Help for Healing

Bitter & Sweet, living daily with grief


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Millard Suburban

Part of my new career is talking about death/dying and grief/loss, and part of the goal is to help improve the medical system. I admit, I am hard to please when it comes to hospitals and doctors. It’s not because I’m cynical and picky, but I do honestly believe that our system is very, very broken.

When I went to Punta Cana for four days, so many people told me I needed to go for a whole week. Boy, would I love that. You barely get time to drop your guards down and it’s time to return. But I’m a single mom, a therapist, and I help take care of my dad. I just feel like I can’t be gone longer than that. And sure enough, there was one client emergency and my dad ended up in the hospital. Sigh.

Anyhow, I have to say, I love Millard Suburban Hospital. Dad has been there three times since April. Of course no person or entity is perfect, but I really like these guys. When I got the text about Dad, I started in right away. First I had to handle a situation for Frankie because obviously Dad wouldn’t be staying with him if he was in the hospital. Next was sorting out what was actually going on. Dad does his best to understand the medical stuff, but sometimes things get mixed-up. Everyone who was local was visiting him and trying to talk to doctors, but there was some confusion.

I called the hospital and explained my dilemma of being Dad’s medical advocate (as well as legal and financial) but that I was out of the country. I got a call back from the nurse practitioner. She remembered me and Dad from October’s stay. I immediately felt better. She did her best to explain what was going on. She also said he was stable and I didn’t need to get on a plane and come home. She also said she would call every day and let me know if there was any change.

She did exactly that. She even remembered to say “Happy Birthday” in her message on the day of my actual birthday. (She is turning 50 this year too!) She also had the surgeon call me directly. He explained things to me even further. He was able to clarify some of the more confusing aspects of what was happening, which turned out really just to be a clarification of terms. I told him that I was returning home Tuesday night but not until midnight. I asked if there was any way to keep Dad there until Wednesday so he was not released to his apartment where he lives alone. No problem.

He did exactly that.

I really appreciate this hospital. I figure I do enough complaining about all the bad stuff that happens, I wanted to acknowledge the good stuff that happens. I think I would like to go there if I ever have the need to be in a hospital. Thank you to all the staff who took such good care of a man who all of his family love very much. And thank you for bothering to care about a 50-year-old who was on a much-needed break. You put my mind at ease, which all the beautiful paradise-like sun in the world couldn’t have done if I was worried about my father. Kudos!

(P.S. For those of you that follow me on Facebook, yes! This is the same surgeon that I met in person when I got home and could barely concentrate because he was so handsome… Just another perk of the hospital!)


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Imbeciles

Part four.

I have to admit, I am tired of writing about this. All three of the previous blogs only covered a little over 24 hours of what happened with my daughter. Every day, I get another email or phone call that makes me hit my head on the wall again. My plan was to give you all the gory details blow-by-blow so you could really follow the events, but I’ve decided just to give you the highlights. Or should I say low-lights?

After driving an hour and a half home from the hospital, we discovered that we were supposed to bring Emily shampoo and other toiletries. We brought her some clothes, only because the mobile unit suggested we put some together for her. The hospital gave us ZERO information. ZERO. We had no idea that we were responsible for bringing her supplies. And we had no idea they wouldn’t give her several of the clothing items Spencer had packed because there are lots of rules and regulations. Can’t have pants or shirts that have a tie on them. Again, just a tiny bit of information WOULD HAVE BEEN VERY VERY VERY HELPFUL. Great Monday.

On Tuesday I called to try to see what the treatment plan was. The nurse was very sympathetic and said the case worker should be contacting us. I told her what a joy that case worker was the day before. Now the nurse was very apologetic. She said she would not only have the case worker call, but also the psychiatrist. (By the way, we never did get a call from the case worker. Not once during the entire time of Emily’s hospitalization. Nice.)

Later that afternoon, Dr. Personality called me. This is how the conversation went.

“Hello, Darcy. I had a message to call you. What is going on?”
“Well, that it is the question I had for you actually. What is happening there?”
“I don’t understand your question.”
“I’m calling to find out what the treatment plan is for my daughter.”
“I don’t understand your question.”

Are you kidding me? Ok, let me spell it out for you.

“Have you diagnosed her yet? Have you started her on medications? Which ones? Is she compliant with taking them? What is her reaction to the drugs? Do you have a discharge plan? Is she doing any kind of therapy while she is there?” DUH.

The arrogant responses came back in full form. “Well, the diagnosis is a psychotic episode.” So we talked about that. I understand she had a psychotic episode. So he put her on Risperdol which is an anti-psychotic drug. Will she stay on that for a while? Yes. Ok. Now I explain to him that we have addressed the symptoms. She had a psychotic break and we have stopped that. Now what about the disease that caused the symptoms?

“I don’t understand your question.”

Ok. Well, I suspect she has Bipolar Disorder because of the strong family history and the manic episode. But she was saying some things that sounded schizophrenic. He said Bipolar more likely, but that isn’t his job. He has no intention of diagnosing her or starting her on meds that address her disease. An outpatient doctor will do all that.

Are you f*****g kidding me? Again, a little information would be helpful.

Their website says they are a full treatment facility with a multi-discipline approach. (I have to always point out that includes family therapy.) However, they are clearly not. They are a stabilizing facility, like most here in NY. Stabilize her and release her. Now that is information I find helpful. Just tell me what your plan is and I can adjust. But you gave me no information and your website is completely false and deceptive.

I then try to enter a dialogue with him about the next step. Should I be researching another type of facility for her? Why would I want to do that he asks me. For about a million reasons. Because Bipolar is an extremely difficult disease to manage. The meds are heavy-duty and take a long time to level out. And you are going to release her back into the environment that stressed her enough to cause a psychotic episode in the first place. I don’t know what the best next step is, but as her advocate and loved one, I would like to have a dialogue with a professional to figure that out.

Here’s the winning statement for Dr. Dreamy.

“Your daughter is not an imbecile or a retard.”

Are you f*****g kidding me?

“Yes doctor, I know. But neither am I. I am a licensed mental health professional and I would appreciate being talked to in that manner.”

Conversation over.

But that wasn’t even the worse part. After we got off the phone, he actually went to my daughter and told her this:
“You need to tell your mother that you aren’t an imbecile. You can make your own decisions and she should stop treating you like a child.”

I am not treating my daughter like a child. I am treating her like she has a mental illness. And apparently I am the only one that understands this in the entire circus.

I’m not sure if you understand the significance of what that doctor did. Besides being politically incorrect and completely unprofessional, he was undermining my relationship with my daughter. My daughter, who has discovered a serious, life-threatening mental illness. I am not trying to be an ass, but I am TRULY THE ONLY PERSON IN HER ENTIRE LIFE THAT HAS THE EDUCATION AND KNOWLEDGE TO TRULY UNDERSTAND AND HELP HER. And that asshole basically told her not to trust me.

I’m so mad all over again just writing it, that I’m going to end here. There is so much more to say but I’ve had enough for today. UNBELIEVABLE.