News

Between the Lines: When You Need the System...

...you’d better keep your fingers crossed.

Comments (1)
Tuesday, October 15, 2013

It was the call you never want to get, the call that comes at night, wakes you up, forces you abruptly out of your fog.

I heard my sister’s voice and I knew something was wrong right away. She started out strong, but three words in, she lost her breath. She was choking back tears.

It was my mom, a woman in the mid-to-late stages of Alzheimer’s disease. During an episode of intense confusion followed by agitation and eventual aggression, she pushed her way past my sister (whom Mom suddenly no longer recognized), ran out the front door, wobbled across her lawn and into a car parked in front of her neighbor’s house. She fell to the ground and instantly began crying in agony. My sister called an ambulance while neighbors began gathering at the curb, trying to comfort my mother. Only as the EMTs loaded my mom into the ambulance did she finally recognize my sister, warning her not to go back in the house.

“That woman is still in there,” Mom said. “She tricked me and she’ll trick you, too.”

After my sister’s call, I was on the phone for several hours, talking with various doctors and nurses and social workers. In the emergency room, Mom was diagnosed with a badly fractured hip. She would need an operation, would have to have a metal rod and screws inserted from her hip to her knee. The operation had risks, I was told. Assuming a good outcome in surgery, the doctors said, it was after that that the hard part would begin.

To heal properly, Mom will need to be back on her feet almost immediately after the operation; her physical therapy will begin right away and likely continue for months. To make a full recovery would be hard work for any woman in her late 70s, the doctors warned me; it could be especially difficult for my mom, whose cognitive issues would almost certainly complicate her physical therapy.

The process that began when my sister called continues. Mom isn’t even out of surgery yet, and the hospital is asking where we’d like her sent for rehab. Meanwhile, her primary care doctor, who is also an Alzheimer’s specialist, is telling us not to worry, not because Mom’s going to be OK, but because there’s nothing much we can do.

“The best thing you can do,” she said, fully aware of how it sounded, “is let the system do its thing.”

Facing many tough questions about my mother’s short-term recovery and long-term prognosis, about what care she’ll need and who’ll pay for it, the best thing we can do is “let the system do its thing.” That would be hard enough advice to take in the best of times, but when you know the larger “system” is being held hostage by political hooligans willing to shut it all down to make a point, it’s nothing but a slap in the face.•

Comments (1)
Post a Comment

Sorry to hear about your mom. That said, clumsily concluding this story with a connection to a government shut down, where there is plenty of blame to cast for both sides, is despicable and tasteless. But cheer up, as the gov't becomes more involved in our healthcare it will only become more of a political football.

Posted by Ben on 10.22.13 at 7:10
Comment:

Name:

Password:

New User/Guest?

Find it Here:
keyword:
search type:
search in:

« Previous   |   Next »
Print Email RSS feed

From Our Readers
Baker: More of the Same; Props to Rohmann; Props to Rohmann
Between the Lines: A Gun Owner’s Resentment
Why make it expensive and difficult for law-abiding residents to possess firearms?
Sorry, Nixon
If the impeachment of our 37th president showed that the system works, what does Obama’s continued political survival say about it?
The Zipcar Is Here
Car sharing takes hold in the Valley.
Under the Microscope
Did ex-WSU president Evan Dobelle use university resources to support an identity as well as a lifestyle?
From Our Readers
Casino Opposition “Selfish”; Cut Foreign Aid, Not Our Military
Between the Lines: Deval’s Capital Management
He can rehab his office, but what about his legacy?
From Snowden to the Pentagon Papers
Can student interest in civics be rekindled?