Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Glidepath to Heaven

"On glidepath," I remember hearing during instrument flight training in the Army.  Glidepath was the radar assured safe line from the sky to the runway.  Watching my mother as her body dies reminds me of the glidepath concept.  Her body has been "on glidepath" for months as it slowly shuts down, and surprisingly isn't finished yet.

Mom is on the glidepath to the hereafter, or you might think of it as the glidepath to Heaven.  Her body is on a mission to part with her spirit, giving it eternal freedom.  Eternal wholeness is the reward.  The glidepath to heaven ends with forever.  The slow deterioration of the body parallels a slow increase in services and personnel needed to support the failing body.  That could be referred to as the caretaker glidepath.

The caretaker glidepath remains earthbound, with slow progression toward the Hospice "crisis team" for "crisis care" and final peace.  There is no "crisis" except the need for another billing term to differentiate a different level of care.  "Heavenly Landing Team" might be a more fitting title.

Mom is on the glidepath to Heaven.  Slowly moving toward eternity.  She's content, happy, pleased.  Way to go, Mom.  Let's pray for a safe landing.

More later.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Home With Hospice

We were looking at various options for Mom.  Now, later, etc.  How long is now and how soon is later?  We looked at long term care options and realized that later is now.  At each place we discussed end of life care and hospice options.  If we could get some assurance about transfers from bed to wheelchair and wheelchair to commode, Mom could come home (to our house where she has lived for six months.  We had the home care company already with PT, OT, etcT (all the T's) options.

I called hospice to clarify options and decision points along the way.  Later IS now, I found out.  The hospice nurse/ boss explained the how, when and why of how they relate to a person like my mother. Wham!  They had connectors to our "A" team for PT, OT, Nursing, etc. and financial coverage in
areas where her personnel might be needed.  I realized that "Home with Hospice" was best for Mom. She could be here and they had respite care if we crashed and need relief.

The cat and dog really took a liking to Mom and will be excited to see her come back.

This will be another chapter in Mom's life, and the last one.

The hospital bed, bedside commode, hospital tray holder and one other item arrive tomorrow.
Mom arrives the next day.

We have a three day Holiday Weekend to get all settled.

Here we go!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Decision Time Nears for Mom's Nursing Home

Mom's running out of steam.  Dementia and deafness, a bad combination.  Mobility impairment. Weak legs.  Falls.  Fractured hip- surgically repaired.  Getting rehab. Hit a rehab plateau.  Can't transfer on and off the commode without lifters.  Stuckness is near.

I'm a doctor.  Still torn by this decision.  Afib, warfarin, diabetes, weakness, urine problems, recurrent infection.  Where's the cure button?  A nursing home is getting closer.  Not yet ready for hospice.

Sorry, Mom, we can't take you back home unless your legs work better.  We don't have two lifters at the house.  OK, God, how about some help, according to your will.  Amen.


Family Medicine: Time for Radical Innovation. Are We Up to It?

The innovation which is needed to get through the modern healthcare mess should be radical, not incremental. Currently, healthcare is money oriented and data driven.  Patient autonomy seems to be ignored via "Bonus-Based Medicine" driven by financial incentives and misguided "Quality Initiatives".  The calling to be a physician who served patients in a relatively sacred patient - physician relationship has been replaced by the job, secured by the contract, cluttered with consumer-clients (formerly called patients).

Don Berwick, MD wrote recently in JAMA that the current data driven era in healthcare should be replaced by the "Moral Era".  The Moral Era needs medical stewardship, appropriate use of scarce valuable medical resources.

G. Gayle Stephens, MD, one of the founders of Family Medicine, wrote of the importance of the counter-culture role that Family Medicine should play in the academic medical centers.   "But the constant is the skill of patient management.  One cannot be a Family Physician without highly developing this skill.... the sine qua non is the knowledge and skill that allows a physician to confront large numbers of unselected patients with unselected conditions, and to carry on therapeutic relationships with patients over time."

Dr. Stephens also warned of the current era of healthcare years before it happened.  "Recent developments are inimical to the role of the physician as healer.  We are developing an erroneous assumption that health care is a product and that the health problems of the population are remediable by medical technology."

It's time for Radical Moral Innovation--Medical Stewardship!

What do you think?

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Family Medicine: Working the Free Clinic with God

The vaccuum just turned off.  I turned in my prescription pad and loaded up the computers, picked up my all-purpose valise filled with confusing information about a vast array of projects.  We were finished with another night at the Free Clinic.
"Dr., there is one more patient back there.  She just got here."  I looked back the hallway, put down my case, found the prescription pad, put the stethoscope around my neck and walked down the hallway.  A door was closed and I could hear voices.  I knocked and entered to find our nurse taking the blood pressure of the patient.  (Yes, I was pressing the clock a bit since the pharmacy where patients filled our prescriptions was closing in twelve minutes).
I recorded the blood pressure as the nurse stated her findings. She was done with her part.  I read the reason for the visit and saw the list of six prescriptions requested, plus the two problems on top of the four chronic diseases.  Plus the 8 months since the last visit at which the patient agreed to get a lab test one month later.  Where had she been?  This could be challenging to beat the clock, if it was in play for the patient.
How can we help you tonight?  "I need my refills"
(OK, I sometimes get irritated when patients say that.  I practice medicine and prescribe medications if indicated.  Pharmacists give refills, I write prescriptions- a difference of some importance to me.)

"What kept you away?  We haven't seen you since last summer."
"Two jobs.  Prison. Court orders, daughter is in prison again for 30 days.  She gets violent with me, but I'm all she has.  She's only 16.  I don't know what I'm going to do."
"How do you cope?"
"I pray.  I work"
"Who loves you?"
"I guess my daughter does."
She was overwhelmed and near empty, but still human.  Someone loves her.  a someone who beats her occasionally, but a someone.
Hearing the story unfold, I listen for hope.  I ask about hope.  In her medical record she listed her religion as Christian.
I silently pray, "God we need help.  In the name of Jesus, please touch her heart with your love.  Please touch her daughter with the healing power of your love."
"And thank you, God, for bringing this woman here tonight to remind us all why we have the Free Clinic.  Please help us to show your love for her as one of your children.  Thank you for loving us as you have and leading Mary Ann Stone, RN, our "Founding Nurse Mother" (now leading from Heaven) to found this clinic."
I quickly examine her and write the prescriptions, all of which are indicated for her chronic conditions and situation.
"You're showing your daughter a Mother's Love and God's Love.  You're doing your best.  That's all you can do.  Thank you for what you're doing and what you're being.  God Bless You."

We clarified the prescriptions and her time frame for getting them filled and options for follow-up visits.
She smiled.  She left.
I cried for her. I cried with thanks that we can relay God's message to people like her and for the Hope that seemed present from the Creator of us all.  God is a great Free Clinic worker.

Disclaimer:
The names, dates, genders, exact circumstances, etc. of any references to patients are shifted to prevent identification of individuals.