NOT FRANTIC – THE ONGOING MEDICAL MESS

NOT FRANTIC

The past few weeks have been intense. I lose track of time. Retirement tends to make our days and weeks run into each other seamlessly. It can be difficult to remember when something happened — whether it was yesterday or a week ago.

I generally don’t mind the streaming life we lead. It’s peaceful and I’ve grown fond of our quiet life in the country.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

The medical stuff, though, has lent a level of pressure and complexity that has made me more alert. The first was the realization that the hospital we supposedly depend on is a genuine, card-carrying mess. It’s not just me saying so, either. The Internet is full of upset people who have registered complaints and never had them addressed. Nurses assure us that the hospital is “atrocious,” which isn’t the word you want used to describe your primary medical facility. This wouldn’t be such a big deal for me because I have my cardiologist and oncologist at other facilities. I am graced by Blue Cross’s PPO for Medicare patients which lets us use any doctor and hospital.

While I’ve been getting aggravated about my own little issue, I’ve been getting more worried about Garry’s cochlear implant. We have only seen the doctor at UMass. There is more I don’t know about this procedure than I ought.

There are many ways to do it. I haven’t done my homework. Meanwhile, putting Garry in the hands of the people at UMass? If I can’t trust them to take a simple message, why would I want to put my beloved into their hands?


Hospitals aren’t about doctors. The people who run hospitals are receptionists, office managers, nurse’s aides, and nurses. You don’t see doctors much. They come, perform surgery, drop by to tell you you’re fine (or not fine or will be fine), but they are rarely visible on a hospital floor. All  your daily business will be managed by the underpaid, overworked, and often foreign-language-speaking minimum-wage workers who slouch your way when you press that “I need help” button.


I’ve been overdosed with medication to which I’m allergic despite my urgent warnings. Found myself with no functioning lungs and a stopped heart — information that was conveniently never written into my records. Hallucinating from morphine, to which I am allergic.  Fed food guaranteed to kill me if I was foolish enough to eat it.

Why?

Because nurse’s aides in most big hospitals don’t speak or read English. The doctor’s messages are meaningless to them. They have no idea what they are doing because no one trained them. And some of them just don’t care. All they want it a paycheck and to get off their tired feet.

They are greatly overworked and deeply underpaid. What do their bosses expect will happen? Are you really going to get top quality service from these downtrodden people?

Only at Beth Israel were real nurses attending me. Everywhere else, my interactions were with aides and orderlies and occasional a receptionist at a desk somewhere. Conversations were with rude, short-tempered women (sometimes men) who followed “rules” that could kill you because the human mouthing “the rules” didn’t care if you lived or died. The rules were the important part. They were trained to follow the rules. If something went wrong, well, no one can blame them. They followed the rules. They did what they were supposed to do. If there was collateral damage — like a few deaths here and there — oh well. Oops.


No hospital will ever be better than its lowest paid, most exhausted worker. If you can’t improve the quality of your staff with intelligent training, your hospital will always be a horror show for patients.


I should be frantic and would be, but my Blue Cross Plan gives me choices. My alternatives will be less convenient, but at least we will feel safe.

Safe seems the place to be.

TWO BY TWO – SUNRISE-SUNSET

Photo Challenge – Rise and Set

For this week’s photo challenge, explore the vibrant, hopeful colors of your favorite sunrise or sunset.

Other than from the direction, you can’t tell if the sun is coming up or setting. I’ve done all the checking I can and in fact, the light is the same. It depends on the season of the year, but the coloring is identical otherwise.

And yet we are fascinated by the coming and going of the sun. Even when I was a child, I used to stand outside and watch the sky, sometimes for a full hour from late afternoon until final darkness, watching the delicate changes in the sky and the clouds and the way the light filtered through the trees.

I have not yet lost my wonder.


The rising sun in the mountains in October
A gull at sunrise
Sunset in Douglas
Sunset through clouds

HARD DAY WITH CROCUSES

Yesterday was a long day. Between the telephone all morning trying to arrange a simple doctor’s visit — then going off to find out if I have cancer again (if you’ve had it once, you always wonder if it will come back), I was well and truly done by the time I got home.

I know I must be improving, though. A year ago, a day like today and I’d be barely able to crawl into bed. Now, I can manage to put together dinner, even eat dinner. I’m tired, but I’m still human. It may not seem like much to you, but it’s a big deal for me.

Garry thought I should write to the hospital and tell them it had a few issues it needed to address. It’s the only big hospital in the county and it is important not only to us, but to every family in the area. It’s not like Boston where you have 20 good hospitals at your doorstep.

I agreed with him in principle, but quickly discovered UMass doesn’t actually have an area were you can comment about “customer service” issues. The internet is full of complaints they’ve yet to answer. There are a lot of people upset about it. It’s infuriating to have just one really good local hospital and so many problems. There’s no reason for it, either.

They have a serious communication problem.

So I wrote to the head of the hospital and its PR consultant. I casually mentioned Garry and they casually called me back in less than half an hour. I’m pretty sure I’ll get to see a neurologist. Pretty sure. Not positive, but at least I feel I have a better grip on it.

Between UMass Memorial, Dana-Farber, and a trip to the grocery, we came home beat. I believe this was a productive day, but I am exhausted. Every part of me hurts.

I’m going to need a long sleep to get myself glued together again.

The best news of the day? We have flowers. Crocuses and the shoots of day lilies to come. And it was warm enough to go out in a light jacket. Spring really is coming, finally. I have proof!

SQUARED WITH WHEELS

Circles and squares in squares. What could be simpler?

The wheel of the tractor. Round, rusty, and gradually degrading into the garden.

Seeking squares and circles — inside squares, of course! From BeckyB!

Squaring the Square and a few circles

SHARING THE WORLD AS WE STROLL INTO SPRING

Share Your World – March 26, 2018

It is already a week past the Vernal Equinox and it’s still surprisingly cold here. Not mid-winter cold, though and in the middle of the day, you can feel the sun.

With the change of time, we are also getting a more normal sunset. I always feel better on DST than the rest of the year. It feels “natural” and the arrival of the light in the morning feels right. Full dark at 7 in the morning always feels “off.”

What is your favorite color of hair? You can name your hair color or a color that you just like.

And the answer is — I never thought about it. I have liked natural blond hair, however rarely I see it. I had a good friend who had the most amazing blond hair in the world. Then one day, she chopped it off, I suppose because she wearied of the amount of care very long hair requires. I understood the motive, but I mourned the amazing hair and it’s many intermixing colors.

I like dark hair too. Natural hair with natural highlights. You don’t see a lot of natural anything in hair these days. No one seems happy with whatever nature bestowed on them. I liked my hair well enough, even though it was never the same color two weeks in a row. It was very dark brown when I was a kid, but lightened up to a dark amber brown — what some hairdressers called dark blond but to me was brown with lighter highlights. Then it began to go gray.

It didn’t go gray evenly or elegantly. Just patches of battleship gray here and there. So much for natural! For the next 40 years (I went gray when I was still in my 20s) I dyed it back to what had once been my color.

Then, I had some serious life and death surgery and when I came home, my hair was not gray — it was snow-white. You hear that such a thing is possible in books, but to have it happen to you is more than a little startling. I gave up dying my hair. The difference between white and even light brown was too abrupt and I always looked a bit skunkish, with white streaks here and there along my scalp.

Since going white, my hair has reverted to a bit brown in some areas (yes, you can revert to brown from white — hair is a moving target) and darker gray in others, but it’s mostly white. I gave up dying it a long time ago. I am pleasantly surprised at how many older actresses have done the same. Probably for the same reason.

It’s nearly impossible to maintain another color when your hair is white. The contrast is intense and you would have to keep retouching it every few days to keep from showing white stripes.  White is not a bad color either Highly reflective and interesting. And, should you get the urge to change to some other color in the spectrum, it’s easy when the base color is white.

List at least 5 things that you are good at.

Writing. Taking pictures. Figuring out how to pay bills when we have no money. Thinking really weird thoughts. Writing the weird thoughts down, then blogging them. Because no one has enough weird ideas of their own. They need mine, too!

What is your favorite animal or type of animal? (pets, dolphins, stuffed, wild cats, etc)

I’m pretty fond of dogs, but I also love horses, cats, birds and ferrets. If it’s friendly and furry, I probably like it.

Which doesn’t mean I want to have them in the house. I think we have enough life here already.

What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week?  

The news made me howl. It has gotten so ridiculous, I can choose to laugh or I can spend my life ranting and raging about it. Laughter is better for one’s soul and a lot easier on the people around you!