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Mini-rant: Doctors

If you've been reading my (barely controlled attempts at concealing my burgeoning) insanity lately, you know that my grandmother is in the nursing home for rehab after surgery to remove a small part of her colon (which tested benign).

You probably also know that my family aren't exactly thrilled with the level of service we're getting.

But I wanted to make a point of saying that it's not the nursing home themselves that we are pissed at. Well, other than that one nurse who slams the door every time she leaves the room. The nursing home staff has been amazing. Then who are we pissed at?

See, my grandparents have this doctor. His name is Dr. Summerford. They love him to death. The nurses all hate him because he doesn't listen to a thing they say and expects his orders to be followed to the letter. So maybe he just knows what he's doing. Benefit of the doubt, and all that rot.

But my grandmother had the unmitigated gall to get sick the first time over a weekend....and it took him until Monday to come to the hospital to see her. For five minutes.

Then, when they moved her to the nursing home, it was on a Friday, and it took them until Monday to find him and get him to okay the pills that allow her to sleep. Over the phone, which took less than five minutes.

Now, with the diarrhea problems she's coping with (once again, over a weekend), he cannot be found. Instead, his colleague Dr. Wilson or Watkins or Watson or something along those lines (Williams?) is on call for Dr. Summerford. My grandmother started having problems Thursday. They did a stool sample analysis: NOTHING. They did an X-ray: Good (her surgery's healing nicely; no obstructions or otherwise anything to alarm the doctors). Meanwhile, she still has diarrhea. Horribly. And the doctors do: precisely nothing.

Another day goes by. It's now Friday. The nurses can't give my grandmother anything for the diarrhea because they can't give her ANYTHING unless it's okayed by a doctor.

And where is her doctor? Out of town. Saturday, after we (my mother and I) finally threaten them (see my last couple of posts), they finally get hold of this Dr. Willis (or whatever) and they tell us he says "Give her a Lomotil* every time she has a loose stool." Great, we think. Finally, she can start to get better. She sleeps Saturday night for the first time since Wednesday.

Sunday (today--it isn't Monday until I sleep), I get to the nursing home around 1:30 pm and discover that, once again, my grandmother is having diarrhea. Frequently. And I went slightly ballistic.

I got the head nurse (a wonderfully nice man named George) alerted that unless SOMETHING was damned well done, we are removing her and taking her to the emergency room first thing Monday after speaking with her doctor (assuming he's not out of town). I further explained that we are not angry with the nursing home staff in any way. He explains that he understands how frustrating it can be to deal with doctors. He finds it amusing that I refer to Dr. Weston (or whatever) as 'that bastard of a doctor.'

I track down the nurse who spoke to this Dr. Wallace (or whatever) (remember: he's the one that said "give her a lomotil every time she has a loose stool"). I won't reveal her name so as not to get her in trouble. She tells me the conversation actually went something like this:

Nurse: Doctor Wheatstone [or whatever], I'm [name deleted] at Forest Manor, and I have a patient named LaVerne Branch who has had diarrhea for three days, and--"

Doctor: Shh! Listen to me! Give her a lomotil after every loose stool. *click* *dialtone*

She told me she was just ABOUT to tell him how badly and how often (we've been keeping records, we have, and she had a Xerox copy) when he cut her off rudely and treated her like some low-grade flunky. She said her first instinct was to call him back and tell him off, but that would get her in trouble pretty fast.

When she told me this, I started a slow boil. And it's still boiling.

This doctor Weeniehead hasn't taken the time to 1) MEET my grandmother, 2) FAMILIARIZE himself with her case, or 3) TREAT the people in charge of her care with the slightest courtesy? Oh....he BETTER be damned glad it wasn't ME on that phone.

For that matter, her actual DOCTOR hasn't taken the time--in the nearly three weeks she's been out of the hospital--to come visit her.

Her SURGEON (Dr. Nunn) came--himself--to the nursing home to check on her progress. He spoke with us for a few minutes, told us why they were doing an enema for diarrhea (Dr. Wanker didn't even have the common decency to do that), told me to let him know if they end up having to take her back to the hospital so he can check up on her again. Then he left. First doctor we've seen since the day she entered the nursing home. First doctor we've SPOKEN to since that day. Dr. Wiseass only speaks to the nurses.

Where the Hell do doctors get off treating people like this? What about compassion? What about common decency? What happened to the hippocratic oath?
I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon's knife or the chemist's drug. [emphasis mine]

I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person's family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick. [emphasis mine]


I don't know. I'm not a doctor. I didn't go to medical school. I don't know what the spleen does or where the thyroid gland is located. I couldn't lance a boil if you gave me $100. I couldn't tell you the difference between a leukocyte and a lymphocyte to save my life. But I do know that it doesn't make sense to make an 88-year-old woman recovering from major surgery with a family who are worried absolutely sick to lie in a hospital bed for four days shitting out whatever strength she might have regained because some bastard in a $500,000 house with a fucking Mercedes in his front yard sips champagne while snapping rudely to the very people who are responsible for the care of the patient can't take the time out of his busy schedule to visit or even call and offer some sort of reassurance.

Do they think the diarrhea is a consequence of the operation and will go away? Do they think it's a viral infection that will go away in a week? Are they just waiting to see? Do they have the slightest clue? We don't know. Because they won't tell us.

It was very hard to leave that nursing home with just my grandfather (who is 90 years old) to take care of her, but I just don't have the days off to spare right now. Both my mother and my grandfather are showing signs of wear. Imagine being claustrophobic (like my mother) and ADD (like my mother) and spending 12 hours per day cooped up in a 9' x 12' room where the temperature hovers between 75 and 85 and having nothing to do but watch TV or do crosswords. Imagine being 90 years old and having never had to do laundry, cook a meal, clean the house, or pay bills because your wife of 66 years has always done all that, and now you have to watch her slowly weaken in a hospital room day by slow, excruciating day. And the doctor won't tell you squat.

My mother is at home getting some rest so she can go back up there tomorrow at 7:00 am and start the process of trying to get a doctor--any doctor--on the phone. Then, if we don't get some satisfactory response, she's going to the emergency room and then they'll HAVE to tell us something.

We're going to take an evil ploy: we're going to get the doctor on the phone, and we're going to let my grandmother talk to him. Let him be rude to her. I hope the motherfucker is. Because I'd love to chew a piece of his ass.

Don't FUCK with my family. Ever.


* Lomotil is a combination medicine that is the "old standby" for treating diarrhea. It is derived from narcotics, but is not one itself; even so, they recommend that prolonged treatment with lomotil is not advised.


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Comments

( 2 hisses — Hiss at me! )
dietbubba
Jun. 8th, 2003 11:41 pm (UTC)
If I ever have to go to war, I am taking you with me.
gryffindor_girl
Jun. 10th, 2003 08:45 am (UTC)
You are a DAMN GOOD ranter! Oh i pray to GOD that you get to bitch that doctor out to his face! And if you do...will you record it? ;) I hope things get better for your family soon, seriously.
( 2 hisses — Hiss at me! )

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