I am at that point in my life when I thought that things for me would be relatively simple. The kids are all grown. The pets have all died. My husband loves his job. I don’t have to go to work.
But for somebody who has no job or kids to run around, I don’t find myself home alone much. I attribute that to the fact that I am part of the generation that provides the bridge between our own children and grandchildren and our parents. Some call us the sandwich generation. (In my case, it’s a club sandwich.) One of the things that I do is transport my father-in-law to doctor appointments a few times a month or run errands with him. I recently took him to a doctor appointment. It doesn’t sound too complicated – just pick him up from his Assisted Living Facility (ALF) and drive him to the doctor. Right? Wrong! Doctor appointments begin days before the actual date on which they fall. Let me tell you the excruciating tale of the last appointment.
Once upon a time, there was a man named Dale who loved to go to the doctor. (It probably had to do with the fact that it got him out of his apartment.) Dale had an appointment to get an epidural injection for the relief of his back pain. Since he had various health issues that required many medications, this was complicated. He had to go off of certain meds during the week prior to receiving the shot. Dale’s appointment was for a Friday. I was to pick him up at 9:30 that morning. Let’s back up a few days so you can see what went on leading up to that appointment.
Two weeks earlier I gave notice to his nurse of the appointment, along with the doctor’s requirement of him discontinuing his Coumadin a week prior to the shot. We have done this a few times before, so no problem.
Wednesday: I call the ALF to remind them of the appointment on Friday and remind them I will need fresh blood work to take with me at that time (they already have the prescription for it). Problem – there will be no time to get the blood work done on Friday morning, so Thursday afternoon will have to suffice. Fine.
Thursday at 5:15 PM – I get a call from Dale’s nurse saying that somehow he received his Coumadin the night before. She was very apologetic, and I knew it was unusual for a mistake to be made. I call the pain doctor, but of course, it’s after hours. I talk with the answering service; she talks with the doctor; twenty minutes later they agree to allow the injection as long as his blood work looks good. I call the ALF back and report. Oops, the blood work was not done; but they assure me they will get someone in very early the next day so we will be set. By now, I’m actually at the facility picking up Dale to go out and celebrate his 90th birthday with the family. The family showing is on the light side because five of us have the flu, but the healthy ones still have a nice dinner out to celebrate with him. My favorite quote of the night was when he said, “I’ve waited 90 years for this dinner.”
Later that night – Bob (my husband) takes his dad back to the ALF and reminds him that he is not to eat anything after midnight and not to drink anything after 8:00 AM.
Friday at 9:15 AM – I arrive to pick up Dale only to find that the he does not have the blood work results. I rush over to the nurses’ station and inquire. The guy was late to draw the blood. They try to track him down on his cell phone to have him drop the sample off at the closest lab and fax the results to our pain doctor. They get his voice mail. I call the pain doctor who tells me to go ahead and come. They’ll at least examine him and probably receive the results in time to have the injection. I inform them I’ll be ten minutes late. They are gracious.
Friday at 9:50 AM – I’m driving down the road with Dale and we joke about how maybe he’s not supposed to have this shot today after all. Then it occurs to me to ask a question. “Dad, you didn’t eat anything today, did you?” His reply, “Just a half a sandwich at about 7 AM.” I call the pain doctor from my cell phone. By now they know my voice. “Well, he can’t have the shot. We can’t anesthetize him after eating. Unless… I guess he could just get a local if he’s okay with that.” He was. I inform them we will be about 15 minutes late now that we have entered a traffic-jammed construction zone. I start twitching.
Friday at 10:15 AM – We arrive at the office only to find out that, of course, they have not yet received the blood work results. I call the ALF and get their voice mail. The doctor comes in and prescribes a sedative for me (just kidding). Seriously, he could see that I was totally stressed out and he was so kind and patient. He examined my father-in-law and sent us upstairs to await the blood work results.
Friday at 11:15 AM – The results are in – the shot is a “Go.”
On the way home, Dale wants to go shopping or out to lunch, but I remind him that he is to rest for the remainder of the day. I drop him off at 12:15, confer with the ALF staff and head out.
Friday at 12:30 – I call Bob and let him know he’ll be taking me out to dinner that night. I should be totally relaxed after treating myself to a massage and a nap. He was happy to comply.