Heaven Help You If you Ever Get Hurt in This Country

My Husband Fractured His Knee and the Health Care System is Making Our Lives Miserable, if not Dangerous

wheelchairFor the last couple of years, my husband’s legs had been getting weaker.

After 2 knee replacement surgeries and 2 hip replacement surgeries, the pain and the weakness  were getting worse.

We went for shots and anything that would help alleviate some of the pain. Nothing was working.

There were a couple of falls over the months and we got them x-rayed and he would take it easy and things seemed, if not perfect, not too terrible. He was still walking, although with a pronounced limp. Eventually, he needed to use a walker.

However, about 6 weeks ago, my husband took a horrible fall where his knees completely went to his sides.

The fall was horrible.

I went to grab him and my back instantly made a cracking sound and I could not straighten up, The pain was excruciating and I started screaming.

We called the paramedics and they immediately took him to the hospital. After being in the ER,  the doctors said that the knee looked fine. He just needed to rest it.

He continued to have extremely weak legs and fell again and this time there was no question that something was extremely wrong.

This time, when the paramedics took him to the hospital, they took a ct scan and, it turned out, that his knee was fractured. He spent about 3 days in the hospital.

They placed him in an immobile brace and his leg had to be kept right in front of him in a wheelchair and he could not even step on his other foot.

He was completely dependent on others now for everything from going to the bathroom to getting dressed. This is particularly difficult for him as he is so proud.

We got him into a rehab and after 2 weeks of keeping completely off both legs, while he was resting his legs, this 5 star rehab would let him lay in bed for a half hour after he used the call light when he needed to use the bathroom. When I went to visit him, he would still not be dressed by 11:00 in the morning. It was clear they were doing the minimum.

With no “heads up”, after two weeks they said I needed to find a new place for him within 5 days and it would be on our dime. Why didn’t they tell me that in the beginning so I could begin looking for a good place for him? They gave me a piece of paper with about 100 places on it and was told they were not allowed to recommend any place.

During this time, we got in with an orthopedic doctor at the medical center and he took x-rays and said that it did look like he was healing. He was put in more of a mobile brace and we felt very heartened.

I found a broker who helps find rehab and nursing places that have a good reputation and are licensed, etc.

He suggested a group home as a good alternative for my husband rather than a nursing home to rest and begin his rehab with physical and orthopedic therapy. The broker said that it would be nice because it would be just like living in his own home and he would get nice meals and it wouldn’t be like a hospital at all.

group home
google image

The idea sounded great.

It was a little expensive, but we both thought it was well worth it.

We had a few days to check out a few places, get his medications  in order, get a TB test and set up transfer which the rehab has nothing to do with and we had to do on our own and pay for ourselves.

I chose the place that was immaculate, promised great care and there was a lot of room to move around in.  He would also have his own room. The room was adorable, with nice inviting lamps and cute comforters on the bed, a big recliner and his own tv.

On the day of the move, we were told he would be picked up between 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. We finally got him transferred (5 hours late) and into his new home.

When I looked closer this time, I noticed that the bed was pretty small and my husband is a fairly large man. I was worried about his rolling off the bed and voiced my concerns.

They said that they would let pull the large recliner up to the bed.

Sure enough, he did fall and they found him on the floor the next morning. I wanted to pull him out that day, but he insisted on staying.

He slept most of that day and I wasn’t concerned.  I attributed it to his traveling and long day beforehand.

The next day, he was extremely tired again. I brought more clothes over and other things to make him more comfortable.

When I visited, they told me all was well, but he was very tired.

That night, after waiting all day to hear from him ( I didn’t want to wake him up),  I kept trying to call him on his Cell and there was no answer. I called the Home at 4:00 p.m. and they said he was fine but tired. I asked for him to be put him on the phone. He sounded extremely disoriented almost like he’d had a stroke.

I asked to be put back on with the group home director and I asked why he sounded so bad and they said he was tired and I just said “bull”. I know my husband. Something is very wrong.”

I ran to the group home about 5 pm and when I got there he was extremely pale and confused. He didn’t know the date or month.

At that time they chose to tell me that he could barely lift his arm at lunch and food was falling out of his mouth.

They never called me. I will never forgive them for that!

I told them they had to call an ambulance and they were arguing with me about whether it was necessary and I said, “absolutely”.

They then took out their blood pressure cuff and his blood pressure was extremely low. They said he now had a fever of 99 degrees. Why hadn’t they done any of this checking before?

The paramedics came and told him he needed to be in the hospital.

When we got tot the hospital, they took his temperature and it was 102 degrees and he was dehydrated. He had a very bad bladder infection, which I’m sure was brewing for quite some time.

The home wanted to make sure I wasn’t blaming them for this.

The fact was that the Home did not call me when it was clear he was so very ill that he couldn’t even feed himself.

My husband is 20 years older than me and not in good health. I believe that there was a good chance that he would not have made it through the night.

He’s now back in the hospital.

This time, I’m ready for them.

I told them to get me a social worker immediately. I said I need a place for my husband to go when he gets out of the hospital. He can’t come home until he can walk.  I also am having a great deal of trouble walking myself and cannot hold him up.

I said,  “Don’t pull this crap of waiting until the last day and giving me 24 hours to find a place for him to get rehab”.

Within an hour a Social Worker was in the room.

As it is, we’ve e already lost over a month of help that he desperately needed.

So, this is basically the run around we’ve been getting and my husband has good insurance.

I am more than frustrated and I am sick of trying to put this all together on my own. I am not a social service agency. Where are these people who are supposed to help us? My husband worked hard his whole life and this is how he’s being treated when he finally needs some help.

I just want you to know that you have to be an advocate for your loved one. No one will look after them like you will.

UPDATE:  IT WORKED! My husband, as of last night, is in one of the best rehab hospitals in the city and he’s happy and I’m happy and, if all goes well, within a month, he will be back home with me.

Have you experienced anything like this?


Additional Resources:

Being an Advocate for your Loved One – National Caregivers Library














2 thoughts on “Heaven Help You If you Ever Get Hurt in This Country

  1. Yes Tovah, health care and rehab services for the elderly remain a mystery. You are basically thrown to the wolves. My family is going through the same thing with my dad. I sat here nodding my head as a read your account.

    Just recently, my dad had a fever. The nursing home staff gave him Tylenol instead of calling his doctor. The next day he ended up in the hospital dehydrated and needed a blood transfusion. He has been in the hospital for about ten days now. This nursing home came ‘highly recommended’.

    Most of our experiences are similar–seems like the staff won’t do anything until you question them. My dad gets daily visits from my mom or another family member which is why they were able to discover early on that something wasn’t right.

    Initially, mom wanted to keep him at home and have home health care, which was fine but mom is elderly herself and dad required more care than our family could provide.

    Years ago, an elderly woman I rented from had surgery then a stroke. Mrs. W. had a personal assistant for years. When she was placed in the best nursing home in our area, the personal assistant followed. She attended to Mrs. W. full time, everyday until her death.

    One thing I’ve learned from this — in spite of being in a ‘great/good’ place, our loved ones may still require an advocate and/or independent support. Mrs. W.’s personal assistant (for over twenty years) was hired by her very wealthy daughter and was paid well. Not many families can afford this–so we have to become the advocate. Keep speaking out and question everything. Sad to say this, but in today’s economy, great care is not a given, it must be demanded.

  2. Hi Robin:

    I’m so sorry to hear about your dad. How awful that is!
    How is he doing now? I hope better.
    I’ve found that the hospital/home needs to know that someone is watching them.
    I don’t know what becomes of people who have no one to advocate and look out for them.
    Thank goodness for your family looking out for your dad.
    Even in this great place that my husband is in now, I still have to go and get water for him myself or he’ll wait a long time or help with the bathroom.
    It’s just so sad, really.

Comments are closed.