Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Ball Is in My Court

The hospice nurse just called. She had spoken with the doctor who suggested that I "might want" to take Mom to the Emergency Room to have her wrist x-rayed for a possible hairline fracture. I don't want. Not after the awful experience we had when I took her to the Emergency Room on November 16th.

We arrived at 2 PM. Mom was in her bathrobe and so lethargic that she could hardly sit upright on her chair. "Triage" seemed to think that everyone else's problems were more serious, so we waited and waited. Finally, I dared to ask why all these other people were being seen ahead of my 99-year-old mother. I got a starchy, professional response: "Patients are seen in order of the urgency of their complaints." Didn't look to me as if anyone was bleeding to death from a gunshot wound. Everyone else seemed cheerful and ambulatory, even the guy who had been poked in the eye.

Finally, around 4, we were admitted to the Inner Sanctum. They drew Mom's blood and did an EKG. They put her on an IV, but as she got rehydrated, she got antsy. Tearing at the wires and tubes, she asked, "Why am I here?" "What are we waiting for?" Finally I approached the attending physician. She was wearing purple scrubs and rhinestone-studded high heels. The shoes irritated me.

"What are we waiting for?"

She turned poisonous eyes away from the computer screen for a moment and replied icily, "I am waiting for the results of the urinalysis."

"But you haven't done one yet."

"We most certainly did!" she snapped. She grabbed a printout and hurriedly scanned it. "Um, we seem to have missed that. Well, someone will be right in."

A nurse placed Mom on the bedpan and left. Forty minutes later, I went looking for her. She apologized for forgetting all about Mom, but Mom had been unable to urinate in any case. A technician came in to catheterize her. After several unsuccessful attempts, she called in a nurse to help. The ghouls finally got their specimen, which they sent to the lab.

Around 10:15, the doctor breezed back in. Ignoring me, she delivered a speech to Mom, who blinked at her uncomprehendingly. "Well, my dear," she proclaimed grandly, " I am sending you home. I am giving you a prescription for an antibiotic, which you can have your pharmacist fill tomorrow. I want you to see your regular doctor first thing in the morning."

We were home by 11 PM. Mom fell into bed, exhausted. I don't want to return to the Emergency Room. The hospice nurse says it's my call. The ball is in my court.


CJM-R said...

I am sorry to hear about your mom taking a fall. The ER is the same no matter what state you are in, isn't it?

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

Is there any alternative to an ER? A clinic maybe?