Sunday, September 27, 2009

Healthcare CRISIS!!!! Seriously.

Healthcare Schmealthcare.

Not being political today, folks (that is 2 posts in a row! yay for apartisan me!) - just talking about healthcare. As in health care. As in what happens to a person when the person ends up in the hospital. As in....don't leave anybody you love unattended in a hospital. Because they will be unattended. As in.....totally unattended.

First for the disclaimer: there were perfectly lovely people working at the small-ish hospital where my dad was. Perfectly lovely over-worked and under-staffed people. So there. Now the people at the gigantic Methodome Hospital where my dad didn't go but where I had my last baby? Well.....I'm sure there are nice people there but I have never met one. That was off-topic but it felt nice.

Anyway - my dad tripped on a curb while taking my kid to a concert. Broke his leg and his arm. It was all quite exciting and hysterical (on my part) and then it very quickly became quite un-exciting and quite un-hysterical on the part of everyone else.

The miscommunication that goes on in hospitals is astounding. The non-listening that goes on in hospitals is astounding. The doctors not calling each other back or calling the nurses back and the nurses being afraid to call the doctors and the CNAs being afraid to call the nurses and the massive huge gigantic ridiculous amount of charting and paperwork and computer work and recording work is beyond astounding and results in the hospital's arse being covered at the expense of the arse of the poor patient. In short, if the chart says oxygen was given......even if the patient doesn't have the little nose-thingys in his nose and the oxygen is just basically shooting into the atmosphere because it is hanging on the rail of the bed - out of reach of the patient with the broken arm - it doesn't matter. Because the chart says the patient is on oxygen. It doesn't matter if the patient receives the oxygen - what matters is that the chart says the patient is receiving the oxygen. That way - if the patient dies from lack of oxygen - all the grown-ups in the room (or the dum dum dummmmmm courtroom) will look at the chart and see that it says the patient was given oxygen and then everything is settled except for the fact that the patient is dead.

When my dad had not received breakfast (for the second day in a row) I went to the nurses' station and said, "My dad has not received his breakfast." And the nurse did not say, "Oh my! I believe you! After all - you would know if your dad has received breakfast since you've been here all night.....let me take care of that RIGHT NOW." Instead, she typed something into the computer, looked at the screen, and said, "He received breakfast today." Done. Go away. I am a Busy Person taking care of people via this here computer. As you might imagine, my dad was quite relieved to hear that he had had his breakfast because the computer said so. That little nano-byte was quite filling.

We laughed a lot in the hospital. Because, except for the fact that his life was hanging in the balance and he was quite uncomfortable, it was a very entertaining experience. It was quite amusing...the whole nonsensical hospital care thing.

I have found that we often react to stress around here with humor. Often tasteless humor. We can't help ourselves. The kids and I made a card for my dad that exhibited the kind of tasteless humor I'm talking about. We used a little inside joke from the only Sarah Silverman episode my dad ever saw. Sarah is known for being tasteless. I heart her. *another disclaimer - we do NOT sit around watching Sarah Silverman with our little kids.

So, on the show Sarah is volunteering at a nursing home and she tells the patients, "You're not cold. You're just dying." My dad loves that line and uses it often. Since he and I had frozen our rears off the first night in the hospital - I thought it would be an appropriate Hallmark line for a get-well card. So we put an adorable kitten on the front of the card and Sarah Silverman's face inside and it said, of course, "You're not cold. You're just dying."

I cannot tell you how many nurses and CNAs were drawn to this adorable kitten only to open up the card and then look at me as if I were Hitler.

*speaking of how cold it was in there - we mentioned to a CNA that our teeth were chattering and she looked at the thermostat on the wall and proclaimed, "It is 95 in here." Since we could see our breath we asked for blankets, anyway. Even though, you know, it was 95. Because the thermostat said so.

Being the good daughter that I am, I often tried to comfort my dad by reminding him of just how lucky he was. I would say something like, "Perk up! So you have a broken leg and a broken arm. At least the healthcare bill hasn't passed. Because dude - if it had passed? Well, let's just say that if anyone looked like they were a candidate for a death squad it would be you."

This, of course, would cheer him up immensely. "Hey," I'd tell him. "No problem. That's what I'm here for."

So. Back to Daddy. He came through the surgery brilliantly. He has a great surgeon who looks like your average high school quarterback. And he loves what he does. In fact, when he talks about what he does he can barely contain himself. And when you think about what he does and the instruments he uses to do it (many of which can probably be found in the tool shed behind the house) his unbridled enthusiasm is creepy. And kind of adorable. But I must say that I am happy he is an orthopedic surgeon because I'm pretty sure his only other career option would have been serial killer.

When inpatient rehab was brought up my old man pulled an Amy Winehouse. He didn't want to go. No. No. But he did go and that is where he currently is and believe me - this situation would need another blog post. A Big One. Maybe later. Right now? I am exhausted from all of this institutionalized care and excitement.

Signing off as a Sardine Daughter


  1. Great post. Did you ever get your breakfast? Or did they continue to insist he'd had it already?

    This makes me think I would need to take a camcorder and a thermometer to the hospital next time I go, which I hope is never.

  2. You probably should pack a picnic basket, too, if you ever have to go back to the hospital.

  3. It must be all hospitals because they brought me breakfast, lunch, and supper......but everything they brought was not on my "NO SALT" diet!! couldn't eat it!! :( They finaally brought yuky tastless cantalope, and chicken breast that taste like cardboard.

  4. I was reading a book about a preemie and once or twice he was in a seriously bad condition but nobody figured out what was wrong until almost too late because the most recent note on the charts said so-and-so was fine. His parents were infuriated, said that the staff should pay attention to the actual patient and not the stupid charts. Much later on they made some recommendations to the hospital and the hospital made some changes. Too bad that was in England in the 90s.