Friday, February 20, 2009

A rant question...

I had a full-fledged rant ready to post, but I am going to spare you, and instead just ask you a question.

What would you do if someone in your family was very, very sick and their family was in denial or just didn't want to take time out of their "busy" lives to do something about it.

Here's the scenario:

N, has surgery for something her brother (and best friend) J had surgery for (and died from), less than a month before. In the course of her recovery, N becomes depressed and increasingly incoherant. Partly because she is grieving for J and partly because she has had to move out of the apartment she has lived in for 25 years and into a residential care facility.

The course of her depression leads her to develop what her caretakers believe to be bulimia or something very similar. The condition goes on for nearly 2 months and N is literally starving to death and getting more and more confused as the days progress. There is nothing else physically wrong with N, she just throws up everything she eats (and has been observed sticking her finger down her throat).

If you were someone who had visited N twice a day during this time and had witnessed her illness progressing, would you contact the immediate family and suggest that they call in psychiatric help?

As you may have guessed, I did that very thing and was told by the family spokeswoman that N was just fine, that her only remaining brother, also N, had been to see her on a regular basis and had said that she was eating and coherant enough to make he own medical decisions. She made it very clear that my input was unwelcome.

To me it seemed that they were willing to just let her die without fighting to help her get well.

It seemed her doctor felt as I did, he saw her this morning and immediately admitted her to the hospital.

So tell me, would you have given the family your 2 cents worth, or would you have kept quiet?


threecollie said...

You did the right thing, no question about it

Lynne said...

You did EXACTLY the right thing.

Ponita said...

As a nurse, my first question is, 'why did the staff and doctor take so long to admit her to hospital???'

You did the proper thing, Laurie... no question in my mind. Good on you, girl.

Ginnie said...

I'm a little confused as to if you are part of the immediate family. If you are then you can certainly state your concerns. Otherwise it gets a little murky and I think I might have expressed my alarm to the professionals (Dr's etc.)who were following her in the care facility. (I know from experience that there are often not enough doctors for the amount of patients in those care facilities and a patient can get lost in the shuffle and you need to make your concerns known....LOUDLY !) Good for the Dr. to put her in the hospital.

Ur-spo said...

Laurie I get this all the time

People watching their loved ones go to the Devil and either they or the people who should care end up doing nothing.

In a case where you feel damned if you do (tell) and damned if you don't (let her go) always go for what you feel is right - and I know you did the right thing.

Good for you.

Anonymous said...

I've kind of been on the other end of it.

My brother is bipolar. When he goes off his medication, which is about twice a year, we get flurries of paranoid and delusional phone calls.

When my sister found out, suddenly she became the Resident Expert on Everything, and was very accusatory with me:

"Have you tried to have him committed?"
"Well, have you tried this?"
"Well, have you tried that?"

It was very upsetting to me.

You did the right thing by speaking up, but it is very, very, difficult to get help for someone who doesn't want it. If the family had already been through all this with someone less tactful, they might respond by quickly shutting you down. It's just a sad situation for everybody.

(Of course, the usual caveat applies: I might be wrong about everything.)

Squirl said...

I'm wondering about the professionals in the facility where she was. They were the ones who saw her regularly and should have been communicating with the family.

catnapping said...

You did exactly the right thing. Thank god this woman had someone who cared about her enough to light a fire under the staff at (I hate long-term care facilities. They're almost always for-profit, and they matter of policy...cut corners that endanger their residents.

brava, Laurie. You were right on.

TigerYogiji said...

I agree that you did the right thing, but, I am unclear as to your relationship with these people as well.

If they're family, then blast them! If not, then keep quiet. :)

wd said...

You did absolutely the right thing. . . those who are close to the situation(s) sometimes can't see what's happening or won't see it. Either way, you were absolutely right!! We are responsible to do what is in our mind, the right thing - their response to it is not our problem.
(HUGE bear hug) ...b

Laurie said...

Thanks for your more than kind comments. The woman in question is my mother's only remaining sister. I am related to all of those in question, which is why I butted-in in the first place.

As for the care she is receiving at the facility, I think it is easy for people who don't have anyone to advocate for them to get lost in the shuffle, but a few of the staff made it known to me that they thought she should be admitted quickly and I thank them for that.

Aunt N is at the hospital, on IV's. They are trying to get her to eat, but it is slow going.

She may have lost her will to live, I don't know...she never indicated it to me in the fifty or sixty times I sat with her in her room. I just didn't want her to go down without a fight.

Big hugs to all...


Dave said...

I agree that you did the correct thing in letting the medical staff know. If the family has disowned you then they have painted a picture that only defines them as individuals who have a lot to learn about love. I would continue to love them from afar and when if they are ready to communicate with you then so be it. Just know that you have gone that extra step (one full of love) to help a friend. You have learned and taught a lesson here. That is what our journey is about.