Breaking News

November 1, 2008

Thursday morning, I put in a call to the nurses’ station in hopes of getting information about my mother’s condition.  I explained to the woman who answered the phone that I knew nothing about what was going on except for what my mother had told me, which was very little.  The woman assured me that a nurse would call me back “right away.”  No one ever returned my call.

I was able to reach my mother shortly afterwards.  She had just undergone an endoscopic procedure during which a gallstone was removed from the common bile duct.  However, there was another stone in the gallbladder.  For the record, my mother got that information from a nurse.  The doctor who performed the procedure did not bother to drop by to speak to my mother, as is customary.

My sister and I arrived at the hospital to visit our mother Thursday evening around 6:30.  She looked terrible and was very hot to the touch.   She showed us her IV, and something was obviously wrong.  Her hand was bloody, and blood was backing up into the tube.  Her sheets were blood spattered, as well.  Mom said she had buzzed for a nurse an hour ago, but no one had responded.  I immediately marched myself to the nurse’s station, and someone was in the room checking the IV within seconds.

While the nurse was there, my sister and I also mentioned that our mother was feverish.  She hadn’t been given anything since that morning, when her temperature was 99.  An aide came to take her temperature, which had climbed to 102.  We heard the aide relay that information to a nurse, yet, at least half an hour later, nothing had been done.   This time, Michele went to the nurse’s station.  Finally, a nurse came in and gave mom something to reduce the fever.

Michele and I expressed our concern to the nurse about the lack of information available.  She recommended that I have the station secretary call the doctor’s office.  The response came in shortly before visiting hours ended.  We then learned that our mother’s gallbladder was inflamed and swollen.  They wanted to try to get it back to normal size (with antibiotics) so it could be removed via laparoscopy.

We were relieved to have some solid information at last.  On the other hand, we were very concerned about how our mother had been neglected, and did not feel good about leaving her when visiting hours were over.  It is really disturbing (and scary) when someone who is so sick gets so little attention from the people who are supposed to be taking care of her.

Yesterday, I tried to call my mother, but she wasn’t answering the phone.  I got in touch with Michele who said that she spoke to a nurse who told her that mom had a bad night.  After a few attempts to reach mom, Michele was finally able to talk to her.  Mom said she didn’t want any visitors because she was in too much pain, and didn’t feel up to seeing anybody.

At 5:30 pm, Michele called to let me know that she had just heard from the surgeon who had been called in after mom’s second CAT scan.  He told Michele that our mother was in bad shape, and her gallbladder had to come out now.  Michele and I rushed to the hospital.

Mom was taken to the operating room at 7:30.  A little after 9:00, the doctor came out to talk to us.  He said the surgery went well, although he was unable to remove the gall bladder laparoscopically.  As he put it, he had to do it the “old-fashioned way,” which means a longer and more uncomfortable recovery.  It was hard to understand everything he said because of his heavy accent, but I was able to make out the words “gangrene” and “sepsis.”   Thank God this doctor arrived on the scene when he did and took immediate action.

The rules were bent for us, so Michele and I were able to see our mother in the recovery room right after she came out of surgery.  We were encouraged because she looked pretty good, considering what she has been through.

Thank you for all the good thoughts, and please keep them coming.

Song of the Day:  Cuts Like A Knife by Bryan Adams

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15 Responses to “Breaking News”

  1. LeAnn said

    I’m happy your mom is recuperating nicely from the surgery. Bless her heart! She sure went through a lot, didn’t she?

  2. What is the deal with lack of care and concern in hospitals today? I will be thinking of your mother and hoping she recovers soon.

  3. I am so glad that someone finally stepped up and did what needed to be done. I would be writing a letter to someone in charge at the hospital about the horrid care she has been getting. Even if they are short staffed, there is no reason not to keep up on someone with a high fever who has been through a procedure. Someone (no…many people) dropped the ball here and needs to be held accountable. She should not have had to undergo that invasive surgery. The first doctor and the nurses should have been caring for her more attentively. I will keep her in my prayers Steph.

  4. Bex said

    Wow, hospitals are so darn scary these days. Our local hospital stinks and if I EVER am taken there (I would have to be unconscious) it will be to Beverly Hospital which is so much better than Salem. Do you have a choice of hospitals? You might just try checking some others out just in case you or your family need one in an emergency… that one you have sounds like Salem’s. Keep a close eye on her “infection” too. Those can be very tricky. I’d ask to stay there with her if you can… and keep nagging the nurses/doctors. Sometimes that is the ONLY way to get good care.

  5. Betty Lou said

    Bex is right, someone needs to be there to advocate for your mother. It sounds like the administration of that hospital is cutting so many corners to save money that the care of the patients has been diluted, and the patients are in danger. I hope that your mom starts on her way to recovery now.

  6. Holly said

    I feel scared for anyone at that hospital who doesn’t have someone like you or your sister to advocate for them. I’d write to the hospital administration as well as a letter to the editor of your newspaper. sheesh!!

  7. LA said

    Yikes! Hope Mom is mending quickly and comfortably. ~LA

  8. Jeanette said

    My father went throught almost the identical thing last year right before Christmas. They dicked him around so much at the hospital and emergency room that by the time they did the surgery, the surgeon told us it was the worst gallbladder he had ever seen! I’m glad your mom is doing well.

  9. That’s so awful! Do write a letter, to the hospital administration and to the paper. Meanwhile, I’m keeping your mom and you in my prayers.

  10. Sunday said

    Fuck that noise! I have been a pest the 2 times I was in the hospital (you’re not going to give ME OTC Tylenol when you put nitroglycerin patches on me–they cause wicked headaches), so I bitched and bitched and finally got some…I don’t know, Fiorcet or something.

    As for relatives being in the hospital–I’ve been the pest there too. Hell, I’M paying YOU (well, the insurance), there’s no reason why they should’ve ignored your mother like that. But you have to be careful–no matter how much you want to cuss them out–don’t. A smile when pestering, and a firm tone (with a smile!) can sometimes get things done. And most often, there’s only ONE nurse on the whole floor! I’ve had that happen twice when visiting relatives.

    But if I’d seen that blood, that all would’ve went out the window. Blood! Fever! My mother! Aaaah! Thank goodness things are okay now.

    All the best…

  11. Michael said

    Your mother (or any patient, really) has the right to expect better and more attentive treatment than that. Hopefully she’s now on the road to recovery and feeling better and getting out of that place.

  12. Jim said

    What horrible care! You should document everything and contact the hospital’s ombudsman office (if they have one) and also find out which board or agency oversees hospitals for your area and let them know about such abysmal state of patient care.

    Hope your mother has a quick recovery. She (and you) will be in our thoughts.

  13. goatbarnwitch said

    Patients need someone to speak for them in most cases. Staff is in short supply and bad things can happen. I’m so glad the doc stepped in and got her into surgery when he did and I hope her recovery is speedy.

  14. karenfromphilly said

    Glad to hear your mom is doing better. So sorry that she fell ill in the first place. Seems everone I talk to that has had a hospital experience has told me you need to have someone with you to serve as an advocate so you’ll receive proper care.

  15. Stefani said

    Yikes! Glad she got that nasty gall bladder outta there. You are all in my thoughts!

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