Clamoring For My Attention

When seniors reach those golden years, they expect a modicum of relaxation. That hasn’t proven true in my case.

It seems that the medical community has decided I have all this free time now and I must spend it in their waiting rooms. What makes it worse is that I don’t trust doctors and often see them as folks who want to reach into my bank account and pull out money.

Even before I started this so-called retirement, I was beginning to get deluged with medical personnel.

I was doing a good job at my workplace. I worked as a Reading Specialist at a school that had a great need for Reading Specialists. I had 10 groups of children although the expected number of groups was 8. I had 35 children whom I saw daily. On March 3 of last year (2015) we had a new principal come aboard. She immediately increased my workload to 48 children daily. I did not have time for any more groups; I’d actually had to limit some of my groups to 20 minutes each to have time to see ten groups of children daily. My groups became 4 and 5 children in each group to fit everyone in. I was working with Kindergarten and First Grade students. The second day I emailed the new principal about my enormous workload. I explained how I got around to seeing all the children who needed help by dropping children as they got up to grade level and replacing them with those who still were below grade level. This had worked for the past three years. Her response was to email me back and state that she would discuss my workload when we discussed my absences. ????? I had had NO absences on her “watch”. I wondered if she meant the absences I’d had the previous December when the doctor thought I had either blood clots in my lungs or lung cancer? I didn’t appreciate her response, and I knew she had no right to talk to me about medical issues, so I stubbornly forged ahead seeing 48 children daily.

By April 15 my health had gotten so bad that my doctor cut me back to half days. (She actually wanted me to go on FLMA Leave, but I wanted to keep working.) On the night of April 28, I was in so much pain that I could not sleep. I saw the doctor the next day and she said I had to quit. I was devastated. I loved my job and I was good at it. I just could not do a job and a half daily. I should have gone to my boss’s boss, but I didn’t.

Thus began the grand tour of doctor offices. I applied for Social Security Disability and they had paperwork and various requirements and even a doctor of their own whom I had to see. I was also trying to qualify for the disability insurance policy payments from a private insurance company I had had a policy with for years. Every where I turned was another form that had to be filled out by another doctor. I may have “quit work”, but my days were filled with tasks  In the midst of all that, my doctor decided I’d be happier elsewhere and sent me a letter saying I had until June 30 to find another doctor. I was trying to qualify for three different disability plans. I guess she didn’t have time for me and my paperwork. So much for a caring patient/doctor relationship.

My workplace changed me from FMLA to Short Term Disability in September, and the constant round of doctor visits continued.

I lost my workplace medical insurance at the end of September and found out one of my prescriptions cost $7000 a month. That medicine I was frequently fussed with about taking by my doctor became medicine I could do without until I could afford it. ??? By November I was contacting my workplace HR to see if there was any way to get my workplace health insurance back? There was . . . at $498 a month and it couldn’t begin until January 1. I filled out those papers and told my doctor I could get back on my expensive diabetes medicine in January. She said, “Good”. (I’d spent a lot of time talking to various agencies trying to get the diabetes medicine, but ended up having to dole out the few pills I had left at half or fourth doses daily. My blood sugar skyrocketed.)

In late February I drove myself to the ER in the middle of the night with what I thought were heart attack pains. It turned out to be gallbladder. They suggested I stay and have surgery, but allowed me to leave after 4 or 5 hours with pain meds and nausea meds.

The next day I was exhausted. The day after that I awoke in so much pain that I called my oldest son to take me back to the ER. That day they transferred me to a hospital in a town 18 miles away to do gallbladder surgery. However, when the surgeon came in to see me, I was told I needed an ERCP first as there was a stone stuck in my bile duct that had shown up on the ultrasound. They took me and did the ERCP, and I developed Acute Panacreatitis from the procedure. The gallbladder surgery had to be posrponed. All food/liquids were withheld so my pancreas could “rest and recover”. That day a hospital representative came in with living will and end of life forms for me to fill out. I told him NO, and he left the forms for me to consider. He came back the next day and I still refused to fill them out and actually tore them up. I told him my oldest son was in charge, and if my son thought I needed to be allowed to go ahead and die, it was fine, but NO, I would not give that power to the hospital.

The pancreatitis continued but began to improve. On Friday, my surgeon came in and said she didn’t like to do gallbladder surgery on anyone with any pancreas problems and besides my platelets were a low 71 and she was afraid if she operated on me that I would bleed to death. She said she would not be doing surgery this hospital stay and to go home and rest and recuperate and call her office the following week for a surgery consult.

On Saturday my IV site needed moving (again!) and it took 3 nurses 4 tries to change it. By then my hands were the only unbruised, useable sites for an IV. When they would try and had to remove the needle, I would spurt blood. One even had me apply direct pressure on a spurting site as she ran across the room to get more gauze.

Later that evening the hospital doctor came in to tell me that he had scheduled surgery for me on Monday morning. I hope I didn’t ask him if he was crazy. I thought it.  I told him what my surgeon had said and he said that was days ago. No, it was Friday, I told him. Regardless, the hospital “blood doctor” had signed off on my surgery and it was scheduled for Monday morning. I told him I didn’t want surgery and I wanted to go home to rest and recuperate.

The next morning the hospital doctor returned and said my surgery was scheduled for the next day, Monday. I told him I was refusing surgery at this time. His face got red and he stood up and said he was going to go call the surgeon. I felt like an errant child whose neighbor was going to tell my mother. I said “Good!” to his back as he went out the door.

When he returned, he said he couldn’t reach her. I didn’t believe him. I think she took my side and he didn’t want to admit it. He said I was being discharged. I asked him what I could eat? I still had my gall bladder and had only had four meals and those came in the last 36 hours. They were all clear liquids. Before that I’d had IV’s, but no food or water. His reply to “What can I eat?” was “Anything”. How could that be? When I got home, I began to research foods to eat with a bad gallbladder. I also searched for foods to help a pancreas as my pancreatits wasn’t quite over when I checked out.

The day after I got home, I got a message from my primary care doctor, who had said she had no appointments until Thursday when I called her sick the previous Tuesday. She had said then to go to the ER, and I did and sat there with my son for over three hours before they took me to the back. After that things were a blur and I found myself riding in an ambulance to a hospital 18 miles away. I spent 6 days in that hospital. Nurses contradicted each other; doctors said one thing today and something else tomorrow. I was awakened at 5:00 am daily for a blood draw. I hadn’t seen or heard from my primary care doctor, but she wanted me to come in for an “After Hospital Check”. I told her no.

I called and made a surgery consult appointment with the surgeon for the following week.

I had gotten out of the hospital on the afternoon of Sunday, March 6. On Friday afternoon, March 11, my neighbor’s pitbull raced into my yard and attacked my little fifteen year old dog. We were ouside in my front yard. I saw the pitbull loose and running down the sidewalk. It saw me and ran into my yard before I could get my little, old dog in the house. The pitbull ran straight for my dog and immediately latched onto my dog’s back leg. I grabbed the pitbull by the collar and miracuously dragged him off my dog. The pitbull turned and jumped up on me with its front paws and knocked me to the ground. I heard a snap, like a bone breaking. I crawled over to the pitbull, who had latched onto my dog’s back leg again and grabbed its collar again. This time it would not let go. One of my neighbor’s friends came in my yard and said she had been looking for the pitbull all day but couldn’t find her. She seemed very unconcerned but squatted down as if to help with the pitbull. About that time, my youngest son, who had heard me screaming, came running out of the house. He ould not make the pitbull let go and got bitten in the process of trying. He also broke his foot and had skin completely  ripped from his toe. I got up and got the shovel and was lifting it to hit the pitbull when a man ran out of my neighbor’s house, and he lifted the pitbull by the collar and took it into her house.

The woman who had come over and pretended to help apologized and acted like it was no big deal. I told her I was calling the police. Suddenly my neighbor from across the street appeared in my driveway. She said she had seen the whole thing and already called the police. She followed me into my house where I saw my son trying to stop the blood on his hand where he was biten and on his foot. I was calling the police when the operator said the police had arrived and were out front. I went out to talk to them. My neighbor, who had never been in my house before, wanted to go in my bedroom to check on my dog. I told her no.

I went out front and talked to the police. The snap I’d heard when I fell had been the middle finger on my left hand. It was both dislocated and broken. The police called EMS to take me and my son to the hospital ER. While enroute, my son and I both called his older brother and I asked him to come by and take my old dog to the vet before the vet closed. My dog had walked across my bedroom floor when I’d gone to check on her. I was praying that she would be all right.

Once at the hospital, we were taken into the back. They put us in separate rooms. Shortly afterwards my oldest son showed up and said he had left my dog with the vet. The vet told him he’d take care of the dog and for him to go to the ER and check on me and my youngest son.

The vet called me while I was in the ER and said my dog needed surgery. I ok’d it and he called back when it was done to say she was waking up and doing well.

We were in the ER for over five hours. My oldest son missed two hours of work that night, but he stayed to drive us home. He also went to Walgreens Drug store, which is opened all night and filled our prescriptions.

The next morning I skipped my pain pill so I could drive to the vet’s and get my dog. By the time she was ready to go, I was in so much pain I couldn’t go get her. The vet said he’d keep her, board her, free of charge until Monday morning. On Monday morning my middle son drove halfway across the state to take me to get her. I still was so bad off that I couldn’t fasten my own seatbelt. My left leg was badly scraped, but they had x-rayed it at the hospital and nothing was broken.

The ER doctor referred me to an Orthopedic doctor. Yesterday that doctor referred me to a Physical Therapist. The Surgeon referred me to a specialist because she suspects I have four different serious conditions. I finally agreed to go in and see my Primary Care Doctor and she has referred me to two specialists as well.

I could spend my days in doctor’s waiting rooms. I’ve had enough. I wonder if I didn’t have such good medical insurance if it’d be like it was when I couldn’t afford my diabetes meds?

It is springtime. April is finally here. Today is April 7.

I’ve decided I don’t want to spend my time – whatever time I have left – seeing specialists. There is a $70 co-pay for every visit, plus the insurance chips in enough to make the payment be $250 . . . for EACH specialist.

My platelets continue to be low, but I am very careful what I eat because of my gallbladder. The surgeon says it needs to come out and I need a second surgery for a hernia repair. She won’t do those surgeries until the four conditions she wants me checked for are checked. However no one will tell me what tests might be needed to check for them and some tests I would refuse to have. I have to “come in for a consult office visit to find out what they might want to do. I already went in for a 12 minute “consult” with the surgeon, who said what she could have said on the phone. I guess the insurance wouldn’t pay for a phone consult?

I contemplate my current age and wonder how many more days I have on this earth and how I want to spend them. Ir is not in doctors’ offices. I had cut back to seeing two doctors per week. (I believe I could see four a week, if I’d go . . .) It’s too much.

It feels like they are all clamoring for my presence and the big bucks the insurance company will pay. Maybe I do need to see them all, but I honestly wonder if I’ll live long enough to see these doctors or the ones THEY will refer me to?

I’d much rather sit out in the sun and enjoy the day.




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