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A Fearless Caregiver Story
By: Myrna B. Lambert

A fearless caregiver is a guardian angel.

A caregiver is defined as an individual who takes care of a sick or disabled person. Caregivers must also be advocates: taking notes at the doctor's office, administering medications as prescribed, and following medical instructions.     

My husband Larry had multiple sclerosis. While on vacation, Larry fell out of bed and broke his hip. He was immediately taken to the nearest hospital. I contacted a surgeon, but he could not perform the surgery for two days. The nurse provided my husband with medications to ease his pain. Little did I realize that the pain would be the least of his problems.

Later that day, the nurses administered his daily medication. Larry began hallucinating. Something was seriously wrong. I requested the medication chart and discovered he had mistakenly been given seven times the prescribed amount of one drug! He was completely incoherent.

I immediately left the room to find a doctor. When I returned, Larry was gone! The nurse said that my husband was in ICU because they could not control his erratic behavior. I rushed to the ICU and found Larry delirious. I demanded to see the medications they were giving him and, to my astonishment, I discovered they were administering high doses of a tranquilizer. Transforming into a fearless caregiver, I ordered them to cut the dosage. In place of a tranquilizing medication, I stated that I would stay with my husband. The head nurse ungraciously consented and I began a 24/7 shift that lasted for two days.

The following day, the administrator informed me that they were going to give Larry a spinal prior to surgery. Immediately, I telephoned his multiple sclerosis doctor to make sure a spinal was an appropriate procedure considering Larry’s medical history. He stated, “No spinal unless absolutely necessary.”

It was now apparent that I was in for another argument with the hospital staff. I then spoke with the orthopedic surgeon. Thankfully, he agreed with our MS doctor and the spinal was shelved.

The doctor recommended a rehabilitation institute following Larry’s surgery. I contacted an excellent rehab facility and they agreed to accept him.

On the third day, the nurse said Larry could not go to this particular institute because they had no room. The hospital was discharging him that evening and sending him to a nursing facility.

I replied that we were not going to a nursing home since our rehabilitation facility had accepted him. In a huff, the nurse left the room. She returned fifteen minutes later, explaining that Larry needed to vacate the hospital or I would be required to pay out-of-pocket.

One hour later, another nurse appeared, reporting that the hospital had received permission for immediate transfer. Fortunately, Larry did well and we returned home six weeks later.

To all dedicated caregivers, make time to discuss important decisions with family members and if something does not feel right, speak up. Your loved one has complete trust in you. You are his guardian angel.

 


 

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