Losing my good opinion of mankind

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by katya02, Jan 20, 2009.

  1. katya02

    katya02 Solace

    I spent a week in Ontario helping my dad and stepmom as she struggles with a clinical/scan diagnosis of metastatic lung cancer. Lots of frustration with the health care system, which I worked in as a family doctor as recently as 2005. She had her CT scan in December (after symptoms since October) and didn't get any further tests until mid-January. Then the Cancer Clinic won't even make an appointment to see her until several weeks from now. Until then she doesn't exist, as far as care is concerned.

    I truly don't understand why every initial contact person in the teaching hospital (reception clerks and triage nurses, basically) had to be deliberately rude and hostile. I felt bad for my stepmom who was trying to be gracious to hospital staff, when they ignored her attempts at polite conversation and talked across her bed to each other in franglais (Canadian French), joking and kidding and totally ignoring her. The floor nurses didn't have any working English and again were completely dismissive of all attempts to communicate with them.

    Then there was the attempt by my stepmother's son-in-law to get her to sign over every dollar and asset she possesses - literally - while she was doped up on morphine. Nice. In spite of my attempts at intervention, he actually got her to sign over $38,000 to his personal investment account in the time it took me to answer the doorbell (this was prior to hospital admission). My father and stepmom can sue to get the money back but will lose about half to the lawyers.

    My 75 year old father, who has chronic pain from a neurological disease, is afraid to leave his wife's side, so is spending 14 - 18 hours/day with her in hospital. I stayed longer than I'd planned but couldn't stay forever, so I'm back in PA.

    The only good thing that happened was that I convinced the ER doctor to admit my stepmother. She isn't eating, hardly drinks so is very dehydrated, can't stand up without help, has terrible pain 24/7, has obvious metastatic cancer on scans, and had sudden evidence of brainstem lesions over a day or two. She can't swallow even water safely. But where she lives, they want to send her home without care. The system is designed to eliminate pressure by letting a certain number of people die before they can get care.

  2. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    OH!!! ((((((hugs)))))) That had to be so horrible. To know what could/should be done ect. and not be able to get the process rolling. Then the sister in law and his antics. OMG! Sounds like something my former stepdad's kids would've (and probably did) done.
  3. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Active Member Staff Member

    I'm sorry you and your father are dealing with this right now. Is there a social worker involved? Will the SW keep in touch with you? Is there an advocate?

    This stinks. I'm sorry.
  4. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I am so sorry. This must be so painful for you, esp as you know exactly what SHOULD be done to help her. It sounds like a truly awful experience for all of you. I can see why your father is afraid to leave her alone at the hospital.

    It seems especially bad to me after spending 4 days in a small hospital here in OK where I was treated wonderfully by very gentle and kind nurses, aides and doctors. The system there in Ontario actually seems barbaric.

    Is there any way you can get your father and stepmother to travel to the US for better health care?

    And then to have her son turn around and steal from her, that is horrible. And it truly may limit her options at this point in her life and illness.

    I am so sorry.
  5. rejectedmom

    rejectedmom New Member

    So sorry that your stepmom and your dad are suffering at the hands of the health care system. -RM
  6. katya02

    katya02 Solace

    Thanks so much. I wish I could bring both my father and stepmom down here for health care but she's too weak to travel now. This came on so suddenly ... one morning she was at her Aquafit class and that afternoon she had a pathological fracture of a vertebra, and very quickly declined. Scary. There isn't a SW involved so far, but I did take my Dad to see a lawyer and find out options. The lawyer said that stolen funds can be gotten back via lawsuit, but if the cash disappears there'll be nothing to get back. Plus legal fees, of course. One of my sisters is going to travel to be with them this weekend. We hope that, if one or the other of us visits regularly and lets this sister in law know we're onto him, he may rethink his plans to strip his mother in law's assets. He basically doesn't want anything in the estate for my father to come into, and if he can get everything in his and his wife's names that's a bonus.

    He's so dumb, he actually left a typed sheet in my father's house that outlined his thinking and plans!! I gave a copy to the lawyer.
  7. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    With the son-in-law, I would pass the info re his asking for money (and the $38,000) to the executor of the estate. At some point, the money will become available and at THAT point the executor makes sure that money is taken into account in diving the estate. It needn't be done with any rancour, either. Just make it clear that the estate treated it as an interest-free loan, not a gift.

    For example - husband & I borrowed $10,000 from my father, to raise enough money to buy our house. The plan was we would pay back the principal after 5 years but when the time came, we just didn't have it. So Dad said, "Leave it until you can."
    But we never did get to pay it back.
    Ten years later my father died. A few years after tat, my mother died. My brother was executor, and found the details of the loan in my father's papers. He talked to me about it, but made it clear - the $10,000 was part of my share of the estate. I was OK with this because I knew my father had probably made similar loans to others, and the same conditions would now apply to them also. I still got money from my parents' estate and accepted that I had been using that money already, earlier.

    I know this thread is not about the money, but it is one thing that can be done.

    I would also talk to lawyers about this anyway, to try to prevent possible recurrences. Any document she signed while 'doped up' could be challenged, and he needs to know this. In other words, sonny jim - hands off.

    Also, you may find another legal avenue to getting the money back, that wouldn't lose too much of it. We have other options here in Australia, for example, if the amounts involved aren't too great.

    I'm so sorry you and your family, especially your stepmother, have to deal with this at such a bad time for her.

  8. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    Katya -

    Just sending my hugs and regards for your family and the awful situation that you are faced with. Not to mention the awful sister in law and brother in law you have been left to deal with.

    Many cares - hugs
  9. ML

    ML Guest

    You have gotten great advice and the only thing I can add is my support. I'm really sorry for your stepmom. How horrible to be treated with less than dignity and respect not only from the hospital staff but from her own family. She is lucky to have you! ML
  10. Star*

    Star* call 911........call 911

    Ohhhhh one added thing - may be too late to help BUT

    My sister is a teaching professor for nursing......she said had you gone to the administration of that hospital or the charge nurse - that problem would have been eliminated. Just something for future reference.
  11. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Things work a little differently up here, in the land of...cough..."universal" health care. Talking to hospital administration might net you a blank stare, but not much else.

    Don't want to get into politics, so I will stop there.

    Katya, I am so sorry that your stepmom had such a horrendous experience with care in the hospital. I hope that she becomes well enough to travel so that you can take her to the US for care. I've stood in your shoes with my mother in law, who is in the midst of her own battle with cancer (and with health care in Ontario).

    Sending hugs and saying prayers.

  12. katya02

    katya02 Solace

    Thanks so much, friends. Unfortunately it does work differently in the land of universal health *insurance* (rather than health care). I didn't want to get into that too much either, but was very frustrated when in practice there.

    I really hope I'll be able to bring my stepmom here once she's stronger. The medical team spoke with her yesterday morning around 6:30 am, when my Dad wasn't there, and told her the tissue diagnosis, that chemo won't help, that she'll be sent home Friday, and that she has 6 months as an optimistic estimate. She was in pieces when my Dad arrived and he hasn't been able to track anyone down since. So he was pretty upset this morning. I know the teams make rounds early, before everything else starts, but in cases where they're communicating a death sentence I really think a family conference is indicated. That's what I always did. :(
  13. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Katya, that is heartbreaking. No matter how many times I've seen it, I continue to be astonished at how needlessly heartless and cruel the health (I won't call it care either) system can be. Patients aren't people to them, merely collections of symptoms and charts, and medications.

    I am so sorry that your stepmom was put through that, in addition to everything else that she is dealing with.

    Saying prayers and sending strength to your family, as you go through this very difficult time.

  14. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    Katya, you'd think the least they could've done was to sit down and give the news to both of them together. How horrible. I'm so sorry. I know you've got to be feeling might frustrated right now.

    I wonder, since you actually found the sister in law's plan to swindle money out of stepMom....do you think perhaps the police would get involved?? Might be faster than lawyers and lawsuits if they will. Just a thought.

    Your stepMom and dad are in my prayers along with the rest of the family.

  15. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Oh, Katya, that's awful.

    You'd think they'd have a SW and pt advocate.

    I am so sorry about the s-i-l. :censored2: !!!

    WHY do people have to do things like that?

    Peace to your Dad and stepmom.
  16. katya02

    katya02 Solace

    Thankfully, my sister is going to stay with them this weekend. I hope my stepmom isn't sent home Friday but it may happen. Home Care won't kick in over the weekend.

    The lawyer didn't think police would help at this point, since my stepmother signed a document giving permission for transfer of funds. The issue is her competence at the time, having been doped up with painkillers, and that's for the lawyers. I have to call him and check that he followed up with the sister in law's lawyer to tell the guy to cease and desist.