Bad Timing

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The medical issues this family has had over the past two years have been troublesome. I was hoping that at some point I would be able to write in detail here about Dad’s death last year, but there are some outside considerations that are preventing me from saying much about what happened to him. For now, I drive past the hospital where he died (and where I was born so long ago) every time I go to and from work, and every time I see where the ambulances pull up, I can’t help but remember what it was like that February day as I tailed behind the ambulance in Dad’s GMC Safari, waited in the lobby and then in a waiting room for the family to arrive, and then getting the news. Those first few times I drove past the hospital it was almost unbearable, and while I’ve gotten better at handling my emotions as I drive by there, it’s still a painful reminder of what happened to Dad.

You can imagine my terror, then, when last month Mom asked me to call an ambulance for her, and like Dad, she had to be taken out of here on a stretcher. Thankfully Mom just had a bad attack of diverticulitis, and after a week in the hospital she was able to come home. However, most of that week she was doped up on morphine to help her handle the pain in her abdomen, and she didn’t even want me to come see her because she was so embarrassed about her condition. For my part, I spent a week in the house alone here, and even though I knew Mom’s diverticulitis, I couldn’t help but remember that a few years ago her mother recovered from a stroke at a hospital, but then at the hospital she contracted pneumonia and soon died from that. I guess that week was kind of a little test for me to see how I would handle living on my own if I were thrust into that situation, and while I took care of the things that needed taking care of around the house, emotionally I was kind of a wreck.

Things would be bad enough if we stopped there, but shortly after my trip to the emergency room with Mom, my left eye started turning red and painful. My original thought was that I’d gotten pinkeye by touching something germ-ridden in the hospital and then touching my eye, but when I went to the doctor I was told that I had a scratched cornea. The doctor said he’d call an ophthalmologist who would call me to set up an appointment, but I never got that call, so I had to search out an eye doctor on my own. This past week I had two appointments, during which I found out that I actually have an ulcer on my left cornea. Apparently my rosacea leads to my eyelids getting infected, which in turn led to the ulcer, although I’m guessing that the stress of Mom’s hospitalization probably had a big hand to do with it as well. If I’d known that rosacea could lead to problems like these, I would have gotten mine treated a long time ago; on all those commercials for anti-rosacea drugs they make it sound like it’s just a cosmetic problem, and to be blunt, I couldn’t care less about red patches on my face. I am not a physically attractive person, I have never been one, I never will be one, and that’s just fine by me. For now I’ve got to put very expensive eye drops and ointment into my eye several times a day, and I have a follow-up appointment next week to see how this course of treatment is working. I can only hope that I don’t need to take more drastic action to get my eye fixed, because for all of my physical problems, the one thing I always had was sharp 20/20 vision, and it’s kind of scary not to have that any longer.

The punch line to all of this is that Mom’s 64 years old, and of course I don’t have health insurance because I’m still only working part-time (although I just picked up another online teaching gig), so we’re having to pay for all of this ourselves. If we’d just waited a year for all of this to happen, Mom would have had Medicare, and maybe I could have gotten affordable health insurance. We’re working out how to pay for this, and we probably won’t need outside help to do so, but did we have to become poster children for the problems with the health care system in this country at a time like this?

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