Our Aging Parents – (A Healthcare Nightmare Story)
I got the awful call at 11:40 am, Sunday morning, February 24th. My father had just been found, unconscious in his room. The details were all over the board. Spring Oaks said one thing, ER said another, and then ICU another. I went with what ICU noted, what was wrong with dad. He had a heart attack, had pneumonia as well as a Urinary Tract Infection.
Monday, February 25th
They had moved dad to ICU, and he was sedated and on breathing machines. So many tests were done on dad, what tests that he was able to do in his condition. His pneumonia had him so congested, and he was unable to cough up anything on his own. Which the doctors wanted him to do. It would be a good sign if he did. I couldn’t see how, with all those tubes going down his throat.
I sat by his bed several hours a day, not knowing what to do. I am an only child, so it was just me. I did talk to him, held his hand. I do want to say that all the ICU nurses were the best. They made sure dad was as comfortable as possible. They took the time and explained what was going on every day I visited. And when I’d call for an update, they were just as kind.
They ran several different more tests the two that I recall was, one was called a cardio echo. They wanted to see what damage may have been to his heart, from the heart attack. Thank God, there was none. Then they did another, I can’t recall the name, but it was to check and see his aspiration–did not come back with as good news. So they kept him on a liquid diet, which he did not like.
They took dad of the breathing machine three times, finally the 3rd time he was able to breathe on his own. Due to the tubes they put down his throat, he was unable to talk, which was understandable.
Sunday, March 3rd
They moved dad out of ICU and up to the third floor. He still struggled, trying to talk. Vanessa and Destinee came up to visit grandpa. He still was unable to speak, and I started thinking, maybe his speech was affected by his heart attack.
At this time they started him on breathing treatments every six hours. He still remained on a high dose of oxygen, which he kept taking out of his nose!
He was pretty much like a child. Wanted what he wanted at that moment. Very bossy and rude, but he also had been through a lot!! He still couldn’t understand why he couldn’t get up and walk around. And when he had to go #2, he did not want to use his brief, he wanted to use the toilet!
It was after his move out of ICU; then I noticed the level of care began to go downhill. I always had to chase down his nurse if I wanted an update.
He was so frail. He had lost so much weight. He had a respiratory therapist, speech therapist, as well as a physical therapist, but his progress was extremely slow. I wondered often if I would get my dad back. I was determined to, but I finally made myself realize that may not be a possibility. I was down in Florida by myself, Tommy stayed home to work, we needed the money.
About the 5th and 6th of March dads, caseworker/social worker came to talk to me about a rehab/nursing home. I was told he would get therapy twice a day. And if he was to return home, he needed to build his strength up. She gave me a list of 5 places I could check out. Actually, it was 6, but the 6th one wasn’t in their network. Which, of course, had a 5-star rating.
It was during this week that I met dad’s oncologist, Dr. Baracat. I liked him; he took his time with dad. He explained that dad’s cancer was becoming aggressive. He asked my dad, who was talking by then if he wanted to continue fighting cancer, he said yes, so Dr. Baracat stressed how important it was for dad to get stronger, cause they couldn’t treat him till he was.
I don’t mean to be a negative Nancy, but I couldn’t help but wonder why bother fighting his cancer? I mean his prostate cancer is stage 4, which has now spread into his bones. Unless I’m wrong here, he’s terminal. Why bother with chemo and such? I mean, he handled to first round ok, but… I felt it was because he has excellent insurance Tri-Care for Life. I was then told by one of the CNA’s where he lives that treatment may extend his life 4 or 6 or more months. More time to spend with him. But I told her would that be fair to dad if he was in pain. She assured me they’d keep him comfortable.
Sunday, March 1oth
Out of the blue, I get a call from the hospital that they were moving dad into rehab. That night!!! I hurried back to the hospital; I did not want him making this move alone. I explained to him what was happening, he has dementia, so I had to keep telling it. I never even got a chance to check this place out. They came and moved him seven that evening.
When the Nightmare Began
It was an old facility, but my concern at that moment was getting dad settled. Once he was, he soon fell asleep, so I returned home.
The next day the head nurse calls me telling me that the hospital sent dad over without any records or prescriptions. Then asked me why dad was on this huge does of Seriquil, which I had no clue. I got so upset; the hospital sent him with no records or prescriptions, which meant he was sitting up at this place with no pain meds, meds to help with his dementia. The nurse suggested a well-being meeting that afternoon. My friend Susan came with me.
I met the head nurse, head of physical therapy, and admitting/insurance. We went over what it was; dad wanted with his stay there. I told them that he wanted to get his strength so that he could return. Well, the damn head nurse kept referring to dad as a long-term patient. He was not there for long-term care! And I expressed it more than once, then the nurse was like, oops I mean rehab/short stay. Get this; then they asked me if I wanted his social security check sent to the address where he currently was.
Now, between his Medicare and Tri-Care, he was 100% covered WHY did he need his social security sent there? Didn’t make any sense to me, and of course, I said no. We shortly left.
I spoke with several different people, who suggested I moved dads savings into an account I opened. I explained this to dad. Explained that there will always be enough in his main account, to pay his bills. I was told by more than one person, if the nursing home wanted, they could wipe out dads accounts. After a 3rd person telling me to do so, I did. I had heard a couple of horror stories, and with everything, dad had already been through, I wasn’t going to let him have to worry about his finances.
My friend and I thought the people we met, for the most part, were friendly, etc. We went back to see dad. No one greeted us, nor did anyone smile, or make any eye contact. This was the total opposite of the staff at the hospital. I left there that night, with a very uneasy feeling. But my friend and I said I was paranoid, so I tried giving this place, which I’ll call H.P. Rehab Facility. I don’t need any lawsuits for slander.
Tuesday, March 12th
I get a call from H.P. Rehab, that they took dad over to the hospital, for some x-rays. I asked what for, and was told they believed he was septic. And that I had to go to the hospital and sign some papers before they’d do anything for him. It was then; I was able to at least dad’s medications straightened out. I wasn’t sure about the x-rays. He had so many done while he was in the hospital, wouldn’t they be able to pull those up. When I went back to see him, he was high as all get out. I was told he became combative so they gave him a valium.
Once we were done there, it was back to H.P. Dad was still pretty loopy, and fell asleep almost as soon as we got there. Before I left, I went to the nurse’s station and asked if they got a fax from the hospital regarding his meds. She told me, very snooty like that they haven’t received anything. I explained how I spoke with the hospital and was told they faxed the paperwork over. OMG, what is wrong with these places.
As I left, I looked around this facility and not only was the building old; it was dingy and dark. And very depressing. The therapy room was a little bit bigger than our bedroom at home. Did I mention that instead of using a cafeteria for mealtime, they were wheeled into the TV room that had 5 tables? It was ridiculous! So crowded. This was when I decided to check out other facilities to move dad to.
The next evening I went to go see dad, and also to get the results from his x-ray. The first gal I asked was a CNA, and she didn’t have access to that info. I asked who could give me that info. She took me out in the hall, where a nurse stood over her cart, reading something on her computer. I politely waited till she looked at me, I asked if they got the results back from my dad. The nurse looked at the CNA, I’m assuming for my dad’s name, or maybe room number. I’m like you’re kidding me. I put my hand over the little plastic patient name on the wall and then asked either of these gals what my dad’s name was. They just looked at each other. They did not know it. I asked again if the results were in, she shrugged, said I don’t know, and returned to her computer. The CNA shrugged with a smile and walked away. Can you believe this shit? I was livid! As I left, I let the nurse’s station what just happened, to complain anout that nurse. I am not that kind of person, to raise hell that is, until you’ve backed me in a corner. I got no apology, nothing. I was so upset, which was not good for me, I have epilepsy and I have had seizures, due to getting extremely upset.
I called the next day to be told they were still waiting on the hospital to call back with the results from his x-ray. Then I was told they were moving dad to a room closer to the nurse’s station. I had no issues with that, he was currently at the end of one wing.
For the Next Two Weeks
When I would go to see my dad, they always had 2 wings od patients in the hall, all around the nurse’s station. At first, I thought nothing of it. Then after seeing this for several days, I figured it was the staff’s way of getting the patients out of their rooms, and beds.
Now, dad verbalized to me every time I came to visit how he hated that place. They left him in bed and rarely answered his calls. From what I understood, patients were supposed to be checked on every 4 hours and have their vitals taken. That is the law! Nope, did not happen never while I was there.
Now back to these patients, most were in wheelchairs, and several propped up in beds. And they just sat there. Groaning in pain, drooling on themselves. Those who could talk usually got ignored. There was one Korean gentleman that would come out of the TV room and try to tend to some of these patients. He was in a wheelchair himself. I mean, this place was UNREAL!!
There was this one nurse, Dawn, who would argue with one of the patients. This patient was spiteful and mean, but I thought it very unprofessional for Dawn to argue with this patient.
I finally, told dad that I was looking for a better place to move him to. I believe that was the only thing that kept him hanging in there. He became very depressed. I didn’t know what to do. And I had no one there to lean on.
I would come to feed him, cause those that needed feeding got fed last. The facility was extremely short-handed. Often, when I came into see dad, I could tell he messed himself. EVERY SINGLE TIME according to dad, he often sat in his soiled brief for a couple of hours. I finally snapped and went to the nurse’s station and raised some hell.
Now we were looking for a better place, even found a few. We went on tours, but when it came down to get the paperwork going, I was told they had no open rehab beds available. Well, then why didn’t you tell me that from the beginning? What was the purpose of these tours? The medical care in Florida, SUCKS! All they’re worried about is the money. I mean more so than I have EVER seen.
I continued to come to see dad. His new roommate appeared to be unable to move on his own, or talk for that matter. I took pictures of this room. It was such a tiny room, with two beds in it. And no chairs for visitors to sit. I always ways sat on dads bed. This was about the time that I noticed dad’s watch wasn’t on his arm. When I asked about it, I was told to check his nightstand and dresser. Both empty. Dad wanted his cell phone, but I told him until he was out of that place I wasn’t going to risk his phone disappearing. One pair of his jeans we never saw again.
Twice, when I came to visit, I found dad with the other patients, around the nurse’s station. I tell you all those patients were jammed in like they were, God forbid if there was ever a fire. The first-day dad said he’d been sitting there for two hours, so I took him on the screened in patio for dinner. Two times after that, I took him out in the parking lot, him in his wheelchair of course. And I’d take him around the parking lot. There were no sidewalks or places where you could do this, except for the parking lot.
If he received any physical therapy, I had only witnessed it once. He was still so weak. He’s done nothing now for the last 5 or 6 weeks but lay in a bed. How could he get his strength back, if he’s laying in bed all the time?
This place was filthy too. The baseboards hadn’t been washed in a long, long time. The floors were dirty as well. It was so dark in the facility. I hated this place; dad hated it more. He often stated he’d rather kill himself then to be in there. That he was going to get up and leave, no one could stop him. I had to assure him I was still looking for a better place. Honestly, I wouldn’t let that place take care of my dog.
And several times when I’d come in, you would pass the administrative office, and several times this one lady would hide. I’m serious. Why she was hiding, I had no clue, for I had never met her before. My friend said it was because of my incident at the nurse’s station. I said, whatever.
I had called a friend that is in the healthcare industry, and when I told him about how H.P. claimed the hospital sent dad with no records or prescriptions. He said that was B.S. because it is illegal for anyplace to except a patient without paperwork. I went into overdrive, looking for another place.
Dad said that his one nurse, I’ll call her Mz. Long Island, I guess he pissed her off one night, and meds he should have been given at 9:00 pm, he did not receive till well after midnight. I didn’t want to raise cane, cause I didn’t want them to take it out on my dad. Which I know for sure it would’ve been.
Finally the Day Came
I found a new place, and dad was moved around March 26th. The difference between these two places was so opposite. The new place N-Brook was so much brighter!! Cleaner!!! And the staff were very professional. All dad was worried about when we arrived, was his meds, and a gal came in and explained that he had to give the CNA’s a two-hour window, because of all the other patients. She talked with dad found out his schedule for taking his meds, and dad was happy.
He got therapy at this new place like he should have had at H.P. They had activities for the patients. Bingo and one day they had a guy come in to sing some good old country songs. Dad knew the guy; cause dad knew his mother. I took him down for that, it was great seeing him smiling, and even singing to most of the songs.
Dad was still very anxious to get back home. And I don’t think he knew the scope of what happened to him, and how long he was in the hospital. Dad still thought he could get up and go to the bathroom. He had all these tubes and a catheter. And was still on oxygen.
Once Again, I Didn’t Take Care of Myself
I always do this. I had promised Tommy and Jessica I would take care of myself, but I wound up in bed, unable to get out of it. I got so run down, that I wound up in bed, for two weeks. Tommy was having people come out and check on me. My phone died, and I didn’t know how to charge it. Therefore no one could reach me. I was pretty bad. Thank God I didn’t wind up in the hospital. Tommy drove down for one day on a weekend to see what was going on.
About four years ago, I didn’t take care of myself. I was busy getting dads affairs in order after an ugly marriage. I wound up in the hospital with pneumonia, a collapsed lung, and MRSR. I almost died, and my youngest blames Grandpa, till this day.
Thursday, April 4th
Good news, dad was able to return home, and he was so happy! I was too. I did what I planned on doing when I first came to Florida, was to see him return to Spring Oaks.
Albeit he’s still in a wheelchair, and still weak, but for him, he’s back home. And everyone there loves dad. He got back to his dog Trixie, and the gal that took care of her, her and dad have become companions.
He’s resumed his cancer treatments, his friend Gloria goes with him, which I think helps. Sadly he is in constant pain. He is given pain meds every 4 hours. He’s trying to think positive, but it is also very difficult. A man that spent his whole life in the US Coast Guard. He’s been all over the world, and he has enough money coming in to live comfortably. And now he’s in a wheelchair, and it appears he can no longer take care of his own finances, something he did, proudly, until he went into the hospital. His bills come out of his account, so for now, all is taken care of.
Yanno, three days after he entered the hospital, he turned 80. He was under sedation. But our plan is, when he’s getting around better he wants to go out for dinner as a late celebration for his birthday. And an early celebration doe Tommy and mines anniversary.
A week later Tommy cam down to Florida for about a week, and then took me back home with him. I have never been so happy to head north, where it was cold. But I desperately needed my family.
We plan to go back to Florida in July to spend some time with him. Please, if your pray, keep him in your prayers.
My Final Words
If ever you have a loved one that winds up in the hospital, with rehab afterward, please, please, please, visit the facility. Observe how the staff interacts with patients already there. I regret not doing that with H.P., but I wasn’t given a choice either.
Ask questions. Meet the staff. If you can, try talking with any patients in the hallways. And then go online, and research that heck out of those facilities you’re considering. Find reviews, read them, and pay attention to everything!!
If I never have to go through this ordeal again, I’ll count all of us as blessed.
Read my review I left of this place, over on caring.com