So what do you do when your mother falls, breaks a hip and is scheduled for surgery (partial hip replacement) while you’re on vacation? Yes, you book a flight and go! And unfortunately leave spouse and friends behind to party on the beach.
What might you find?
In my case my two brothers. My mom has with my younger brother for 4 years and was in the process of unpacking the moving truck in their new place when she fell. My older brother had already arrived an had circled the wagon around the medical center and were formulating a plan to keep her company and stem the worrisome thoughts about whether or not she was going to be a burden to any one of us.
Surgery finally occurred, but what next?
The multiple options for Medicare vs IPO vs HMO craziness that has affected us is absolutely ridiculous. I am grateful for my brothers who are willing to talk about what is best for mom and doing our best to lay our now egos aside. Because she has been so independent, we hadn’t given a lot of thought about some of her medical care decisions and whether we might be been able to counsel her or at least help her through the paperwork.
For years she had tracked and accounted for the numerous drugs, procedures and doctor appointments for my dad. All including 2 spinal fusions and a intrathecal pump for pain due to chronic back pain. Pancreatic cancer, along with a fall 6 weeks prior, is what I believe pushed my father to his mortal edge. But that did not preclude my mother from charting and verifying nearly everything that he consumed nearly to the end.
So why is this so difficult? Why is it such a struggle to connect the right care, people and facilities when you are in the midst of a crisis with your elder parent, uncle or even your spouse? And what to do?
Here are some thoughts:
- Have the tough conversations: yes, talk to each other about dying and what you want, where you think you are going and what you most regret. Be real and honest about your thoughts and allow each other to find peace with your own reality.
- Ask your parents or aged love one about their insurance and choices they have made, but don’t be an ass and think you are right. They are still adults and can still make their own choices. Just because they don’t need long term or skilled nursing care now, what does your coverage include?
- Get smart about Medicare benefits in your state or the state where your loved one lives(hyperlink: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/navigating-health-insurance)
- Pay attention to reviews about long term care facilities (i.e. nursing homes) and skilled care facilities. and home services.
- Appreciate your friends in the medical field, especially the CNAs (certified nursing assistants), housekeeping staff and others who bear much of the heavy lifting when it comes to actually operating any medical center, care facility or hospital. If they aren’t able to do their job, infection and other issues could actually be the reason things go wrong. Many of them work double shifts and are the ones keeping the lights on.
- Seriously, hug a nurse and especially a doctor who will take you call and who hasn’t decided to drop out of the profession because the malpractice insurance is so astronomical that they are now a barista at Starbucks. Talk to your employer about long term care and know more about what is covered.
- Ask your kids what it would be like to wipe someone else’s bottom, I am serious. We have to learn to care for each other, not just when we are 6, 7, 10 months old when that baby bottom is so adorable. Those old and weary butts have carried your ass through so much. If they were willing to bring you into this world what can you do for them? Teach your children well because they may be doing the same for you someday.
- Keep in touch, not just a “hey how’s it going?” phone call, but really connect.
- Love, live and find a way to make your loved ones special. Doesn’t matter whether they are 2 months, 10 years old or 93 and beyond.
There is so much shit that is happening in our world today, I cry almost everyday seeing the anger and disconnect. I am so sad and worried that this world will cycle into a crazy shitstorm. Please hug your mamma, daddy, brother sister or your babies. Whether you birthed them or they birthed you. Please connect and know that life is more than just you and me and I hope we all can make a difference.