Heck Of A Week

Staying “on plan” while having my father visit, well, I knew that would be difficult. He enjoys eating, but as with many seniors, will taste a few bites of anything then quit. The saga of his mal-treated back fractures, surgery, and recent death of my mother have left him 50 pounds lighter and holding. We planned for his love of snacking and food by having a special place in the pantry his treats, cereal, etc. But then this week hit… (If you don’t want to read the fine print skip to the bottom for summary.)

It’s downright scary when your father knocks on your bedroom door at 2 a.m. and says, “Honey, something’s not right.” That was an understatement. He was bleeding rapidly from a stomach ulcer and barely able to remain conscious. Let me say now that having 2 doctors in the house and going to one of those physician’s hospital for emergency treatment doesn’t guarantee great medical care. I won’t rag on about the 12-hour wait in the ER for a hospital bed; the admitting doctor whose physical consisted of listening to Dad’s chest; the nurses who were eager to ignore him once he was “admitted” but still in the ER for hours; the lack of attention to his obvious hemodynamic instability (blood loss); waiting for almost 24 hours for a GI doc to see him; the admitting doctor for some fucking reason not ordering his routine medications correctly even though they were written correctly by the ER doc; waiting too long to transfuse him.

Side rant note: Think we don’t need an overhaul of our medical care system? This is a man with insurance, a devastating acute illness, and 2 physicians hovering at his bedside and HE STILL COULD NOT GET EFFICIENT, QUALITY CARE AT A PRIVATE HOSPITAL.

Back to the week from hell. Three days later, Dad is stabilized, ulcer has stopped bleeding, and we whisk him out the grasp of the hospital. (Meanwhile, Sue has dipped into Dad’s stash of snacks, and I indulge in the M&M spree.) He sees my primary care doc for follow-up and guess what? His Medicare policy will not pay for any out-of-state care unless it is in an ER or hospital – no excuses, no matter how far up the chain I went, that was their answer, “sorry, he needs to come back to Texas to see a doctor.” So, I pay cash, and we still have to see the GI doc in follow-up ’cause he ain’t going home yet. What do people do who don’t have “disposable income” to pay for medical care – that’s right they don’t get care until things get awful or maybe even die. Did you know the highest percentage of inappropriate ER visits are from those who have health insurance? Hmm, wonder why…

Back to the saga. Dad continues to feel better and wants to go shopping for some clothes. We had promised to make a big deal of out his 60th wedding anniversary 10/16 (Mom has been dead for less than 3 months), and he wanted to look cool. I’m yapping away while picking out shirts only to realize he is another aisle over sobbing – huge gulping sobs that he never did during the funeral. With my arms around my thin, stooped Dad who suddenly seems every bit of his 83 years, he whispers that he saw something he and mom had bought together. Funny, my tears about Mom hit most when shopping – that woman loved to buy clothes!

Before dinner, Dad even gives himself a haircut (because I had been ragging him) and with a little touch-up from clippers, damn, he looks like Patrick Stewart or maybe even Bruce Willis. All duded up, we take him out for a 3-hour, 5-course dinner with wine pairings, which was a new experience for him. I had planned for this meal since his arrival and planned to thoroughly enjoy every bite. I passed off the little scoop of ginger-pineapple ice cream topping my dessert because that is the one food I have sworn never to touch. The meal was wonderful. We talked fondly about Mom, and he softly sang their favorite song.

With a song in my heart
I behold your adorable face.
Just a song at the start
but it soon is a hymn to your grace.
When the music swells
I’m touching your hand
It tells me you’re standing near, and ..
At the sound of your voice
heaven opens its portals to me.
Can I help but rejoice
that a song such as ours came to be?
But I always knew
I would live life through
with a song in my heart for you.

Summary for TL;DR (too long; didn’t read):                                                                             Dad visits, I prepare to stay on plan. Dad tries to die from a bleeding ulcer. Hospital care sucks, as usual. Medical insurance sucks, as usual. Jan gobbles M&M’s. Dad and Jan go shopping. Dad breaks down while shopping. Jan holds Dad while he sobs, and she tries to remain strong. Dad, Jan, and Sue do fine dining for Dad’s 60th anniversary, just 3 months after Mom’s death. Jan enjoys the dinner but won’t eat ice cream. Dad serenades them. Jan cries while blogging.

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9 thoughts on “Heck Of A Week

  1. Hugs Jan:) Your dad is so lucky to have you. And don’t get me started on the health care issue. I have probably already shared with you that I am considered uninsurable. The system sucks. I did my own share of stress eating not too long ago, and now I am firmly back on track. I am confident you will do the same.

  2. Wow. That’s a lot for one week. You totally deserve those M & M’s! I hope your Dad is ok. Karen is right, he is lucky to have you. I hate hospitals. HATE them. *hugs* I hope you enjoyed the rest of your time with your Dad after the hospital part of the week was over.

  3. I always wonder if those people who claim we have the best health care in the world have ever sought health care. Ans I empathize with the out of state stuff – kids at college are supposed to be covered, but just try to get it paid…I hope that you will be left with good memories of your visit together and even of the times you wept over your loss, that you were together to share those feelings.

    I love the picture you painted of your big dinner out. Sweet.

  4. What a well-written post – drama, anger, systems failure, heartbreak, food…

    So glad you got to wrap up your dad with love and a nice memory after the medical drama and his breakdown.

    The healthcare system is a giant mess. I now live in France and see such a huge difference – people here don’t have to worry about being sick and if they can afford care – they can just worry about being sick.

  5. Wow. That is quite a week. Bet he’s on one of those medicare HMO pieces of shit. I HATE those plans. I’m not on any just for horrible crap like that. And, you don’t have to tell me about health care.

    Glad you are making it even though it is very hard. As you know grief is a process. There is no switch and no rules. As you know you are never the same person after you go through something like that. Hang in there. Glad you skipped the ice cream

  6. It’s scary to think that someone in your dad’s position (insured and two docs in the family) still can’t get good care. Really scary.

    With your mother’s recent passing, I know the week was destined to have some tears, but I’m glad you found some things to smile about, too.

  7. Well put lil sister. Just glad he was there with you all and not alone at home in Dallas.
    Never skip ice cream!

  8. In Canada we have free medicare and I know that many americans laught at our system. I’ve actually met some who think that we have to wait months and years to be seen by a doctor cause its free. Well, when emergency situations like this one happen let me tell you, our system REALLY steps up. This would have NEVER happened here not mention it wouldn’t cost anything to see your doctor! I don’t even know how/what I would do if I lived in the US!

  9. I agree with Toni as in Au. we have free medicare and if its urgent it happens I have had 5 children and apart from the first when i had to follow my mother I went to the clenic that cost you nothing. My second daughter was born in Sweden (her dads country) and she was a freebe too ..Violet

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