Friday, June 14, 2013


G'ma has staples in her thigh.  I try not to tell her about them, because it makes her face go all scrunched up and annoyed, but they are certainly there.  Apparently, they need to be removed by a trained medical professional.  In order for that to occur, an order must be written by the surgeon and transmitted via fax to the pod-castle.  The pod-castle will then allow the visiting nurse to have access to G'ma's flesh.

The order should have accompanied the discharge summary on G'ma's journey from the hospital to her home.  That didn't happen.  Apparently, it's not usual for the surgeon to inquire about the ease of transporting the patient to his office for staple removal.  It didn't occur to the Case Manager, who used to be called the Discharge Planner, either.  I certainly didn't think about it.  I didn't even know it was an issue.  I assumed that she had dissolving sutures that would be absorbed into the wound as it healed.  Otherwise, someone would have mentioned that the staples had to come out.... right?

Had the physical therapist not called and asked me about the staples, I wouldn't have known that it was an issue.  His call prompted me to contact the pod-castle, the visiting nurse, the surgeon, and the liquor cabinet.  All those professionals, and only the nurse returned my call.

She's not too worried.  The staples "just sit there" and don't do any damage to the incision or the flesh surrounding it.  Still, they shouldn't become a permanent part of my mother's landscape.  The order must be in her chart for the process to move forward.

Without anxiety, but with concern, I called the surgeon's office again this afternoon, twenty-four hours after my first call.  The friendly young man at reception took my information and found yesterday's message in yesterday's pile of messages.  There was no one he could ask for clarification about the timeline for getting the order faxed to the facility; everyone was at lunch. He did remind me, several times, that my original message had been taken and given to the appropriate humans.  He also informed me that the office asks for 24 to 72 hours for phone calls to be returned.  I guess that means that G'ma and her staples are going to be keeping close company until next week.  No one but the PT and I are sensing any urgency in the situation.

I suppose I should take a deep breath and relax about it, but that's asking for more than I can give.  The issue lives on in my inbox, on my to-do list, in my heart ache.  I want G'ma to get better.  I don't want her to have metal in her leg.  I want this done.  I'm hearing Mick singing in the background..... reminding me that I can't always get what I want.

It's been that kind of a week.  I called the pod-castle's administrator to ask for a meeting of all G'ma's caregivers so that we can go over when and about what they should call me.  There are so new medical issues since G'ma's been home from the hospital; they've called her primary care physician but neglected to include me in the loop.  How can I keep track of what's going on if no one tells me?  I've been waiting all day for a phone call responding to my message.

The PCP hasn't called the pod-castle, either, or so they claim. They expressed their concerns to the visiting nurse, which is how I heard about the new issue. There's no explanation for the change in symptoms; someone remembers hearing someone say "Don't worry about it," but no one remembers who was on either end of that conversation.  His good communication skills were the main reason we chose this physician; I have a hard time believing that he would leave them hanging.

In fact, as I was typing that paragraph, the doctor's office called. They'll stop her blood thinner for a while, I shouldn't worry, they'll fax an order with the new regimen to the pod-castle, and would I please encourage the staff there to call and confirm the receipt of the order?  Apparently, the doctor's office calls and leaves messages but no one calls them back.

There's a lot of that going around these days, inside and outside the medical community.

Amster and her Firefighter needed something from our Congressman.  After a month of hearing nothing, she asked if I knew someone in the office to whom she could reach out.  I made a call, found a friend, got an email address and a name, and they are good to go..... for now.  The request has not been considered, it's finally on the way to the right person for review.  Now, we wait for a response.

The IRS approved GRIN 501c3 status in February, or so the rumor has it.  They claim to have mailed me a letter with the acceptance and the numbers we need in order to use it.  I never saw it.  Beautiful Annie, my pro-bono lawyer who is doing much more work on this than she intended or needed, tells me that a verbal request for the number is insufficient.  She has to write them a letter and then we wait for their response.  The fact that I could use the summer to garner donations for upcoming projects for the school year is meaningless to them.  They are bureaucrats with power; I'm just a supplicant.

I was on hold for ten minutes this morning, waiting for the appointment line to accept my phone call.  The facility is huge, the need is great, the classical Muzak wasn't unpleasant, but nothing was getting done.  As I waited, I typed an email to a friend who works there.  Could she help?  Fifteen minutes after I hit Send and hung up the phone (in that order), she'd responded with two dates and times and an apology.

She, the most responsive of my contacts this week, was the only one to apologize for the delay.  Everyone else seemed to think it was the usual cost of doing business.  Everyone but me, that is.

NPR told me that the average young person looks at her smart phone 250 times a day.  Offices have computer screens and fax machines and staff members have pagers and intercoms and cell phones attached to their uniforms.  Information is sent instantaneously... once it knows that it has to be sent.  The systems are all in place.  It's the humans that are creating the problems.

Have we gotten so far deep into our own personal silos that connecting with the outside world, even when it's important, has receded into merely an annoying background noise?  I feel like sending a skywriter up to the heavens to announce to the world: I am here. I am waiting for you.

Perhaps that will get their attention.


  1. Dealing with the IRS is a royal pain in the ass. I literally had to send them FIVE times via FedEx info they asked about. They kept saying they hadn't received it. Meanwhile, I had a signature that they did. Irks me to no end.

    I try to respond to people even if I don't have the answer yet. Since I've been sick this week, I wrote notes to people in the office apologizing for not getting to their work quick enough, but that I would take care of it as soon as possible. Most people are pretty happy with any sort of response. They just want to be acknowledged.

    I think it's rude to not respond to Email, but I will admit that I'm really bad about returning personal phone calls. At the office, I have to do it. At home, it doesn't seem that important.

    Hopefully, you will get the issue with G'ma's staples worked out.

    Have a wonderful weekend.

    Megan xxx

  2. I'm like you, why can't people handle the message when they get it? I always send a response to an email, I immediately return a phone call. Take care of it, move on to the next task. Why is that so hard? And you know who seems to have the most trouble doing the immediate thing? Younger people. Older people call back, write back, text back. They do all that with little hesitation. But the younger ones? Nope. I wait days to hear from them. What gives?

  3. My sweetheart gashed his head about two months ago and ended up with staples. The emergency room provided him with a staple remover (yes, that is what it is called) for our doctor, advising us that not all doctor's offices had one. Apparently having the staples removed was more painful than having them put in. Also some of his hair was stapled in and some caught in the scab...ouch!

  4. It's simple, easy and so much less hassle than letting things hang in the ether. Yet, no one does it these days. It's the flip side of instant communication... if it can't be done by hitting reply, it gets lost.

    I am STILL waiting for someone to send an order to remove the damn staples.... though the would looks lovely, I have to say :)


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