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Thursday, July 18, 2013

18 - Surprise!

For anyone "just tuning in" this post may leave you wondering what the heck I am rambling about, I hope you'll take the time to go back and review my earlier posts so you can catch up with my story.  If you are thinking there is nothing in our story that could affect you, I hope you're wrong.  I hope you are wrong, not because I wish bad things for you, but because that would mean that you are truly alone in life.  You see, although my story revolves around senior care giving and health care, I believe there are lessons within my story that could be applied to ANYBODY that might EVER know someone (or be someone) who is incapacitated and needs an advocate, no matter their age.  For anyone who has been along for the whole ride - Thank you!  I appreciate the opportunity to share our story.  Regardless of whether you read only this post or if you have read the entire blog, I would also appreciate your thoughts and comments........please take an extra minute and scroll to the bottom of the page to the comments tab and share your thoughts and/or experiences.


Mom and I had been home from our trip in search of help for a couple days and were settling back in to our routine.

Well, mom seemed to be settling in anyway!  I had a lot to do if I were going to pull off that surprise party for my husbands 60th birthday in just a few more days.  "Surprise"!  I could hear myself yelling.  He was going to be so surprised - I was surprised too.......I was surprised that it looked like we were going to pull this off as a true surprise.

With the help of my children and some close friends, things were coming together very nicely.  It was going to be a blast - I couldn't wait to see his face!  I remember thinking that a party on a Monday evening would most likely be "under" attended.  I hoped that at least a few people would be able to make it - nobody wants to be the person whose surprise birthday party is a bust!

I was overwhelmed by the number of people (even from out of town) that were going to be able to attend this shin-dig.  By Friday morning I was feeling pretty good.  Things were under control and I was sure he would be surprised (my kids had way outgrown the "spilling the beans" age!).

By Friday afternoon I was wandering around in a daze, tears streaming down my face and a pit in my stomach, while silently saying "Surprise!" over and over to myself.  He was going to be surprised alright.

"Surprise" I could hear myself saying to my husband.  I could already picture the disappointment on his face when I told him that I had to have mom to an appointment "that we couldn't afford to miss".  I knew he would act like it was no big deal that the kids were working and I would be out of town for his birthday.  He would tell me he understood and that it was "just" another birthday.  He would be understanding and encourage us to continue our quest.  Even so, I knew he would be disappointed that I wouldn't be there at all, not even for the dinner we had planned (wink-wink).  I had pictured his reaction almost to a tee.

In his usual manner he digested what I had to tell him and as he gave me a hug, said, "I'll get your
oil changed and make sure your car is ready."  I felt so bad.  I told him how hard I had tried to get another day.......I would have even settled for a later TIME.  Mom had been "worked in" and was to be seen in the Orthopedic clinic at 8:00AM on October 9th, 2012. If we didn't make that appointment we would have to wait nearly 2 months before they could "work us in" again.  I had to make a choice to either miss his birthday party or miss an opportunity to find the help my mother need so badly.

I had to choose the former.  I just couldn't pass up the chance to get mom to a nationally recognized facility with a top notch Orthopedic Surgeon to look at that knee I had been so concerned about.  The ID doctor also wanted to see us again.   We had made a pact, remember! "Whatever it took - No matter what"!  I was committed.

It wasn't the first hard choice I had to make and probably wouldn't be the last.  No time to dwell on that now.

With my very capable children now in charge of the details of the Surprise party, I began, once again, planning our trip.  The drive itself is a trip I have made hundreds of time, sometimes with very little notice.  By myself I could be ready & on the road inside of a couple hours.  With an ill mother in a lot of pain who needs a lot of things just to get through a day it takes a bit longer, it takes a LOT longer.

Our trip was not hindered by weather.  In fact, we didn't have any trouble at all with the drive. With the exception of the rude person at a rest area we stopped at, the drive over the mountains was good. (Seriously, if you are in a public restroom with 6 empty stalls
and see someone with a walker come in, it is RUDE to act like you don't see them and scurry in to the only one of those stalls that is handicap accessible!)  The drive the next morning from the hotel to the Orthopedic clinic was not so good.

The weather was OK, but the traffic was horrible!  Even so, we managed to make it to moms appointment with almost 1/2 hour to spare.  We had already learned our lessons with being a few minutes late for an appointment.  It had not turned out well and we were not willing to risk losing our appointment time.  Turns out, we had very little to worry about in that regard.

We checked in and waited all of 10 minutes before moms name was called.  The nurse got moms height; weight; blood pressure; etc.  Before he left the room he asked if we needed or wanted anything while we waited.  Mom and I were discussing how much different this facility was than what we were use to and how nice everybody was when the nurse returned to the room.  I felt myself tense as he started to speak.

The doctor was not going to be able to see mom that day.  My heart sunk and my stomach started to churn.  He explained the reason (which I don't remember), but told us the PA was stuck in traffic and would see us as soon as she arrived.  We had seen a number of PA's through this ordeal and we were not uncomfortable with that arrangement.  He then asked if we had eaten breakfast.  We told him "no", we planned to eat after we saw this doctor and before the next one at a different facility.  He suggested we might want to go to the cafeteria and grab something since the PA was going to be a bit.  Now, I was getting uncomfortable.

We didn't want to go to the cafeteria, we wanted to be seen by the doctor or PA.  I told him we were fine.  "Are you sure?" he asked, sounding confused.  I assured him we were fine and we didn't want to "lose our spot".  Now he was really confused.  I explained that where we were from it didn't matter if the doctor was late or not.  If we left the area and the doctor arrived our file was moved to the back and it would likely take hours before mom would be seen.  He was looking at me like I had just told a story that couldn't be believed as he handed me a voucher to pay for our breakfast in the cafeteria and said, "you can leave your things right here and I will call you as soon as the PA arrives".  I was shocked.

I  wasn't sure I believed him, but I was kind of hungry.  With our belongings left in the exam room we made our way down to the cafeteria and enjoyed a very good breakfast.  We were just finishing when my cell phone rang.  "The PA has just pulled in to the parking garage and will be in the office in 10 minutes" and then, "just let them know up front and they will show you right back to the exam room".  I was so impressed with these people!  I wish I would have been 1/2 as impressed with the outcome of that appointment.

The PA was very nice and seemed very knowledgeable.  Unfortunately, since mom had been diagnosed with MRSA, the PA did not feel mom was a surgical candidate.  I was kicking myself.  I should have known that MRSA would prevent this type of surgery (although I don't know how).  I was deep in thought as we left that facility heading to the next appointment.

Why had the ID doctor wanted to see us again so soon?  Had something grown from her blood culture?  Had something changed?  Maybe some new miracle drug had been developed during the last week.  I daydreamed about that remote possibility for a few minutes.  Of course, that wasn't it at all.

During our brief visit with the ID doctor we discovered that mom most likely did NOT have MRSA, information that would have been very helpful BEFORE visiting the Orthopedic PA.  We also learned that without removing the old prosthesis the staph infection would likely keep coming back, which meant that mom would likely be on antibiotics for the rest of her life.

We left that day with two prescriptions and instructions to start one and then wait a few days before starting the other in case she had a reaction.  Starting them separately would let us know which one had caused the reaction, which would be "highly unlikely".  Oh, no.  I have heard that before.  Everything about moms condition(s) had been "highly unlikely" according to a number of doctors.

With the prescriptions filled and the car packed, we set off for home.  The drive wasn't bad, but something was just not right.  Mom seemed out of sorts.  She didn't read each road sign we passed. She didn't care if we stopped & ate or not.  She just didn't seem herself.  Was she getting sick again?  I hoped she wasn't getting sick again!


Good grief, is this ever going to be over?

What is the lesson I am suppose to be learning?

What am I missing?

Can anybody help?


Miriam said...

Oh I am sorry as life is full of surprises, unpleasant and pleasant. I am in the middle of figuring out my own lessons, so I cannot help you there with that. I hope things are sorted out with your mom soon! Find time alone to regroup, it helps.

healthcare hostages said...

Thank you for your comment Miriam. No need to be sorry - being able to tell my story with the hopes of letting even one person in my shoes know they are not alone helps me in ways even I don't understand.

I hope your lessons are figured out.

I appreciate your kind words.

Cheryl McDaniel said...

There are many people in similar situations as yours. Know that you are not alone. I have not been able to go back and read your blog as I just got here. Geriatric care has it own set of unique challenges. One of the biggest things you can do for yourself is surround yourself with those who will support you in any way you need it.

healthcare hostages said...

Thank you Cheryl. It does help to know that, it really does.

Yes, the challenges seem sometimes insurmountable for sure with geriatric care. For the most part, I have a pretty great support system. Even so, it's sometimes hard to ask for help when you don't even know what you need.

I appreciate you taking the time to read (at least a bit) of our story.