Friday, August 12, 2011
I am livid. I am trying to convince myself that things happen for the best, but it's a hard sell.
Flip's neurologist put him on Dilantin a few months ago for severe muscle spasms or seizures. One of the known side effects of this drug is confusion, not really optimal in an Alzheimer's patient, and his symptoms continued to worsen until I got his doctor to wean him off it. She then put him on Gabapentin, also known as Neurontin, which increased both the frequency and intensity of his seizures. The hospital doctors decided that since he wasn't improving, they would triple the dosage. It practically killed him, so I went to his neurologist's office and left her an urgent message. She had him taken off it immediately and ordered an EEG, which was apparently shocking in the amount of full-blown seizure activities it showed. She said the seizures couldn't be left untreated and put him on a third drug called Keppra, jump-starting him with an IV.
Meanwhile, the hospital's case manager had found a nursing home in Berkeley, which is a good distance from our home in San Francisco, especially in traffic, as well as an expensive commute with gas at $4.00/gallon and bridge tolls. I told Flip's neurologist of my reluctance to place him there, and she stopped by his hospital room yesterday on her way to the airport and wrote in his chart that it would be unsafe to move him over the weekend until it is known how he reacts to the new medication. She also ordered another EEG for Monday, which she assumed would buy me a little time to find another place. I arranged to visit the nursing home today anyway, and was about to leave when I got a call from the case manager.
He said they had discharged Flip and arranged for an ambulance to transport him to Berkeley at 3 o'clock. I asked about the EEG ordered for Monday and he said they were doing it today. "It won't show much," I said. "He's only been on the new drug for a day and a half and the last one isn't out of his system yet." "We're doing it anyway," he said. "I wanted to let you know." (Oh, what a good boy am I.) Deceitful turd. I spoke to a nursing care director recently who told me that she used to be a musician, too, but the music business wasn't mean enough. We agreed:Health care is.
I went to the hospital to spend time with Flip before his transfer, and the little creep case manager had his door closed, which is unusual as his room is really a closet. I'm sure he didn't want to run into me. (I have power.) The EEG was done in Flip's bed. I noticed that the abrasion gel hadn't been washed out from the one he had the other day.
The ambulance was an hour late, and it took me an hour and a half to drive there in rush hour Friday traffic. The place is dispiriting, to say the least. Flip shares a small room with an elderly gentleman who has a loud boombox. There are two small cubbies, both on the other man's side of the room, and his large easy chair and table block access to the one for Flip's things. I had packed him a suitcase and also brought a small CD player and some CDs including his own music so he can always remember who he is. There is no room for any of it. I didn't see a bathroom with a sink, only a toilet. I should have taken him camping instead.
His dinner consisted of a sandwich made of either stale bread or toast - it was impossible to tell - with a slice of American cheese inside. Dry. No mustard, no mayo, a small cup of unheated canned tomato soup - how much trouble is it to microwave it for a few seconds? and a "salad" of shredded iceberg lettuce with a dollop of bottled dressing. Dessert was a small cup of canned fruit. There was nothing with any nutritional value at all. He ate a little. I would have passed on all of it. They attach ankle bracelets on the residents so they can't escape.
I have to spring him. Realistically, I can't take care of him alone any longer, and our apartment is too small to have someone else here to help. But I can't leave him there. I just can't. I've told him he is there to recover until he's well enough to come home. I'm not exactly lying because I'm not committed to his being there for the rest of his life. If the place is better than my first impression and he ends up staying there, I will have to move to Berkeley. Then I'll be Heart in Berserkley. But it doesn't have the same ring.
In case my day wasn't perfect enough, I have no hot water. An unhappy plumber arrived at 10:30, but he can't get into the boiler room so it won't be fixed until tomorrow, at best. Sometimes I think God doesn't believe in me.