Thursday, July 5, 2012

Where is the fight?

One day when I went to visit mom she was in distress.  "Jen it was awful" she told me about the nurse who changed her dressing. "Her name tag kept hitting my leg and the pain was so intense, not to mention she can get germs in it."  It seemed the counselor in charge of working with us was never actually at the rehab hospital so I left a message telling her that was unacceptable. The next thing I knew that nurse was assigned to a whole different floor.  I know this because I was there everyday from 3:30 to 6ish and she would be getting on the elevator and heading to a different floor. She didn't speak to me and I didn't care.  My head was focused on one thing only...what my mom needed. 
Speaking of that, most often what my mom needed was someone to be with her at doctor's appointments.  This lovely woman was on some heavy pain medication that helped her to forget.  The problem with that is when you have to make decisions about your health care you don't want to be forgetting what the doctor is saying to you.  That being said, I made arrangements to be at as many of her doctor's appointments as possible.  She was taken by rehab transport on a stretcher and I met her there. 
One day she was scheduled to have her leg looked at as they were thinking of when they might start grafting.  This was also when she seemed to be getting sicker. She was weak and unable to eat.  I got out of work as early as possible and headed to the hospital where the appointment was beginning at 3:30.  I had already had some experience with this secretary and so I was prepared for the nasty sneer she had on her face.  I told her my mom was in for an appointment and I was supposed to be with her.  She said, "Well she is with the doctor."  I explained patiently that I knew that but that I was supposed to be with her.  To this day I cannot imagine I am the only patient who needed to be with her mother while the doctor worked with her, but the secretary seemed so very confused.  She told me to sit in the waiting room and she would page the nurse that was with them to see if it was okay.  This next part makes me so mad at myself.  I sat there waiting until 5:00.  I am not sure what it was that kept me sitting there and not asking her what the nurse had said.  All I know is that at 5:00 the nurse walked out with his backpack on and clearly, knowing someone should no longer be in the waiting room because all patients were gone, he asked who I was waiting for.  When I explained to him what I was doing there he got a horrified look on his face and told me to wait right there.  The next thing I know a (I assume some kind of manager) came out and apologized profusely.  You see, the secretary never did page the nurse and so at 4:30 the rehab emts had wheeled my mom out the back door and back to the rehab hosital while I sat there waiting to get in.  To this day I wish I had raged in anger and yelled and screamed.  But I didn't.  They didnt even have me go near the secretary and they got the doctor who agreed to sit with me and tell me everything that had happened during the appointment.  I focused on the goodness of the doctor and not the total ineptness of the secretary.  I drove right to Fairlawn and filled my mom in on what happened.  She was like a balloon that all of the air had been let out of.  She didn't seem angry or sad that I wasn't there. Only really, really exhausted.  She told me not to be mad.  She told me to go home and get rest. 
The great news was the leg was getting better.  That damn leg was driving us crazy.  The big question would continue to be, "Why was the leg healing so well when my mom appeared to be getting sicker and sicker?"   The bigger question I will focus more on in upcoming posts is, "Was my mom giving up?"  In the next few posts you will read more about doctors and nurses telling us mom had to fight.  I think they were wrong.  I think the day I felt Peggy in that room mom was already on the journey to die.  I believe mom knew it too and I get upset with anyone who would insinuate she just wasn't fighting.  Much later, when we found out what was actually happening inside her body I would realize she had been fighting longer than many would have expected. 

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