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Five Personal Lessons On Health Care

Posted by on Sep 29, 2009

It’s rare for me to be gone from this blog for more than a day, but I had a very compelling reason. Although I don’t want to get too much into it, my mother is suddenly having some health problems, which has prompted me to spend some time with her and my grandmother, and thus my life has centered around them for the past few days. Even now, I won’t be back home until Friday at the earliest; thank goodness for laptops.

Even so, without getting into too much detail here, there are some lessons on things that have gone on that I can hopefully impart to some of you who read this, because, in some fashion, you’re going to probably go through something similar, whether it’s your parents or your children or even you. On some of this you’re getting expert knowledge; on some you’re getting historic opinion. Take it as you will.

Lesson one; high blood pressure is nothing to poo-poo. It can affect you in ways you’re not expecting. If it’s a family member, especially an older parent, you might have to ask questions about things like this. I knew my mother had high blood pressure, but I didn’t know she’d been having problems with it lately. What this did was prompt the physician to put her on some risky medication. I’m not sure the medication has caused this problem with my mother or not, but in any case, there’s now a problem. It’s called Hydroxyzine, and it’s given to relieve stress. It also has a laundry list of possible side effects. Before you take anything a physician gives you, check it out and decide if you agree with taking it anyway. And, if you do and it’s got lots of risks, make sure someone who can do something about it knows you’re on the stuff.

Second lesson; if you’re in the emergency room really late at night, there are certain tests they’re just not going to do. This is an American thing, just so you know. The reason is financial, though most people don’t know it. If a patient stays in the hospital overnight, and it’s not related to a surgical procedure that requires a stay to come out of anesthesia, the hospital is supposed to bill that claim out as an inpatient. However, if the diagnosis doesn’t qualify as an inpatient diagnosis, the hospital has to rebill, which often requires sending money back then trying to collect it again. That’s a mess, but that’s the law. My mother needed a CT scan, but they knew that no matter what the results were it wouldn’t qualify her as a true inpatient. So, we left the hospital after almost 7 hours just under an hour before midnight. Now, I could have tried getting ugly, but that wouldn’t have solved anything; Rochester is a big city with lots of patients in the emergency room at all times. Just know there’s probably nothing you can do at that point.

Third lesson; it’s hard to get answers from people who either aren’t waiting around for you to talk to them or say they don’t have enough information to tell you anything. In this case, my mother’s primary doctor was out of town, and the person replacing her couldn’t give us any advice except to stop taking the bad medication and to drink lots of water; heck, I’d already told her that! Also, at the hospital, until late, I couldn’t get anyone to stand still long enough to even talk to me. Very frustrating, and you know I understand how the health care process works. One of my medical friends earlier today told me I should have pulled rank more and forced the issue; I would have had she been in pain, but she wasn’t. However, every once in awhile I was able to get someone to stop and give me an answer to a question that I knew they could answer; I was at least that forceful. Pick your spots.

Fourth lesson; doctors don’t know everything. That may be a lesson many of you know, but I’m coming at it from a different direction. Suffice it to say that my mother has some strange eating habits, and some other strange habits; hey, where do you think I got it from? When I finally got a chance to talk to her doctor on the phone, when she called me to apologize for not being able to see her until Thursday (can you believe that? It’s why I’ll be here the entire week,… well, one reason anyway), I asked her about the medication she’d given my mother, why she gave it, then asked her if she had any idea about my mother’s eating patterns.

Suffice it to say, when I told her how Mom ate she was amazed, and agreed that I was correct in wondering why she had given the type of medication she gave, as well as the dosages. See, we as patients sometimes don’t tell our physicians enough. As much as I say I hate doctors, when I have my appointments I tell my doctors everything I’ve been doing, because I don’t want to take any chances that they’ll give me something I shouldn’t have. But older folks don’t always do that; neither my mother or grandmother have ever said a word. So, now the doctor has an education, and if I have to I’ll tell her more stuff because she needs to know what’s going on before she gives my mother any more medication. She may even tell Mom to eat better and more often; that wouldn’t depress me one bit.

And five. If you have elderly parents, or family members who might not be in the best of health, you need to be prepared just in case you need to go and stay for a bit, or get out of the house fast. Last Thursday it took me 90 minutes just to figure out how to get out of the house; that was freaky. On Sunday, it took me 45 minutes; at least I got the time in half, but I really still wasn’t prepared. Right now, I’m covered on a few things, but I still don’t have everything I need. Luckily, I’m close enough to meet my wife halfway on Wednesday so I can get more stuff. That, and of course some files I really needed; backing stuff up sometimes isn’t enough when you only do it once every couple of weeks, but you’re producing stuff daily. The Boy Scout motto of “Always Be Prepared” is a good one; I need to start living by it a bit more.

And there you go. I’m glad to be here with my mother, as I see her going through some changes, and sometimes it’s sad, but other times it gratifies me when she’s better. There are a bunch of things I might have to figure out if things get worse; I also have my 88 year old grandmother living here, and her memory isn’t all that good either.

Still, I’m getting by. We’ll all be fine, but if I’m not all that regular here for awhile, at least now you know why.

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John Dilbeck:

Good evening, Mitch.

My heart goes out to you and your family. I think I have some idea of what you’re going through right now and I’m sending good thoughts your way.

One thing I learned was to keep a list of all the medications Mom was taking, including a copy of the bottle labels that showed dosages and instructions.

There were times when it came in handy to have that close at hand when I was dealing with someone who wasn’t totally informed about her medication regimen.

For the last few years, I also accompanied her in all her appointments and went into the examination room with her so I could be sure the doctors were getting all the information they needed.

Even though Mom was trained as a nurse, as she got older she just didn’t think about some things she should have shared with her doctors.

All the best to you, your mother, and grandmother. I hope all of you will be blessed with improved health for a long time.

.-= John Dilbeck´s last blog ..Think and Grow Rich test: Do you think more about success or failure? =-.

September 29th, 2009 | 11:36 PM

Thanks John. I knew you would be able to identify with the situation. It’s a new dynamic that I’m going to have to ramp myself up for pretty quickly.

September 29th, 2009 | 11:58 PM
John Dilbeck:

Good morning, Mitch.

If anyone can handle something like this, it’s you.

At least you have experience with hospitals. It doesn’t always make it easier to get what you need, but, to some extent, you already know your way around the system. That has to count for something.

There’s a huge difference between consulting with the business office of a hospital and getting the proper care for someone you love in the medical sections, however.

Still sending good thoughts your way.


September 30th, 2009 | 10:32 AM

Thanks John. Actually, today it seems my mind isn’t up to snuff, probably because we don’t have to be anywhere, so I don’t have to be uber serious. Good thing; remember when we were addressing that self pity thing on your blog? Get it out of the way today, and then I’ll be ready to be a pitbull tomorrow.

September 30th, 2009 | 12:50 PM

Mitch, I’m so sorry for what you’re being through now… Honestly, I hope everything is going to be on the right track very soon! May god bless you…
.-= wilhb81´s last blog ..The Useful Business Tips 46: Learn How to Avoid Conflicts With Customers! =-.

October 2nd, 2009 | 2:03 AM

Thanks Wil. It will get better for sure.

October 2nd, 2009 | 8:36 AM

@Mitch, sorry to hear about the emergent situation. I recently had a detailed checkup and found that I have high blood pressure since last few months (never had it during my annual tests). It’s alarming and highly volatile – sometimes 180-110 and some other times 160-120 etc. I am taking a treadmill test and couple of other tests today to see if it’s due to any possible blockade.

BP at my age (38) could be due to lack of exercise and spending too much time on the puter.
.-= Ajith Edassery´s last blog ..Optimizing for Misspelled Search Phrases and Keywords =-.

October 3rd, 2009 | 12:35 AM

Hi Ajith,

That’s not good news at all. My wife got it just before she turned 40 also, and has been on a regimen of diet, exercise and drastically reduced salt intake. That, along with medication, has kept it under control. I hope it’s not due to blockage, because if not, then you have the chance to do something about it by the methods I mentioned.

And, luckily, you’re not in your 70’s, like my mother is, so that it’s not affecting your mind. I’m pulling for you.

October 3rd, 2009 | 12:52 AM