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.