Thursday, March 29, 2012

Under the Table and Dreaming...

Yes, I'm already dreaming about Fall...

Before I begin, I must apologize to Dave Matthews for using a song title as my blog title, but it describes exactly how I feel.

Anyway, I feel horrible, physically, mentally, emotionally.

Physically, everything hurts. Everything. Especially my head. It hurts so bad that by the time I got in the car to leave the hospital, (I'll get to that in a moment), my entire body was shaking and I was nauseated. Migraine or sinus headache? Perhaps both. Whatever the case may be, I am sick from the pain.

Mentally, I haven't written today, which means in fact that I haven't breathed today. I know that may sound ridiculous, but I'm serious when I say I eat, sleep, and breathe writing. I do. It's the first thing I think about when I wake up, and the last thing I think about when I go to bed. I sometimes even dream in words. I see them spell out before me. I feel what my characters are feeling, which should honestly be the other way around, but I get into this. I haven't breathed today, I haven't bled today. I write when I'm happy, sad, angry, ambivalent, when I feel bad about myself, when I feel good about myself, I write when I'm ugly, pretty, feeling fat, have eaten too much, have not eaten enough, when I'm sick, when I'm in pain, and when I'm hurting. Sometimes, I write about the things going on in my life. I put in 80+ hours per week writing! No joke.

Emotionally, I'm sad. I'm freaking sad and I'm not sure anyone sees it. I'm just freaking sad! "Shellye, are you sad?" "No. What gave you that idea?" But seriously, I AM SAD! There are lots of reasons why I'm sad, but the topic of the day is my father-in-law. I'm sad over what's going on with him, but not just him, the elderly in general.

My father-in-law has Lewy Body Dementia, and I've discussed this in great detail. And he had to go through another surgery, which I will get to later. I've seen him being shuffled around from room to room. I've seen him taken care of, but not really cared for. The fact of the matter is that he's a GOMER (Get Out of My Emergency Room). And the first thing ER doctors want to do is get rid of GOMERS. In their defense, 90% of the time, there is nothing they can do for the elderly. They treat their symptoms and send them back to their nursing homes, skilled rehabilitation facilities, assisted living facilities, or home with their son or daughter who is their sole caregiver. Once they return to these facilities, they are put back in their rooms. Nurse's Aids have, oh let's say about 50 patients, and one hour in which to check on each patient, and they've got to be quick about it. Lifting assistance is not taken into account. General assistance (washing, bathing, helping them comb their hair, feeding them, helping them dress) is not taken into account. Having to turn bed fast patients over is not taken into account. ONE Nurse's Aid has less than four minutes per patient, one. Read it. And do you know what happens as a result of this? The patients get a lesser quality of care. My mom described a nurse's aid feeding a patient as, "squirting pureed food into an old person's mouth," which is due to their high patient load and low amount of time the nurse's aid is able to spend with the patient. Does that sound enjoyable to you? Is this what America does with its elderly? My heart is broken. I AM SAD, just freaking flat out depressed over the thought of this. What the heck happened to compassion? What happened to nurse's aids having the time to sit and spoon feed a patient and interact with them? The nurse's aids at my maternal grandmother's facility were great! I saw them going into rooms, interacting with the patient and his or her family, feeding them, talking to them, even if they couldn't talk back! Now I hear horror stories of nurse's aids and nurses being openly prejudice to their elderly patients who lived a homosexual lifestyle, or being negligent because they either don't care or have no time. Listen, there is no room in medicine for prejudice. Medicine is not black, white, gay, straight, young, or old. When you go into the medical field, you take an oath to do no harm. It doesn't matter if the bully who picked on you in high school walks in that door with a gunshot wound, MEDICINE KNOWS NO PREJUDICE! Healing is not just for a select group. When Jesus healed the sick, he didn't say, "Sorry, can't heal you because you're a homosexual," he said, "BE MADE WHOLE!" (This was usually followed by, "Go and sin no more," but that's not the point I'm trying to make right now, but I wanted it to be said.) Back to medicine, there is an oath involved to do no harm. DO NO HARM. That means DO NOT HARM!!! I think negligence or lack of quality in care is just as harmful as blatant abuse of a patient. It's the same thing. You can't tell me there's a difference. I want to be a doctor with all of my heart, and even if I don't make it, I'm going to be able to say I tried. Even if my OCD stops me, I will do everything I can from a non medical standpoint. I will speak out against this. I will do something to change it. This is where my heart is. Someone needs to stand up and fight for those who can't fight for themselves, like my father-in-law.

My father-in-law had surgery today. He had another bowel blockage, which may have caused kidney failure, (they say "near kidney failure" because his kidney function is dangerously low). Let me back up a bit. Last week, my father-in-law was taken to the hospital via ambulance due to abdominal pain. They admitted him for observation. He started regurgitating without explanation. They put in an NG tube, said his bowels and kidneys weren't working, and waited several days before deciding to do surgery. His belly bloated. The IV fluids weren't helping because they were all going to his stomach, but not exiting the body. My father-in-law somehow keeps getting his NG tube messed up, coiled, or out because he hates it. I know he does. I swear that the man is pulling it out on his own! And now that his hands are restrained, he is using his stomach muscles and his throat muscles to move the thing around and will it out of his body! They've had to replace it three or four times! The good news is that they do keep checking it to see what he's done with it this time. *lol* I feel bad for him, but it's funny how he's been able to get it out while his hands have been restrained! We were told they would probably have to place another one. Poor guy. He hates those things.

My father-in-law is in the ICU on a ventilator with his hands restrained so he doesn't pull it out. He was calm. He opened his eyes. He kept trying to talk to us. Doug and my mother-in-law (mnl) warned me about going back there. Fortunately, I was able to remain vertical instead of ending up horizontal. They let all three of us back there, which the sign said two only. So my mnl came back a few minutes later. I was fine until I saw this chart that the patient points to in order to communicate. My father-in-law has Lewy Body Dementia. He barely knows us. His speech was unintelligible the last time we visited. I don't understand how he's going to be able to speak for himself. When he looks at that chart, he could see anything but what's on that chart. He may tell them the chart is written in a foreign language he can't understand. How's he going to speak for himself? How is he going to tell them what he needs? How? Because I don't get it! And as I looked at that chart, I started crying. I made some excuse for Doug and I to leave the room because I didn't want to cry in front of my mnl. She often mirrors my mood, and I'm supposed to be strong for her. If she saw me fall apart, she may have fallen apart. So Doug and I went out into the lobby and I cried. I just couldn't help myself. This whole situation just sucks! It totally freaking sucks!!! And my hands are tied. I can't do a thing to help him. None of us can even stay in the room the whole time because of the odd hours at the ICU. It's a half hour to visit your loved one every three hours. I'm worried that he is going to freak out once the vent and the restraints are taken away, and none of us can stay there with him.

Why am I under the table and dreaming?
Because my dreams are big, and somewhat intimidating.
Because I need to escape from reality every once in a while.
Because my life really sucks right now and I can't deal with it.

Because all of the above...

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