(Lack Of) Senior Care

 I am SO TIRED of people stressing out/making life difficult for my parents...which in turn stresses me out!    People and companies that CLAIM to be helpful, but in reality...

So this post is about MY experience and the experiences my parents have recently had, but the thing is I don't think it ONLY applies to them.  I am sure for every story and rant that I am about to put down, there are hundreds (thousands?  Millions?) of other similar ones out there.  It's time they were heard.

My father has been in chronic pain for several years.  Among other ailments like neuropathy, he has spinal stenosis which gets worse every day.  A year or so ago, his pain was so bad that he was no longer able to sleep in bed at night.  He started sleeping in a chair.  In mid-2020 he ordered a sleep chair (Google it).  Supposedly individually made in the U.S.A.  It had a 12 week delivery time.  Well, we are in the middle of a pandemic, so that 12 weeks became 16 and so on.  The chair finally arrived on a Saturday in January 2021 (Saturday, January 9th I believe; as I was down there at the time) and was installed by a lovely couple.  They carefully brought it in, set it up and all was well with the world.  It had a lifetime guarantee...how long do you think it lasted?

If you guessed 7-8 months you would be correct.  So my dad called and was told someone would be out to fix it.  A month or so goes by and someone does come out.  He doesn't fix it...he just confirms that it has been broken.  For other a month my dad is sleeping in a broken chair and this guy confirms that it is broken...great.  The guy says he'll put in an emergency request for repair.  However it turns out it CAN'T be repaired, but they WILL replace it.  Several more months go by before they are finally told that a new chair will be delivered on Friday, November 26th.  (Yes, that was the day after Thanksgiving...I didn't believe it.)

Late Friday afternoon an 18 wheeler shows up on my parent's little cul-de-sac.  Two guys say they will bring in the chair, but they will NOT install it NOR will they take away the old one.  (My parents have a very small house...two chairs would NOT fit in this room...they are large chairs and the room is small.)  I wasn't there (and I wish I had been because I would have recorded the whole thing for the world to see/hear), but apparently after my mother finally broke down in tears and she PAID them extra, they took the old one away and miraculously learned how to install the new one.  Was this fraud?  Was this coercion?  You tell me...I have yet to see the chair (which is NOT the same as the old one and my father says it's not as comfortable), but I will when I go down next week.

Or  IF I go down next week.  Because I planned on going down and I took Tuesday off because my father was/is SUPPOSED to have a procedure that could relieve some of his pain.  After years of tests and a plethora of doctors, one doctor (who I met) thinks that putting a spacer in between two vertebra will help (because there is no disc there any more so the bone is on bone/nerve).  I can't explain it, but this kind of does:  https://spinalsimplicity.com/minuteman/.  I'll be honest, I am not a fan of this doctor's personality, but I do think he knows what he's talking about and what he's doing.  (He showed us the images and I could see what the issue was.)  However, before he could have the procedure done he needed to get approval from his PCP, get some bloodwork/chest x-ray and get an EKG and approval from the cardiologist.  I was there when they met with the PCP who saw the amount of pain my father is in and said there was no way he WOULDN'T approve it.  My dad went to get the blood work and x-ray.  He went to the cardiologist and got his EKG.  Everything was done, but...

Yesterday (less than a week before the procedure), the spine doctor's office called to say they would have to cancel because the cardiologist had not signed off on it.  The office says they will hold off cancellation until Monday (the day before the procedure) if they can get the cardiologist's approval.  However, the cardiologist's office is closed for the day and there was NO way to get in touch with them and none of this makes sense as when my father had the EKG he spoke with the cardiologist and mentioned the surgery and no one said ANYTHING about it being a problem.

So this morning my mother drove over to the cardiologist's office to try and get this resolved.  To say that she was stressed out is putting it mildly.  Of course the doctor wasn't in, but she DID get in to see her cardiologist who was not incredibly helpful, but after she cried again (is this good for a woman with heart issues?), provided a high risk clearance, which I am praying the spine doctor will accept.  (Of course I have to trust that the cardiologist's office will actually follow through and email [fax?] the information to the spine doctor's office.)

So here we are...just a few days before the procedure that could help my father.  It could help my mother since she has to help care for my father.  It could help me because I'm trying to take care of both of them.  It could help all the people who love and care for my parents.  And yet it seems like all the cardiologist and his office want to do is play CYA (Cover Your...)  

Yes, there is risk associated with this.  I don't think it's a high as they do.  I have seen the quality of life my father has...or the lack there of due to this issue.  Clearly, the cardiologist does not or choses to ignore it.  In either case, he and his office are doing more harm than good when it comes to my parents’ health, which I cannot understand.

As upset and frustrated as all of us are with this situation, what upsets me (and frustrates me) even more is the knowledge that this is just OUR story.  I KNOW that there are many others like it out there.  How can this be?  WHY is this?  And what can we do to fix this?

(Note I have NOT included the name of any of the physician’s practices in this post on purpose.  Ask and I will tell...or I may update at a later time.  Because I will not be silent when it comes to lack of care.)

UPDATE:  The HIGH Risk for moderate procedure was not enough for the spine institute, so he will NOT be getting any relief.  The Cardiologist INSISTS on a nuclear stress test (because he can't walk so how could he do a regular stress test) which my father will have Monday afternoon...supposedly at 1:30, but the office is always at least an hour behind.  Then, MAYBE they will clear him and they can reschedule the procedure for another time.  To me this says that the cardiologist and the group does NOT care about my father's pain...and it is killing him NOT to get relief.  So much for do no harm...We are all DEVASTATED.


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