As I am STILL without DSL service at home, picture posts will have to wait. I am seriously considering investing in a wireless hook-up and ditching the DSL/land phone obligation. Let me apologize in advance - this is going to be a LOOOONG post. Feel free to hit the pause button and get an adult beverage. Or just go back to the previous post and leave me another sonnet!
Yesterday was spent on the first of many - I am sure - trips to accompany one/both parents to a specialist. My dad just turned 89 a couple of weeks ago and my mom will be turning 88 in a week. They are, for the most part, in pretty good health and mental standing. But things are beginning to go wrong. Heck, at 89, it's a surprise he's held out as long as he has. My mother suffers from macular degeneration, the "wet" kind, and it's in her only sighted eye. She is determined to retain her eyesight as long as humanly and medically possible. I will not fill you in on the gory details, but the medical procedure that she endures every 10 weeks gives me the willies. Yet, she never complains. My dad has just been diagnosed with a tiny bit of MD in one eye. That was the upshot of yesterday's trip to the retina specialist.
I think, up until yesterday, that I have housed the hope that they will continue on their merry way without my intervention, for years. This is not the case. I am very happy to be able to help them. I figure they have been there for me every day of my life and it's nice to be able to be there for them. But it's a journey fraught with emotional baggage and not one for the faint of heart or short of patience. For instance: I need to leave my house and do two errands on my way to their house. I give myself an hour for the usual 40 minute journey. Thanks to more flooding and heavy rain, it takes the entire hour, plus three minutes. I pull in their driveway and -- their car is outside, they are standing in the garage, rain gear on, umbrellas in hand, envelope with directions clenched in Dad's fist. I am given enough time to race inside to use the facilities, while they get into the car and wait for me. Then there are the negotiations over the best route to take to the medical office - an hour and a half away. Dad still relies on maps and distrusts anything computer generated. I work in the area, so am familiar with it. We go from his carefully mapped-out route - which, on a good day, would take three hours - to my way, which takes a half hour. BUT first we have to stop and have lunch. Let me fast forward here -- I'm beginning to hyperventilate.
I drop them at the door and park the car a quarter mile away. By the time I get upstairs, reception has handed my father a twelve page form he has to fill out. Patients are stacked like cordwood and moved around from one waiting area to another -- this is done to give the illusion that you're making progress. Another go-around over the forms. I realize that my dad is struggling. He's hard of hearing. He's unable to grasp a lot of information. He thinks doctors are gods. And, he's having to rely more and more on his daughter(s). It's tough. Plus, I am dealing with my mother's increasing impatience with him -- due, most likely, to the fact that it's terrifying to realize that the man you've counted on for everything over the past 60+ years is not up to snuff. That, and she's never been an icon of patience. We go back and forth and settle for me filling in the information while he sorts through all his cards for the necessary numbers. Then we are shuffled from waiting area to waiting area.
It took two hours. I did manage to insert myself in with the doctor so I could find out what was going on, what the diagnosis was, what the treatment would be and what the timing of everything was expected to be. They think they have caught it early enough that one shot might stop further damage. I also was able to head off more visits to this office, since their specialists work in my parents' town once a week. Of course, had they bothered to look at the address in the file...
As I was sitting in the various areas, I realized that most of the patients were elderly. And most seemed to be accompanied by a son/daughter/relative. What did not seem to happen often was that the relative was actively involved in the diagnosis. Now, far be it from me to impose my standards - I am a Type A when in comes to this stuff - but what is needed, I feel, is an advocate for elderly patients and their families in every doctor's office everywhere. It is a win/win situation. Patients have someone to help them with forms, disseminate information, help set up treatment appointments, etc. A hard copy summarizing the diagnosis and treatment would be invaluable. Jobs are created. And lord knows these "specialists" can afford to hire a couple more people.
I ferried them home (almost literally, as it was still raining), dropped them off, then headed back to my place. I am very thankful that they are high and dry, safe and sound. All the streams are over their banks. Roads are being re-washed out. We lost the use of another small bridge in town. The endless grey and drumming rain is enough to cause me to think of red wine as a three-meal-a-day accompaniment. The only happy feet around my place are webbed.
I hope for a) cessation of all wet things falling from the sky and b) DSL service so I can show you all my nifty photographs. Until then, "Cheers" (clink).