“Hello, would you like me to hold your heart?”
Fucking what? The woman with the bindi woke me up from a much needed power nap. “I’m not EJ,” I said, closing my eyes again. “I just said hi,” she responded. “OK, hi,” I said, cracking open one eye and promptly shutting it.
“Would you like me to hold your heart?” she asked again. “I’m not EJ!” I snapped. “It doesn’t matter,” she said. “I’m not a patient here,” I explained irritably. “Oh,” she said and walked away. Presumably to hold someone else’s heart.
It was almost 7:00 pm. Might as well wake up, I thought, being that my plane was leaving in just over two hours. I rolled out of my mom’s bed and walked into the hallway. Bindi Lady was in front of my mom, stethoscope in hand. I was looking at the MIA primary care physician for the nursing facility.
For the previous two weeks, beginning just one week after my mother’s arrival at the facility, my mom and I had made repeated requests for a doctor’s examination. No dice — despite the fact that my mom had developed a cough that would not go away, that she’d developed severe laryngitis for a week straight, and that she was still hoarse.
This past Thursday, my mom started sounding as if she were backsliding cognitively. She was fuzzy, spaced out, struggling to find words, and just not her spunky, 74-going-on-16-year-old self. She kept telling me that she was fine, that she just wasn’t getting enough sleep because of her asshole roommate. But something in me felt that I had to fly up this past Saturday night, that waiting another week would be too late.
So I flew up. On Sunday, while the primary staff was on weekend break, I took my mom out on her first excursion beyond the doors of a hospital or nursing facility since the accident three months ago. She was able to get in and out of the car from the wheelchair — all by herself! We found a pricey restaurant, where my mom went to town on salads, bread, fish, and sugar-free ice cream. She started to seem relaxed and more like herself.
On Monday, I had a long conversation with two key individuals at the nursing facility. I was relentless in demanding that my mother see a physician right away. As an upshot, my mother was taken to the emergency room just a couple of hours later. After a long night of testing, the doctors reported that my mother had developed pneumonia.
Exactly what the fuck would have happened if I had not 1) followed my intuition to see my mother and 2) spent an hour straight asserting my mother’s need for an immediate medical exam?
Back to Bindi Lady doctor: I requested that she monitor my mother, examining her every few days — given the pneumonia. The doctor explained to me that she only comes to see patients once a month, and that I would need to have the nurse contact her for each individual visit, if I wanted my mom examined more frequently.
I repeatedly informed the doctor that my mother and I had made numerous attempts to get a doctor’s examination, to no end. The doctor seemed oblivious to the fact that this negligent medical attention left my mother with a potentially fatal illness that could have been prevented.
We went around in circles several times. I did my best to be firm without being antagonistic, and to appeal to the common sense of this doctor. “I visit patients once a month,” she said for the umpteenth time, unless something is a problem.” ”Well, there is a problem,” I said: “MY MOTHER HAS PNEUMONIA. I need you to monitor her.”
Finally the doctor agreed to come back next week, to give my mother another chest x-ray. By then, I didn’t even want her around my mother and made a note to myself to find a private doctor and just pay out-of-pocket if necessary.
When it was time to leave, I bent over to hug my mother in her wheelchair. The doctor rapidly hit my head a few times in a row, pushing me away from my mother — presumably to keep me from contracting pneumonia. Being that I was by my mother’s side for two days straight, and that I had just slept in her bed, it was a bit late for precautions. Oh yeah, and did I mention the doctor was coughing like crazy, and that she touched me (and my mom) with her germy hand?
Aside from which, what the fuck was this bitch doing hitting my head? “Don’t do that,” I said firmly, straightening up as I yanked my head away from the doctor’s hand. I leaned over again to hug my mother. The doctor began hitting my head and pushing me away again. “I said don’t do that!” I repeated.
I then spelled out to the doctor that my head is sensitive (duh – it’s a fucking head, which she should know, being that she’s a fucking doctor) and that it was hurting becasue she hit it. “I’m sorry,” the doctor said.
Moments later, I put my hand a few inches above the surgical scar on my mother’s head, offering healing energy. “What are you doing?” the doctor abrasively asked, breathing down my neck. I didn’t answer. She asked again. And again.”Are you blessing her?” she finally questioned. I still refused to answer.
I kissed my mother goodbye and walked out the door.
While at the nursing facility, I spoke in a calm, level tone – thinking strategically with the facility leadership about how we could best work together, how we could ensure that my mom would get the most effective medical care, offering to make all necessary phone calls myself, if I could just be informed of the names and numbers.
Not once did I directly confront these individuals, spelling out to them that they had been medically negligent. Because once you do that, you’re in fight mode. I don’t want to fight with them. I want them to take care of my mom. What’s more, she is living in the nursing facility day-in and day-out, and I dodn’t want to strain her relationship with her caretakers.
But once I left the facility, I was LIVID. They could have killed my mother. The pneumonia was completely unnecessary and is dangerous. Plus my mom just finished a course of antibiotics a few weeks ago, for a urinary tract infection. I don’t like my mom’s system getting blasted by so many antibiotics. Gd willing she will pull through this latest ordeal.
I am scared, and I am outraged.