A cautionary tale

I really don’t intend to give a blow by blow of The Commander’s recent health issue, but I’m going to give out the basics. Because man oh man, have we been through an ordeal the last few days.

In short, The Commander has spent the better part of two days in the ER for stroke-like symptoms and has been bounced both times. Because I was not there for yesterday’s sojourn, I figured maybe she hadn’t adequately described her symptoms or the dramatic change in her well-being since last weekend. Long story short, slurred speech and extreme difficulty walking. She was given two medications that I don’t think even began to address her symptoms (allergies? what allergies?) and told to follow up with her doc in 3-5 days!!!! Well. How about ASAP? I got her an appointment at 9:30 the next morning (aka this morning).

I won’t describe the horrific night we endured. I am absolutely, totally, utterly untrained, inexperienced, and incompetent as a caregiver to someone who cannot walk or get in and out of bed or up out of a chair. I’m not sure if the ER doc bounced her because they knew I would be there or what but I think that it’s inexcusable to send someone in that kind of condition home. Leaving her alone in this house with me was dangerous!

This morning. I *somehow* managed to get her dressed, after a fashion (and I don’t mean “high fashion”). When I tried to get her to walk with me from her bedroom to the living room, it was a total failure. She couldn’t bear weight at all. I sat her down again and called her doc’s office. “I cannot get her to my car.” They were a little blase at first, “Oh, then you won’t be keeping the appointment.” Well, no, BUT!!! SHE NEEDS TO BE SEEN! WHAT DO WE DO??? The only thing to do seemed to be to call 911. And go to the blasted ER again. In an ambulance. I know that she did not want an ambulance but I couldn’t see another choice. I fed her some scrambled eggs and a rather burnt piece of toast (she ate with gusto!) and then I did the dirty deed.

When the ER doc explained that her vital signs were normal and they couldn’t admit her, I explained as calmly as I could that I wasn’t concerned with her current vital signs. I was concerned with the dramatic decline in her well-being since the weekend. I explained [patiently (or not)] that I had *tried* to play by the rules and take her to her doc’s office but I COULDN’T GET HER TO MY CAR!!! He left and we waited a couple hours for a nurse to come back and tell us, again, that they couldn’t admit her and mumble something about placement by a social worker. Placement? Where? NOT UNTIL THEY HAVE FIGURED OUT WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH HER!!! (I didn’t yell, but it was obvious that I was not a happy camper.)

And then a couple of goddesses arrived. Our Northern Correspondent Paulette (with a wheelchair, of all things), and Alice the Social Worker. Alice *listened* to me. She examined my mother and pointed out some signs of possible stroke. She laid out a little plan of action that she would try to either get The Comm’s doc to come over and examine her in the ER or get *us* over to the doc in his office in a wheelchair. It’s across the parking lot in the photooo. We *would* have to get discharged from the ER but she felt pretty certain that The Comm’s doc would admit her. In the end, the goddess Paulette and I wheeled The Comm across the parking lot and, after about a five minute exam, we were in the admitting office. All of this was *exhausting* for me, so I can’t even imagine what it must’ve been for The Comm. This is how we treat our sick people? And I won’t even get into what all of those tests must have cost. Ugh.

Yes, she is in the hospital. She is stable, comfortable, and completely capable of communicating, minus the usual Commander-speak and the slurring. And she is *determined* to try to do things for herself. Get in and out of bed. Stand up. She needs help and I keep telling her to wait for it but I also applaud her attitude. She should do well with rehab if she keeps it up. So, I am optimistic but knocking on wood. I *hope* to get a good night’s sleep tonight. Of course, my number is written on a white board down there in her room and I just jumped a mile when an iPhone buzzed in an ad on the boobtube…

I left (exhausted) around the time they were bringing dinner around (she was hungry, that’s a good sign). I drove the waterfront (the Tadoussac was upbound below the locks), called up my cuzzint, the mean old, grunchie old Grinch, and he took me out to dinner at Ang-Gio’s. I had shrimp scampi linguine and a glass of cab and he had chicken primavera with drywall dust and some sort of spiked coffee. After that, I went down to the hoosegow to drop off her glasses and say goodnight. She was sound asleep.

P.S. I am not dissing this highly-rated small-city hospital in the town I grew up in. We have had a lot of good experiences there and it is great to be able to drive a couple minutes and park right outside it when visiting people there. And to walk a block to Kenny’s Pitchen to grab a quick lunch or a coffee. Or a couple blocks down to the waterfront for some air. The staff is friendly and professional and the rooms are clean and modern. I do not know what was going on with the ER. I know we were [arguably] not at the ER for an “emergent” condition (we think she tried to ignore it for a couple days). But what do you do when you can’t transport your patient without an ambulance and EMTs? The Commander is *not* a frequent flier and I was not happy with the process and their dismissal and misunderstanding of her symptoms.

13 Responses to “A cautionary tale”

  1. Paulette Says:

    Get some sound rest tonight, dear Kayakwoman. Being there today to witness how you and the Commander interacted with so much love and respect within a system that utterly failed you (albeit temporarily) was testimony to your special relationship with her. Your bond with her is so unique. You are not only her loving daughter, but her intergenerational muse. You included her on all of the decisions, asked her what she wanted to do, and you did it calmly and with humor. It was so good to see the Commander have her usual dry sense of humor. Good job, fair Finlayson daughter! What a clan!

  2. Paulette Says:

    P.S. I want to hang that ER doc upside down by his stethoscope for his lack of action!

  3. Jay Says:

    Thanks for the update. It is not great news, but better than making things up in my mind.
    Love & Take Care. Give her a hug from us.

  4. Pooh Says:

    KW, hang in there. You got your moom to the hospital, you got them to finally listen to you (and her), and got them to admit her. You got your strength from your mom (and the Old Coot and the Engineer), and now you get to give it back.
    You two are in our hearts and prayers.

  5. Tonya Watkins Says:

    Wow. Just…wow.

  6. Margaret Says:

    Incredible. We went through much of the same stuff with my MIL. We had to advocate a lot for her; it’s scary to think of people who don’t have caring(and determined!) family members. Hope your stress is not as great and yay for the Commander on her attitude. Take care, my friend!

  7. Uncly Uncle Says:

    Last I knew, signs of stroke are an emergent condition.


  8. kayak woman Says:

    As I replied privately to the UU (my b-i-l and a hospital CFO), yes, you would think a stroke would be considered emergent. I think this guy was not comprehending the fact that she had made a dramatic *decline* since last weekend. Could he really have assumed she was some weak, demented old lady and not The Commander? And that’s NOT to say that anyone who IS old, weak, and demented doesn’t deserve top-notch treatment too!!!!

    In hindsight, I would have taken a different tack with her doc: 1) I think my mother has had a stroke, 2) she *needs* to be in the hospital, 3) how can we get her there? Hindsight.

    Done. Everyone else there has been wonderful (as they typically are) and I am making sure our story gets told for whatever it might be worth. She is doing well and already working with PT/OT folks.

  9. Mouse Says:

    Good job, Mama Duck! I wish I were there. 🙁

    <3 <3 <3

  10. gene Says:

    I know I don’t express it often but we do appreciate how well you take care of things and people and we always love you in crises and just old day to day..
    Love, Bubs

  11. gene Says:

    P.S. Hugs to you and Fran.

  12. Sandy Says:

    I’m glad that you stuck to your guns and managed to get her where she needed to be. I’m glad that Paulette and the Grinch are around. Love to all of you.

  13. Kathy Farnell Says:

    I am so glad that you have Paulette and the Grinch up there to talk to and help you. You are doing a great job. We are thinking about you.