Sunday, June 3, 2012

When a caretaker can't take care - part II

I take care of my sick husband, sick daughter, and my amazing grandson, but in April I lost ability to walk and then treatments on my bad knee kept me sick in bed for days.

 Injections of a gel to provide a cushion to stop bones from rubbing and chipping left my knee numb and made walking a greater challenge.

It turned out I was allergic to the iodine used to sterilize the injection site on my knee. I spent most of three weeks in bed or on the couch, curled up with a lap top or my Nook.

Becoming incapacitated is a caregiver's worse fear, but something wonderful happened.

I couldn't manage driving my daughter to her monthly doctor visit. He thought her new complaints were psychiatric when it started six months ago. He diagnosed her weight loss as anorexia, her headaches, dizziness and tremors as anxiety. He thought she wore a winter coat even as temperatures soared to get attention and accused her of daily tanning bed use to account for her discolored skin when in fact she never sought a tan from sun or artificially. 

He dismissed her complaints. He said, "If you feel that badly, you shouldn't be driving. Do you really feel that badly? I could have your drivers license suspended." She does not own a car and rarely drives my car, but she loves having a license. Meanwhile, she kept shrinking, sleeping more and more, and being increasingly restless.

Such dismissals by physicians are not uncommon when a patient comes in with a label of "psych patient" or has a history of concussions and seizures.

While I was too sick to deal with yet another confrontation with her doctor, the caseworkers who provide her home care and give her medication decided to take her to her medical clinic. Normally people see residents at her clinic, but perhaps because of her caseworkers' concerns about the symptoms, she saw a physician who oversees the residents and was given a referral for a brain scan, to see an ophthalmologist, and for extensive blood tests.

A friend took her to the hospital for the tests, because I was still not feeling well. As sometimes happens, after an hour long wait she was informed that the insurance company hadn't been contacted by the doctor's office so the insurance company could pre-approve the tests and now their offices were closed.

I would have been angry about the mix-up in light of the urgency, and then mad at myself for being upset over something we encounter fairly frequently when tests are ordered. Waking up from a nap to hear about it wasn't upsetting at all, because Jennifer said, "The important thing is someone will try to find out what's wrong with me, and I'm not sick as a sign of being crazy. It's something they can fix when they find out what it is!" 

I'm relieved for the help received when I found myself helpless.

No comments:

Post a Comment