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What Do My (Nearly) 80-Year Old Mom and a 17-Year Old Dog Have in Common?

Posted Sep 27 2010 4:51pm

How 'For Profit Medicine' is Treating My Mom

If your 17-year old dog breaks its leg, the vet will be honest with you about it.  ‘We could spend thousands and thousands of dollars to fix your dog’s leg, put her through a lot of pain, and the dog will probably die anyway’, is what a responsible vet would tell you.  I am starting to believe the orthopedic team at Froedtert Memorial Hospital in Milwaukee is thinking of my Mom, who will be 80 in a month, in those terms.  The only difference Froedert’s “Medical College of Wisconsin Ortho Team” isn’t being honest about it.

See, they had a good reason for not operating yesterday.  Because of her blood thinners they had to wait until her clotting factor was within normal limits.  Well, this morning it was within normal limits.  But they couldn’t get her into an operating room.  Can’t bump those profitable elective surgery cases, you know.  Someone getting a bunion removed or a young person getting a fracture reduced, that outranks an old woman who won’t be all that profitable a patient since all they can get is Medicare reimbursement.

Call me Socialist if you wish, and in this instance you are probably correct.  But “for profit” medicine sucks!  When you make medical decisions based on how much you can make from the procedure, that is just immoral.

I just spoke to Becki, and I will add her e-mail to the end of this post.  But after waiting all day for an OR space, they removed Mom’s catheter so they have to roll her over to use her bedpan, which causes her to scream in pain.  She has started running an axial (underarm) temperature of 101 degrees, and the underarm temp is usually 1 degree below what you get with an oral thermometer.  So now, there’s worry of an infection setting in.  They were sending Mom down for a chest x-ray when Becki left for for the evening.  Then there’s the risk ANYWAY of an older person lying around in a bed all day, unable to walk or move about pneumonia, thromboses, embolisms, lots of bad stuff that could happen.

Is that what they’re counting on?

So, Becki will go back to the hospital tomorrow and sit and wait again.  They are still telling her, “if we get an opening” when she asks about when in the hell my mother is going to get her broken femur repaired.

Here’s what Froedtert’s website says about their orthopaedic surgery department.

The Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the Medical College of Wisconsin has long been a national leader in teaching and patient care. We value excellence, compassion, and professionalism. We are proud to train many successful orthopaedic surgeons who go on to practice medicine with these same core values. With 21 faculty members providing nine different clinical services, the department covers the full spectrum of orthopedic surgery.

I just wonder if all that excellence, compassion and professionalism carries over to an 80-year old woman in failing health who faces an expensive operation with a long recovery period and only Medicare reimbursement to pay for it all or if it better serves their bottom line to just kinda let the old girl fade away.

“For Profit Medicine.”  What a wonderful idea.  And to think, we were THAT close to getting a health care system where folks would be treated based on their NEED, not on their ability to pay.  How fascist would THAT be?

I will add my sister’s e-mail after this point, once I receive it.


Here’s Becki’s e-mail:

I am so furious that I am about “this close” to finding the nearest bell tower.

I got to the hospital about 8am this morning.  The lab took blood from Muz.  Her INR was way down where they wanted it… at about 1.7.  So the nurses and the medical staff on the floor said that she was put in rotation for surgery today.  They would just have to wait from a call from the OR.  So I called my office at about 9am to let them know I would not be in and would update them on my mother’s condition.

Well, at 5pm the nurse finally informed us that the OR was just way too busy today and mom’s surgery is being pushed back until at least tomorrow.  No, the nurse could not tell me what time they would do the surgery.  No, there is no guarantee that she will have surgery on Tuesday.  The hospital will have to wait to see what the surgery schedule looks like.  So tomorrow will be just like today was.  Groundhog’s Day, anyone?

So Muz went all day without food or water.  They had her hooked up to IV fluids, so she was still pissing every hour or so.  You know what sound I just love??  Hearing your mother moan in pain as the nurses try to roll her on to the bedpan and then to change the sheets under her.  The doctors took the catheter out after she was admitted… they are worried about a bladder infection. The nurses did not want to put her in a diaper because she has a small tear on her butt.  We both asked the nurse if they could call the doctor to get her on a catheter at least for tonite.

Because you know what else is fun to hear??  Your mother, immediately after getting off the bed pain, asking for morphine.  And then within a half hour of getting the morphine through her IV, it’s really funny to hear her getting goofier and goofier… like not remembering where she is, what day it is, if the Packers played yet or not.  Good times, good times.

After her morphine has worn off a bit, she is back to being the Muz we know and love.  Her rash is almost completely gone.  Now if they could only fix that pesky bone in her leg…

Anyway, tomorrow will be just like today.  I will have my cell phone with me, but I have limited minutes.  I can’t seem to log on to the Cracker Jack’s cell phone’s website to buy minutes.  Plus I have 5 in the pool for tonite’s game.  Today has just sucked.

Hopefully tomorrow I will have the energy to give you all a call.  If you would like to talk, I am at home for the rest of the evening and you can call me if you like.    I am just beat, my days are running together and I am forgetting whom… out of all of you… I have told what about Muz.

I think tomorrow morning, I will contact the orthopaedic department.  I will tell them that Aaron Rodgers broke his femur after the game and requested to be treated at Froedtert.  When they get the OR ready, I will say… “Ooops, I was wrong about the quarterback.  But since you are all set up for surgery, could you fix my mother’s leg THAT HAS BEEN BROKEN SINCE 5AM SATURDAY??”

I love you all.  Call me if you would like, but I am afraid that I would just shout too much.  I will keep in touch.

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