No Particular Emphasis On “Assisted” Living

, , , , , , , | Healthy | June 24, 2020

A few years ago, I — a sixty-four-year-old male — had a bad bicycle accident. The damages included a concussion, broken right collarbone, broken right elbow, four broken ribs on my right side, and three fractures in my left pelvis; if you can explain the physics of that, I’m all ears.

Four days in the hospital got me stabilized, but then I needed rehab and was sent to a nursing home. That’s when the fun began.

I was transported to the home at about 6:00 pm. After intake, I struggled for a few hours to find a comfortable position and finally got to sleep, only to be awakened at 11:30 pm (!) to have them take pictures of my bare backside to see if I had bedsores already. Two days later, I was awakened at 4:45 am (!!) because the traveling technician was going to take my blood and wanted to get done early.

I was getting both physical and occupational therapy from the same outsourced company. The routine was to do the PT first at one end of the building and then get wheeled back to my room for the OT. The third day, the occupational therapist was taking me back to my room and one of the physical therapists came with us. The two men were discussing a barbeque they were going to have that weekend.

No problem, except that when we got to my room they stopped in the hallway and talked over me for five minutes. I called out the OT when we were alone; to his credit, he apologized and said that I wasn’t their typical patient, meaning I had no dementia.

I was on a schedule where I was given two assisted showers a week. This wouldn’t have been too bad, except that the home had no air conditioning and we had a heatwave in the nineties the second week. I was waiting for the aide to take me when I noticed five young women hanging around the door to my room. When I asked, they told me they were going to watch my shower as part of their training. I informed them that no, they weren’t, so they waited outside the shower area with my wheelchair.

By that point, I could walk slowly with a cane, so after getting dressed, I limped to my chair with help from the aide. One of the women was standing behind the chair with her hands on the grips. I let go of the cane, grabbed a handrail on the chair, and almost fell on my face as the chair moved out from under me! She hadn’t set the brakes on the wheels and hadn’t held on to the chair. I was lucky there was no damage but it hurt like crazy.

In addition to the therapy for my hip, I needed to wait until the swelling in my broken elbow went down before surgery. When it was ready for the procedure, I went to the hospital having had no food or drink for over twelve hours. I was lying on the gurney about to go into the prep room when I was approached by a young doctor I’d never met. She wanted me to give her permission to perform a “nerve block” on me after the operation. In her telling, this would keep me from feeling pain afterward.

This had not been discussed before, I had no knowledge of what a nerve block entailed, it sounded dangerous, and this person was a total stranger. She was persistent, I’ll give her that, but she finally took the hint when I told her to get the h*** away from me.

The surgery went fine and I had no real discomfort afterward, even to the point where I never filled the prescription for the opioid painkiller I was given. So much for the nerve block. I was not, however, forewarned about another side effect of the anesthesia. It is common that urination is inhibited after the procedure, and by 6:00 pm, I was in real pain.

The nurses’ aides didn’t have the authority to give me a catheter and had to get permission. An hour later, I got my first experience with the process. Then, they took it out. And a few hours later, the pressure built up again.

This time, they didn’t want to put the tube back in; their training said they had to wait four hours. My wife had to yell that she’d take me to the emergency room and file charges against them before they fixed the problem. This time they left it in, and by the following evening, the plumbing worked.

As to the home itself, my stay confirmed my fear of the places, even without a contagion situation. Most of the other long-term residents had some degree of dementia and there was lots of moaning and shouting at all hours. And the food was just as bland as the stereotype; luckily, my wife brought me meals a couple of times a day — including the occasional illicit cold beer.

I got out three days after the elbow surgery and was able to navigate my house, including the stairs, immediately. In another week, I rarely used the cane and have a story for my grandkids.

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A Most Unreceptive Receptionist, Part 3

, , , , | Healthy | June 22, 2020

I have a compromised immune system, so I’ve been working from home and haven’t been going out much. My doctor has set up telehealth visits where we can video chat instead of going to the office.

A few days before my visit, I get a call from the office.

Me: “Hello?”

Receptionist #1: “Hi, this is [Receptionist #1] from [Doctor]’s office. Am I speaking with [My Name]?”

Me: “Yes, this is her.”

Receptionist #1: “Okay! I need to go over some basic information before your appointment. It’s just the check-in stuff we would normally do in person. Do you have about fifteen minutes for that?”

I glance at my schedule and see that I don’t have anything pressing coming up.

Me: “Sure.”

We go over my basic info — name, date of birth, weight, medications, etc. — and she verifies that I know how to log in to see the doctor. We hang up and I go back to work.

The next day, I get another call from their office. Unfortunately, I’m already in a call with a client, so I can’t answer. After I’m done, I listen to the voicemail.

Receptionist #2: “Hi, this is [Receptionist #2] from [Doctor]’s office calling for [My Name]. I just need to go over some basic information with you before your appointment. Please call us back at [phone number] prior to your visit. Thank you.”

Thinking this is about something new, I call back.

Receptionist #2: “[Doctor]’s office.”

Me: “Hi, this is [My Name]. I just received a call about some information before my visit?”

Receptionist #2: “Okay. Let me pull up your file here… Okay, we just need to do your basic check-in before your visit. Do you have about fifteen minutes?”

Me: *Confused* “I did that yesterday. Is there something new?”

Receptionist #2: “Hmm, I don’t see anything here. Are you sure it was with us?”

Me: “Yeah, same number, same appointment.”

Receptionist #2: “Well, I’m not sure what happened but nothing is charted here. Can we go over it to make sure?”

Me: “I have a few minutes, yeah.”

We go through everything again, and after the receptionist assures me it’s all been documented, we hang up. The following day I get ANOTHER call from the same office. I’m still working, so I let it go to voicemail again. It’s a third receptionist, wanting to verify all of my information yet again. I call back, annoyed.

Receptionist #3: “[Doctor]’s office.”

Me: “Hi, this is [My Name]. I received another call about my upcoming appointment.”

Receptionist #3: “I see. Well, it looks like we’ve been trying to reach you, I see. I can go over your info now if—”

Me: “Look, I’m sorry. I’m sure this isn’t your fault, but I’ve done this twice already. Is it not being logged or something?”

Receptionist #3: “I don’t see anything about us talking with you. Do you know who it was?”

Me: “Well, I have [Receptionists #2 & #3] in voicemails but I can’t remember the first one’s name.”

Receptionist #3: “Mmhmm, I called today. I see that [Receptionists #1 & #2] also reached out. Are you sure you spoke with us, not another office?”

Me: “Yes. I’m sure. How is this not being recorded? Can you ask the other receptionists?”

Receptionist #3: “I’m not sure what’s going on, but I can go over your information with you now.”

Me: *Sigh* “Fine.”

For a third time, I went through everything. I guess it finally stuck because that was the last call before the doctor’s visit. When I asked her if other people had the same problem, she said she didn’t know anything about it. Suddenly, I miss those in-person visits.

A Most Unreceptive Receptionist, Part 2
A Most Unreceptive Receptionist

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Don’t Bypass The Signs

, , , , | Healthy | June 21, 2020

I’m sitting across from [Coworker #1] and [Coworker #2] comes up to him.

Coworker #2: “I need you to drive [Coworker #3] home; he is not feeling well. He has chest paint, is short of breath, his left arm hurts…”

Basically, insert all symptoms of a heart attack here.

Me: *A bit incredulously* “I’m no doctor, but that sounds as if he needs to go to the ER instead of home.”

Coworker #1: *Looks at me assessingly* “I think [My Name] is right. He needs a doctor.”

Coworker #2: “No, no, he wants to go home.”

[Coworker #1] went to check on [Coworker #3] and I saw them leaving. An hour later, [Coworker #3] was on the operating table, having a triple bypass.

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Some Doctors Have Their Heads Up Their… Well, You Know

, , , | Healthy | June 20, 2020

TMI warning! I have severe rectal bleeding. As a woman, it’s extremely hard to get care for it.

Several Doctors: “Are you sure the blood isn’t from your period?”

Doctor #1: “One drop of blood can make the whole bowel look red.”

Doctor #2: “The surgery is painful, and you’re so young! Why put you through unnecessary risk?”

Doctor #3: “Most women are anemic. I wouldn’t worry about it. Just gain a little weight.”

Doctor #4: “I’m sure it’s not as bad as you say.”

Female Doctor #1: “That sounds awful! I just need to check a simple thing, and then I can recommend you for surgery.”

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A Vampire Has Better Bedside Manner

, , , , , | Healthy | June 19, 2020

As part of my work’s health insurance, all employees need to get basic blood work done each year. It’s a minor inconvenience, and it’s fully paid for by the company. However, I have a bad needle phobia. The year before last, my best friend came with me so I could hold his hand. Last year, I decided to go alone, since I was going to the same phlebotomist and she was very nice, but I ended up having a low-key panic attack and tremors for the rest of the day regardless.

This year, I go to a new clinic and need a bit more blood drawn for my personal doctor, so my best friend thankfully agrees to let me crush his hand again. We’re seen to quickly enough and go into the room to wait. Then, the phlebotomist enters and the trouble starts.

My friend is sitting on my right side and has his phone and earbuds out so he can distract me with silly videos. The phlebotomist — who entered from the door on my left, mind — crosses over to my right side and looks down at him.

Phlebotomist: “You need to move.”

Me: “Sorry, I’m actually more comfortable having my blood drawn from my left arm. I have a severe needle phobia and tend to tense up.”

She just huffs and moves to my left. She ties the rubber cuff around my arm VERY TIGHTLY and I feel my fingers start to tingle and throb in a matter of seconds, so I reach over to loosen it just a little bit.

Phlebotomist: “Don’t touch that!”

Me: “It was too tight! My hand was going numb!”

She huffs again and then comes up to my side and grabs my arm. I immediately jerk forward and tense up, and the phlebotomist pushes me back against the chair.

Phlebotomist: “You need to stay still or I’m going to hurt you.”

I was so keyed up I could only whimper, so I squeezed my friend’s hand for all it was worth after he passed me the earbuds and started playing a video that I think had cats being cute or something.

The phlebotomist stuck me and I whimpered some more while my leg bounced with nervous energy. I heard her tutting over the noise of the video, like I was some rambunctious child, and the draw felt like it took forever. Eventually, all the vials were filled and the phlebotomist dismissed us with the scowl she’d had on the entire time.

My friend had to lead me out of the clinic, as I was dizzy from stress by that point, and it took a good few minutes for him to bring me down enough to be safe to drive home.

People like that phlebotomist are part of the reason I developed this phobia in the first place, and she certainly did her part to make sure I don’t conquer it any time soon!

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