Friday, January 27, 2012


My grandmother was taken to the hospital a few evenings ago exhibiting some potential heart attack symptoms: pain in her arm and shoulder, moving up to her neck and jaw, some nausea. The ER doctors were not sure exactly what the paramedics saw that led them to believe she was having a heart attack, as they did not see such a thing. My grandmother now attributes the whole event to indigestion, and may never eat soup again. I could say that it's not worth arguing with her because she is 89, but I can't really remember a time it ever served me well to argue with her.

We spent twenty-five minutes with her doctor today rehashing some specifics of her hospital stay, as well as some other discrepancies. We sorted out the fact that she is not not taking Lipitor because her cholesterol numbers are wonderful, but rather because she has refused to take it for years. I was living a little vicariously through the doctor's ability to trump her statements with the documentation on his computer screen. There is a lot of history there, that I will not bore you with, regarding how nice it would be to be right just a few times when the story gets sketchy with my grandmother. This guy had his computer screen, discharge paperwork, and the letters M.D. after his name, but she fought the good fight just the same. I was armed mostly with hearsay about the hospital stay, but even the shoulder pain I witnessed on my visit was denied having ever existed. Violently ill every time she turned her head somehow morphed into throwing up a bit when she tried too hard to burp. I folded.

I understand the concept of aging and some of the cruel mind tricks that go along with it. However, I also have a fairly decent grasp on who my grandmother has been for the forty-two years I have known her. It is difficult to tease out which tendencies are really new and different. I just wish she knew that we are trying to help. I went in to her appointment to lend an extra set of ears, since she admittedly cannot sort out and remember everything that gets said (actually, neither can I, hence my pencil and paper). Of course at some point she started to think the doctor and I were in cahoots in some other secret scheme. (OK, there might have been a point today when the doctor did ask me if I "got his drift" about the whole Lipitor debacle.)

I was reading over the hospital discharge summary and accompanying information when I got home...I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on tv, but this seemed like information worth browsing. I am fairly certain that my grandmother has not read over the paperwork because she certainly would've mentioned this...
...and I assure you, she would not have been pleased.

This section amused me...
It almost seems like what they were saying was "too alert for us to check the confused box without starting trouble, but too confused for us to check the alert box".

I have never been overly impressed by the doctor we saw today. He was always very pleasant and kind, but it just seemed like he was always sending her for so many tests and sort of scrambling. Today I realized just how hard he works for his patients, how thorough he is, and how well he actually does understand a bit of what my grandmother is about. Of course I realized that today...the last time she will see him, as he is more thing she thought was kept from her since she heard it from someone else. I cannot imagine trying to get a new doctor, in a different practice up to speed on her, nor can I fathom what the notes in her chart must say!


  1. Awww! That is a cute picture! I hope that your grandmother is okay, and that it really was just the soup.

    It's too bad that her doctor couldn't refer her to a new doc and bring that guy up to speed.

  2. I can relate. My Aunties symptoms always get lessened or disappear in front of the doctor. It infuriates me. I think she fears he will say she can no longer live in her home or something.
    I hope your grandma feels better and you can find a new doctor.

  3. That's going to be hard to find a new doctor. Sigh. Your grandmother sounds like a hoot. I hope it wasn't anything too serious and she's back to eating soon!

  4. ~hugs~ I hope she's feeling better. My grandmother is very much the same and the fact that she's still got that fight in her speaks well for 89 years old!

    I have to say... the line BETWEEN alert and confused is hilarious. If she ever sees it and gets angry, let her know I live my life somewhere between confused and alert. It's all good.

  5. Awww...your Grandma sounds just like mine! She died 3 1/2 years ago and not a day goes by that I don't think about her. She definitely existed in that alert but confused stratosphere. And she never in her life admitted to being deaf - everyone else just mumbled! She did concede to hearing aids, however, one of which she mistakenly ate as an M&M......I hope you have many more years with her:)

    I hope you have many more years with her:)

  6. Thank goodness it was not a heart attack! Okay, I have to admit, I tend to downplay illness after the fact. I'll be an expert at it in my senior years. The checkmark was very amusing. Looks like he might have been visually impaired too.