Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Granny Bird Award: Those Who Treat All Elders As Children

The Granny Bird Award is one given from time to those who impair or harm the rights and well-being of elders.  This edition goes to those who assume the gray hair and/or a cane or walker is a sign of idiocy and incompetence.

For example, the grocery store employee who says "here, mama, lemme get that for you" instead of  "Ma'am, can I help you with that?".  Or the campaign worker who assumes that you are so old, decrepit, and senile that you won't possibly understand any of the issues so instead just says, "Sorry to have disturbed you."

 Or, as in my case, a doctor who changes or adds a prescription without explaining why the change is necessary and what it will involve.

Some backstory is necessary.  As many of you know I now live in an assisted-living facility (the "Cuckoo's Nest") because I have end-stage COPD and congestive heart failure.  My medications are provided through a hospice organization.  This hospice group has been wonderful to me with visits at least once a week by the nurse case manager and other visits from a spiritual adviser and a physical therapist.  The group has also provided me with a wheel chair, a room oxygen supplier, and a portable oxygen device, all without cost to me.

A while back, a nebulizer suddenly appeared in my room.  The med-tech here said it was from hospice.  When my nurse-case manager showed up for her weekly visit, I asked her about it.  She said it was for a breathing treatment whenever I needed it.  That sounded OK to me, but I didn't figure I'd need it because my current regimen of O2 and my emergency inhaler worked just fine.

What she didn't tell me is that there would no longer be an emergency inhaler for me -- that was what the nebulizer was for.  So what's the big deal?  Well, the inhaler (which I only use first thing in the morning to clear my lungs and last thing at night to facilitate sleep) takes 3 to 4 seconds to use.  The nebulizer treatment takes 10 minutes!  Hey, given my remaining life span, 10 minutes is a big deal!

Not only that, the nebulizer treatment isn't as effective as the inhaler and leaves me with an aching chest.  That may very well be caused by my resentment at having this change being forced on me without any explanation, any warning, or any assurance that if I was unhappy it would be changed. I will cop to that.

But here's the kicker:  the doctor who prescribed the change hadn't examined me (not ever), just signed off on a report from the nurse.

So, when the nurse shows up this week, I'm going to give her an earful, using language much less reserved than that used in this post.

Stay tuned.


I was victorious.  Not only will my inhaler arrive this afternoon,  I also got an apology. She promised to always explain any changes and, just as important,  she promised never to treat me as a a child again.

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Anonymous xan avalon said...

"Every one that doeth evil hateth the light." (I don't usually go with KJV but for this particular verse I will have no other.)

Put this post on your pad and have it ready for when the nurse gets there. Mention how and from whom you got it. Point out that besides your wheelchair and your bed you have a podium, that reaches a diverse group of friends around the country and beyond. That includes poor people, rich people and oh yes, lawyers.

Ask Nurse sweetly what company makes the nebulizer and what her (more likely her employers') relationship with this company is. Mention that one of your legal consultants requested this information.

After this preparation point out that it does not serve the purpose as well as your previous treatment, the inhaler, did. And that it causes you discomfort and reduces your ability to sleep and function.

Let us know the reaction. Companies, even very large ones, hate hate hate a Facebook campaign which mentions their name in a less than favorable light. :)

Cheers and blessings, and have some Pete Seeger playing when she arrives. "Which Side Are You On?" would be a good choice.


10:23 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

I didn't have to pull out the big guns. As soon as I explained why I was angry, she apologised and called the pharmacy to have the inhaler delivered this afternoon.

12:38 PM  

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