Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I Need to Vent

I'm angry right now.

I think most of my regular readers know that I keep a pretty cheerful disposition around this blog.  For the most part, that's because I feel like I'm like that on a regular basis anyways.  But it doesn't mean I don't have some times where I'm not so cheerful.  Today is one of those times.

I need to vent a bit.  I don't want anyone to take offense to what I have to say.  This is a rather personal issue, and I'm being a bit more vulnerable about my emotions than what I usually care to do on the internet.  

My grandpa has been sick for a while.  I honestly can't even keep up with the list anymore of all the things he's been through.  Brain tumors.  Brain cancer.  Throat cancer.  Skin cancer.  Strokes.  Eye infections.  Ear infections.  Urinary tract infections (did you know that when older people get UTIs, they kind of freak out? I do.)

I don't want to sound like I'm being lighthearted when I say this, but my grandpa has lived through things that would have long since killed most people.  He's 86, and each year we've wondered if it'd be the last birthday, the last Thanksgiving, or the last Christmas.  For like the past 5 years.

I believe that our will power is ultimately a very powerful thing.  I think that's why there are people who are told they'll never walk again that finish an Ironman.  Along the same lines, I think that's why my grandpa is still alive.  He hasn't been ready to go yet.

When I was in Chicago, my grandpa had to go back to the hospital. I think he was dehydrated or something, but from there he was sent to a rehab facility in hopes of getting him stronger so that he could continue to stay at home.

He's doing worse now than he was when he got there.

First, someone at the facility didn't put his bed rails up one night.  This was careless, especially since it's on his chart that he's weak and likely to fall out of the bed.  He did.  He had to get stitches and staples in his head, and he broke something in his neck and they had to put him in a neck brace.

Next, the neck brace is way too big.  My grandma and mom have repeatedly requested they get him a smaller one that actually fits to no avail.

On Sunday, we found out he had gone absolutely nuts.  He was yelling, cussing and being incredibly mean and belligerent.  We know for a fact that the only time he has ever behaved in this manner was when he had some sort of UTI or staph infection. So we asked them to consider his previous history and run a few tests to see if maybe it meant he had another infection.

We went down there last night, and they not only hadn't done any tests, they also tried to argue that no one in the family had called and asked for that.

So we ask them to do it while we're there.  They tell us there's no medical reason to order the tests.  We tell them that we know his previous history and know that his symptoms indicate some sort of infection.

I'll spare you all the nitty gritty, but ultimately one of the nurses told my mom she was being ridiculous.  To her face.

Both of my parents were pretty upset by this point, so I stepped in and tried to articulate what they were too upset to say: We know him better than them, we know his previous medical history, and we know that the ONLY time he's ever behaved in this manner was when he'd had infections.  We're asking that a test be done to rule out an infection simply because if we find out he has an infection and they opted to not do anything about it, they'll have bigger problems on their hands than us asking them to do their jobs and run a test. 

I wanted to tell the women that SHE was being ridiculous because I didn't realize it was such an inconvenience to her to do her freaking job, but I kept that one to myself.  I didn't want to play her game and be disrespectful to her.

Ultimately they ran the tests, I think mostly because they realized my mom wasn't going to leave until they did. I'm still not positive what they found out there...

Today, they left him UNATTENDED in a chair.  Once again, they have it on his chart that he is weak and likely to fall.  He can't keep himself up in a chair.  Period.  They know this.  And if they don't, it's because they aren't doing their jobs and reading his info.

He fell out of the chair and busted his head open.  My mom and dad were heading to the hospital to find out how serious it is... so I'm just waiting right now to hear what's going on.

Now listen... I'm not knocking the medial field in general.  I'm not knocking nurses and doctors and other medical staff in general.  I have good friends who I know are excellent nurses.

But the specific people who have been involved with caring for my grandpa at this specific facility? I am APPALLED.

Like, I didn't know it was so hard to do your job.  What the hell are you getting paid for anyways?  To be disrespectful to your patient's families?  To walk away and leave your patients unattended when they're not in a secure position?  To argue with us about someone whom we know way better than you do?

I mean, I wish I could have video-taped what happened when I was there.  I feel like I'm just going to sound like someone who is upset because her grandpa is nearing the end.  But that's not it.  I'm angry because the people who have been entrusted with his care are straight up neglecting him.

My family has been through a lot with my grandpa.  We know the end is near.  That of course sucks.  But our real issue is that it's one thing to pass away because it's your time to go... that will be sad, but it will be fine.  But if he passes away because they neglected to give him proper care?  Well - that's infuriating.  To say the very least.

If he survives this fall, he's not going back to that facility.  My mom had already called a lawyer this morning to get some help with getting him moved. (Did you know it's like going to war to get someone moved from one facility to another?  Legally, they can't tell us we can't move him, but they can make it so difficult that you have to get a lawyer to step in to get it done.  Now THAT'S ridiculous.)

The whole thing is just incredibly frustrating.  You always kind of have this sense of trust that medical professionals know what they are doing and have your best interests in mind.  I still believe that's true for a TON of them.  But man, when you find the ones who don't seem to giving a flying flip?  It's not a good situation.

I'm certain my readers know I'm not one to throw a pity party.  I'm certainly not posting this because I'm looking for anything from you.  I shared it mostly because I needed to vent about all the absurd things that have been going on and also because I just wanted to ask all of you to say a little prayer for my family if you would like and don't mind.  It's already a difficult situation as it is, but all of this mess has kind of made it all even harder.


the gazelle said...

I understand your anger & frustration. My grandmother (before she passed) was briefly at a care facility that had a similar track record of neglect (she fell out of bed & snapped her cancer-weakened femur). There are a lot of under-qualified, under-trained, underpaid people in elder care, and it's appalling how people are treated in some of those care facilities!

I am so sorry that your grandfather is in such a bad situation, but am happy that he has an involved family to watch out for him & make sure that he is cared for.

Jackie said...

I am so sorry your grandfather is receiving such horrible care. I'm sure your lawyer told you this, but make sure you are writing everything down. This post would probably sufficient enough if you edited it to only include the actual instances and added dates/times in the case that something awful did happen. Also, my dad is the chief operating officer at the hospital system in my hometown and he always welcomes information like this so that it can be taken care of and so the hospital can better serve their patients. I am guessing this is not a hospital, but still, you may want to get in contact with upper management to file a complaint.


Jackie said...

Oops, I totally did not proofread :) Hope that all makes sense!

Amber (Girl with the red hair) said...

I'm so sorry to hear all of that. Have you considered bringing a lawsuit against the facility?

If you and your parents don't want to bring a lawsuit against the facility, which I know can be a lot of work AND money maybe you should consider writing a letter to the newspaper about it or contacting a reporter to write a story about it??

I hope you Grandpa is OK!

Niki said...

I'm so sorry your grandpa and family has recieved such awful care and disrespect. I would be very angry and frusterated also. I hope ya'll are able to get him into a better facility that actually takes care of their patients. Praying for you and your family girl!

kilax said...

Poor guy! I would be so frustrated too. And infuriated that I couldn't do anything about it! I hope the lawyer is able to get him moved :(

Sharon said...

Your grandpa & family are for sure in my prayers. How horrible that facility is! It really makes me angry that there are health care providers out there who are so negligent & uncaring. It is their job to ensure that their patients are safe & comfortable and they are totally not doing that.

Hugs to you and your family. I pray that your grandpa is okay and will be moved from that awful facility as soon as possible. Hang in there, girlie :)

Eric said...

I ll will do my prayer in honor of your grandfather hope everything went ok

Chris said...

I am so sorry that this is happening to your family. You are so right to be upset. I know I would be feeling and doing the same things if it were my grandpa being treated like that.

bunnyheadtwirly said...

You really should consider a lawsuit. Just writing a demand letter may work, and it could help pay for your grandfather's care. Letting him fall twice is just ridiculous.

At the very least, do write a letter to your local newspaper and your local news stations. This is the kind of story that needs to be told. Far too often does elder abuse and neglect go unreported.

Kathryn said...

Oh Melanie - I went through something similar before we lost my Gram. It's SO frustrating. I know you are not bashing the entire field, but it is SO upsetting when the medical community lets you down.

You have prayers, many of them. You all do - it's hard enough to face the end of a beloved family member, harder still to feel like he could potentially go because of incompetence. I hope he can fight through this and you can get him somewhere where he can rest easy. How scary this place must be for him - our very basic survival instinct is to not fall! That's why babies have a startle reflex and why dogs and cats struggle when they feel insecure in your arms! A man who has lived his days as a productive member of society should not be treated worse than an animal. That is so cruel. :(

Nicole said...

Sounds like these aholes at this facility need a visit from a not so friendly nicole. How FLIPPING absurd! This is terrible on so many levels. First, i'm so sorry to hear about your grandpa. I hope he pulls through- from what you said, he sounds pretty tough. Second, what in the hell is wrong with these people? You could pull a serious lawsuit with neglect! He has proof from scars, stiches and so on. If i were you, id make sure there are some pictures taken so that if a lawsuit was to happen, you would have good proof! I'm so angry and upset for you! I bet your parents are very mad and very sad. I will say a prayer for you and if you need ANYTHING, you call me and you can vent at any time any day! I'm here for you girl, dont keep this shit bottled up! love you hun!!! xoxo

Rachel H. said...

Let me just tell you that I totally understand, and I hate that your grandfather is receiving such bad care at the facility. My grandfather was in the hospital and an incompetent nurse failed to wash her hands when changing his feeding tube bandage...he had liver cancer. He was in remission, and they were having surgery to rebuild his stomach. Anyways, she infected him with a virus from another patient, and he died in 16 hours. The worst thing that has ever happened to my family! And the hardest to deal with! I'm thinking of you and know that there are some great nurses and doctors, but there are also some terrible ones.

Jamie said...

That is absolutely horrible and unfortunately an all too common problem in elderly care facilities. I am so sorry you and your family have to deal with this on top of everything else! It's really sad that it takes a lawyer to get people to provide basic care.

Kimberly300 said...

this is worse than appalling.. girl there really are no words. Your family is in my prayers.

J said...

So sorry to hear about your grandfather! i think some hospitals are worse than others. My aunt is a neonatal nurse and when she took my cousin to the hospital she had to tell the doctors which tests they should be running. Kind of ridiculous but it happens.

Running and living said...

The care of the elderly in this country is very poor. Not sure why. Perhaps because so many elderly can;t stand up for themselves. Getting old is hard enough, we don;t need to make it even harder. Hang in there, I hope you can move your grandpa in a better care facility!

d.a.r. said...

Oh my gosh this is so horrifying!! No wonder there is so much elder care/nursing home abuse litigation right now. Make sure you talk to a lawyer....

I really hope and pray that this situation gets better and he can be moved to a new location where he is actually cared for. For his sake, and yours!

Paul said...

Melanie, you have every right to be angry and upset. I feel so sorry for your grandpa and his family. I think stories like this - even if they are not the norm - are what worry so many people about getting old. I know my parents (both 77) fear this more than anything. I hope it works out for you all. Paul