Girls Write Out
Friday, July 29, 2011
Nearly all of us go through this awful time of life at least once, usually twice or more--and that is losing a loved one. I can't actually say yet whether I'm losing my mother, or whether she'll be home next week ready to get back to living. God knows. I don't. The doctors don't. I wish I knew more.

God has blessed me in a very special way by putting an ER doc in my life so when I have questions or am frightened or don't know what kind of decision to make about my mother's care (I'm an only child) Mel can guide me and comfort me. God has also blessed me with you girls, who support and love and encourage. What blessings you are. I do have things for which to thank God, and I need to remember that more often.

The question I have for you today, however, is how do I get the answers I need about my mother's care? I realize her surgeon and the hospital resident can put their heads together for some good ideas. I'm also in awe of the nurses who see Mom more intimately on a daily basis, and they will speak with the docs about her behavior and the need she has to grow strong again and fight the awful contamination inside her body after the tumor surgery.

I've found, however, that even though I have power of attorney about Mom's care, I can walk to the nurse's station and stutter and hesitate and forget what questions I needed to ask about her situation. I need to know if her tumor was cancer. For goodness' sake, it's been a week since the surgery. Why no results of the biopsy? So I depend on Mel to ask the medical questions. I'm too meek.

Any ideas? Mel can get the answers by asking a few questions, where they look at me at times as if I had no right to Mom's medical situation. What do you do to get questions. Are you bashful like me, afraid to offend? Or like Colleen, do you stride into the nurse's station and grab someone by the lapel and squeeze answers out of her? And if you do that, HOW do you find the strength to do that? I mean, catching Mom's surgeon when he comes by to check on her? Ha! It doesn't happen. I could camp out there from midnight to the next midnight, and he would show up for four seconds during my time in the bathroom. WHAT am I doing wrong? Tell me, please, before I lose all control and run screaming through the hallways in a rage?

Any help there? Please?
And while you're at it, would you please pray for my mother, Lorene Cook?

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Hannah Alexander  
posted at 1:16 AM  
  Comments (28)
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At 6:23 AM, Blogger jel said...

you both are in my prayers!

I'm more of a mouse , then a lion.
so can't give any advice,

I'm glad ya got Mel, by your side!

At 9:31 AM, Blogger Sandie said...

Catching a doctor in a hospital is, as you say, difficult at best. I also find that unless you are a "lion" they just tell you we'll check with the doctor (which though the intention is good, the answers are never forthcoming). The thing to ask is "is the doctor in the hospital RIGHT NOW" and I'd like to consult with him please RIGHT NOW. They know where the doctors are. It might also be possible to set up a scheduled meeting with her care managers to get answers - write down your questions as you think of them. I find that even in today's world, the man gets answers quicker than a woman. Your husband may also know which questions to ask since he is in the medical field.

If all else fails, I have seen my sister gets answers from men by saying she is truly perplexed when it comes to "these" matters whatever they are and they explain in fine detail what she wants to know. :-) We are not spring chickens so no flashing shapely legs. LOL She is in her 70s and I am 58.

I can add that in a clinical setting, I'm not above walking over to the nurse's desk and asking when they are going to get to us after waiting what I consider too long for an appointment. In a hospital setting it's not always easy to figure out WHO to talk to, but I've done that too.

At 10:37 AM, Blogger Colleen Coble said...

I always write down my questions. Then I don't forget. And I'm confident and pleasant, smiling a lot. I usually go to the nurse and ask if the doctor is on the floor yet. She'll say yes or no. I tell her I need to talk to him when he arrives. If I'm not in the room, call me. And I give her my cell phone.

I know doctors make their rounds early so I get to the hospital at the crack of dawn. When Dave had surgery, I was there by 6:30 just in case.

At 11:30 AM, Blogger Ruth said...

I can't speak from personal mother-daughter experience, but I did see my mom & aunt go through this with their mother, my grandma. And it was TOUGH. I can only echo what others have said - jotting down questions (and maybe answers - small pocket notebook?) could help keep things straight, and persistence. My mom is NOT an out-going personality, but the situation w/ her mother did, I know, force her out of her comfort zone at times. Tag-team with your husband to keep after answers and/or help, and don't let a short answer cause you to retreat. Praying for you & your mom!

At 1:22 PM, Blogger Hannah Alexander said...

Thanks, girls. I appreciate the advice. I took it! I called the doctor's office and spoke with the nurse. No need to wait for the doctor, because the nurse was perfectly willing to talk to me, knowing I have power of attorney. Mom's tumor was an unpronounceable name, but it was not cancer. Now to get the feeding tube out of her nose and get her OUT of that hospital!!!

At 1:31 PM, Blogger Sandie said...

That's good news! I hope she is released soon and can get back to her normal activities.

At 1:39 PM, Blogger Hannah Alexander said...

Now to get the infection out of her system. Thanks, girls!

At 4:06 PM, Blogger Misty Henry said...

Colleen, I just was recently introduced to your books, starting with The Rock Harbor series-I was given four of your books as a gift-and it has left me thirsty for more! So, I began seeing if I could find you on the web, and was glad to find there IS more. Will be looking for your other books. Then, I found your blog-and your entry about your mom. It has left me crying-I lost my own mother 8 years ago. I did note you say you do not know yet if you are losing her at this stage, but know that God in His Infinite Wisdom will find a way to see you through this, I promise. I can't say it ever gets easier, but maybe more bearable. I'm going to be praying for you and your mom. God bless you both.

At 4:29 PM, Blogger Hannah Alexander said...

Hey, Misty, I'll take that! Thanks. It isn't Colleen's mother who's sick, it's mine, but I'm glad you share my passion for Colleen's books! My mom's still fighting to get well, so prayers are very much appreciated!

At 9:18 AM, Blogger Ane Mulligan said...

Praying for you and your mom, Cheryl! I'm afraid I'm like you, fearful of offending. I wish I were more like Colleen. :o\

At 12:19 PM, Blogger Hannah Alexander said...

Ane, that's why Colleen's been emailing and calling me so much, so I'll have the courage to get the news I need. It's helped, too. Mom did have a little cancer in her appendix, but nothing spread. Even then, Colleen looked it up! And she let me know that was very slow growing. Who but Colleen, huh? Gotta love her!

Thanks so much for your prayers. I want that stinking feeding tube out of her nose.

At 12:55 PM, Blogger whaydock said...

I went through this same thing with my mother 12 years ago. I agree you need to write down your questions and don't be afraid to ask. After my mom had her heart surgery and went into a not comatose state, but not herself, the doctors were quick to think "oh this lady isn't going to get any better, we need to find her a nursing home". Well needless to say, I didn't give up hope and kept badgering them saying this isn't my mom, I know she can get better. I was vigilant going everyday with my then 3 month old daughter to visit. My daughter, Hannah, was the only one who could get any response from her. She would smile at Hannah. Anyway, a long story paid off to keep an eye on what was going on. She recovered from that surgery after a 6 week hospital stay. She came home to her own house and was with us sadly only another 16 months, but it was 16 months we wouldn't have had otherwise. I'll pray for you and your mother.
BTW...I have read quite a few of your books and really enjoyed them. ☺

At 2:07 PM, Blogger Hannah Alexander said...

Whaydock--I would love to know where that nickname came from--thank you so much for that encouragement. It hasn't been two weeks since we took Mom to the ER initially, so there's hope, I know. I called the nurse this morning and I got one of the good nurses who is very helpful with information. On my way there now. And I'm thrilled you enjoyed my books. Blessings!

At 4:55 PM, Blogger whaydock said...

My first name is Wendy and Haydock is my last name. :)

At 7:45 PM, Blogger Jackie S. said...

Prayers going up for your Mom and you!!!!

At 8:30 PM, Blogger Hannah Alexander said...

Aha. Whaydock. And mine is chodde. Cheryl Hodde--when it isn't Hannah Alexander.

Thanks for the prayers, Jackie. Mom was doing some better today, and she had one of the helpful nurses that isn't afraid to tell me what I want to know.

At 10:13 PM, Blogger jel said...

glad your mom, is some better today!

At 10:32 PM, Blogger Hannah Alexander said...

Thanks, Jel. I got a call from the hospital tonight, and she didn't know where she was and thought someone had kidnapped her off the street. By the time I returned the call she was asleep.

At 10:37 PM, Blogger jel said...

hope she get's a good night sleep!

and that she know's that she ok in the morning.

At 11:26 PM, Blogger Hannah Alexander said...

Thank you, Jel. Me too.

At 7:55 AM, Blogger Sandie said...

Sometimes medication will cause seniors to go loopy. They react differently to meds than even they themselves reacted when younger. This has happened to my mom twice. Removing the med brought her back to normal. Also, if your mom had anesthesia that sometimes will cause a reaction in the elderly of that type. My FIL had that type of reaction - was seeing things that weren't there etc. Hospital personnel should be aware of that though they do have to let you know what's going on, that is covering themselves. :-)

At 12:25 PM, Blogger Hannah Alexander said...

Sandie, I'm so glad you told me that! I got two calls last night--one of them at 2 am, and was wondering what on earth they thought I could do about it at that time of night when I live an hour away. I'm sure glad I have my ringer turned off at night. Mom has dementia, so she wakes up in a strange place and is frightened. She's asked me every day, sometimes several times, where she is. She trusts me. She doesn't trust strangers.

At 7:21 PM, Blogger Katy McKenna said...

Cheryl, I am late to comment, but wanted to add a few words. I was my mother's caretaker for 10 years. She lived first in assisted living and finally in a nursing home, with dozens of hospital stays for illness, disease, and broken bones during that time. I am strongly considering writing an e-book on the subject of advocating for a loved one, based on what I learned the VERY hard way. :)

1. These days, most patients in hospitals are seen by "hospitalists," who are employed by the hospital. They are there all day, moving from floor to floor, but should be available to answer your questions when YOU are there, or by phone. Of course, your mom's surgeon or other specialists may make rounds early in the morning. I always make sure there is a sticky note in the front of my patient's chart, with my home and cell phones listed. I ask the doctor to call me WHILE he/she is in the room with my loved one, if I am not there. They will do this, no problem, as long as they see your request! It saves them from having to take the call later, at their office when they are seeing patients.

2. As power of attorney, you have access to your mother's chart/medical records. Rather than wait to find out results, etc, if you want to read this information, you are entitled to it upon your request.

3. If you have any difficulties with the staff at the nurse's station, you have several alternatives to dealing with someone who is not forthcoming with information or is unfriendly or intimidating. The social worker assigned to your mother is someone you should attempt to become allies with. They are not all great at what they do, but some are excellent and can act as effective go-betweens when you are not getting the help you need. They are employed to act as intermediaries between the hospital and any nursing home your loved one may have to spend time in, and also between family members and other staff members. In addition, each floor has a nurse manager, to whom you can appeal if you cannot get the satisfaction you need. I have had excellent outcomes dealing with nurse managers when I could not get anywhere with the regular nurses. In fact, my MIL would not be with us today of not for a nurse manager. MIL's doctor had decided to discharge her inappropriately, without arriving at a diagnosis for her nightly spikes of fever, etc. I could not accept that this was the correct course. I went to the nurse manager and described her symptoms in detail. I also had in my hot little fist (thanks to the Internet) a list of possible disease processes that could cause her symptoms. I said, "Has she been checked for this? For this? For this?" In every case, the nurse manager said, "No." Finally, she said, "I think we need to get a consult with an infectious disease doctor." YES. MIL had horrible abscesses throughout her abdomen, adhering to vital organs. Without surgery, said the infectious disease doc, she would be dead in 3 days. That was 6 years ago.

Again, finding the staff members who can truly help you is key. They are there! You can use the people skills you have in place (you do not need to be an extrovert!) to accomplish what needs to happen on your mom's behalf.

BTW, I was wondering since your mom is fighting an infection if an infectious disease doc has been consulted. They can be invaluable in helping to resolve such a situation.

Much love to you and prayers for you, also!!

At 7:43 PM, Blogger Sandie said...

I hope you write that ebook, Katy. It sure would be helpful to a lot of folks.

At 7:49 PM, Blogger Katy McKenna said...

Sandie, Thank you! Your comments were very helpful. YES about the effects of medication upon the elderly brain. And when the patient is also demented, that just complicates the issue. PLUS, infection can cause increased disorientation, delusions, slurred speech, and hallucinations, especially if the infection were to get into the blood.

At 11:22 PM, Blogger Hannah Alexander said...

Katy and Sandie, you girls are so full of helpful info! I've also discovered that calling the nurse's station when I'm not there is a good way to get information. I called the surgeon's office last week and his nurse gave me all the information I needed. He now believes the infection is MRSA, and the test is being done now. Mom's in isolation as of this afternoon, though I can still be with her every day, and she's actually doing very much better. Mel says the MRSA they're suspecting is easy to treat with antibiotics and he thinks she'll be home by the end of the week.

I found that when the staff sees me there every day, they go out of their way to see that I'm okay, too. And we've been taking them Krispy Kremes and chocolate and coffee the past couple of days. That perks people up!

Katy, definitely write that book!

At 6:47 AM, Blogger Katy McKenna said...

Oh, yeah, TREATS!!! Krispy Kremes are the best. Nurses love (like everyone else) being appreciated and taking them yummy stuff is a wonderful idea. I am so glad your mom is improving, Cheryl. Sounds like things are really moving in the right direction. :)

At 1:40 PM, Blogger Hannah Alexander said...

Yep, moving in the right direction! Now to figure out what to give the staff today. I gave them chocolate and coffee and chunks of melon Sunday, Krispy Kremes hot from the oil yesterday. i plan to give them a bunch of books and "Cookies by Design" on the day we bring Mom home. Or maybe an edible bouquet...


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The Authors
Kristin Billerbeck
Kristin Billerbeck is a proud Californian, wife, mother of four, and connoisseur of the irrelevant. She writes Christian Chick Lit; where she finds need for most of the useless facts lulling about in her head.

Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble writes romantic suspense with a strong atmospheric element. A lovable animal of some kind--usually a dog--always populates her novels. She can be bribed with DeBrand mocha truffles.

Denise Hunter

Denise Hunter writes women's fiction and love stories with a strong emotional element. Her husband says he provides her with all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too.

Diann Hunt

Diann Hunt writes romantic comedy and humorous women's fiction. She has been happily married forever, loves her family, chocolate, her friends, chocolate, her dog, and well, chocolate.

Hannah Alexander

Cheryl Hodde writes romantic medical suspense under the pen name of Hannah Alexander, using all the input she can get from her husband, Mel, for the medical expertise. For fun she hikes and reads. Out of guilt, she rescues discarded cats. She and Mel are presently taking orders from four pampered strays.

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