Sunday, June 26, 2011

I might need a room there when all of this is done.

Just when you think you have it bad, you should never, ever tempt the universe to show you how good you really had it.

I left off with Mom going through full blown alcoholic withdrawals.  At the worst of it I was not there to witness her insane behavior.  Suffice it to say, it was bad enough that they had a restraint order for her, and at one point it took three nurses and my sister to hold her down.  She also, had a babysitter.  They moved her to a room down the hall, next to a guy in worse shape than her, so that one sitter could watch both patients.  The worst of her behavior was the hostility, aimed at any and all who came near her.  Her repeated refusals to stay in bed earned her a fall out of bed that rewarded her with a trip to x-ray.

The Librium and Ativan they gave her helped tremendously, by Tuesday she was almost coherent and realizing where she was.  They chose that day to move her up to the "Special Care Unit".  Nice words for the place they stick the psych and unruly patients.  It was a unit that has tested my faith in our medical system.  When she was on the regular floor, her nurses and aides were fantastic.  Helpful to not only her, but to me and the rest of our highly concerned family.

Special Unit deserves a special place in hell.  It started off with the morning after she was transferred.  I wandered in on Wednesday to visit, and found her bed empty.  I figured she must be in PT, which was a good sign.  I stood there in the empty hall, with Cam, waiting to see anyone...anyone who actually worked there.  It was like a ghost town.  I then see someone, who obviously works there because she starts digging through files, but she ignores me.  An aide finally wanders out and tells me she will find my mom's nurse.  Said nurse takes her sweet ass time to come find me, and when she does never even introduces herself to me.  My main objective was to find out if anyone had told my mother WHY she was still in the hospital.  It was Wednesday, she had her hip replaced the Thursday before, at the latest she should have been discharged on Sunday.  in fact, she had discharge orders on Saturday, but that's when she started ignoring the nurses, and trying to escape.  So, I give the low-down on what had happened on the previous floor.  Down there I was told someone, a social worker or a counselor from the affiliated drug/alcohol rehab would be up to talk to her.  Simple request.  Just wanted some medical professional to detail why mom was still in the hospital. 

That nurse tells me she doesn't know anything about that, all she knows is that the night nurse said the night went okay.  Alarm bells ring in my head.  Having been in the Navy, I am exquisitely aware at how one gives and receives a pass down from the shift before.  You read all the notes, you ask about things that are unclear, THEN you take the shift/watch.  What you don't do is take over a shift, and not read the notes on the patient you have just taken custody of.  I asked this nursing professional to get someone down here to talk to my mother.  She mumbles "fine...I'll go see..." and disappears.  Mind you, I have a 16 month old with me.  We'd been standing there doing jack shit for about 30 minutes at that point.  Fifteen minutes goes by and she doesn't return so I go to the desk and ask for the charge nurse.  And aide calls her, and I hear the aides side of the conversation "yeah, a patient's family member is up here...okay....well....would you just come up here???"  Another aide is sitting there and they exchange looks and tell me sorry, but she'll be down in a moment.  So up walks a lady, the same one who had ignored me and dug through the files not 20 minutes earlier.  She looks irritated to be summoned.  Whatever.

I go through everything I went over with the nurse before.  Could someone please get the social worker or rehab guy down here to talk to my mom.  She says in a condescending tone "we don't need them to do that, we can do it...if she remembers."

At this point I nearly lost my shit.  One of the better aspects of my mother's personality is an unfailing ability to be polite to strangers (when she's you know, not going through the DT's).  I think I held it together pretty damn well.  I bit my tongue and took a breath:  "I am an addiction's counselor and I.." she cuts me off to say "well then you know what we are dealing with."  I tell her "yeah, your dealing with my mother who is now oriented to time and place, she needs to be told WHY she is still here.  Can you make that happen?"  She says fine, and walks off.  I was gripping the handles on Cam's stroller so hard my left hand fell asleep.

I walk off that floor LIVID.  I go downstairs to text my sister and calm down.  She tells me to find the patient advocate.  So I go off to find a nice lady, who was appropriately shocked and appalled at the rudeness of the nurses.  She promises me she will handle it.  I go home and put Cam down for a much needed nap.  Later we head back to the hospital, as we pull up my sister pings me to tell me that she talked to mom's nurse and asked her if Mom had been made aware of her situation, the nurse tells her, I shit you not:  "The patient hasn't asked why she's here."  Okay.

I call the social worker assigned to the unit.  Being as how I talked to a social worker earlier in the week, and felt like I had had a not so pleasant conversation with a lawyer, I wasn't expecting much.  But you know, maybe that social worker was new, or old, or just an abberition.  Nope.  This one was unbelievably rude.  highlight of the conversation that I had had THREE times with three OTHER professionals, and now with this lady:

Unethical, bitch of a social worker: "you don't know why she's still here, she came in for something else (no shit, it was a hip replacement), this other thing you are talking about (alcohol withdrawal, you fucktard) is totally unrelated".

Me: I summoned up every shred of patience and civility I had left in my to tell this woman that "I know she went in for hip surgery, it was DOCUMENTED she went through alcoholic withdrawals, all I am asking for is someone to tell her what happened."

UBSW: " "so, basically, you want us to tell your mother she is an alcoholic."

Me:  "YES, please!  She is oriented to time and place, she is wondering why she is still here, and we want a medical professional to tell her.  She won't believe it if it comes from me or my sisters."

UBSW:  "you keep saying that's why she's here, but it's not, your NOT a doctor!"


UBSW:  "You know, you don't even know that she is still here because of..."

Me:  "Seriously?  Are you still arguing with me about why she is still here?  You are supposed to be a social worker.."

UBSW:  "I have another call, you'll just have to...can you hold?!"

Me:  : I am done."

I have never in my life been so pissed.  Or felt so helpless.  Days later and I am still shaking, pulse racing, just thinking about it.  Thankfully one of my sisters showed up, who is coincidentally, a social worker.  She calmed me down.  We ate some dinner, we then bit the bullet and went to talk to our mother.  Mom was happy to see us, especially since sister brought her some food.  We chit chatted, sister took a phone call.  Mom asks me to hand her a packet of papers that were on a chair next to me.  I saw the heading, something about alcohol.  I play it cool and hand it over to her.  She tells me some bitch social worker came by and left her some "reading materials".  I probe, a little.  Seems the SW finally did her job, but not a very good one.  Gave mom the run down on her behavior.  She was bewildered, amused, and seemed to be mulling it over.  I didn't push, but told her she scared the ever-living shit out of me and my sisters, and her 10 year old granddaughter who happened to witness four people having to hold her down and restrain her.  Ever the clever woman, she then said "well, if it was really withdrawals, then why didn't this happen in February after the mastectomy?!?" she was smiling childishly, reveling in the feeling that she had me beat.  "Uh, it did.  You just brow beat me into giving you more pain meds.  I told all your nurses and doctors then, and they brushed me off."  Since I was home with her then, it was basically just me witnessing it all.

So, that night, Wednesday of last, Mom was finally told why she was still in the hospital.  And it only almost gave me a stroke and made my head explode.  Cat was out of the bag, and some stress was lifted. Little did I know the fun had only just begun.

No comments:

Post a Comment