Sunday, October 28, 2007

Hospital Horror

Editorial note: Today is 11/19/07. I started this story weeks ago as a follow up to the Sunday Scribblings post at the end of October. I have had neither the time nor the inspiration to finish it yet. But I really did want to link to to my initial post on Hospitals.

"That was really fun!" Jill commented as the 3 of them piled into the car at the end of the evening. "I knew we'd enjoy line dancing, but for a grown-up church social, it was better than I'd expected."

"I don't share quite your enthusiasm," Jim said, as he helped Jill's friend Suzanne into the back seat. "But I did have a better time than I expected to."

"Suze, it was a great suggestion. Thanks for including us. Hey, guys," Jill pursued, " since we have been grazing on that great food spread all evening, we don' t need to feed ourselves before we head home. Does anyone mind if we run past the hospital and see Gram? I saw her this afternoon and I told her what we had planned for this evening. But since the hospital is actually between here and home, I told her we might come by and run in for a few minutes on our way home."

"Of course, Jill, no problem," Jim replied. "Suzanne, any reason you need to get right back to your place?"

"No, none at all. In fact, I would enjoy seeing Jill's grandmother; it's been several weeks since I saw her last. What did you say she is in the hospital for this time?"

"It's even hard for me to keep up," Jill responded. "She just keeps having the same problems over and over. I think it is a bladder infection that hasn't cleared up and they are worried about pneumonia too. The nursing home was concerned enough to send her over to the emergency room and she was in a room down there for a bit over 24 hours while they tried to find her a room. They are trying to put her in a private room. I keep having that problem. As soon as they find out how good her insurance coverage is they go for the private room. I told them specifically I wanted her in semi-private---she enjoys the company and I feel better when I know there is someone else who might push the call button if she were in distress. She hates to impose or to bother anyone and I don't believe she would actually push the call button for herself."

In less than 5 minutes Jim pulled the car into the parking garage, and the 3 of them got out of the car.

"Here, there's someone smoking outside this door," Jill said, "we can go in here instead of going all the way around to the night entrance. I can hardly believe how well I have learned my way around this place in the last couple of years."

Once they reached the floor, they lowered their voices slightly, but were still laughing and chattering about what a nice evening they'd had. "Gram's room is down on this corner. If she's already asleep I'll just give her a kiss and we can go on and get you home, Suze," Jill said as she hurried ahead to the open door.

The next thing Jim and Suzanne heard sent them forward at a dead run, followed closely by at least 2 nurses. Jill had let out a long and piercing scream. The first thing she saw as she entered the room was her little, 87 year old grandmother flat on her face on the floor, unconscious, in a pool of blood from a sizable gash on her forehead. The fact that the blood had begun to coagulate indicated she had been lying there awhile. Her feet were tangled in the tubing from her catheter which had been clipped to her bed sheets. Probably, unaware of the severity of her weakness, possibly unaware of her being in the hospital, she had attempted to go to the bathroom. The nurse who was supposed to be responsible for that room was not even on the floor, and apparently had not bothered to pull up the restraining rail on the bed.

Jim hurried over to wrap his arms around his trembling wife; and Suzanne, along with the nurses, hurried to see to the crumpled, unconscious figure on the floor. Fear and unimaginable fury were Jill's strongest emotions and she continued to shake with both. The nurse giving the best of her attention to Jill as she made excuses, instead of seeing to Gram, was the most infuriating of all.

Gram was breathing and the opening in her head had staunched itself and was no longer bleeding. Suddenly the corner "private" room was an absolute flurry of activity as they got a stretcher and attendants to pick up her frail little body and put it back on the hospital bed. Of course, they were now going to have to take her down emergency to do a CT scan to assess what damage the fall had done and to stitch up the head wound.

Thus the pleasant Saturday evening was catapulted into the horror of 5 hours sitting in the emergency room waiting to see the results of a new battery of MRI and other tests which should never have been needed. The gash on Gram's head required 14 stitches on the outside, in addition to a set of Jill-was-never-told-how-many on the inside.

As I said in the initally posted part of the blog, this is absolutely a true incident and I am not quite sure how to end it in the story form I have begun. The only fiction is that this was my mother, not my grandmother. She pretty much recovered, altho I will never know how much less she was after it happened than if it never had. I began investigating omsbudsman aid and legislation and other elder abuse/ malpractice options I might have had, but before I could get very far with that (doing it as and addendum to my already busy life and at end of the year holiday time), my dad had a masssive stroke and nine days later died. By the time I finished taking care of his funeral, insurance, etc. and being exectuor of his will, I no longer had the energy or the fight left in me to pursue righting the wrongs that had been done to Mother. By the time I might have restarted those engines, details had been forgotten, witnesses lost track of, and documentation misplaced. Ah, so it goes. But you may see why hospitals do not hold a very bright spot in my memories.

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