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Archive for the ‘injuries’ Category

Sabina drove me to and from my doctor appointments, and it was during one of my follow-up visits they discovered I had a blood clot in the groin area.  Discouragement must have shown on my face as my sympathetic doctor counseled, “It’s not unusual with injuries as serious as yours for things to keep going wrong.  It won’t be long before your body will regain its balance, and you will get better.  Meanwhile, you do need to be taking coumadin to keep your blood thin.  Hopefully the clot will dissolve.”  Good grief, I thought, another pill.  I wanted to cry, wondering if I would ever be well. 

Returning to Julie’s house I settled into a big leather chair and propped up my feet.  That too had to find balance.  With the clot, the doctor didn’t want my legs too high, nor did he want them too low.  He didn’t want the clot to travel, so it was difficult to know just what to do.  During the days that followed I kept my legs and feet level, watched TV, read, listened to a book on my I-Pod, and grew restless.

Following another visit to the doctor, I asked Sabina to drop by the house – my house.    Still covered with scabs and bruises, and wearing my neck brace I must have looked terrible – even a bit scary – to Ken.  It was my first visit home and the first time we had seen one another since the night of the accident.  He looked very old and frail, and somewhat gaunt, having lost several pounds which he really couldn’t spare. Apparently, his current glasses had been lost in the wreck and he was wearing a pair of old, huge horn-rims from long ago: spares kept in the back of the drawer in case of loss.  I hated them back when they were in style, thinking of them as “fly eyes,” and I hated them even more now.  If  I looked awful, he looked worse. 

Showing no signs of recognition he boldly warned, “This is my house and you can leave right now.”  Dismissals were nothing new; nor were his personality changes and mood swings.  Had this rejection been a jolt I would have burst into tears, but I had coped with the ramifications of Alzheimer’s for the most part of six years.

What I found troublesome was having someone else in “charge” of my house.  Ken’s primary caregiver, Ben, a dear, loving and efficient man had made a lot of necessary changes for Ken’s safety and well being, as he was now a recovering patient.  I did understand that “need” outweighed my decorating preferences, and yet I wanted my house to be just as I had left it. 

We didn’t stay long.  I got some stuff from our bedroom and returned to Julie’s.  I felt a little like a displaced person.

Settling back into the big leather chair, I propped up my feet and opened a magazine.  Flipping the pages my mind drifted back to home.  Days passed and as I began to feel stronger and not so fearful of the clot moving, my restlessness turned to boredom and thoughts of getting my life back became constant.  I mulled over things I could do without jeopardizing my recuperation, and I thought about my “stuff.”  Every so often I wanted to get something, or do something  – play my piano, which I do poorly, start some needle work, which I do well, read once again a favorite book, pull out photo albums representing a life time of living, get a few curlers for my hair or wear a different pair of shoes.   I realized that I was missing my stuff.   Totally unimportant belongings; material things — just stuff –yet important, and I thought about how important stuff is in making up a home.  First you need people, devotion, love, caring, and stuff; like the hook on the wall of your house, apartment, flat, tent or penthouse where you hang your hat.  Besides the hat  home is where you keep the rest of your stuff.  It doesn’t matter if stuff is Ikea, antiques, thrift store or yard sale junk; stuff is you, your likes, your personality and it’s part of the mix in making a house a home.   

I had come a long way from Rehab where I cared about very little except wanting to leave.  I suppose my homesickness was returning because I was beginning to care, but this time the caring and the longings were actually for home  — my home.

At first I stayed overnight, then a couple of nights, and then several nights and finally I felt ready to stay permanently.  I packed the few things I had taken to Julie’s house, gave both her and Tim a hug and an inadequate thank you, cut the imaginary umbilical cord and came home.

Little by little I began to feel comfortable in my own house.  Upon leaving Rehab I did request a hospital bed, which Ben had set up in the family room after moving a few pieces of furniture into the garage.  With so many injuries still healing, and being very vulnerable I didn’t want to chance sleeping with Ken no matter how big the bed. 

Ben was wonderful as he went about the business of caring for Ken and I realized I could relax, and it was okay.  No longer was I the sole provider of his needs and wants.  I could visit with or sit next to him and if he got mean and cranky I could go into another room, and not be concerned.  Ben was with him.  I rested when I felt tired with no interruptions.  Ben prepared meals, washed dishes, kept up the laundry, did light housekeeping and made sure everything looked neat and clean relieving me of my normal responsibilities as I continued to heal.  Meanwhile, I zapped through 300 emails, wrote thank you notes, reclaimed my financial books from Sabina (with another inadequate thank you) and returned to writing my blog and my books.

In June I picked blackberries from my own backyard and sat on the steps while berry juice ran down my fingers staining them a deep purplish red.  I didn’t care, they were my blackberries, my hands and my stains.  Inside my house I could sew, bake a cake, and give Ken a quick kiss if he happened to be Ken, pull a familiar plate from the cabinet, shower in my own bathroom or wear a different pair of shoes.  I was home, and finally it was where I wanted to be — with Ken — for however long this chaper of our life together lasts; home with him, the caregiver, and all of my stuff.

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In early February I wrote a blog titled “This’ll either cure ya or kill ya”, https://annromick.wordpress.com/2010/02/15/thisll-either-cure-ya-or-killya-or/ about the importance of doing research regarding your own and your family’s medications. My husband started displaying psychotic behavior following a long period of taking and combining certain o.t.c. remedies and prescription medications.   I ended up weaning him on my own, which did temper the bad behavior.  He now takes only one pill for high blood pressure.   However, it is so easy to trust, believing that medical people are always right, but that assumption is so wrong.  Not only is it wise to be alert with what cures you take at home, it is even more prudent to challenge medical people if you end up in the hospital.  And most important — if you are unable to speak up for yourself, ask a friend or a family member to monitor your medications and progress.  A good watch dog may save you extra days in the hospital and just might save your life.

A week after the automobile accident of February 15, I was transferred from ICU and the trauma unit of one hospital to the CCU of my own HMO hospital.  While my family continued to hover over me, I was improving, which was the good news.  The bad news seemed to be the attitude from some of my HMO’s medical people. 

The disadvantage of my HMO (I don’t know about others) is that your own doctor — your primary care physician — is not part of your hospital stay.  He/she sees you only in the office, and while the doctor and patient may become very well acquainted, the doctor has very little, if any, say in your health care while you are confined to a hospital bed — nor does he/she ever come to see how you’re doing.  I suppose I’ve been spoiled by my former medical plans where my doctor’s daily visits were so beneficial.

The HMO doctors assigned to me were, no doubt, skilled in their profession, but appeared to be lacking in sincere concern as to my physical and mental well being.  It seemed the main focus was how quickly they could eliminate my need for being there, and how long would I have to remain before they were allowed to discharge me and ship me off to a convalescent/rehab facility.   They often made me feel as if my expenses were taken directly from their salaries.

Several days after being admitted, one of the doctors said to my daughter-in-law, Sabina, “We are going to send her to rehab.  I find no medical reason for her to remain here.”  Surprised by the declaration, and checking through a chart which she personally kept on my condition, Sabina listed all of my medical problems which had not been resolved, insisting they be addressed before I left.  ‘Do you want me to commit fraud?” questioned the doctor, annoyed at being challenged, but still not motivated to look into my remaining health issues.

That same afternoon I developed a terrible ache which seemed concentrated in the left side of my back.  With each breath, I felt stabbing pains.  Sabina discussed the new condition with Dr. Stubborn, insisting that the pain be checked, forcing the doctor into action.  I was sent for further examinations resulting in treatment.   Apparently, my left lung had been collecting fluid and needed to be drained with a tube inserted through the chest wall and attached to a drainage bag, plus another round of antibiodics.   Without Sabina speaking up for me, I would have been transferred to rehab with at least one serious medical condition.  Speaking up for myself was difficult because I wasn’t sure of my own medical needs making it easy for a medical professional to convince me I was perfectly all right and ready for the move.  I remained in the hospital for another week.

It was the same with medication.  One doctor would remove a drug, and if it wasn’t so noted on my charts, another medical person would want to continue the dosage.  “I know you aren’t familiar with the names of your medicines, so count the pills,” suggested Sabina.  “If there are more than seven, ask the nurse what each pill is supposed to do.”  That I could do, and I began my own questioning, even spitting out pills which had been discontinued.  I used the same system while at rehab, and many a time, the prescribed meds offered were no longer needed.

Fortunately, during those occasions when I was unable to speak for myself, I had an excellent watch dog.  Without Sabina’s voice challenging doctor’s decisions and being so vigilant in overseeing my medications, I could have slipped into a serious decline, and, at other times, would have been way over medicated.  None of the above is good for any patient.

Personally, I find it difficult to move on from the days when your doctor knew you and your family’s medical conditions as well as his own, and was sympathetic to your needs.  However, reality tells us that with medical people being pulled in so many directions in today’s world, and dictated to by the profit portion of  HMO’s insurance policy makers, those memorable days of yesteryear are gone forever.  It’s now up to us and our loved ones to be responsible for taking charge of our medical needs.  If something doesn’t sound right, speak up or have someone do it for you — it just might save your life.

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