I usually try very hard on this blog to keep my personal side limited to my opinions on movies and pop culture. But I am beyond myself about a particular situation, so I hope to use writing as a catharsis for it, as many writers do. If you’re put off by any writing that’s particularly touchy, please overlook the following blog post.
As of this writing, my wife of 30 years has been in the hospital for 50 days.
The origins of this problem date back about 15 years. In 2006, my wife started losing her energy one day, and it gradually got worse. By the end of the week, we had to use a wheelchair to get her from our bedroom to our van in the garage so that we could take her to the emergency room.
It turned out that my wife’s body was retaining an abnormal amount of fluid that was literally weighing her down. After about a week in the hospital, all of the fluid had been drained, and my wife was back to normal and was sent home.
The same thing happened a second time a few years ago, only this time it was more severe. By the time this hospital visit was finished, they had drained — literally — 150 pounds of fluid from my wife’s body.
Now, again, the problem returned in January, only this time with a host of complications. The fluid build-up was so bad that (a) the fluid has spread beyond her leg to other parts of her body, which also needed to be drained, and (b) when they try to drain the fluid this time, it usually causes some other problem — possible kidney damage, for example — that the doctors must take into account. So just when it seems as though my wife’s health is making some progress, something else happens to set her back.
The funny thing is, her “numbers” usually look fairly normal. By medical standards, an oxygen measurement is ideally 95 or higher. Although my wife’s numbers have fluctuated, they generally stay pretty high. Unfortunately, that’s the only thing that matters to some of the medicos. They come in, see the number 95 on my wife’s screen, and say, “Her numbers look great.” Never mind that she will now have to re-learn how to balance on her feet and walk because she has been bedridden for so long.
My wife is long overdue to be admitted to a physical rehabilitation clinic, and at the start of this latest hospital stay, we figured that was a no-brainer. The doctor would say, “Oh, we’ll be sending her to rehab at the end of the week” or “early next week.” All of the doctors and rehab officials have signed off on her going to their clinic.
Who hasn’t signed off on it? The insurance company. So far, one claim and three appeals have been filed, and all have been turned down. The insurance people seem to think that the hospital has sufficient physical therapy methods to help my wife. Although all of the hospital’s staff is well-meaning and want to help my wife, there’s only so much they can do. And the rotating PT staff employed by the hospital can meet with her only a couple of hours for a couple of days each week.
A very assertive nurse is trying to get yet another appeal approved by the insurance company. So it’s practically a race against time. Will my wife be approved in enough time that a rehab clinic will actually help her, or will her current malady, combined with other newcoming physical problems, keep her from ever getting better?
As you can imagine, it’s disheartening for me to see my wife in such condition, especially when she could be on the road to recovery if some red-tape-laden fools would just sign off on it. Needless to say, it’s also not doing any good for my wife — an otherwise strong woman whose hands are now tied until someone deigns to let her move on to the next step in wellness.
I haven’t mentioned any names in this blog because my wife would be infuriated to know that I was even writing about this situation in a public forum. But I have few people to talk to outside of our limited social circle, and I’ve been dying to get this off my chest somehow. So I hope you will keep my wife and our family in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you for your indulgence.
P. S.: I’d also like to take this opportunity to vent about a personal peeve. Some people look at persons such as my wife and decide that, because there are no outward signs of a physical problem, such people must not be handicapped, just lazy.
This entire situation has its origins in a car crash in which my wife was involved over 30 years ago — an accident that nearly killed her and ended up with her having to have pins put in her hip. As the old saw goes, everyone you meet is fighting a battle which only that person actually knows about. So if you get annoyed when you see a seemingly healthy person drive into a handicap parking spot, think twice before you pass judgment on them, and be grateful for your own health.