Monday, August 22, 2005

Update on my father

My father is recovering at the hospital, very slowly. Each day he is exhibiting a new set of symptoms and new capabilities. On Saturday he was raving and incoherent and incapable of swallowing; yesterday he was responding appropriately to questions, making occasional short but coherent statements, and was able to take liquids. Thank you to everyone who is keeping us in their thoughts and prayers.

It's not all smooth going. The accident, it turns out, happened Friday morning, but we were not contacted (and he was not sent to the hospital) until after 4:00 in the afternoon. I don't even know if basic first aid was provided at the time, like a cold pack to the head to reduce swelling. At the emergency room Friday night, the Filipino doctor on duty asked me (in broken English) whether we wanted my father to undergo surgery to try to stop the bleeding and reduce the swelling. (This was not a clear-cut decision, since the risks of surgery might have outweighed the potential benefits, and the prognosis for recovery was roughly the same whether or not he underwent surgery.) He tried to consult a neurosurgeon for input, but there was none on duty or even available on call. He was able to get in touch with one who was not on call (and was, I believe, on vacation) who recommended - strictly off the record - against surgery. Yesterday I was berated by a Chinese neurosurgeon (in broken English) who wanted to know "If not want surgery, why send to hospital?" I didn't think to respond at that moment that I would rather see my father receive palliative care at a hospital than, say, die in a puddle of his own vomit at the nursing home. But I couldn't think of this at the time because my mind was occupied with visions of tearing the neurosurgeon limb from limb.

(And what if this Chinese neurosurgeon who barely spoke English had been consulted by the Filipino E.R. doctor who barely spoke English? What kind of communication could they have? And God help us all if a non-English speaking patient or family member were thrown into the mix. And we thought it was bad when pharmacists couldn't read doctors' handwriting!)

I think I'll save most of my opinion of the state of health care in this country for some other time. For now, suffice it to say that it looks like my father is not in imminent danger of death at this moment. But only time will help us to establish what the new normal will be for him.


Anonymous said...

not to take light of your father's situation but it reminds me of lewis black's standup when he says his car was stolen and the cop actually says to him "how you money make?" and that man has a gun.


Super G said...

Hope things are better today. We're still checking.

rimalicious said...

While you are dealing with the health care system, I am dealing with the mental health care and school systems. As you know my son has special needs and one day into his Kindergarten session I spent 2 hrs at the school yesterday. Anyway, if I feel like it I'll blog details, but yeah, health care in this state sucks.

Blue Cross of California said...

Great blog I hope we can work to build a better health care system as we are in a major crisis and health insurance is a major aspect to many.