End Of Life Trauma – Part 3 Doctors, Doctors, Everywhere

Today’s post is about doctors and my interactions with them during the first two weeks of my wife’s two and a half months’ ordeal with end-of-life issues. I will start off by telling you that it was an extremely confusing process.

On the second day at the hospital, I met with the first doctor. He didn’t give me his name or why he was her doctor. I didn’t recognize him. He told me that my wife had a severe heart attack, but she would likely recover. But, he also told me that during an MRI, they discovered that her gall bladder was so full of stones that they could not get an adequate view, and that it was likely infected. About the only thing I concentrated on was the guess that she would recover.

During her two-week stay, I’m pretty sure I met with at least 10 different doctors who claimed to be taking care of her. Some said she would recover, and some said she would not have much of a quality of life if she even survives. One doctor that was glaringly absent was her PCP (primary care physician). I was later told by a patient advocate that the PCP is not normally notified until after she was released from the hospital! I was under the impression that the PCP would be consulting with other specialists, but he would be the one to take the options to my wife and I. After all, he is the “primary care” doctor. But he was nowhere to be seen during this entire process. More on that later…

It turns out that there were actually two different groups of doctors involved, one for her heart problems and one for her gall bladder, which was infected. Her gall bladder got so bad that one of the ten doctors said he would not be a surprise if she would develop sepsis for the bladder infection and die.

I finally figured out that the ten doctors were actually from the two specialities, with five doctors in each group. It just seemed like Keystone Cops, I never knew what to expect when I met the “doctor of the day”. I found out that the average surgeon in this regional group does only one round of hospital visitations a week, and he covers the people he operated on and also those for the other four in his group.

After a while, I just got tired of trying to figure out if this doctor was an optimistic one or a pessimist. When she was released two weeks after the heart attack, it was to a rehabilitation center, which was just a different name for a nursing home. That would be the beginning of the real horror story.

More on that next week…