Monday, December 13, 2004

Excuse me while I get all these ducks back in a row . . .


It is nice to be back to some semblance of normalcy; well, as normal as things ever are around my neck of the woods. It has been a hellacious couple of weeks since I last sat here with a hot tea and a blissful few minutes of quiet to virtually chit chat with you kind readers. Lots has happened, with lots more to follow in the coming weeks, so let's just jump in . . . shall we?

So . . . my dad had an accident in Florida. First, let me say something nice about the Tallahassee police. Evidently, my dad was very disoriented after the accident, and kept insisting that the police "take him to a hotel, or something." Instead of fighting the old man, one very nice cop displayed endless patience and gently, but firmly insisted that my father go to the hospital to get the nasty cut on his face checked out. The cop took the time to stay with my dad in emergency until he was settled with doctors, and he even called us in Atlanta to let us know what had happened, and that he had secured the car and my dad's stuff. Nice, nice guy . . . he is now officially on my Christmas list.

My dad was in ICU for the first couple of days. To tell the truth, the details of his early stay are sketchy; I was so mad, I really didn't have the patience to sit and listen to much of it from my mom. In short, she was a mess. Nevermind that she was ready to leave him the day he took off for Florida.

Personally, there is more than a little part of me that thinks he did this on purpose.

Anyway, his accident threw us into the bowels of hell otherwise known as Kaiser Permanente Senior Advantage. IF your parents have this coverage, I beseech you, beg them to change back to regular ol' Medicare immediately! Here in Georgia, Kaiser Permanente offers a product called Senior Advantage. It is not simply just a Part B supplemental Medicare product; it actually takes over ALL medical care and hospital coverage for Medicare-aged patients (that would be Medicare Part A AND B). That doesn't sound significant, until you realize the ramifications of having ALL care dictated by Kaiser.

First of all, Kaiser has NO presence in Florida. I can't help but think that this is due to the diligence and foresight of the lobbyists that work hard for the large senior contingency that lives there.

When my dad first went in to the hospital, he was considered a Medicare patient with a supplemental policy, and he was given very thorough care, and lots of tests, and there was no bum's rush out the door. As soon as Kaiser was notified that he was hospitalized there, their Regional Case Manager (read: Scrooge) stepped in. Not only did they insist that my dad be discharged, they didn't want to give him a medical transport back home. Nevermind that he had been in ICU and on oxygen, and that his knees were so banged up and swollen that he couldn't walk. These bastards insisted that we (the family) come down and get him. Now, the Tallahassee doctors ordered a medical transport because they thought his injuries warranted it. Kaiser overrode the doctor's orders and denied the coverage. At nearly $3,000 out of pocket, we were at a loss and had no idea what to do.

We were lied to over and over. The Kaiser contact assured us that she had been in contact with the nurses and therapists in Tallahassee, and that my father was mobile, up on a walker, able to do basic things like get to the bathroom, etc. When Good Brother (we call him GB for short, remember?) and my mom got there to pick him up, he was completely immobile, weak as a kitten, and my brother and 2 nurses couldn't get him into the van. GB was furious, and went inside to demand that the doctors come out to see the shape my dad was in. They were apologetic, and agreed that he needed a medical transport, and offered to take on Kaiser again. My dad, even in that state, begged my brother to get him home, assuring him that he could stand the pain, just drive.

And drive, he did. He got back to Atlanta in about 5 hours - flat. His Good Son (GS) and I were at my parents waiting. I had been on the phone ALL DAY with those Kaiser bastards trying to get a hospital bed, chair, walker, etc. delivered to the house. I hadn't stretched my ass-chewing muscles in quite a while, but I must still have the knack, cause by 3:00 that shit was THERE.

When I laid my eyes on my dad, I was sure that they had picked up some decrepit, homeless, toothless man on the way home. There was NO WAY that was him. His voice was barely a whisper, he was bruised, his eyes were at half-mast, rolling back into his head, and he was as weak as a kitten. GB and I had to physically lift him from the van and into a wheelchair, and he slumped and nearly slid out onto the garage floor. Cursing, I told everyone that I was calling an ambulance, pronto. My dad begged me to just get him inside, and we struggled in with him in the chair, GB and I. Once we got inside, I started to roll him toward the bedroom when he whispered that he had to go to the bathroom.

I had already put a sturdy 4-legged chair over the toilet - looks sort of like a walker. I called my mom to come into the bathroom to help us. GB, bless his soul, had run for the hills. He is as good as gold, but bathroom duty was just too much for him, squeamish soul that he has always been. My mom was on one side of him, and I was on the other as he summoned whatever bit of strength he had to slide across. My mom just stood there, like a statue, when I barked at her, "Undo his pants!" She seemed to snap back to reality just as he began to whimper "Oh, Christ," and I knew what was happening. Yep. My dad was shitting himself, and there we were, trying to deal with him.

You have to understand, this is a man that I have never seen in anything less than a t-shirt and tennis shorts. I have never seen him in his underwear. Never. He has always been an extremely prideful and private person, and this was an injustice that devastated him. I was tired, and unnerved, and I shouldn't have been short with her, but I was put out with my mom at that moment. I told her to start stripping his soiled clothing while he sat on the toilet seat and I went to get a garbage bag. She looked at me with eyes as wide as saucers, as though I had asked her to stick her hand down the garbage disposal.

I was dead cold at that second, and all I could think of, I swear, was "We TOLD you to leave him years ago. You're the one that stayed for 49 years, and it's your duty now. You BOTH waited too long to find anyone else to stand by you, so you are stuck with each other, so DEAL with it."

Yeah, cold, I know, but I tend to get frosty when things are stressful.

So, that first and second nights were a horrible struggle. All of us kids lobbied for him to go back to the hospital, and finally my mom and dad relented, and an ambulance came the third evening he was home. After getting his knee drained, and getting on some good pain medication, the hospital decided to do an MRI. Get a load of this . . . the dumbass that did the MRI paid no attention to the fact that my dad was writhing in pain during the test - evidently, the MRI vibration was rubbing bones together, causing the "worst damn pain" my dad had ever experienced. When the guy FINALLY stopped the test, he went to transfer my dad from the tube back to the wheelchair and DROPPED him onto the floor! No shit.

Despite all of thiat, he is resting pretty comfortably back at home now and is getting stronger.

A few good things have come out of all of this. Tallahassee conducted every test known to man on him (before Kaiser got wind he was there) . The doctors put him on meds that he was supposed to be on anyway, and my mom is making him stick to the diabetic diet that he was put on years ago. He has regained his lucidity. He's going to need a knee replacement as soon as possible, and he is ahead of the game because he has many of the test behind him.

He is pretty humbled right now, thanking all of us over and over for helping him. I wonder if this newfound humility will stick around after he is back on his feet?

Oh, and my mother still says she is moving. I told her plainly that she could move wherever she wants, as long as she brings him along. For better or worse, they are still married, and he is too incapacitated at this point for her to just walk out the door without making life a living hell for us kids. The accident IS his fault, no doubt, but letting it all get to this point with his crazy ass is at LEAST half her fault. Know what I mean?

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