Skip to comments.My meeting with the Death Panel.
Posted on 04/01/2012 2:01:06 AM PDT by chuckles
Well, I've seen Sarah Palin's "Death Panel" up close.
I started not to write anything about it, but when Cheney got his new heart and the hullabaloo followed, I felt I needed to point out a few things.
My mom had a bad stroke January 29 and was left paralyzed on her left side. She also had trouble swallowing and was given a nasal feeding tube until she could be tested and worked with by a rehab team. Her medical history was she was a 3 time cancer survivor and was on coumadin for a clot in her left leg. Her first bout with cancer was colon cancer and she had 18 inches removed and a radiation follow up. Well, the radiation gave her some bouts of diarrhea and loss of some control. The second cancer, about 7 years later, was a spot on her kidney that was removed lapriscopically by freezing. The third cancer was large cell lymphoma where the colon and small bowel connect. That was removed surgically with chemo afterwards. At the time of the stroke, she was cancer free for 2 years and was living well on her own. She liked to travel, go to the "Opry" and went to Casino's in La. to play the slots.
While in ICU, they tried the "clot buster" but to no avail. After she was stabilized she went to a room for about 3 days. I was informed that she would be released to me about 8 hours before they were going to release her. They said she should go to a hospital called an "LTAC". There were 2 in the area and I was told I should pick one and they would make the arrangements for the move. I asked why not just treat her here, and the answer was Medicare says we have to move her. I knew of one of the LTAC hospitals so I picked the one I knew about. She went there for 20 days and was treated for pneumonia because when she had the stroke she was eating breakfast and apparently aspirated something. They gave her massive amounts of very powerful, and I assume expensive, antibiotics. At times she had 4 bags in her IV at once. She was able to speak and was completely "there" mentally. She remembered everything and was able to communicate well. The only problem was the left side paralysis.
I had dreams of getting her in a wheelchair and going on walks with her and trying to make her life as "normal" as possible. The handle on a one armed bandit is on the right side, so I figured she was good to go. Well, the Physician's assistant on her case made a mistake and told us she would be released on a Monday when we talked with her on Friday. I asked why because she still needed some of the rehab we were promised, and she still was running some fever. Her answer was the same as the hospital,....Medicare only pays for 20-21 days in LTAC. The next move would be home to my house( she was still paralyzed and couldn't live alone) or to a "rehab facility", commonly known as a nursing home. The PA said she still needed skilled nursing care, so unless I wanted to learn how to give her injections, change her diapers, feed her with a blender through her Peg tube, she suggested the skilled nursing facility. True to form, the administrator called Monday morning saying my mom was to be released today, what do you want to do? I asked why can't she get rehab here and it was made quite clear, Medicare won't pay. All this time I was promised some sort of rehab, they had done NOTHING. They got their Medicare money and kicked the can down the road. I had visions of a team of doctors like you see in "House" or Grey's "Anatomy" all working as a team to help my mother, but there was none of that.
I chose the nursing home near my home( I was able to visit a few because the PA made the error of giving me a weekend warning to check some out), so I could visit every day and make sure they were helping her. I got the speal from the head nurse and was shown the rehab room and told of great things they have achieved with their stroke patients. The last sentence of her speal included the "good news" that my mom would qualify for up to 100 days of Medicare payments because of her feeding tube. Then of course, it's Medicaid time. My mom had no real money and her house was on a reverse mortgage. Her private money would be exhausted in about a month.
To make a long story a little shorter, she had an infection and died 8 days into her stay at the "skilled" nursing facility.
Now what, you might ask, does this have to do with Dick Cheney and a heart transplant? You see the vitriol in the media about how he should have died and let a more deserving patient have the heart. He was 71, my mom was 80. IMHO, from the very first moment she entered ICU after the stroke, I was pressed about a DNR, how far do you want us to go,...that type of thing. I said I didn't want her on a ventilator, but I also wanted someone to help her if she was choking on the massive amount of mucus that she coughed up daily. I and My wife spent hours sucking it out after she would get it up from her lungs with the little suction "thingy". I wondered if a nurse checked her in the middle of the night, but of course I knew they only checked about every 4 or so hours, if that much. I spent 6-8 hours a day there and usually had to call them to help her for whatever she needed. When I came one morning, around 11am, she was panting like a dog and sweating profusely. I asked what was wrong with her? They said she had a big morning because they took her to the TV room and rehab had worked with her already that morning. I said she isn't responsive and there is something wrong! They asked well, what do you want? I said call an ambulance. The hospital was about 100 yards from the nursing home so I beat the ambulance across the parking lot to the ER. The ER nurse took her blood and she said she had a massive infection and her "numbers" were all screwed up. She had about twice the coumadin level she should have, her potassium was way off, she was dehydrated, and on and on. They gave her 1 bag of antibiotics and some saline with a vitamin K shot for the coumadin. After about an hour, they moved her to a room. I stayed with her all night. She had her blood drawn again in about 3-4 hours and the "numbers" were still "messed up". NO DOCTOR ever looked in on her and nurses visited 3 times including the blood drawing. She passed at 9:20am about 10 minutes after her "doctor" walked in the room.
Now the connection to Dick Cheney is, my mom was 80, a 3 time cancer survivor, paralyzed on one side with bouts of diarrhea. They pretty much decided she wasn't worth fixing. They didn't care. They didn't even try. They didn't know her. They didn't know her spirit. She was a fighter,....a survivor,....but they didn't want her to survive. This is the same thing they did with Terri Shiavo. They took away her personhood and made her government property. Medicare had it's guidelines and if you don't survive according to their payment schedule, you are going to be killed. The same people that thought Cheney had a long life at 71 and didn't really need to live any longer are deciding who lives and dies, and Cheney had his own money, so he lived, to their horror.
I know I have opened myself up here for the comments like She was 80 after all and probably would die of cancer, or you are blinded to the facts because she was your mother, or she really wouldn't want to live paralyzed like that. We talked about that and she said she wanted to live and would work hard to get the best result she could get. She always looked at the brighter side of adversity. But I was blinded by the sheer numbness of the medical system that they would pick who they would work hard for, and who gets thrown in the trash heap.
I'm sure there will be some that tell me if I'm not happy, I should sue, but that won't get my mother back, and I doubt that would change the system even if I win an award.
My purpose for writting is to point out, we already have Obama Care. It's been here for awhile now. If you go to an ER and roll snake eyes, you will be executed. They will leave you on a gurney to bleed out or choke on your own vomit because they don't like something about you. God help you if you are old, disabled, mentally impaired, or just ugly if you get the wrong nurse or doctor that has just had their Botox injections. If they think you have lived long enough, you are toast. Surviving cancer 3 times is just too much time and money for an 80 year old widow to be given any more attention. Maybe they saw she had voted Republican in the last election. Maybe they knew she had a shotgun in her closet. Who knows what dastardly deed gets you on the wrong side of the Death Panel. If you have some image of a gaggle of doctors and nurses gathered around you to do their best to save you, you have been watching too much TV.
So very sorry, and thanks for warning us about the death panels.
Prayers said for all concerned.
Interesting point. My sense is that we are due for another civil war, which could split the U.S. into three parts; east coast, west coast and central. The east coast and west coast will collapse into themselves due to anarchy. The central area being more conservative and self reliant will over time absorb the depleted eastern and western regions.
Prayers for all.
I too have a little story about a trip I took down the civilian hospital path.
But another time
May God bless us all.
Then we will pray for you also. Contrary to many here, my experience was life changing. The Doctors, Nurses and others I met are still my friends. I had never met a greater group of people anywhere. It literally changed my life for the better to know there are people out there that give so much. I sincerely wish everyone could say the same.
I am so very sorry for your loss.
Prayers for you. I am going through a lot with my Mother right now. She is 91 and just broke her hip. She was on hospice , they took her off for the surgery and will have therapy. Then she will probably go back to hospice.
You don’t know how much I needed that my FRiend
I just had to get it off my chest after so many were second guessing Cheney's heart transplant. Why is it any of their business? They are the ones saying she is better off dead than being paralyzed on one side.
I tried to keep the story as short as possible so as not to drone on on every detail, but there was much more going on than just this. One night, her Pic line was pulled out. They thought she may have done it. I said it was taped to her like concrete and she couldn't have reached it with her good arm. They finally admitted it must have been removed by mistake. I found an insulin needle in her bed and asked the nurse about it. She said she didn't know how it got there or who left it. I said my mother isn't diabetic. They said the bottled feedings must have changed her sugar tolerance. Just one load of crap after another.
I know it will take me time to get passed this, but I'm just having trouble right now. My father's death was quick. Heart attack in the middle of the night. We had just visited the day before and he went home with all his faculties, no broken hip, no disabilities, nothing. He was 85 and had a couple of stints. I grieved and was able to move on. This is different for me. He died in bed at home, not in a hospital and it wasn't drug out for months.
I thank everyone for your sympathy and sharing your stories. It helps to know I'm not alone.
My wife drives a van for the county to take the elderly places. She has many people with strokes, missing limbs, cancer and so on that get around just fine. She told me of a woman that had a stroke that paralyzed her just like my mom. Today, after some therapy, she drags her leg and throws her dead arm from place to place to do what she needs to do. Her husband left her and she lives alone. She shops and cooks for herself with no help. She won't even allow my wife to help her get in the van. She inspired me to have some hope for my mother and to look for any abilities as a blessing. If no one helps you and you are helpless, you can never get to that point of helping yourself however.
I wish I knew enough HTML to post a picture of her on here about a month before her stroke. She didn't look 80 or act 80. To treat her as if her life was over just kills me. Her mother died at 96. Long life ran on her side of the family. All I ask of the doctors and nurses is to "do no harm".
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