Thoughts on Being Thankful

One year ago I suffered a moderate stroke.  The hospital where I was admitted in the Conejo Valley in California, was ready to discharge me before I could stand with a walker.  Lisa, my durable power of attorney for healthcare, fought for my right to continue to receive additional treatment (she won.)  I was transferred to a closeby rehabilation facility for a Medicare-paid 30- day recovery period.  I rarely saw my rehabilitation physician, and he nor anyone on his staff reviewed my plan of care with me or Lisa.  On my second day there I lost consciousness.  My blood pressure dropped to 40/27 due to an overdose of blood pressure medication.  Lisa was not contacted by the rehabilation facility as to the change in my condition, even though a copy of my Healthcare Directive was on file with the facility, naming Lisa as my agent.  Only by coming to visit me at the rehab facility was Lisa told I was back in the ER.  Mistakes nearly costing my life and thousands of dollars to Medicare and Anthem Blue Cross for rehospitalization made me even sicker.  Once I stabilized at the hospital, I asked to be transferred to another rehab facility, as I had no faith in the one where I was originally sent. After less than 24 hours at the new facility, where I saw people so desperate and so undercared for, did I call Lisa and ask she come get me and bring me to her home.  I hated to impose on her and her husband, Bob, but I had no one else to turn to.  I knew if I remained in the latest rehab facility I would be lose the will to live.

Cold food, inadequate  heat, paper-thin blankets, and a community shower twice each week, plus a little exercising, was supposed to make me well.  It almost made me want to die.

Fortunately I didn’t.  I moved in with Lisa and Bob, against medical advice,  and began to recover from my stroke.  I am now stronger than I was before the stroke.  I am as grateful as a human being can possibly be.  I beat the odds, with help from people who understand what seniors face in our healthcare system, and are willing to advocate for them.  I am lucky and I am thankful.  I am here to celebrate Thanksgiving as a centenarian who is living with a family who allows me to live with dignity and makes me feel wanted.  I’m happy to be alive!  What could be better at 100 years old?

Lisa complained to the state’s Department of Licensing and Regulation, who “substantiated all complaints” she detailed.  The  original rehab facility is now required by the county to demonstrate steps in place to minimize the possibility of these kind of mistakes being made again.  Lisa also filed a complaint with the Medical Board of California regarding my doctor who performed less than stellar, in my opinion.  The Medical Board wrote Lisa “there is insufficient evidence to proceed with any further inquiry against the doctor.”  Lisa appealed this finding almost two months ago and has yet to receive a response back from the Medical Board.  All of this makes me wonder how healthcare is regulated in California, especially as it involves seniors.  My advice:  Find an informed, dedicated healthcare agent who will stand beside you and fight for your safety.

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