As I get older I'm starting to realize that my parents aren't going to be around forever.
I know that sounds stupid, we all know the inevitability of life, but you don't really think about it until you have to.
The last year has been a tough one for my dad. He's been plagued with back issues for years, and several other medical issues. He was in rehab for physical therapy for over 3 months after a back surgery last year, came back home, then ended up back in the hospital several times and now is back in another rehab facility.
I'm the youngest of three children, I live closest to my parents and am the one with the most flexibility in my job, so dealing with a lot of the issues going on with my dad fall to me. Which I don't mind, I'm not exactly shy about offering my opinion. What is extremely frustrating is how our medical system works.
My parents have VERY good medical coverage. They have Medicare, but they also have an excellent supplemental policy.
He's in a GREAT facility now, the nurses and staff are amazing, but there are no in-house doctors. A doctor comes to see you when you first arrive to assess you, make a plan of action, and then they leave and come around every 15 days or so unless someone calls them. There are nurses, nurse assistants, physical therapy staff and social workers there all the time. At any given time, there are 4 people assigned to my dad keeping an eye on him.
Well several times in the last week my mother called with several BIG concerns about my dad, I had the same concerns after speaking with him and he sounded worse than he had when I saw him just a week before.
My mother was extremely overwhelmed and didn't know what to do. She asked the facility to call the doctor and express her concern about his decline. They did. NO response.
By phone, I asked the facility to call them. They did. NO response.
I called the doctor myself, and left several messages. NO RESPONSE.
I went down there in person on Wednesday because I realized that I had to get in people's faces.
When I saw my dad I was shocked, he had declined sharply from just a week prior. I was alarmed, called the doctor again, was told he 'wasn't in until Monday'.
I asked why the doctor hadn't returned my THREE previous calls, or the calls my mother made the days before I called or returned the facilities calls. I was told the doctor is 'very busy.' I told them if he didn't call me back I'd call someone else to come in and in addition, I'd report that he wasn't doing his job...because he is REQUIRED to come visit a patient IF the family OR the facility calls him and tells him of a significant decline in his health.
I requested that the doctor be paged immediately and get in touch with me or the facility because the antibiotics he had prescribed for my dad were literally KILLING him, and didn't do one whit of good for the infection he had... it actually made it WORSE according to the tests and just by looking at him you could see it was terrible.
I asked to change the antibiotics, the facility told me they couldn't do that until the doctor signed off on it. The doctor, finally responded after I made it clear I would not let him get another dose of the antibiotic he was on. The doctor questioned my request. I told him I didn't care, put him on something else. He finally did so....and several days after that, my dad started feeling better, and the tests indicated that the infection was improving, AND he actually could eat without throwing up, and move instead of just lying motionless in bed with no energy.
I asked to test Vitamin D levels, iron levels, magnesium levels, etc...to make sure none of those was an additional reason for his lack of energy and self-motivation.
Each time I made a request I got a 'look' from the doctor and was questioned. I didn't care. I asked for the doctor to review ALL his current medication and diet to ensure that something wasn't negatively interacting with something else.
I was told nothing was.
I asked for him to review it again...and guess what. Some medications WERE interacting negatively with others and he was taken off those . In addition to that, I ran the list of his medications by other doctors for their opinion to see if there was anything I missed.
It is immensely frustrating to see a doctor argue with me and attempt to 'talk above me' when I KNEW something was wrong, my gut told me something was not right.
You trust those in charge to give your loved ones the best care possible, and I know there are very good doctors out there, but my only advice to you is to TRUST YOUR GUT, be vigilant and get in people's faces to ensure that they are giving your loved one the very best care possible.
Here's a picture of my dad after receiving a little "Princess therapy" and some of the photos we posted in his room to help motivate him. I also found out while talking to my dad that he got into a bar fight when he was stationed up in Alaska, and that's how his front teeth got knocked out.