I'm Sick of Gremlins!


I'm Sick of Gremlins!

orange-monster-mdYou know the gremlin that watches your checkbook and your charge accounts? The one that keeps an eye on your balances? The one that knows just when you have managed to save up a small cushion or that you have finally paid off your credit card? I know you know the one I’m talking about. It’s the one that decides that it is time for the alternator in your car go bad or your refrigerator stop getting cold. That one.

I’m convinced there are health care gremlins. too. Just when you finally get your life back to some semblance of normal, the universe of gremlins wakes up and POW, normal is out the window again.

So here we are, sitting in the ER trying to figure out why Mom can’t put weight on her left leg.  It started on Thursday, two days after a great visit with our PCP and two weeks after the orthopedist gave Mom a clean bill of health. On Tuesday morning when she got up she said her left leg hurt from her hip down the front to her knee. But after getting her arthritic body going she didn’t complain again that day. Maybe she mentioned it on Wednesday, but I don’t remember. By Sunday it was much worse and that evening she couldn’t put enough weight on her leg to be able to get to the bathroom.

Ah the commode, I love it and hate it. So out of the closet it came and we placed it next to her bed. She hit the sack around 8:45 pm, and needed assistance at least six times throughout the night. Hmm… sleep, what’s that? Time to call the doc. Yep, he says, sounds like we need to get her to the hospital to find out what is going on.

By this time in my caregiving career I have learned feed us first, call 911 later, at least if it is not a life threatening crisis!  Once we hit the ER any kind of sustenance will be put off until medicine decides it is okay, so I wanted to get some food in Mom before we went.

Not to be undone by the medical crisis presenting itself, the household gremlins also woke up. As I was coming down the stairs Hubby was in the shower and I heard a familiar buzzing noise. It was the outside alarm for the grinder pump. The grinder pump is a town installed pump that takes our dirty water and pumps it up the hill to the sewer line. Apparently they are just old enough that they are all starting to go bad, so the town takes it out and replaces it with a repaired one. Ours was incessantly buzzing the day we came home from vacation three weeks ago. Who knows how long our neighbors suffered with that noise but as soon as we hit the house we called the water department to come and fix it. Guess it wasn’t fixed as good as expected! So in the middle of catching the cat to lock her up, kissing Hubby goodbye for work, feeding mom and trying to think of everything I needed for the next few hours, I called the town water department to report the alarm.

And… we’re off! We arrived around 10:30 and realized, Oh goody, it’s Columbus Day - the ER is hopping. Fortunately this is the first ER visit with Mom where she is not writhing with unrelenting pain, so at least my stress level is relatively normal. After a careful but thorough exam, the nurse practitioner decided there was no need to torture Mom with x-rays and sent her directly to CT. Hallelujah! She also let us know it would be a while because she wanted the radiologist to compare this scan with the scan from July when Mom fractured her pelvis. Not happily, the comparison showed she has a new fracture. How did this happen? Your guess is as good as mine. NO, she has not fallen! That would involve calling someone for either a lift assist or an immediate trip to the ER. Has just walking fractured her pelvis again? Not a happy thought.

I don’t know why I still have unrealistic expectations about getting things done in an ER. It is now 1 pm. We are starting to get hungry and our butts are getting numb. Practically before we knew what was wrong we were seen by a discharge planner. In three years this has never happen before. She let us know that instead of admitting Mom, since she was medically stable they were going to send her to a rehabilitation hospital about a half an hour away. Uh, okay. I am a little surprised because I know this is a “real” rehabilitation hospital, not a rehab bed a nursing home. But as I think about it, she is pretty motivated (my little Energizer Bunny) so maybe this is a positive thing. We may even get a better handle on pain management, new eyes and all that.

Okay, so we wait… and wait… 2 p.m.… 3 p.m… 4 p.m. ZZZZZzzzz  Mom has HAD it! In comes the discharge planner with the news that the rehab hospital just called and they don’t have a bed today, they will come and see her tomorrow to process her admission. You have got to be kidding me! Six hours and now they have to notify our doctor to have him admit her here. I drove into the garage at 7:30, nine hours after I called 911.

It is now Tuesday. Mom called at 9 this morning. The orthopedist had been in early to see her. He seems to think she is not that bad, whatever that means. Our PCP has been in so see her also. His question to Mom was to ask if I was okay with her going to the rehab hospital and not to a local nursing home. (At least that’s what Mom reported to me.) So we are in hurry up and wait mode again. This was followed by a call from social services. The liaison from the rehab hospital was in to talk to Mom, they think she is a great candidate for rehab, she is alert and wants to get better and they have a bed for her. Okay, lets do it.

And we wait some more. By the time I get to the hospital Mom is upset. She is having a hard time dealing with not knowing what is going on. I settle her down, stay with her while she has lunch and by the time I leave the only thing anyone can tell me is they are waiting on our doctor to say she is medically stable and can be transferred.

It is now 9 p.m. I guess we will find out more tomorrow when the PCP does his morning visit. Maybe the medical gremlins will go visit someone else tomorrow and we will get this show on the road. I’m sick of gremlins.

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Oh, gosh, how frustrating that it took 48 hours to get the situation settled. I'm to hear you all have a plan and I, too, hope the plan means better days for your mom. \r\n\r\nI've crossed my fingers. :)


Thanks Pegi. Hurray! Mom called by 8 am today. Our PCP was in and has signed the orders for transfer! (Confirmed moments later by a call from the discharge nurse.) Tentative transfer is 11:30. I am hoping for exactly the same progress your mom had at the rehab hospital. I am hoping they will help not only with the fracture, but with her balance, stability and pain not to mention the issues with her fingers, hands and wrists from the arthritis. Got my fingers crossed!