Saturday, August 23, 2008

One Step Forward. . .

Mom isn't doing as well today as she was yesterday and, after I went to see her last night, I have to say she wasn't doing as well yesterday as she was the day before. I can't stand this. It's like I'm on a constant fucking roller coaster here: Mom's better! Mom's worse! The house is on! The house is off! We have a plan for the QOB! No, we don't! Young M is in school! The principal called! I mean, I need something to just, you know, stay the same for 24 hours. Breathing room. Peace. I'm so overwhelmed, too, that I'm pretty much paralyzed, which is par for the course, since freezing like a deer in the headlights seems to be my default reaction to stress. Except that where a deer would just freeze, I instead resurrect old beep beep games that I was addicted to years ago and play them for hours, which is, of course, supremely useless except that it does give me something legitimate to beat myself up about, which I suppose is helpful. Yeah.

Today, my mom had an actual good nurse. I hate to say this but unfortunately, that seems to be a rarity these days on the 7th floor at St. Josephs and I'm starting to get slowly and deeply angry about it. I don't want to cause any ripples that might come out and bite her on the ass while she's there but I fully intend to raise one hell of a stink when she's back home. The nurse today told me that the doctors have been ordering a lot of things that simply aren't being done by the nurses. Like, she's supposed to be walked around the halls four times a day and that was supposed to start Wednesday. Today is Saturday and, except for the short and aborted walk on Thursday night (that's another thing, that walking at night thing. My mother is like some kind of opposite vampire: she wakes up at 4:00 am and goes to bed at 7:00 pm. 8:00 at night for her is like 3:00 in the morning for me. You can't be walking Mom around at night.) there hasn't been any attempt by any nurse to walk her around. She's supposed to be getting nebulizer treatments - whatever they are - three times a day and that's not happening either. She's supposed to be getting baths - she's not. They're not, actually, doing shit as far as I can see and while I sympathize that they're probably understaffed and overworked, I don't really care. That's my mother. I can go to work and slack off all I want: I work at a museum, not a hospital. Nobody is going to die if I don't get around to photographing a rock. The rock will be there tomorrow. My mother might not. That's why I don't work at a fucking hospital and one would assume that that's why nurses do and that's why they make a whole lot more money than I do. So they need to work harder. Besides, there are a lot of empty rooms up there. I don't think they're all that busy.

It's scary and frustrating and until the nurse today, it felt like nobody was giving me a straight answer. When Mom went in there ten days ago, she was fine except for the twisted intestine. That was serious, yes, but it got fixed. But Mom now can't breathe, is on oxygen 24/7 and can barely walk 100 feet down the hall.

Apparently the pulmonary doctor said "Have you had a chest X-ray?"
Yes. Yes, doctor, look at the fucking chart! She's had five or so.
"What are we doing about the pneumonia?" the doctor said to her.
Pneumonia!?!?! Nobody told us she had pneumonia but now apparently they're saying that MRSA in the lungs is pneumonia and that's why she's so weak.
"How long," asked the good nurse, "has she been having this much trouble breathing?"
I mean, what the fuck, exactly, is the point of the hospital? She's getting sicker, not better.

This is so frustrating. I've talked to the gastrointestinal doctor but I haven't spoken to the pulmonary doctor because I can't get hold of him. Fortunately, my brother talked to some of Mom's neighbors and they freaked out and called the nurse up at Deerfield, the retirement community where they all live and now, hopefully, the Deerfield nurse is calling the hospital and may get some concrete info for us. Or light a fire under the hospital nurses with her mystic nurse powers. It's always hard, I know, when there's nothing really to be done except wait and see, and I'm afraid that's where we are right now. I'll be back over at the hospital this afternoon to show Mom my new haircut anyway. She likes it when I get my hair done, although of course I constantly dash her hopes that someday, somehow, I will appear dressed nicely in belted khakis and a button down blouse, penny loafers on my feet, proper soccer mom bob on my naturally colored head. Actually, in her weakened state, if I did that the shock would probably kill her, so it's best that I don't go that far. Still. The haircut was a success and that will please her and, I must say, pleases me no end.


Arwen said...

A vein just popped out on my forehead reading this. I am so sorry you have to deal with this.

Lori said...

I would talk to the nursing supervisor or the manager on the floor. You can call anytime of the day. Call the main switchboard at night and ask for the nursing supervisor. Tell her what's going on. Or call the main number and ask for the Director of Nursing. That will get things going. It's sad but true, there are many slacker nurses. We are overworked, but basic patient care (hygiene, ambulation) should not be neglected. This is one of the things that drove me out of direct patient care. It stressed me to no end that my patients weren't receiving the care they deserved. She definitely needs to be ambulate. A tech can do this if your mom is steady on her feet. You can do this. Next time you go you can ask. They'll probably let you walk with her if she's steady. It's unfortunate but we have to be a constant advocate for our family members. In some hospitals people are treated worse than dogs. The squeaky wheel get's the grease and all that. Good luck.