Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Tale of Two Women

A True Health Care Scary Story...

Woman #1: An elderly woman in her 80’s was at home when she began suffering increasing confusion, delirium and mental status changes. This state of mind was very unusual for her. She had a history of a stroke so no punches were pulled and an ambulance was called to take her to the Emergency Room. Once there, they found she had a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), also known as a “bladder infection”. They drew blood and sent her home on oral antibiotics. The next morning, upon receiving the results of the blood test, they found that she had urosepsis. Sepsis is an infection in the bloodstream that is extremely dangerous if untreated. Her sepsis was caused by the UTI, hence the name urosepsis. She was rushed to the hospital, via ambulance and is on a several day course of IV antibiotics. Her confusion is waning and she is returning to her old self.


Woman #2: This woman, also a senior citizen, underwent cardiac bypass surgery and was sent to a skilled nursing facility (aka nursing home) for rehab. While there she began speaking gibberish and responding inappropriately to questions and situations. They moved her to the Alzheimer’s Unit. It was only after the transfer that they discovered this woman was suffering from a raging UTI. Her mental status returned to normal after a course of IV antibiotic therapy.


What is interesting in these two stories is the following: neither woman had outward signs or symptoms of the UTI. Also, both women remember absolutely everything. They realized they were talking nonsense but the infection created a “disconnect” between their brains and how they were communicating. Fortunately, in both cases, the cause was discovered, and treated, rather quickly.


As a health care professional I have seen this scenario all too often. What surprised me, however, was that each woman had absolutely PERFECT MEMORY of their experiences. Even though I always try to treat my patients with respect , I wonder about the numerous times in my 30 year career that I’ve heard thoughtless comments uttered in the presence of these type of patients. What humility they must have felt. It saddens me greatly. 


I pray that these scenarios point us to the dignity all life deserves. Let us all be more aware of how we treat those in positions of disability, weakness and infirmity. Let us never, ever abuse this sacred trust.

On a Lighter Note...




Thank you Ms. Bibi, from From Misery to Happiness in 365 Days. This lovely lady had such nice comments to say about me  on a recent post, when bestowing upon me the Honest Scrap Award. I graciously accept this honor.





I received the Dragon's Loyalty Award from my long time blog friend Tats (Nicole) over at Tattoos and Teething Rings. We've been there for each other since the beginning, almost 1 year ago. Please check out her out if you have the time. 


I would like to pass this off to all of my long time blogging friends who have been with me from the start....you know who you are so go ahead and grab this award and go. I'm talking to you, Willoughby, Luis,Thames, Raouly;s Girl, Christine, Lisaloo and Who am I!. If you have the time, please check these folks out if you haven't already done so. They are all unique and keep me grounded in this place called cyber space.

21 comments:

5thsister said...

Truth be told, "Woman #1" is my mother, who remains in the hospital as I type.

Julie Schuler said...

Speedy recovery to your mother. It's good that she has you to advocate for her.

Lee the Hot Flash Queen said...

Congrats on the awards! This same thing happened to my Great Aunt. IV antibiotics and now she is normal.

Jephy's Mom said...

I have a remarkably similar story to yours; only mine would be a Tale of Two Men. A while ago, my dad who is also eighty had a cystoscopy. The next day, he came down with a fever and thought he was getting a cold because he didn’t really have any other symptoms. The following day, he was very weak and started losing consciousness. He was taken to hospital by ambulance where it was determined he had really low blood pressure due to sepsis. The wife of the patient in the bed next to my dad recognized him. She had seen my dad two days earlier when she had accompanied her husband (who incidentally had Alzheimer’s) when he too had received a cystoscopy. He had been taken right after my dad. There’s more to the story but it would make the post too long. I’ll just end by saying, that at the time of the procedure, the wife had questions about the cleanliness of the equipment used. We know the hospital was investigating because we received a letter but we never did hear how it ended. And of course, we wouldn’t want to cause any trouble by asking “what happened?” Hope your mom gets well really soon.

5thsister said...

JMom! How awful!

kys said...

Congrats on your awards! I worked in nursing homes for several years. I've seen this happen before. I always tried to treat all the residents as if they were my grandmother.

Willoughby said...

Thanks for the award!

I'm glad to hear your mother is responding to the treatment. I hope she will be well enough to come home soon.

I know what you mean about thoughtless comments made by hospital staff. The day after my daughter was born, an OB nurse tried to convince me that I was being selfish by choosing to treat her. I told her I would prefer to take the advice of neonatalogists, not an OB nurse. To think what I would have missed......I would love to take my healthy, normal nine year old daughter to see her now.

Lee the Hot Flash Queen said...

Ahem...since you have a no reply at blogger dot com and DID not take my advice yesterday, I must respond to you here! Yes, that was a big huge fat hint!

This has happened so many times, it is something that I am starting to notice. So, I have not sent it back, as it would be sent back every single time at every single restaurant. I do, however, take the food where the finger was, and remove it from the plate!

Tattoos and Teething Rings said...

I hope that your mother recovers fully, how awful for both of them! Unfortunately, I hear stories like this (and worse) all the time, as my mom is a nurse at a rehab/nursing facility.

Ms Bibi said...

Congrats on your awards...you deserve them and more.

I wish your mom and the other lady a quick recovery. What an awful things for someone to go through especially in their age.

Tiffany said...

I hope your mother is well very soon.

5thsister said...

Just received an email from my sister. Mom is much better. They are going to keep her one more day so she'll be going home some time tomorrow.

Lissaloo said...

Good to hear, I'm she will be very happy to be home again :)
Thank you for the award my Sweet Friend :)

Tracy said...

thoughtful insights to remember when caring for anyone.

Kimberly said...

I hope your mom is allowed to come home soon. What a painful story.

On a lighter note, I am glad you are getting so much recognition! Congrats!

Keep up the great work! My time here is a little "time out" for me.

Thank you!

Charisse and Holly said...

Gosh, such great information...since I'm sure most of us have aging parents or grandparents to think about. I've often thought there should be classes to teach us how to care for our aging relatives...what to look for, how to help. Holly at lifelaughlatte.blogspot.com

thamesarino said...

Wow, I'm sorry about your Mom but glad to read that she is doing much better now.
I know that when I recently had my short stay at the hospital whether or not the nurses were kind and compassionate completely effected how my day was going to go!
thanks for the award... appreciated as always! : )

Anonymous said...

testing commentary...please ignore.

Holly said...

Glad your mom is doing better. Thank you for the post. I had no idea UTI could lead to such symptoms. M husbands grandmother had Alzheimer's and when we would visit her, everyone would "adopt" us for that hour or two we were there and we would treat them like we knew them forever. I don't have any grandparents left and my parents are still young, but this is definitely good info to keep in my mind for the future.

michelle keith said...

thank you for sharing that- how interesting the obvious can be so easily overlooked.

ChristineM said...

Hope your mom is feeling better soon! Until I heard about this, I never realize the different ways elderly folks can be affected by something we tend to look at as simple (although not pleasant!)

My sister and I were the recipients of one of those "thoughtless comments" - my mom had just had complication from open heart surgery - she rejected the platelets received during the surgery - and ended up on a respirator. They also left her chest cavity open for 24 hours while they were trying to determine if it was the valve she was rejecting...ANYWAY! By day 4, my sister was asking one of the nurses if they expected to try to get her off the respirator soon, and the nurse rolled her eyes and said, "Look! If it wasn't for all those tubes and machines your mother would be dead right now" Well, DUUUUUHHHH! I could have punched her. Later that day they DID remove her from the respirator...

Now that THAT's off my chest...Thank you dear friend for the award! ;)

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