Adventure In Healthcare

a hospital room (Denmark, 2005)

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I thought I would just start writing (venting) this afternoon while I am trying to put into perspective my mother’s journey into her ill health and subsequent recent surgery.  Over the last year or so, she had made at least six trips to the emergency room with extreme pain in her lower bowel.  On one of those trips she decided to go home and suffer because the emergency room was too crowded and she felt too ill to stay.  My sister took her back home and Mom felt better by the next day.  She has been admitted repeatedly and kept in the hospital for up to a week at a time while the doctors have ordered all kinds of X-rays, MRIs, CAT scans, etc. trying to find out what was the cause of her pain.  She was always sent home with no conclusive diagnosis or advice to her.  She is 84 years old.

However this last time she went to the hospital, and after they had done the same routine tests–that had never found the cause before–she had an attack of pain while in the hospital (they were just about ready to discharge her again) and decided to do an exploratory surgery on her.  So on July11th of last month they opened her up and found a great deal of dense adhesions that had grown into her abdominal wall and parts of her bowel that were in a state of necrosis and disease.  In the doctor’s report that my sisters and I read yesterday, they reported that they had never seen such dense adhesions before and that they couldn’t even tell if she had a gall bladder or not because of the overgrowth of scar tissue.  (Her gall bladder had been removed many years prior).  These adhesions can form from previous bowel operations (which Mom had had about 20 years previous).  So the doctors removed a portion of her diseased small intestine along with the adhesions and were confident that this would relieve her problem.  After a week in the hospital, Mom went to a rehabilitation center for further care and physical therapy to get her strength back before returning home.  My youngest sister came from out of state to be at home with her when she was released from rehab.

Mom had been gaining strength and attended her daily physical therapy treatments for sometimes up to two hours at a time.  She’s a real trooper for her age!  But then she started having these bouts of indigestion and vomiting.  She would try to eat but her meals would not digest.  We didn’t know what to think.

Yesterday she had her routine follow-up appointment with the surgeon who performed the operation on her (two of my sisters and I went with her) and he was very concerned to hear of her continuing problem.  He advised that she go back into the hospital for more tests and X-rays to try to find the cause–he said perhaps there was an obstruction somewhere that they had not seen.  So we took her straight from his office back to the hospital.

So here we go again.  I feel angry that it took so many trips to the hospital (and much needless suffering for my mother and all of her children) for the doctors to find the problem.  What good are MRIs, CAT scans and X-rays if they don’t show you everything?!  And they did the same tests over and over again each time she went in there!

We are praying that they will not need to open her back up and repeat another operation on her.

We also have been horrified at what the rehab center fed to Mom while she was there–all of us kids are into very healthy whole foods (I and my two brothers are vegetarians).  One meal she was served was a “mystery” meat that even Mom couldn’t identify with greasy gravy on it!  This for a woman who just had bowel surgery!  And white bread?  I haven’t eaten white bread since I was a teenager!  We asked Mom if we could request a vegetarian diet for her while in rehab but she said no.  She also loves her sweets and unhealthy snacks.  What to do?

People in the healing industry should know more about nutrition and how to feed people that are trying to regain their strength and energy.  I just don’t get it!  But wait, I do get it–these people are not in the healing industry–they are in the money making business.  Oh, silly me, I forgot!

But of course, Mom has to take a lot of the responsibility for her own predicament.  She is the one who has made the choices that have created the consequences of a low fiber, high sugar, meat-filled diet.  We have tried to no avail to get her to try another way of eating, even going so far as to remove all the junk food from her house during one of her visits to the hospital and replacing them with healthier alternatives.  But before long, there appeared her cookies and snacks again.

It just makes me marvel, that in spite of how crappy you can treat your body–it tries valiantly to keep going!

This scenario actually happened last year.

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  1. So what’s the prognosis? She’s doing well I hope?


  2. She’s doing well, thanks. Her prognosis is that she could have the problem again if the adhesions start developing in there and creating a problem again. So, it’s a “wait and see” kind of situation. So far she’s good.


  3. I too wonder the same sometimes. in earlier times when there was no special equipment to see whats inside a person’s body doctors made better judgment about a person’s condition. Now they make the silliest slips.

    Auntie is lucky to have you as her daughter. You are an adorable being, truly adorable.


    • Doctors won’t often let their intuitive process help them with a diagnosis. Sometimes just a “hunch” may take them in the right direction–even without all their tests–which many times fail to uncover the problem.

      I think Auntie is lucky to have me too! I do my best to watch out for her.

      Thanks so much.


  4. and often that hunch shows them the right path, they can use those tests to confirm it. right?

    she certainly is lucky to have you look after her even in the areas she herself cant.


    • Exactly–you can always affirm your hunches with tests that can confirm the diagnosis.

      I think she knows she’s lucky to have me.

      My sister went back home today but brother is staying indefinitely working on some projects here.


  5. thats marvelous. you will have some company for some days atleast. HOpe you two enjoy a lot.

    how far does saraswati lives from you?


  6. Love having my brother here. He is a wonderfully loving, sweet soul. He drove over to the town today where Saraswati and her sister live to do some work there which is about 1 1/2 hours drive from here. Not too far.


  7. Your daughters live near you. thats great. you are lucky in this regard. 🙂 so are they.


    • Yes, I’m fortunate for that. They love to come here together and go shopping–the shopping isn’t so great where they live. They are fun girls to hang out with. 🙂


  8. Health care is a mixed bag. They seem to wait until things get catastrphic before they really do anything. And often I’ve realized they’re diagnosing by what meds work or don’t work. The food thing is amazing. We always bring food to the hosp. for each other so that we can eat healthy.

    From reading the comments, it sounds like your mom is at least comfortable now. That’s a relief. Know these things are hard on the whole family. In fact, just not easy having an elder in the family. But, it’s not easy not having one either!



  9. Very, very frustrating for me. I went through a lot with my Dad–I’m very proactive and questioning of doctors. My Dad was too–my mother–not at all. I feel like I have become her voice. I think the medical profession is still very limited in their knowledge and awareness in treatments. The allopathic way of healing is in the baby stage in some regards.

    We took food to the rehab center for her and wanted her to at least go on a vegetarian diet while recuperating–just for ease of digestible foods–but she wouldn’t allow it. She got good food when she finally came home because my very conscientious sister cooked for her.

    Thanks for your wonderful support.



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