Monday, October 17, 2011

It's Just One Person's Opinion...

...but MY opinion is: Kaiser sucks. Seriously. I may have been born at one, but that was over 37 years ago; apparently, times have changed. Or, maybe it's just their treatment of the elderly (I mean no disrespect by the term "elderly", btw... for reference, I'm talking about people over the age of 60).

Two weeks ago, I was headed to my studio (about 40m drive from my house), when my cell rang. My mother was on the other end (she was supposed to be my first client) & told me that she "doesn't feel well", had a call into her doc, & would I mind just doing her nail appt at her house? I thought, "Crap... now SHE'S getting sick on me" (my daughter had just recovered from a mild fever & small cough), but said, "Sure. Let me stop by the salon & grab a few things."

Thirty minutes later, I pulled into the parking lot of the salon and my phone rings again... "Never mind on the nail appointment; I need you to drive me straight to the doc's office." I still had another appointment later, so I had to grab some stuff from my studio, then I drove to mom's condo to pick her up.

I'd only been to her doc's once before, so in between the moans & groans of the pain she was obviously in (she said it was worse than labor pains & giving birth... but I don't actually know what that feels like since technically, I didn't "give birth" -- Princess was emergency C-section), she directed me to her doc's office. Apparently, the doc over the phone thought she possibly had appendicitis; she told mom to go straight to the emergency room if the pain got worse.

We got to the hospital, and I headed toward the area that says "Emergency Room" and "Urgent Care", dropped mom at the doors, and parked my car. I went in to find her getting her vitals taken by the UC guy, who then proceeded to tell me two things. (1) That "hospital" is actually not a hospital, but a "medical center"; they no longer have an ER, and (2) UC doesn't open 'til 2p, but he didn't mind taking her vitals & getting her up to her doc's office (two floors up) while I took care of her co-pay.

I then found her doc's office, where she was in so much pain, she was throwing up (Exorcist-style), but NO ONE would give her pain meds. They didn't know what was wrong (definitely NOT appendicitis), and were not equipped to find out. Someone asked me if I wanted to drive her to the ER (about 20 minutes away, btw) or have them call her an ambulance... um, duh? Ambulances are faster, right? HA!

Almost AN HOUR later, the ambulance arrived; the two techs obviously in no hurry (she's not dying, so they can take their time?!?!). They allowed me to ride with her, and gave her pain meds en-route. No lights, no sirens... We pulled in, they wheeled her to the ER desk, & handed the head nurse her info from her regular doc. She was given a room, and Mark (her nurse for the majority of the day) proceeded to take as good care of her as he could.

Over the course of the next seven hours (!!), they took a blood sample, a urine sample, and made her drink some special concoction to make her insides light up during the CT scan. She had been given doses of morphine, but they weren't very good at keeping up with it. Many hours went by in-between doses (morphine wears off very quickly, so she should have been given doses every couple of hours). She can't take a lot of stronger meds; they make her sick.

Having not planned on being in the ER for (a total of 10) hours, I had only grabbed my purse from my car, so I had my wallet/money, but not snacks & water I usually have on me on all times. By 245p, I was starving, my phone was dead, and mom's was down to 2 cells. I'd been keeping my siblings, husband, & daughter in the loop, along with a bunch of mom's friends.

While she was getting her CT scan, I decide to go to the gift shop to grab some "food" (bags of peanuts & a Snickers bar), which held me over until I got back to my car later that night (it's amazing how your body isn't hungry when you're stressed out). Since, at this point, we had no idea what was wrong, I didn't want to leave her alone for too long.

Making sure Princess was taken to practice, I just waited for the CT results. Mom & I also made a list of who else she wanted me to call, what needed to be canceled, and what stuff she needed me to bring her while she was recovering. They finally brought me a corded phone, so I could finish making all my calls. I also found out why mom wasn't getting her meds within a reasonable time frame... The head nurse NEVER ENTERED HER INTO THE SYSTEM!

At 630p, I called my husband and asked him to come up to the hospital (at that point, I'd be in the waiting room) to drive me back to my car, but to wait until after Princess' practice was done. He asked if I wanted him to grab food for me, but I said no. I just wanted to get back to my car, and get home. Then, they took mom into surgery.

Ace & Princess found me a little after 8p; we drove straight to the Med Center (argh), got my car, and went home. At 945p, I got a call from the head surgeon that mom's surgery went fine; she was in recovery for an hour or two, then would be in a medical observation room for the night. They were going to transfer her to a "regular" room the next morning. I sent update texts to everyone I could think of, asking some of them to pass along the info. By the time I got to bed, it was almost midnight.

The next morning, I sent a few more texts (one in response to my dad, who had texted his concern and asked about mom's health -- apparently, Spook had told him what was going on). Then, I get another call from the surgeon... she had a "bad reaction" to one of the meds they gave her during surgery so she was now in ICU for observation (um, you mean, one of the meds SHE TOLD YOU SHE HAS BAD REACTIONS TO?!?! That info apparently never made it into her chart!) for the day. Argh.

So, I texted/called that update to a bunch of family & friends, and headed in to work (exhausted both mentally & physically). I first stopped at her condo to pick up a few things for her, and her friend Linda met with me there. Linda was going to go visit (she could still have visitors) later that afternoon, and didn't mind taking it with her.

While I was taking care of one of my clients, one of my sisters texted to tell me she'd talked to mom, but thought I should go up to visit. Um, hello? I was in the ER with her for 12 HOURS the day before; she has plenty of friends to visit, & I would be going back (with Princess, along with T's family) on Thursday. I felt like saying (but didn't), "If you think she needs company so badly, YOU come up here!" (She lives in CA.)

Thursday, she'd had a second surgery to stitch her closed permanently. At this point, she was on colored liquids. She could be released when she could tolerate solid foods; as early as Saturday.

That afternoon, after Princess got done with an appointment, we all went up to visit. Since she was still in the ICU ('cuz they didn't have any regular rooms available) at this point, but wasn't critical, we figured they'd bend the rules (no children under age 12, masks & gowns, one at a time, etc), but when we got there, they told T "no kids under 12" (Princess looks a bit older than she is; she didn't have a problem). Bug threw a FIT! "I WANNA SEE GRAMMY!!"

Mom's nurse (down at the end of the hall, in her room) overheard, so as we came in, he said, "I'm gonna check with your mom's doc; I'm sure we can relax the rules about that." Doc said yes; the little ones got to visit, too. We stayed for about half hour, then went to have dinner. I then left Princess with T, and I went home.

Friday, I met up with M.E., who is "hosting" mom during her recovery process (she's also retired, and lives alone in a nice house in the hills of town). I made sure mom had clothes, shoes, etc for her stay (up to 6wks). She could have stayed in her own place, but she would have needed a round-the-clock nurse. Another alternative was a medical recovery center. I'm grateful M.E. was willing & able to do this for mom because with my own family & job, I couldn't have.

That morning was also T & D's weekend anniversary trip (one of a few trips mom was banned from going on while she recovers). T, Princess, D, the little ones, & mom's friend all went (missing mom, of course), but still had a reasonably good time. Princess saw two plays, got a backstage tour, and did some babysitting of her cousins.

When they returned Monday, we all met up at M.E.'s again. Mom was settled & healing. Wednesday, I returned to give her a "clean up" pedicure and found out that the resident surgeon had called to check on her (bonus points). When mom said her bandages were making her itch, the resident said, "Those were supposed to come off 48hrs after surgery!" (which, btw, would have been BEFORE she was released!).

Yesterday, Princess & I went up to visit. We took a short, slow walk with her down the hill to the end of the block then back up. She is still sore (as to be expected), can't go far without tiring, & can't really lift anything but after her follow up this Friday, the docs may decide she's well enough to return to her own condo.

So, dear readers, how many problems with Kaiser do *YOU* spot?!?!

Disclaimer -- the views of this blogger do not reflect the views of the patient. Mom said to tell you all she has "no qualms" about how she was treated there. (rolling my eyes)


  1. UGH, I soooo know how Kaiser sucks from first hand experience. Your poor mom... so glad that she's ok.

    It's amazing how they tune it out - not Kaiser, but my grandma who was healthy as a horse had diverticulitis when she had a knee replaced (bleeding of intestines and stomach). her stupid small town doc didn't catch it, she almost dide, and her kidneys failed - she has to do dialysis now. Was totally grounds to sue, she refused saying her doctor did her best and she liked her etc etc. Sigh.

  2. Above comment about Diverticulitis..I have Diverticulosis which has turned into Diverticulitis when flared up and that and it's very painful and can be life threatening especially if you don't watch what you eat.

    About Kaiser, OMG! That is insane! Working in the past in the medical field I know from experience that they made a ton of mistakes which could have been a worse outcome, but thankfully wasn't. Still she should have not had to go through all of that. I'm glad to hear that she is ok. Kaiser sucks! I don't trust them at all and would never go there. That is just my opinion to be clear, lol!