What difficult children are like when they get old

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by muttmeister, May 10, 2008.

  1. muttmeister

    muttmeister Well-Known Member

    I have an aunt who will be 91 in a couple of weeks. She is very active for her age...she goes to the spa and swims laps and walks a mile and works out on the machines every day. She still drives her car and does whatever she wants... usually goes dancing a couple of times a month. She has always been considered the most stubborn person in our family (at least until difficult child#1 came along) and is very outspoken and independent. My mother laughs about all of the stuff she pulled as a child.
    Anyway, she had to go to the hospital this week as she was diagnosed with colon cancer. They did the surgery with only a tiny incision and she got along fine; will not need a colostomy bag, etc. BUT, here is the difficult child part: Her first night in the hospital after the surgery, she called the nurses repeatedly because she needed to get up to use the bathroom. They did not come and she ended up messing her bed. Twice. So yesterday, in the afternoon, she got up, removed whatever she was hooked up to (she had been a nurse so she did know what she was doing) and told them she was not spending another night in their damned hospital as they were not doing their job, and she called a cab and went home. She said she got a very good night's sleep last night and she got up this morning and put on all of her makeup (including her false eyelashes) and she felt fine. She has to go to her primary care doctor on Monday. I'm glad that's not me as I'm sure the doctor will get an earfull!
    I don't know whether to be horrified at what she did, or if I should cheer her on. Sometimes I think they think when you are in the hospital you are a captive audience and they can do whatever they want with you. I guess being like that never goes away. And I think I inherited a lot of it so it's either a terrible thing or a great thing, depending on how you look at it.
  2. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I would cheer her on!!! I had surgery in Dec and had to call the person in charge of quality control for nursing in the hospital to get the migraine medications the doctor ordered!! They would not even page my doctor!!! And the pain medications did NOT handle things, they were given orders to increase them, but each nurse REFUSED!!

    I would not have spent another night there either. No matter how short staffed, soem things just have to be done.
  3. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    If my son turns out like that, I will be a proud Mamma!!
    Thanks for sharing this- I think it is great. She has lived her life to the fullest and is a warrior.
  4. Abbey

    Abbey Spork Queen

    Sorry, Mutt...but adult difficult child's are like me. ;)

    Actually, her story reminds me so much of my grandmother. These people had...well, I'll politely use the word strength, but I could think of others.

    I hope she is ok and comes out of this.

  5. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    I'm not really sure that is being a difficult child...not in my definition of the word. I can think of other things. Perhaps it borders on being a difficult child. Certainly strong willed.

    One thing I thought about clearly reading the story...
    I had an elderly relative that was doing well. He was strong, proud, healthy and independent. Then he fell and broke his hip and was hospitalized. At the hospital, they would not come and help him go to the bathroom. One day, a nurse suggested they simply give him a diaper instead! He did NOT want to soil the bed, so he said okay. It CHANGED him. He NEVER used a bathroom again on his own, got accustomed to diapers, aged quickly, became senile and died shortly thereafter. I will NEVER forget it. Yes, you are held "captive" at the hospital. This is why I say to take an "advocate" with you.

    The way I see it, your aunt is a smart cookie.
  6. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Active Member Staff Member

    I had a horrible experience the night I had Missy. The nurses were terrible. I had to stay for three days, because I had surgery immediately following her birth. I was sick all night and there was only one other mother on the floor. The nurses did nothing and were getting annoyed that I was actually asking for some help. I couldn't even move to get sick. Thankfully, I didn't have the same nurses the following evening, or I would have left, too.

    Glad to hear what a spunky lady she is! Good for her! She should call and write a letter to the director of the nursing staff at the hospital. Patients should not be treated that way!
  7. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    I just wanted to mention, because surely there might be a nurse or two reading this thread...that most nurses do an absolutely fine job and are to be commended. I recall when I had my child, the nurse in the maternity unit was like a dream come true! I do believe that these days, there is a nursing shortage and that has made things much more difficult. The other day, my difficult child went to the ER, and there was a male nurse there that was VERY patient with my difficult child. Then again, I recall one time going with my husband and they were quick to misinterpret things and did not even given him something to vomit in, when I asked for one (so he had to throw up on the floor...and then of course...some poor soul had to clean that). Not sure...but I suspect years ago, it was very UNCOMMON to observe a nurse not on his or her best behavior. But, they are only human and if they are treated poorly, working too many hours, etc., it is likely to be reflected in their work. I think nurses instinctively know if they go to the hospital, they themselves better be "tough souls" or get someone to go with them. I don't know what the answers to all this is exactly...but generally, I think it stems from the fact that our country puts too much emphasis in the bottom line (money) and forgets about the needs of individuals and family.
  8. Suz

    Suz (the future) MRS. GERE


    I did almost the exact same thing a few years ago. I didn't consider it being a difficult child...I considered it survival!

  9. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Muttmeister, she sounds like a feisty old lady who at her age is entitled to a bit of respect.

    And all respect to nurses who DO do their job, but unfortunately there are those who will make their own assumptions and do things like insist on diapers for elderly patients who COULD manage, rather than let them have some dignity. Fair enough if there really is a big problem, but not where it can be managed with dignity for the patient.

    My mother went through a similar experience in her nursing home. She had had a brainstem stroke but with therapy could have recovered to be released home with care. But despite instructions given and a visiting physiotherapist, the nursing home refused to let her self-toilet. They wouldn't even walk with her as support; instead, she had her underwear permanently removed and for toileting they insisted on putting her into a hoist, garments round her waist, and wheeling her past other patients (including some males) to take her to the toilet. They also bathed her, including washing her hair, then without even towel-drying her hair they wheeled her out onto a windy balcony, with her wearing only a thin cotton nightie. My sister was there to visit with her and they kept my sister waiting for two hours while they bathed her. Within a week my mother had pneumonia. The nursing home staff insisted she was fine, but my sister knew her history and called the ambulance. At the hospital they gave my mother the choice to fight the pneumonia or let it take her. She chose to fight, but when a few days later she was told that the lack of exercise and therapy at the nursing home meant she would have to go back there, she refused all medication so she could die where she was. Her choice.

    After she died I tried to take action over it, but the nursing home claimed that nobody had ever visited her so how would we know? This was their policy - to discourage visitors to such an extent that people WOULDN'T know. My sister by this stage was too exhausted by the insistence that she was making it all up, and so we had to drop it. But I had said enough in high enough places, and that nursing home got a few surprise audits which resulted in them having to lift their game.

    My mother's aunt - found a breast lump when she was 80 but didn't tell her doctor. She figured (rightly) it was breast cancer, but thought she would die before it became a problem. When she was 99, something had to be done, it had grown and broken through the skin. So they did a simple mastectomy. It was the first time in her life she had ever had to spend a night in hospital. Three days later she was home in her apartment. A few months later we held a big party for her 100th birthday.
    When she was 101, she fell and broke her pelvis. She was in hospital again for a few days, then in a nursing home. For a week only. She discharged herself and went home to her apartment, where she immediately began her daily walks to the shops and back.
    About ten months later she was back in hospital to sort out her medication. Something went wrong about this time and they couldn't get her heart rhythm sorted out. She finally told them to leave her, to stop trying to fiddle with it, it was her time. Some years earlier she had said to me, "I've had a really good life, I've done a lot of things I've been proud of and I've seen a lot of change. But I don't want to live forever. One day my heart will just stop and I'll be so pleased."

    And as for hospital staff who refuse to give medication that's been ordered - that happened to me after I had difficult child 3. Because of my auto-immune neurological problem which resembles MS, I've been on very strong painkillers for years. While pregnant, the unborn baby's immune system actually damped down the auto-immune attack and so my pain levels were much better. I had stopped all pain medications so I could better manage during labour.
    But after he was born I immediately lost that protection. My specialist knew this would happen and had ordered my pain regime plus muscle relaxants. After the first couple of days the nurses started to get slack about bringing the pain medications when requested - a nurse would go off duty, for example, without telling anyone. Or they would forget. or be too busy. I complained to m,y doctor who spoke to the nurses in front of me, to make sure I knew they had been told. He also showed me where he had ordered the medications on my chart.
    I was told, "You shouldn't be needing pain medications now," so I showed them the chart and pointed out that my underlying condition meant that I lived on pain medications every day of my life, this wasn't post-partum.
    Then they told me they'd lost the key to the drugs cupboard. At that point I said, "Then isn't it a good thing my husband brought in my pain medications from home?"
    "You're supposed to hand those over to us," they exclaimed.
    "Where are you going to put them?" I asked. "You've lost the key to the drugs cupboard."
    We compromised. I took my medications from my supply when I felt I needed them (and did much better as a result) and I told them so they could write it on my chart.

    Those nurses were trying to do their job, but also interfering with the doctor's job. If they thought the doctor was prescribing pain medications inappropriately to a junkie, they had recourse they could have followed. I would have happily cooperated with an investigation. I even gave them the contact details of my pain specialist, but no, they knew better.

    As I said in the beginning - a lot of nurses do a great job and it's not an easy profession. But some make it really bad for everybody.

    My liver biopsy I had a few months ago - the nurses that day were absolutely wonderful. Caring, solicitous, but not hovering. Sensible. They did their job well and I told them so as I left.

    But as I get older, I'm finding I no longer suffer fools gladly. My tolerance is dropping. I guess I'm turning into a difficult child!

  10. Fran

    Fran Former desparate mom

    In defense of the nurses, when there is an emergency or an unstable patient on the unit, their priority is there. If it were your relative who was having a turn for the worse or a cancer patient who is dying you would hope they would make it a priority to be where they are needed most.

    Doesn't excuse poor planning or communication with the others who are ill and in need of assistance. Certainly doesn't excuse poor nursing practice, just like teachers.

    Everyone should self advocate. Mutt your aunt felt well enough to leave then she will do what she thinks is right. I have been known to do things in what I consider the right way for me or my family. Not difficult child behavior but taking care of what's important. A difficult child would have gotten up to go home and fallen on the floor and still insisted he/she were fine.
  11. muttmeister

    muttmeister Well-Known Member

    I guess I wasn't thinking that her going home was so much difficult child behavior: I probably would have done the same thing myself. But this is a woman who was pretty much a difficult child as a kid. She did KINDA grow out of it and she got married and had kids and held a job and had a great life but I think some of the difficult child-ness was coming out now, IN A GOOD WAY. I've always said that a lot of the behaviors our difficult children show could be a good thing if only we could channel it in the right direction.
  12. Nomad

    Nomad Guest

    I really like what Fran said.
    I think if we are well enough, it is best to self advocate.
    If we go to the hospital and are not thinking clearly and/or are in a state of emergency (like in an ER situation), then if at all possible, take someone with you. I do think there are some hospitals that are overworking their staff. AND it is true that they have to prioritize. However, your benign situation could end up a serious one if you are put at the bottom of the list. I recall that same elderly relative going to the ER and waiting 10 hours for treatment. husband didn't want to rock the boat. By the time he saw someone, he was dehydrated and spiking a fever. He went in originally for other problems.
    When I went the other day to the ER with difficult child the other day, she took an xray and waited way toooo long to get the results. The nurse kept on telling us it was typical. WRONG. I sensed it was WRONG. So...I spoke up. Even checked with xray. It had been sent and got lost in ER. It made things move a lot faster when I spoke up. (Please keep in mind this nurse was top notch...but seriously overworked).
    I agree. If you are at all able... advocate for yourself. As long as you don't do harm to yourself or others...I see no problem in it at all. Observing folks in an ER setting surely is a lesson in life!!!!
  13. Star*

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


    I think your Aunt is remarkable. I also believe that if you can - do. I'm also thinking of endorsing her as the US healthcare spokesperson for hospitalized and left to mess yourself.

    DF's sister is a nurse practitioner and a professor of nursing. When I told her the horrors of what I found in our local hospital involving her brother? SHE told ME who to call, and whom to bug, and WHAT to say.

    And it occurred to me that had I NOT known her - Df would still be lying there in his own vomit at 6:30 from a noon lunch cart, with no bath for 3 days, and food still on the tray in front of him - no one had checked on him for over 6 hours. HE fell asleep with the buzzer in his hand.

    So yeah for her. :tongue: