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Death Is An Insidious Jester.

Updated on January 3, 2011























Death is an insidious unwelcome jester

who mocks the kingdom of life,

and antiquates all modern medical technology

with an ancient repertoire of barbs.

He brought his most unfunny gig

to my family over four weeks ago,

to harass my father who has been on

a feeding tube for fifteen years.

Imagine not eating food or drinking

anything liquid for such a long time.

Just an endless Jevity and Ensure,

bottled nutrition condensed through

a tube directly into his stomach.

Plus the constant assailing of his senses

with billboards and commercials describing

the marvelous tastes of a juicy steak,

the never ending parade of video taunting him,

with platters of delectable delights he can never savor.

Then add the gallons upon gallons of

liquid sustenance being poured into glasses,

carbonated, condensated, cruelty to

a man who could no longer swallow such refreshment.

He worked for twenty-nine and a half years

in a shop on a punch press, surrounded by smokers,

breathing the toxic residues they expelled,

secondhand smoke invading a man

who's hands never touched a cigarette.

Eventually all of those men succumbed

to the force of their habit, and my dad was left

with a throat cancer, that wrapped itself

around his jugular vein, and created

a large knot on his neck.

I bet him a hundred dollars that it was

just a cyst, and that he should see a doctor,

and have it removed,

He much like me was always afraid

of the medical system, and his reluctance

over time became malignant.

Several major surgeries and 32 chemo treatments later,

he was without much of his vocal cords, and

salivary glands on one side of his neck,

while the flesh in that area hardened like stone.

But he settled into a life without

the things he loved most, food and drink.

Four weeks ago, after a birthday party with his daughter,

he was sorely tempted by a piece of leftover cake,

he had cheated on his feeding tube regimen

six times before, sneaking tastes of coffee and soft foods,

but this time death was dancing just outside his door.

He choked on that cake, and was able to regain his breath,

but after he went bed, he spent the night

coughing and gurgling, under the agony

of aspiration Pneumonia.

His wife and my sister who rushed over there

in the wee hours, called nine one one when they

found him not breathing, cold, clammy and gray.

Death was sitting unseen on his chest,

impinging on his ability to suck oxygen.

His blood oxygen level sunk to fifty,

for how long no one knows,

normal is one hundred, and he

should have sustained brain damage.

They rushed him to a hospital,

where we all waited for over two hours

for them to stabilize him.

It took an additional four hours

to get him a bed in ICU.

Then the true seriousness of his situation began.

He spent nine days on life support,

with a ventilator tube abrading

the right side of his throat.

Then when they tried to wean him off the vent,

the procedure failed, and they had to reinsert

the painful tube once more.

Daily suction was another necessary torture

to remove the fluid buildup in his lungs,

like a fish hooked on a line,

he gagged and coughed his way

through the vacuuming of his throat.

Death sat howling in a visitors chair,

at his struggles to embrace life.

Eventually he was weaned off of oxygen,

and was able to sit up and croak out words to us,

in his Godfather voice.

But then they decided to put a J-tube

into his small bowel, to replace the G-tube in his stomach.

The thinking was that this would help cut back

on his aspirations in the future.

Sadly during what was to have been a 30 minute surgery,

under twilight sedation and local anesthesia

he began coughing and moving around,

so they had to insert the vent once more.

This set back all of his vocal abilities,

by re-abrading his throat.

Plus his surgery ended up lasting

more then three hours.

Then death began Act two.

The doctor had ordered pain meds

on the day following surgery,

but the nursing staffed failed for some reason

to administer it to him for over 18 hours.

He had been stapled back together,

and every move caused him pain.

He was quite out of it, and could not

express his need through his pain,

and the tube in his throat.

We found out later about that hellish day he spent.

Meanwhile death was kicking him in the ass,

with 3 or four bedsores, after twenty days

on an air mattress bed.

Medicare would not order a mattress

that would prevent bedsores

until he actually had them.

I went out as soon as I knew and

bought a green tea, Aloe Vera and charcoal infused

ventilated 2.5 inch mattress pad of Memory Foam for his bed,

and also a memory foam pillow for his head.

$84.00 later my dad was floating on a cushion

that relieved all the pressure points.

His smile was priceless.

Medicare would have ordered egg crate foam,

which is abrasive, and then charged a couple

hundred dollars for the pleasure of insufficient protection.

They discharged my father too early,

they needed the bed, and so he was sent

to a nursing home nearby.

There he was placed in a 1970 hospital bed,

that had a crank to raise and lower his head and feet.

At the hospital he only needed to push a button

on his bed and it would raise and lower itself.

I asked them to let me put the memory foam

mattress on his bed, but they told me at

the nursing home that their policy forbid it.

It was not fireproof.

I was appalled and told them that nothing

made in 2009 in this country was flammable

as far as bedding is concerned,

yet they still refused to use it.

Patient comfort was overridden by policy control.

I also stopped a nurses aide while I was visiting him

in that hellhole, who came into his room

without gloves and a mask.

You see on top of all of his other miseries,

he had contracted mersa in the hospital

and we had to wear gloves and masks

whenever we visited him.

I told her she needed mask and gloves,

for his protection and hers,

Who knew what the last patient she visited

was infected with, or whether she even

had washed her hands.

Sadly that problem mattered little.

My dad in need of a bedpan rang his buzzer

forty or fifty times before a nurse responded

and by then it was too late,

he had soiled himself and his bedsores.

Fecal matter and open sores do not mix.

The nurse at the home noticed that the smell

of my father was similar to C-diff patients,

so she had blood drawn to do a culture,

and confirm it.

Then the doctor who was supposed to order P.R.

and suction for my father, failed to do so on day two

at the nursing home.

They also had no Jevity or Ensure to feed my dad

which is the only brands he can tolerate,

so they gave him something else instead,

which set off nausea and more diarrhea .

Subsequently he was rushed back to the hospital

by ambulance that night when he was having trouble breathing.

Death followed like a faithful puppy dog nipping at his heels.

Last night I visited him back at the hospital,

now in his fourth week of recovery??

He had spent the day in the E.R. waiting for a bed.

They had drawn ten more vials of blood

to do cultures and tests.

He was polka dotted with cotton balls

taped to his frail flesh.

When I got there he was in need of pain meds.

That was at 6:30 P.M..

By the time they got a doctor's order for meds

and then got the med from the pharmacy

it was 9:30 P.M.

He had not been fed all day, through his tube,

and when I left at nine thirty they still had not received

the Jevity he needed, that they had ordered

from dietary three hours earlier.

Suffice to say, I am not too happy with the systems.

He has three or four bedsores, Mersa, possibly C-diff,

plus post surgery Pneumonia, perhaps because Medicare

wanted him discharged as soon as possible.

So now we wait, but thankfully death

is on hold once more.

It is a thin, frail mistake riddled hold,

but it is at least a momentary respite for him and us.

I don't believe there is much of a chance

for an almost eighty year old man to survive

the complications of his plight,

through both the accidental and the negligent

procedures that he has faced and will face even more soon.

But I love this man we entrusted to those who

can heal him or at least give him some modicum

of comfort as he passes.

I understand mistakes are made,

I just never realized how many can occur

in four weeks of hospitalization.

He is not going back to that Nursing home,

we have what we hope is a better facility

if he makes it back out of the hospital again.

This hub is simply a forewarning of what you

can expect to deal with in our modern

medical treatment centers.

This is a great example of what the current

Medicare program offers, the program that most

republicans want to leave in place.

I can almost wish them all some bedsores,

some mersa, and C-diff so that maybe then

they can C-differently about the reforms

we truly need in this country and show some mercy

not mersa for those who now lie sore in bed.

This is but one story of one man ,

in agony many times over four weeks.

There are hundreds of thousands of similar

if not worse stories going on right now

all across this country.

There are also many many successes,

hopefully my father will be one of them, in the long run.

But I guess I want to warn you all, that if you

or a loved one goes into the hospital or a nursing home,

you must take an active, demanding role in their care,

lest you lose them to a careless mistake.

If a doctor comes to see them , tell them to demand

that he wash his hands before he treats them.

Nurses and aides too.

Match his family doctors request for meds

and tolerable foods, with the hospital staff.

Make sure if it is a prolonged stay,

that you provide something more than an air mattress

and daily turnings. Insist on it, buy it yourself, if need be.

I may still lose my dad to sepsis in his bedsores,or c-diff,

and they claimed the air mattress was the best thing for him,

and they turned him every four hours for three weeks.

We must take extraodinary measures

to prevent bedsores, beyond what Medicare and the hospitals offer.

I have leaned my lesson, it has been tattoed in the bruised viens

and blistered bottom of my precious dad.

I hope you can all fare better,

when the time comes for you to give death the finger.

Thanks for listening.~~~MFB III


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    • MFB III profile imageAUTHOR

      MFB III 

      8 years ago from United States

      Thanks randy for your comment, I am sorry to hear that your dad has another infection, but it sounds like he will go back to good care, We have to stand by our parents for all the years they stood by us, and gave us support. Obviously your family is full of love as well...MFB III

    • Randy Behavior profile image

      Randy Behavior 

      8 years ago from Near the Ocean

      Wow it has been rough for your Dad! Mine would tell a different story. He's spent a month and subsequent weeks at Stanford. They have missed things and forgotten things too, but my parents are mostly thrilled with them. They encouraged him to take a trip across the country before they start his chemo. Wouldn't you know he got his fourth infection and landed in the hospital there. Another do-si-do with death. They will probably fly him back to stanford, back to his doctors and "his" nurses that he knows intimately. And if they have the space my mom will get a roll-away to sleep beside him. She may even do her laundry there again and make coffee for the nurses.


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