Thursday, September 18, 2008

Doctor, Doctor!

My grandmother hasn't felt well in weeks - she keeps complaining of a persistent cough. To those around her, the cough doesn't seem that bad, but she insists it is "making me week as a hoot owl" and dragging her down, and I can see that SOMETHING is indeed wearing on her. So I guess it IS the cough. I took her to the doctor a week ago, and he gave her samples of an inhaler for the cough and Nasonex for inflammation in her ears - she really does have something going on there - she can barely hear.

Yesterday was our day to drive to Searcy (30 miles from home) to the cardiologist for a 6-month checkup. I grabbed my purse and phone yesterday morning to head to Mam-ma's, and there was a message on my cell phone. I listened, and it was Dr. B's nurse (family physician), Tammy, asking me to call her. I did, and she started telling me about Mam-ma's blood work from last Thursday and how Dr. B wanted her to take B12. I questioned her, and I could tell she did not like having her whole spiel interrupted, but I said anyway, "Wait a minute... she already gets a B12 shot every 2 weeks." "She does?" Tammy asked... "well, he wants her to continue that. And... he wants her to take folate." I asked what that was, and she said, "It's just folate," again acting irritated that I had interrupted her. I didn't care. "Where do you get this folate?" "At Wal-Mart." "How much does she take?" "Just one per day." "What strength?" "It's just folate... it doesn't have a strength. AND... Dr. B wants her to cut her Lasix back to 20 mg morning and noon." I said, "Just a minute... let me find her list and doublecheck what she is taking now." She said, "If you do that, I will have to put you on hold and answer someone else." I told her to go ahead because we had to get this straight.

Soon enough, she was on the phone again. Mam-ma takes 40 mg in the morning and 20 at noon. The nurse said she was now to take 20 in the morning and 20 at noon. I told her we were on our way to Dr. C's for a checkup, and I would run this all by him. I picked up Mam-ma, and she was all decked out in a peach pantsuit... pants, blouse and cardigan sweater all in peach. Mom bought it for her, and peach is a good color for HER, but not Polly... peach is such a terrible color for her (totally drains the color from her skin), but everyone went on and on today about how beautiful she was in her peach... and of course, she ate that up! She got in the car and said, "I really would rather stay home today!" She had two coughing spells - one getting in the car, and another just before we got to Dixie Cafe. (Since our appointment was for 12:15, and sometimes we can be there a long time, I figured we should eat first, so she wouldn't fade on me!) Mam-ma really "puts on the dog" for Dr. C, so today, we took the fancy PURPLE walker, and after lunch, we had to stop at the bathroom - for her to use the bathroom, wash her hands, AND put on lipstick!*lol*

Anyway, just as we got into Searcy, my cell phone rang, and it was Dr. B's nurse again... she said, "You know, when you asked about the dosage on that folate, that made me wonder, and I went back and looked on her chart again, and I told you wrong. Dr. B doesn't want to add those things - he wants to CHECK them... so we need her to come in for blood work." I told her we were just there last Thursday for blood work, and she said, "I know - that's how he found this and wants to check it. You can just drop by any time tomorrow." I told her it didn't make any sense to me that Dr. B was the one who ORDERED the B12 shots, and now he didn't know she was already TAKING it. She said, "HE knows... I didn't." Again, I told her I would run this all by Dr. C.

Mam-ma was furious... she said, "That makes me so damn mad! Why in the s#!t do they want me to cut down on my lasix when sometimes I can't even pee as it is?" Then she laughed and apologized for being ugly!*lol* But I didn't blame her - drawing blood is hard on her, and I told her not to worry - we would see what Dr. C had to say, but we were NOT having blood drawn two days in a row. I asked the nurse WHY Dr. B was doing this, and she said Mam-ma's creatinine level was a little high.

So, when we got to Dr. C's, I told the receptionist I needed to talk to the nurse before labs were done. They let me come back and talk to the lab nurse, and she said she thought they could justify checking the creatinine and such in their blood work there. Then I explained this all again to the nurse practitioner who interviewed/evaluated Mam-ma - and again to Dr. C. Of course, when he came in, he asked Mam-ma how she had been, and she smiled and shrugged her shoulders and said, "I'm fine!" I wanted to scream! Anyway, I was shaking my head "no" behind her, and she started trying to tell him about her coughing spell and seeing Dr. B in July, and she couldn't think of what she wanted to say, so she nudged me and said, "you tell him." So I did. Really, Dr. C did not address the cough or the not being able to hear; however, he said they would have the blood work back, possibly as early as today, and not to do a thing until he looked at it. He was not in favor of reducing the Lasix, and I was glad.

Mam-ma asked him if he knew about her being in the hospital... and I asked when we were there to see him last - March. So I told him about Easter Sunday and the ER and the high BP, and he made notes, and I told him about the royal mixup on the medicine... we have verified with his office that we are on the same page there now... and I told him about Dr. B ordering the Zithromax dose pack over the phone and Dr. C's nurse suggesting we wait and see if the stomach virus didn't subside on its own (which is what we did) and how Dr. C was not a big fan of the Klonipin that the ER doc prescribed, and Dr. C shook his head no and said... "that is a BAD drug." I told him we did not take that, either, and he was glad. And I added that in fact, Mam-ma was allergic to the Zithromax and should never have even been prescribed it to start with. He just shook his head.

So... he said, "let's just tie a big knot in this rope and hang on. You are doing fine, and your heart is doing great, and I want to keep it that way, so I don't want to change a thing. If I see anything different in the blood work, I will let you know. Otherwise, come back in 6 months, and if you need US in the meantime, don't hesitate to call." Then he walked us out and gave Mam-ma a huge hug, which made her day. I did tell him that even SHE will admit that in the last six months, we can't really put our finger on it, but she has lost some ground... but then she will be 96 in a few weeks. He just nodded his head in agreement. I think it just is what it is. He said a little rise in the creatinine level was no big deal... and that she needs her Lasix... she has not had any swelling in the ankles, etc., in the last 6 months, and that's a good thing. I just do not know what to think about Dr. B.

So Greg and I have discussed it, and I am not even calling Dr. B's office back to tell them we aren't coming. Let them wonder. They won't! I told Dr. C that I had learned that I really have to watch Dr. B and some others and question everything, because I don't feel they are really paying attention to things. I don't think he was real happy to hear all of this. I mean, he has Mam-ma doing sooooo well, and they are just trying to screw things up, it seems. Maybe not, but it seems that way.

So, going and coming, as we passed Kroger, Mam-ma wanted to stop and get Tetley Tea. She LOVES Tetley Tea. She talked about it a lot... she wanted one box for her and one for her friend Ruby - Family Size! I told her that Kroger was on our way as we left, and we would stop. I asked, "So you want two boxes?" She thought a minute and said, "Well I tell you what... just get us each two boxes!" So, nearly $10 later and 4 boxes of Tetley Tea - Family Size - we were ready to roll. Mam-ma said, "I need to give Ruby some money for gas... I'll just give her that tea and say 'there's your gas'." I told her to give Ruby some MONEY, too! She tried to give ME $20 for gas for today, and I told her to give it to Ruby, and she said, "Well, she's a workin' for Gladys today so she will get $50." I told her, "that's good... she can have an extra $20... she takes you lots of places, and she deserves it!"

Good thing we ate lunch first - our appointment was 12:15, and we were 1:15 seeing Dr. C... and out of the office by 1:30!!! Mam-ma would have been weak as a dishrag by then. As it was, she was good and tired and ready to get home.

So today is beauty shop and grocery store, and Friday is "chicken foot" (domino game) at noon at Ruby's. Three cousins from Oklahoma have been trying to come stay a weekend with Mam-ma... they were here back in the summer... and they drug Mam-ma all over Cleburne/White County, to the dance two nights in a row, a gospel singing, and she even gave up her bed one night to them and slept on her couch so they could stay an extra night! She loved it and had a GREAT time, but she has not been the same since - and at times, she has been flat out sick. Of course, just after that is when she put up two bushels of purple hull peas and a bushel of green beans! The cousins had hoped to come this weekend, but Mam-ma just is not well enough. Mam-ma said she was going to insist they wait and come later. I suggested she have them come near her birthday, which isn't that far away. She thought that sounded good. I'm glad she is willing to tell them not to come now - she has too much else going on, and she is not well enough for company.

Oh, and while the nurse was drawing blood, she told Mam-ma that HER ear had been stopped up lately, and she cured it by putting peroxide and oil in it! Mam-ma is going to try that tonight. That is basically what is in the ear wax removal drops... peroxide in an oily base... so maybe that will help! Now I am to the point that I don't trust anything Dr. B has said or done... and Mam-ma insists her inhaler and Nasonex are not working, so maybe her ears just need a good cleaning! I hope this cough clears up soon... she has probably irritated her throat with those "coughing spells," but I can see when she coughs like that for several minutes how it does make her weak and wear her down. I'm just encouraging cough drops and cough syrup and keeping her throat lubricated.

Basically, the day went well overall. Mam-ma was content and did not complain or fuss at me, and it was a BEAUTIFUL early fall day... and of course, we got her tea! :-) I am hoping all is well today, and that "the knot" holds!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

And They Say KIDS Say the Darndest Things!

If you have read the posts on this blog, you know that I drove 30 miles to take my grandmother for her pacemaker check back in June, only to find that the clinic no longer did pacemaker checks at that clinic on that day - they had forgotten to call us. Since we HAD driven 30 miles on gasoline that was almost $4 a gallon, the staff scrambled and found a tech who was shopping nearby, and she came and performed the check. All was well - or so we thought.

In August, we got a note to come to our local hospital for a pacemaker check. I phoned the clinic and asked why we needed another. The person on the other end of the line said, "Oh, I see she has not had a check since last November, and by law, we are required to do a pacemaker check every six months. We are making it more convenient for you by having you get this done at your local hospital." I replied, "But she DID have a check of her pacemaker - June 13th!" The girl shot back, "Well...... we have no record of that... it wasn't billed. That's amazing." Without thinking, I quipped, "No it's not!"

After some investigation, and an explanation by me of the mixup and not being notified not to drive 30 miles for a non-existing appointment - and how a young pregnant woman appeared to do the test - the woman said, "Oh, yes, I know her!" However, there was no record of our being in the clinic - no tape from the pacemaker, no report in the file, and of course, no billing! So, we were required to go for the check at our local hospital, which was no big deal. We went early and enjoyed a delicious meal in the cafeteria (one of the best eateries in our community, hands down!) and then we settled in the comfortable lobby of our new hospital to wait for our appointment.

As the technicians were checking my grandmother's pacemaker, the lead technician said, "Now, if you ever have any questions, please feel free to call me. You have my number. I travel a lot, so if I am not there, just leave a message and I promise, I will call you back." My grandmother looked up at her and said, "Well, I hope I never need to call you, because I don't like to talk on the telephone!" HELLOOOOOOO! This is the same woman who told me earlier in the summer when a storm knocked out her phone service at the pole that "that was the longest three days of my life!" I just didn't say a word. I am not sure I had a suitable comment for that one!

Kids MAY say the darndest things, but our elders can shoot back a few zingers of their own!