HELLthcare & Hospitals

Grandaddy Fell

On Wednesday March 30th, Grandaddy fell in his driveway. He cracked some ribs. He was hospitalized for 2.5 weeks and then transferred to a rehab center, which is just a different floor of the same building with a different company.

On April 4th or 5th, I called Mom to talk about some paperwork and to see if she had heard the date for the golf tournament. That’s when she told me that Grandaddy was in the hospital.

E’s last day with Travis County was the 6th, and I had a portrait session on the 8th, and we had a mini-vacay planned for the 12-13-14th, so we finished out the week and planned a trip to Paris for Saturday-Monday.

Our Time There

We spent all day Sunday with Grandaddy and Mama Bee. He’s off the pain meds, but he’s still groggy most of the time (as they are slowly leaving his system) and startles easily. Because he was officially “discharged” from the hospital and then checked into the rehab center, they lost his diabetic menu and brought him all kinds of sugar-raising foods.

When an LVN came in, tested his sugar, and found it high (184), she was going to give him an entire syringe of insulin. No wonder it’s high, he isn’t supposed to eat the food he’s been served for several days in a row! While he is diabetic, my grandmother has controlled every morsel of food that goes into his mouth and has kept his blood sugar down without the need for any medication. Given his age and meds he needs for other, more serious conditions like his skin cancer, this has been a huge help. It doesn’t hurt that she is a fabulous cook! So, when the nurse-wannabee tried to give him a shot, my grandmother refused it. Good for her!

Grandaddy’s situation shows a glimmer of how bad our health care system is: no telling what that much insulin would have done to him given he’s never had any! They’d dose him and leave him lying there alone and unattended….thank goodness my grandmother and my mom can “babysit” the staff/services and see to his immediate needs. I was pissed at the LVN for trying to act like a doctor. He’s never had that drug and doesn’t have prescription for it. Just who did she think she was playing doctor? I know it’s SOP when the blood sugar registers that high, but they still have to look at his record to see if he’s an insulin-dependent diabetic.

When his lunch came, it was all “white” stuff he can’t have. We asked why they stopped his diabetic meal and she showed us the slip where he was slated for a standard tray. (Mama Bee had even been to the store that morning to get him some fruit, juices without so much sugar, and sugar-free jello, so she could supplement his meals with stuff he can eat.) (Oh, I forgot, when he was hurting, he took his dentures out and threw them down breaking the one plate in two. They are off being repaired. So, in addition to needing diabetic food, he needs soft/pureed foods. It’s not the least bit appetizing, of course. However, I tasted the dressing to render a “how-much-do-we-think-he-can-have-of-THAT” opinion and it was quite tasty. I think it was loaded with broth and sodium and carbs, but a couple of bites of it seems to stimulate an appetite.)

Mom and Mama Bee were pissed at the kitchen’s inability to follow his diabetic diet. I only knew of the two companies because when we asked to confirm his room number at the nurses desk, they told us he was discharged. So, it made more sense to me because we hadn’t yet been there with them. He was discharged. The diet instructions didn’t follow and my mom and grandmother couldn’t get anyone to truly hear their complaints. The staff is too small, too busy, and too ill-equipped to remember it all from the room to the desk.

One nurse remembered and got us the forms, so I dragged Mama Bee through the process of planning his meals for the next several days by circling the best options on the diabetic menu for each of his meals. Once the first day or two were done, it was a familiar system and didn’t take too long.

After lunch, they took him to physical therapy, where he peddled and walked with the help of the therapist (who is tall/strong enough to help and knows how to catch him if he starts to fall).

My Observations

My mom and grandmother are tired. It’s hard to be the support for someone so close and babysit the processes, too. Everyone is worried about everyone else…only adding to the stress.

While Grandaddy sleeps a lot, sleep talks, and sometimes rambles incoherently (because we can’t understand him without his dentures), he’s aware and lucid when he is fully awake. He’s tired of being there and wants to go home. None of us blame him, of course. And, he jokes with us and the nursing staff. When E & I were saying goodbye, he shook E’s hand and said, “I think you’re big enough to get me outta here!” 🙂

Mama Bee is particularly sad because years ago, she promised Grandaddy that they’d never live in a nursing home. She’s having to go back on her word and it’s killing her.

I’m sad that I can’t be much help from 5 hours away, but I’m once-again grateful that I can adjust my schedule so that I can go up there for a few days at a time.

Grandaddy will stay at the rehab center until the 25th. I don’t know if that’s a policy of that space since they have a relationship with the hospital or a medicaid/insurance limit.

Mama Bee might move into a little apartment in Bonham, Texas–where my mom worked for the state prison system–so Grandaddy can use his Veteran benefits and stay in the rehab center, there.

After that, who knows? Paris, Texas is all either of them have ever known, except for his tour in England & crash landing in France as a Glider Pilot during WWII and a little traveling when they were younger.

I told Mama Bee that if I could wave a magic wand, I’d put them in one of those high-end places in Dallas where they can have a little apartment with full nursing care and everything they need just downstairs. She shook her head both at the idea of it not being “home” and also at the idea of the cost. I reminded her, “I said it’s what I’d do if I could wave a wand…” Now, where are those guaranteed-to-win Lotto numbers?

So, she and my mom are researching places and options. I know they will make the best decision with the options they have. I plan to go back up there to either help Mama Bee shop around or to stay with Grandaddy and “babysit” the nursing staff while Mom takes her.


Now, for a funny story during our time there: E needed a break from just sitting and walked around the hospital a bit. In one corridor, he was passing a man in a wheel chair who was squinting and staring at him. As they got closer to one another, E learned of the reason for staring. The man blurted out, “Howdy!”; he’d been making sure that the ring on E’s finger was an Aggie ring! E gave him a “Howdy!” back. sweet!

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