Back in the ER again

I’ve had a vested interest in the health care system this year, as some of you may know. Yesterday I got to live out the hospital admissions nightmare that some of you may have read about in the media. We went to the ER yesterday morning around 8 a.m. As of this writing, my mother is still waiting in the ER to be admitted. For those of you keeping score at home, that’s about thirty-one hours and counting.

It’s not just the one hospital that is full either. The ER staff called around – spanning five counties, and there are no beds open within about a 90 minute (drive), or 60 mile radius. And none of that is country driving either, so we’re not talking about 90 minutes of cows – where you wouldn’t expect to find any hospitals. We’re talking about 60 miles of freshly paved suburbia… just the place you’d expect to find a health care bounty.

Let’s hear it for the multiple payor system!

(To be fair, not ALL of the hospital beds are full… just kind my mom needs.)


  1. Hey Richard, Although my mother’s problems trend the opposite (her mind is going while her body remains fit), I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a lot of parallels.

    In some sense it’s been a little easier these last few days because her mind is seemly so far gone, it doesn’t appear she’s suffering. (Although it’s depressing to see “the lights on but nobody home.”) The issue is on the way to being resolved, but I’ll probably be writing about it more later this evening… after the kids go to bed.

    I don’t think we’ve had as much caregiver related stress as you may have… simply because her mental condition was so poor it didn’t lend itself to outpatient care. She’s spent a lot of time in hospitals and assisted living facilities (*ALF for short), so we’ve gotten a bit of a break from time to time. My dad’s really the one that’s shouldered most of the burden, and he’s the quiet, independent type that doesn’t accept assistance easily (like I’m all that different!). We’ve been having him over for dinner, but it’s frustrating seeing two people suffering; and either not being able to help, or not being allowed to help.

    *I’m not sure if ALFs are big in Canada… in the U.S. it’s a cross between independent apartment living, and full service nursing (home) care.

  2. I guess you know that I’ve been there. I know it isn’t easy.

    Mom suffered more than most people could endure, but her mind – and her tongue – were always sharp. But on several occasions, when fatigue and dehydration took their toll, she would start hallucinating wildly. And during these times, she would want to talk to her friends (even dead ones, who dropped by to visit), and she would walk around the house at all hours, no longer aware of the fact that she couldn’t walk without assistance.

    I would cope as best I could, but after two or three days of not being able to sleep, I couldn’t cope. Off to the ER.

    It was so frustrating. She wouldn’t be admitted, and usually the best that I could do was to get them to re-hydrate her intravenously. And we’d be stuck there for 24, or 36, or 48 hours until she came to herself. At least, in a stretcher, with an IV, she’d stop trying to walk around, so I could doze a little.

    So I hope the issue has resolved, and I hope you’re hanging in – or hanging on!

    With Mom, it was a little funny. The things that she saw were bizarre, but she was never bothered by strange things like dead people coming for a spot of tea. I used to develop elaborate scenarios to explain why they were visiting and she seemed to find my convoluted logic satisfying.

    But during one endless ER visit, she was trying to explain to a resident that she had cancer, and it was her fault.

    The doctor wanted to know why.

    She lowered her voice, and whispered conspiratorially, jabbing her thumb in my direction.

    “It’s because when he was a kid, I got that one over there circumcised!

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