really any details. Thanks for the link.

(By the way, I met my goal for the week - 600 plus words, actually).

11:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll keep you and your family in prayer.

1:15 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home