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.
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.