I know it’s not a pleasant topic to talk about and nobody wants to think about it but I need to go there with you because we just came from there and were just semi ready. I need to write about this to get you at least thinking should the unthinkable happen to you or your family.
A more than brief recap on our story to let you know where I am going with this and what I hope you take way from this post. First I need to thank Patty Skolnik of Citizens for Patient Safety, for sending me updated information right way.
Note: Patty was a facilitator of mine when I attended the Family Leadership Training Institute, who had an unfotyunate experience with the medical profession (please read her history link to learn of her very tragic story about Michael) a couple years ago that resulted in a nonprofit to help others in their journey in dealing with hospitals and Doctors. I am telling you all this just so you know of how this relationship came about.
It was Monday the 5th of December in the early morning and Claire was up as usual to go to work. She was in the shower and began to feel light headed so she got out and laid on the floor before she crashed to the floor. I got up after hearing things not as they normally are and opened the door, asked if she was OK and not getting the normal “I don’t know” response she always gives and i got concerned, helped her up to the bed where she laid there and collected herself, then while being as stubborn as ever (which was normal ans I took it as a good sign), proceeded to get dressed and drove herself to work. Upon arriving at work in the December snow, her coworkers made comments on how bad she looked, she took it to heart, collected her laptop and came home so she could work remotely. She came home and went to the bathroom and went down again and I came to help once again. Around lunchtime and I tried to get her to talk to her Doctor, which reulted in a no go situation and as stubborn as she was, she just went back too bed to “sleep” it off. After awaking again around 3PM and Dakota was home from school she got light headed once again and found the bathroom floor voluntarily. I talked her into talking to her Dr. on the phone and I was also telling her she should go to the Doctor or Emergency room because she was in a bad way. “Do you think she would want me to come in”? she asked… Well yeah! was my response, again.
After talking to her Dr. on the phone who convinced to try and make it to the Dr’s office, now she only had to make it down the stairs so I could drive her, this was was proving to be a major obstacle. I got her to the top of the stairs on her feet where she had to lay down, yet again. I told her she gets three tries to make it downstairs before I call the ambulance, and she agreed to it.
She regained her form and butt scootched down three more steps before she had to stop and “rest”. I told Dakota to stand below her on the stairs and don’t let her move up or down and to yell if something happened or she tried to move without me; while I headed off to the kitchen to get my now charged cell phone.
I got back into position below her and she tried another step but failed and had to stop and reconnoiter herself.
That’s it 3 strikes and she’s got no voice in the matter, as I dialed 911 for her. I thought about letting Dakota make the call as a part of his on the job “life” training but opted against it at the time. Looking back on it all now, I wish I would have let him make the call so he could see, hear and learn the emergency process from the get go. No bump, no foul as Mom butt slid to the bottom of the stairs where she laid down snuggling the bottom step as we waited for 911 to show up.
As the minutes passed mom’s complexion turned to a pastier white as she continued with a new moan.
4 minutes later a fire truck and ambulance showed up from the downtown firestation and as I let the Paramedics in, as the fire crew finished shoveling snow from my front steps. I let the medics in and told them she DID NOT fall down the stairs to finish crumpled in that position, but she could only make it that far before lying down again. The hooked her vitals up for monitoring and started IV’s before heading on to the hospital as I signed all the digital paperwork. Dakota and I then loaded into our urban assault minivan and followed them on a slow safe ride to Sky Ridge Hospital.
After three hours of waiting, poking and prodding, three liters of blood and MRI’s, it was determined she was very Anemic and she would be booked in for the night pending room availability. I was pleased they were admitting her but not so pleased of where (Sky Ridge) they were admitting her.
Another side note: When Dakota was very young he made a couple ambulance rides in the same day to this new hospital where I ended up firing the staff for incompetence for missed calls after trip no. 2 and demanding another ambulance to the Children’s Hospital Colorado. If you were members of athomedad.org in the early days you might remember MileHiDad ranting/posting about this on my Blog.
I took a chance for improvement after 9 years of practice and hoped they were finally getting it right on a hope and prayer as Dakota and I found the new room on the very emotional Cardiac floor; her family has had cardiac history and concerns over the years. And the stream of so called professionals started streaming in with a chorus of what they thought was going on, anything and everything from Leukemia to bone cancer and beyond… Did it unnerve me? Not in the slightest! Well, maybe a little… I take it as it comes.
Now is a good time to speak on patient safety angle and what I (and you) should watch out for. We are all consumers of health care. We can have the power to make systemic changes for the purposes of improving the quality of the health care we receive. Citizens for Patient Safety believes that making educated health care decisions depends on the consumer’s ability to access information about their health care providers and care facilities. Consumers deserve straightforward access to information pertaining to the health care they receive. If you or a loved one has ever found yourself entangled in the health care system, you are well aware of the ever-growing mountain of information to keep track of. Now you can store it all in one place by using The Patient Medical Journal, as you advocate for yourself or a loved one.
The Patient Medical Journal:
Is a simple and well organized format for you, or your advocate, to enter valuable information about your care.
Take the journal with you on follow-up visits with all doctors and health care providers, and especially if you are admitted to the hospital.You need to record patient characteristics, health history, contact information, authorization and release forms, daily care and medications. Entries in the journal are self-explanatory. You are the only one who can authorize access to this critical information.
Keeping track of this information in a time of crisis will bolster your confidence while participating actively in the care given.
It is well worth your time and money to get this journal, and as painful as it is to talk about, talk about the questions asked in the journal, then fill it out. It’s all about making informed decisions if your loved ones cannot do ti for themselves. Luckily we did not have to go to that extreme, and after getting the updated journal from Patty I was ready to take whatever was tossed my way head on. Just reading it made me ask more informed questions, make more informed decisions, and that let the hospital staff know I was paying attention and was watching. And showing that level of concern let Claire know that I was not taking what was happening, lightly.
I am not telling you all this to embarrass her though she might take it as such, we have recently walked a path through life I hope none of you ever has to go down, but if you do, I am offering our history and learning to help you guide the way successfully.
In wrapping this all up, she ended up staying for four more days of testing both her system and her ability to move with a cane for assistance and living with assisted devices. I will let you know that Claire’s red blood cell count is now on the rise, she is walking unassisted and is back driving, she also has a followup surgery and is scheduled and a spinal surgeon consultation; she is expected to have a complete recovery and may even ski this spring and then Ride The Rockies this summer, but we’ll take that as it comes.
A final note, no matter how tough your spouse thinks they are, listen to what they are saying but use common sense in observing them if the are having difficulties, go with your gut feelings and make them get real with themselves.
We learned this the hard way.