It had been just over a day and a half since mom had undergone a major surgery inserting a longer, stronger rod in to her leg after the previous one had broke through her femur during her stay at a Skilled Nursing Facility for rehab – talk about an epic fail!
My lack of preparation was not due to lack of trying, it was more due to lack of time and resources…..oh, and all those pesky emotions that get in the way of any form of clear thinking.
Honestly, I had attempted to prepare since the moment I knew mom was going to have yet another surgery. I had attempted to prepare for it prior to each of the previous surgeries/procedures/tests/hospitalizations over the past nearly year and a half; 542 days to be exact. Again, epic fail!
It turns out the world of Senior Healthcare and Medicare is kind of like a horrible rendition of Ground Hog Day, you have to relive the horror and the panic again and again and again.
At least I had only hoped it and not actually believed it; I knew it would be the same this time as it had been all the other times. I knew the nightmare was getting ready to start again.
I know nurses are the “front line”, so to speak, and it really isn't the nurses’ call, she’s just the messenger. In the heat of things, with emotions running high, it’s really hard to remember not to stone the messenger.
Before I caused too much of a scene, and before I went in to see mom, I returned to my car to just sit and think for a few minutes. OK, what I really did was roll up my car windows and scream; cry; beat on my steering wheel. Although she had been a little crass, the nurse was right, I needed to calm down. I had to figure something out. I had to buy some time.
Deciding my only recourse was to file a Medicare appeal as soon as they tried to discharge mom, which would likely only buy us a day or two, I dried my eyes and headed back to moms’ room. The appeal would at least give me time to pay a surprise visit to some of the other SNF’s in the area and at least try to make a good decision.
here?”, referring to the sub-acute rehab unit.
I sobbed even harder when I told her that’s what I had hoped, but was told by a nurse the night before that there was no availability. “Well, we don’t have anything today, but we will in a day or two” the confirmation there wasn't anything available “today” didn't console me. “But they are planning on discharging her today” I wailed.
My phone rang with the familiar ring I have assigned to my mother just as I got in my car. “Hi mom, I’m on my way” I tried to sound upbeat as I answered, “I’ll be there in a few minutes”. I suggested mom order her lunch and I would be there in time to help her so she didn't have to wait for someone to open the containers. I sat there for a few more minutes just thinking.
that she would not sign anything regarding discharge until I returned, I left the hospital in search of some place mom would be safe and well cared for until it was safe to make the trip home. I was praying such a place existed.
Feeling completely defeated, utterly exhausted, and very emotional, I sat in my car in the parking lot of the fourth facility I had visited that afternoon crying and wondering what to do next. I toyed with the idea of finding out exactly what they would do about moms' discharge if I simply didn't show up to pick her up, but quickly dismissed the idea because I wasn't sure I wanted to find out. The outcome could be a serious epic fail!
Knowing the appeal was going to be my only option, I returned to the hospital and sat with mom as we waited for the nurse to arrive with moms' discharge papers.........we waited and waited and waited some more.
It was nearly 6:00PM when the nurse I had encountered earlier came in with moms' meds. I had dug the paperwork out that instructed me on how to file the appeal on early discharge and was ready to pounce when the nurse, very sweetly, asked mom, "Do you need help ordering dinner tonight?" and then to me, "Or, will you be here to help her?" I assured the nurse I would be there as I shoved the papers back in my pocket; no sense reminding her that mom was to be discharged, right?
By 8:00PM, I decided it was late enough that a discharge was unlikely that late. Feeling it was safe to leave mom for the night, I returned to my hotel. I figured I better try to get some rest so I would be ready for battle in the morning; the reprieve was bound to be short lived, wouldn't you think?