Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The elusive Dr. Patel

Well as many - or some - of you know, my mom nearly died several weeks ago. Being me, I have to turn this into a serio-comic blog post.

When my mom was admitted to Addison Gilbert Hospital in Gloucester, I think it was Jan. 28, she appeared to be suffering from a GI bleed and possibly pneumonia.

A quick transfer to Beverly Hospital's CCU within hours confirmed those 2 diagnoses plus acute kidney failure. I don't remember when the 2 dissected aortic aneurysms, the (possibly septic) diverticulitis and the bleeding ulcer were detected, but I think the latter came at Mass General Hospital.

As my mom's health care proxy, I kept getting calls delivering bad news and asking for permission to perform various procedures, including putting a screen in her leg to stop an (existing) blood clot from traveling somewhere we don't want it to go, dialysis and some procedure to drain the confirmed abscess on her colon (the diverticulitis).

As it turned out, they put the drain in the wrong spot, and it was not draining anything.

Through all the days at Mass General, we kept hearing about Dr. Patel, the vascular surgeon who was going to tell us all about the 2 aneurysms, which to my mind were looming large. One of them is 7cm wide.

Long story short; we aren't sure that there is such a person as Dr. Patel.

It was like a Seinfeld episode. "Oh, he's just leaving, let me catch him! ... Oh, no, he's gone."

My mother, in a dialysis-crazed and nearly starving* moment, said she had seen a man she described as "a nice looking Indian doctor," but we're still not sure it was Dr. Patel since she also persisted in confusing one of the interns with my brother-in-law and consistently thought the dialysis technician (a woman) was my brother.

*They did not feed her solid food until they discovered the source of the bleed, which had stopped back in Beverly.

As we continued to wonder how one 80-yr.-old woman could have so very much wrong with her and still be here to talk to us, it became clear that Dr. Patel was never going to talk to us.

My mom was discharged to the Salem location of Spaulding Rehab Hospital - oh, sorry it's not a rehab hospital anymore, as were were firmly informed - and she's now back in what they call a skilled nursing facility; back in Beverly.

Because, you know, having 2 untreated aneurysms does not warrant being kept in the hospital if you're an 80-yr.-old. (Supposedly keeping her blood pressure down controls the aneurysms.)

Clinically, we are told, she is stable, although somehow she has pneumonia again.

And oh, yeah. Spaulding at the end of last week got a letter from MGH saying that Mom had likely been exposed to TB while she was there.

Parking, Malden style

Well bless my soul, I can't believe I'm still around ... actually, I'm not around Newburyport and likely won't ever be again, but that's another story altogether ...

So, I'm down here in Malden, where the parking situation is pretty close to what Newburyport officials are proposing (or not proposing): that is, free on-street parking with time limits downtown, one free lot, etc. The only difference is - and forgive me if this is part of the plan - validation.

If you shop or eat or otherwise patronize enough businesses while downtown, you can erase your parking fee entirely through the validated parking scheme. Of course, I'm not sure how this would work w/a pay-and-display machine because you can't hand your validated ticket to a machine - and have it respond favorably.

(I've been downtown Malden w/my sister a few times now, and whereas the downtown Malden of my memory was a virtual ghost town, it's pretty bustling now. I don't know, but maybe it's that fabulous Asian restaurant w/the best sushi I've had in quite a while ... yum ...)

Anyway ... I'm not saying that Malden is Newburyport, or anything like Newburyport, because of course it's not. Like my opening paragraph, any reference to the multicultural aspects of Malden is another story altogether.