Thursday, December 27, 2007

Granny Dump

It happens every day, but is never more poignant than over the holidays. Families from afar visit Grandma or Grandpa to drop off the annual fruit cake to find that the Poor Dears are living in utter squalor and haven't bathed in 2 months. There is not one scrap of food to be found except for a can of peaches that poor arthritic hands can't manage to open; the last refill of medication for heart conditions, hypertension and diabetes hasn't been filled since October.

Well-meaning but clueless families bundle off their confused, dehydrated, foul-smelling relatives to the nearest ER where they procede to make demands, hover over their demented loved one who doesn't know them from Adam, and generally try to make themselves appear loving and caring (as opposed to guilt- ridden). At least until you put them on the spot:

Triage nurse: Do you know what medicines your grandmother (aunt, uncle, etc.) takes?
Loving Family: Well, we brought the bottles. Don't you have her records? Do you have any juice?
Triage nurse: Do you know what medical problems your grandmother is treated for, surgeries, allergies to medication?
Loving Family: I think she is diabetic? Can you get her another pillow and blanket?
Triage nurse: Any idea when she last saw her doctor?
Loving Family: Is there a cafeteria here?
Triage nurse: Does Grandma get any services? VNA, Meals-on-Wheels? Lifeline?
Loving Family: We just don't know. You have to do something, she can't live in that house with nobody to take care of her.

Triage nurse: (innocently). Based on what you have told me about the conditions she is living in, I have to agree. Will she be living with you when she is discharged?

Loving Family: Um, er, well, ah.....Don't worry Grandma, you're in good hands. We will be back later. (Running for the exit)

With Loving Family gone, we get Grandma undressed, cleaned up, made comfortable, hydrated, and diagnostics accomplished. She really is a cute little thing, and becomes something of a favorite in the 8 hours she is with us. Loving Family makes a brief cameo appearance to "check in", leaving their number and disappearing for good.

I really wonder how some people can live with themselves. It sucks to get old

Ho, Ho, HO

Well, Christmas has come and gone, and for once I didn't work one second of it. Not Christmas Eve, not Christmas Day. What a treat it was, and well deserved as I have worked each and every Christmas since I was 13 years old; believe me that was a LONG time ago. I must say I did not miss being in the ER and having to take care of the usual sick and stupid. Actually, on Christmas it is more like the critically ill and the galactically stupid; extremes are the norm.

In addition to not working on the holiday, I am also on break from school until the middle of January, so I had a nice relaxing few days. Returning to work today was a pleasure, right up until Last Call when a member of the Better Living Through Chemistry Club came in with a migraine and demanded the only drugs that work for her: Toradol, Demerol and Phenergan. I work at a couple of ER's in the area so I poked my head in the room just to say hi. Her reaction can best be summed up by a parody of a credit card commercial:
Cost of ER visit to the patient: $Zero
Cost of ER visit to you and I because she has Medicaid: $400.00
Meeting the nurse who took care of your worthless ass last week in another ER: PRICELESS.