DOC IN THE BOX SAVED MY HUSBAND’S LIFE

Medical 2015
by – Sheri de Grom

I started this post several months ago and had an entirely different opinion of Urgent Care Clinics. What we’d often called ‘Doc’s In A Box,’ saved Tom’s life on March 23, and they didn’t mention BIPOLAR DISORDER one time. I have a new respect for this segment of the medical industry.

I don’t believe I’m hasty in reversing my opinion. Let’s look at the objectionable facts leading up to this incident:

I’d been unable to reach Tom’s internist for 4 days and Tom breathing was shallower by the minute. His coughing was uncontrollable and none of our old tricks were working. We still didn’t know what was happening to his feet and he couldn’t walk. I’d been pushing him in a wheelchair for the better part of 4 months and tending to his every need for well over a year. I was beyond exhausted and had become a prisoner in our home.

I’d thought nothing could be harder than procuring excellent mental health care for the man I loved, but the playing field became upside down when we each turned 65. The past 8 months had been a living hell on earth as I watch Tom suffer and I knew it was needless.

For 25 years I’d read everything possible from lay books to text books and gained useful insight about Tom’s mental illness. I’d attended symposiums meant for medical staff only and participated in round-table discussions. I’d written legislation to change existing laws and felt confident that I knew what I was talking about and even demanding.

I insisted on what I thought was right from mental health care workers at all levels (including treating physicians), insurance companies, and legislators alike. I wrote legislation and spent night after night in committees until words were chiseled in such a way they could not be changed once they reached congressional vote. I refused to give an inch.

I entered a new area of health care exploration when Tom was hospitalized Sep 22 and diagnosed incorrectly. He suffered unimaginable pain while I searched for answers. Critical functions of Tom’s body were breaking down simultaneously and his doctor of record pumped him full of antibiotics by IV 24/7 with no discernible improvement. Of course, the physician didn’t know if Tom had anything that could be fought with antibiotics. We did not have one conclusive ‘test’ stating this fact.

Tom was in unbearable pain when he was admitted to the hospital on Sep 22 and nothing had changed when he was discharged 8 days later. The doctor sent him home with more antibiotics and pain pills!

I continued my research but the progress was minimal. Seven months passed as we continued to see a parade of physicians wanting to dispense more antibiotics and pain pills. Tom was continuing to fade away and I was becoming more and more frightened. We saw 7 new physicians and not one changed the admitting diagnosis of cellulites yet we still had not one shred of evidence that was what was happening in Tom’s body. More and more antibiotics were prescribed and more and more pain pills. We didn’t want antibiotics and pain pills, we wanted answers!

I’d had enough, on March 23, 2015, one day before Tom’s 67th birthday, I bundled Tom in a heavy coat and drove him to a new Urgent Care Facility (Doc In The Box). It was probably the smartest medical move I’d made in a year when it came to his medical care.

I couldn’t take him to the local ER where we had waited for 8 hours before seeing a medical attendant and were treated as though we were second class citizens.

For several months I’d been researching the provision of the Affordable Care Act which drives the latest boom in new construction which is in free standing urgent care facilities.

On this terrible day, I saw the ‘Doc In The Box’ as a means to an end, immediate care for Tom.

Rounding the sharp edge of their parking lot as fast as I dare go, I gathered Tom from the car and screamed for help as we made our way to the clinic. I didn’t have time for that dang wheelchair. I could get him there faster in my arms.

Where does the adrenaline come from, but damn it, I wasn’t losing him now. I knew somehow this was our last stop between life and death. It was our last hope!

Yanking the insurance cards from my pocket, I tossed them toward the admitting desk and an orderly rushed to help me with Tom. We were taken to a treatment room immediately.

The doctor’s momentum demanded action. Monitoring devises were placed and she barked, “Call EMT for cardiac arrest transport.”

Getty Images

Getty Images

How long did I hold my breath waiting for the man I loved to breathe again? Please, God, not like this.

One moment I heard the screaming sounds of the ambulance approach and before I could focus my tear filled eyes, Tom was whisked away. Time ceased to exist. We were living one breath at a time.

What did I learn from this experience: No one at the Urgent Care or ‘Doc In The Box, was trying to one-up their peer. They worked as a team and were a ballet in precision. The 4 were seamless and the immediate arrival of the ambulance allowed the smooth transport of Tom into the ambulance for his life-saving trip to the ER.

Much of what had kept Tom from receiving the care he so desperately needed over the past 9 months was doctors playing the one-up-man game and political-in-fighting. There were too many egos for Tom to receive appropriate medical care.

I lost all track of time from the moment Tom left for the ER and the time I arrived at the hospital to join him. A staff member asked if I would like someone to drive our car to the hospital and they would give me a ride.

Arriving at the hospital that night, the many times I’d arrived at hospital ERs for Tom rushed through my memory bank. How many times had I feared for his life, how many times had I prayed, God’s will be done?

The ER technicians, physicians, nurses, breathing specialist, cardiologist and the entire medical team worked in unison that fateful night. The primary treating physician told me I came within 3 minutes or less of losing the man I love that day. Why are doctors compelled to tell me how delicate Tom’s health is? I know I’m the one that’s on first. I know I’m the one that must be vigilant. WHY DOES THE MEDICAL PROFESSION GREET ME WITH SUCH RESISTANCE? I’d called 8 times to Tom’s regular providers asking for help as this particular episode turned into a life or death situation.

Is this another case of doctors discriminating against those with a mental illness? Please Lord, tell me it’s not so.

I have a new respect for the new Urgent Care Clinics springing up everywhere since the passage of Obamacare. I’m not saying I agree with how it’s being accomplished or that I like Obamacare, I don’t. I loathe the Affordable Care Act and what it’s done to our health care but on March 23, 2015, it saved Tom’s life. Urgent Care helped us when no one else was interested in providing the medical care we so urgently needed.

In my earlier research, I discovered it’s the few who are making millions on the backs of taxpayers in the building of the Urgent Care Clinics, but that’s the way Obama and Obamacare works!

The intent of the new clinics being built today is to insure health care availability where affordable housing is located. [This is the basic premise of the requirement – accessible primary healthcare for those who otherwise could not reach healthcare unless it was in their neighborhood].

The argument for building and financing the clinics was that with them being built in communities where low income populations with insurance lived; the health centers would drive the cost of health care spending down. It was to be a win-win solution.

A $100 million fund has been established to build community centers near affordable housing as demand for primary-care services are expected to rise. The law includes approximately $10 billion for the creation of new, federally qualified health centers.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, “[the fund will rely on $87 million in loans from Morgan Stanley in exchange for tax credits to build 500 new affordable housing units and eight new health centers serving 75,000 people.”]

What I’ve noticed in our city is approximately 10 – 12 of these primary care clinics have popped up in less than 18 months. Do they serve a purpose? I must say yes, they saved Tom’s life when I had no other avenue.

Does our city need or meet the criteria for the clinics. The answer is a resounding no. The clinics are being built in affluent neighborhoods when they are targeted for inner-cities. Yes, the clinics are more likely to succeed in a city such as ours where we have fewer than 10 violent crimes per year.

I was less than pleased when I first read and started researching the hidden monies going into the Urgent Care Clinics masked as Primary Care Clinics. But again, they were there when I needed them and they rose to the occasion.

On a separate note, I’ve been away from the blog for many weeks and I cannot promise I’ll be around more than in the past months. Tom has been an extremely ill man and I spend my days and nights caring for the man I love. I think about little else.

I’m delighted to report we now seem to have a correct diagnosis but in the meantime the wrong diagnosis affected his entire body.

Every good ER doc reminds his patient to follow up with their internist or family doctor as soon as possible. Of course, this very thought returned to my 8 previous attempts to do just that before these life-saving measures were required.

We finally saw Tom’s internist on March 31, a total of 6 days after he had gone into cardiac arrest but still the first appointment we could get. Thankfully, I’d advised the ER Doc we might not get in right away and that we had full pharmaceutical coverage. I was giving him permission to write prescriptions for whatever he thought Tom would need over the next week, for fear we couldn’t get an immediate appointment. The doc took my word and we had to use every medication the good doc wrote for Tom.

A miracle occurred as a result of this horrific scare and I do wish we hadn’t had to sacrifice nearly a year of our lives to arrive at the place where we are today but we now have a protocol in place for Tom’s immediate medical needs.

Many of you know I’ve always been able to call Tom’s psychiatrist cell phone direct whenever necessary. I respect the psychiatrist’s kindness but I don’t hesitate to call when we need his assistance. I also provide an e-mail with specific bullet items spelled out for his quick reference of what I’m seeing regarding Tom’s mental health.

Tom’s internist was furious when I explained to him what had happened to us over the past year, since Tom’s misdiagnosis on Sep 22, 2014. He knew the bolts and nuts as Tom’s internist but not the additional issues we’d had in obtaining the medical care Tom needed.

He told us if his nurse did not get back to me within 1 hour of my initial phone call, I was to call his appointment desk and advise them I needed an appointment within 12 hours. It didn’t matter if they told me there were no appointments available. His words, “Tell them Dr. Edwards said to double book.”

Leaving Dr. Edwards office that day, I had hope. Another private cell phone number should the occasion ever arrive when I couldn’t reach him.

Tom’s having some of the same problems today and I just called the doctor’s office. Something must have changed after he bellowed down the hall the day we left, “All staff, conference room now, everyone.”

Today the nurse returned my phone call within 30 minutes and offered an appointment less than an hour out, but I knew I couldn’t get Tom and I both ready to leave the house in less than an hour and be there on time. We have the next best thing, an appointment at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow.

Your prayers and kind thoughts mean the world to me and I try to make the rounds of reading your blogs as often as possible. I love and respect each of you and hope to get back into some routine of blogging soon. This past year I’ve learned more about this health care system of ours than I ever cared to learn. I’ve also learned much about the health care availability in countries around the world and we’ll do a bit of exploring there also.

Thanks for sticking with me. God Bless.

Tell me, what have you been up to lately? I’ve missed each of you.

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About Sheri de Grom

Retired Fed/JAG, 5 yrs. on Capitol Hill. Former book buyer for B and N. Concerned citizen of military drawdown. Currently involved in mental healthcare reform, health care strategist and actively pursuing legislative change wherein dual retirees are exempt from enrolling in Medicare at their own discretion without losing tertiary healthcare benefits. Monitor and comment on Federal Register proposed legislation involving Mental Health, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, Medicare and rural libraries. Licensed OSHA Inspector to include Super Fund sites. Full time caregive to Vietnam era veteran. Conceptualized, investigated possible alternatives, authored, lobbied for, and successfully implemented Title X, Section 1095 (known as the Third Party Collection Program of Federal Insurance).
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161 Responses to DOC IN THE BOX SAVED MY HUSBAND’S LIFE

  1. I am sorry to hear about your troubles and your husband’s conditions. I have nothing good to say about health care in North America, and it’s even worse in Canada, I mean, when somebody is not a famous or an extraordinary rich person, they get something which is not really a care. I am sometimes wondering how so many doctors who are lacking decent knowledge got their certificates. Is it surprising also that any medication is 5 to 10 times more expensive in North America than it is in Europe. Well, when it comes to greed, nobody beets North America.

    • We had a most difficult year obtaining the care Tom needed for well over a year and it was so frustrating. We have several issues aligned with different speciality clinics now but it’s still frustrating for me, his caregiver, to know we may be beating down doors where we aren’t going to get more answers. I’m frustrated to no end but that doesn’t stop me from searching and trying to obtain the absolute best for Tom. He has so many different medical issues it’s difficult to get everything under control at one time. ER doctors are the worst and the one we saw on this particular night was one of the worst we’ve ever seen!

  2. I hope your example of perseverance helps others who may have to suffer through similar crises. I don’t often say this, but God bless you and Tom.

  3. janjoy52 says:

    So sorry for this uphill journey. Glad to see you are praying. This way you truly are never alone. I will add my prayers for you both!

  4. Wow, Sheri. I didn’t know this. I’m glad he is better. I’m so grateful he finally got good medical care. I totally know this feeling. We were in India last November and my husband contracted dengue fever. Alone in a foreign country, it was not easy to manage, but I got him to the hospital and God did the rest. He went into a multi organ failure and I almost lost him. Thank God our husbands are okay.

    • The decision was made to go ahead with a procedure for Tom yesterday; every test indicated he was strong enough and well enough to have the procedure performed. Due to any number of reasons, none of which we know for sure, Tom’s lungs collapsed and he had a heart attack during the procedure. I often feel we’re going in circles but I’m confident; with God’s intervention and loving Guidance, we’ll find the answers in everything that’s been happening.
      Thank you for stopping in to read with me and to leave a comment. I sincerely appreciate your taking the time.

  5. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:
    I NEED TO REBLOG THIS.

  6. Pingback: DOC IN THE BOX SAVED MY HUSBAND’S LIFE | Imagine....

  7. Patrice says:

    Thanks so much for your ‘Like’ on my blog! I wondered what had happened, had not heard from you in so long. When I finish writing this, I’m ‘Following’ your blog as I thought I had long ago 😦 Then I’ll be in touch.
    You are a wonderful, strong lady. You have changed the world for the better in not only your beloved Tom’s life but ours too, your ‘Blogging Family’ ❤ Stay safe and good.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Patrice. Tom and I have been on a roller coaster that seems not to have an off switch. I used to say the days were never long enough. Now I wonder how I’d have the strength to accomplish anything else, although there’s plenty more to do. I miss catching everyone’s blog – many days I don’t make it to my office. Some days I read blogs on my iPad but most days if I have a couple free minutes and all is still, I’m asleep.
      I do hope your writing is going well. Sheri

  8. Hi Sheri, Hope that Tom’s appointment went well today. You are both in my prayers! 🙂

    • Michelle – Thanks for checking in and the extra prayers always do the job. Tom and I both like the doctor and he’s looking for likely issues causing Tom’s problem’s aggressively. We spent 2 hours with the doc yesterday [I can’t remember when the last time was that a doc took that much time for an initial appointment]. Tomorrow at noon, Tom will have his windpipe and lungs scoped looking for possible culprits and then they will scrub the entire area clean. I do hope they have a successful journey and find what they are looking for.

      • Wow, that is a long time for a doctor to meet with someone! So glad to hear that he got the extra attention. I will continue praying for both of you. Especially for tomorrow at his appointment time. 🙂

        • Thank you, Michelle. I’m sure it’s the many prayers keeping Tom alive. Tom went in for the procedure at noon yesterday as planned. They were about 45 minutes into the process when his lungs collapsed followed by a heart attack. Of course the procedure could not be completed and he was admitted to the hospital immediately. His cardiologist had assured his pulmonary doc that Tom’s heart was strong enough for the procedure, etc and all systems were go. I’ve not been happy with this particular heart surgeon all along but Tom likes him so haven’t said that much about my lack of enthusiasm. However, I think I’m going to have to insist on a second opinion. The pulmonary doctor has already ordered a secondary consultation and that makes me happy.
          Thank you for caring and I’m wishing you and yours a happy weekend. Sheri

          • I’m liking your comment, but I’m not liking what I’m hearing. Tom must be positively worn out by now. I hope that you will find another doctor who is a bit more sensitive to Toms needs.That must have been a scary moment for both of you! Sending prayers! ~M

  9. Elaine says:

    Sheri, I admire your perseverance in caring for the man you love. He is fortunate indeed. I am appalled at what the medical profession has put you through. Thank God, your perseverance paid off! You and Tom are in my prayers.

  10. All I can say is “Wow!”

    • Thank you for dropping by. After almost 8 months of living minute to minute trying to insure I have the best medical care for Tom, after today’s appointment with a third doctor, I can now say I have 3 doctors willing to provide instant access. I’m beginning to relax a bit with the knowledge of having professionals who genuinely care for and about Tom both as a patient and a person.

  11. Sheri–You had personally told me the details of all you relate here, but it still brought tears to my eyes to read your harrowing narrative. Your story is so compelling, your writing so on target–your ability to communicate the urgency of Tom’s situation so effective–that I know this episode deserves to be part of a best-selling nonfiction book. You’ve published all the “chapters.” Now you need to get the book published.

    • John – Thank you for the kind words. Each day often seems another race to run. Tom’s body continues to break down component by component and I search for one specialist after another. At this stage, my goal is to educate those who read my blog of the sins the medical hierarchy puts in our way. The behavior by the medical community has become so severe, so discriminating against those with a mental disease, it now has it’s own name: diagnostic overshadowing. This diagnostic overshadowing is the direct cause of individuals such as Tom dying 25 years before their normal life span. I don’t call this behavior by medical personnel diagnostic overshadowing, I call it medical malpractice! Thank you for being our friend and congratulations on your continuing artistic success.

  12. inesephoto says:

    Congratulations on your Anniversary! I am sorry that Tom’s health has been so poor lately. Hope he gets better as the Spring progress. I read your story holding my breath. It just wasn’t his time to go, and I hope you two will celebrate many anniversaries of your love.
    Inese

  13. Thank you for sharing Sheri, it has been a very hard time for you and Tom, I put you first because it is harder to see those we Love suffer than ourselves.

    I had a short stay in Hospital recently, it was an emergency they took me by Ambulance, I was in acute pain, they were wonderful and yes they worked as a team. Much Later as I was waiting outside in the Hospital Taxi area for Ron to pick me up, one of the nurses brought me a cup of coffee and than one of the Security men came and asked if I was OK and talked for awhile, they were all so caring.

    My Computer has crashed too, I’m using an old Laptop now, so sorry it has taken me awhile to respond, but thank you once again for keeping us up to date, you both have a lot of courage.

    Christian Love Always – Anne.

    • Anne – If you had to suffer pain, I’m thankful you have a loving partner who’ll assist in getting you where you need to be and when you need to get there. I’m also thankful your team of medical care was caring and treated you as a ‘whole person’ and not just a part of your injury. It’s evident not only when you were ‘in treatment’ but also when the nurse brought you a cup of coffee and the Security gentlemen who stopped and chatted for a bit. They both found a way to not only do their jobs but do it in such a way that it didn’t seem like a job at all.
      The total patient and team care is being talked a lot about here in the US and insurance payments will soon be reflected by treating the total patient. The total patient in team care is considered: From the time the patient steps on the property until they leave safely. This is a two sided sword for both doctors and patients alike. Just yesterday a good friend complained that her primary internist asked her about 1)Had she gotten her eye exam for the year and 2)What about her well woman check.
      My friend complained that she had previously advised her internist the exams were completed for the year and he should have reports in his file. What she wasn’t aware of is that her particular insurance company requires specific blocks on his electronic records be marked during the specific visit she was on that he had asked her the questions.
      I’d guess some doctors may check the boxes rather than ask their patients, especially those they consider responsible. However, I’d rather be asked than have my doctor take for granted that I’d done something in my stressed state.
      With the low rate of reimbursement by all insurance these days, I can’t blame the doctor for wanting to maximize his payment within the body of an extremely complicated law.

      Don’t you hate it when your technical links to the world don’t behave the way you want them to act. Crashing out is the absolutely worst fear. You never need to apologize to me for being late to respond to anything. I do good if I make it to the blogs of others, who generously support me, once a week and sometimes my visits are less frequent.

      Our current status: Today is our 28th anniversary. Tom has slept most of the day. If he had been able, we were going out to dinner but that’s a thought for another night now. I’ll either pick something up or fix something simple. Celebrating our love isn’t about going out, it’s about being together and loving each other.

      Thanks, Anne, for stopping by. I always enjoy your comments and am thankful for your Christian love and prayers. I do hope you are feeling better. With love, Sheri

  14. dear Sheri~
    just completed the reading of this posting…YOU are a strong and persevering, loyal, courageous woman! I am hoping all is going well with Tom’s health and YOU are getting some well deserved rest somewhere! I am taking care of my two grandchildren,,,so not on the blog much anymore. This weekend they are visiting with their Mom & Dad. I finally put “our” Slices of Life on my blog site. Thank YOU again for including me! I think of you whenever I am ready to throw in the towel—then I give it one more try! You are an amazing woman and a wonderful wife to your Tom! Blessings on you both!

  15. utesmile says:

    Wishing you an d Tom the very best! You are in my prayers too!

  16. Lucie says:

    If you want a “humerous view” of a recent ER visit, when you get a minute, visit my post on pneumonia…..It’s actually the “Doc in the box” that saved my sorry butt, too. After being diagnosed with bronchitis (originally), the urgent care doc was savy enough to know that something was seriously wrong (she felt my heart was involved) and sent me on my merry way to one of the local ER’s. I have always had “immediate access” to my Dr. (even had his cell number), so when I had to recently switch doctors this year and get used to another “way to communicate” it threw me for a major loop! Knock on wood, their system is working…Bottom line: Never hesitate to use Urgent Care when you have a “gut feeling” that one of you needs attention before “your assigned appointment”…..I am so, so sorry that you went through this. As sad as I am to say this, I feel that our problems with “medical war stories” are just beginning as we baby boomers start aging. I’m glad that everyone has access to health care, but I worry that we are currently over-burdening a system that “had cracks in it” to begin with……I look forward to getting to know you. Thx for your follow.

    • Yes, our medical care system has not only cracks in it but it’s rupturing before our very eyes. Problems have languished for so many years, they have grown out of proportion and seem totally unmanageable now. Take Medicare and Medicaid for example. They are both run by Presidential appointees. Veteran’s Affairs is also run by a Presidential appointee. These agencies have more greed and corruption than one can imagine. Former Secretary of The Army, Hagel, on his way out of office drafted a report notifying the Pentagon that health services in the Army were barely satisfactory.
      It’s like that old saying, you don’t need healthcare until you need healthcare.

  17. raphaela99 says:

    What a frightful experience for you both. I am thinking of you and Tom and sending so much love. xxx

  18. Sheri, I’m so sorry to hear about the terrible challenges you’ve had recently, but know that there are best wishes coming to you and Tom from all over the world. Take care of you too.

    • Andrea – Thank you my friend. I’ve received so many loving messages from you, my blogging friends. You sustain me in the darkest hours more than you will ever know. I’m working on taking care of me. This morning I was greeted with a red cardinal at my office window and I’ve worked for 9 years here in this home garden on the cultivation of birds coming to our home after living in a wooded area for so many years. I suddenly felt renewed by the grace of that one red cardinal and have hope once again that I’m moving in the right direction. Thank you for being a wonderful blogging friend. Sheri

  19. huntmode says:

    Dear Sheri, you and I talked while some of this was going on or immediately after. Even so, my breath came short in my chest as I read this. You and Tom are in my heart and prayers ~ candle lit and glowing. xxoo Huntie

    • My dear Huntmode – I have a note here by my computer to give you a call. I so thank you for your love and concern and the serene thoughts and the candles. We were back at the doctors yesterday and Tom is being referred over to a Pulmonary doc – appointment is May 1. His internist is being ever so attentive and they are on the ball when answering our phone calls. His pulse hit 44 yesterday and thus another midnight ride. I’ll be gone today but I’ll try to catch up with you over the weekend. Love to you my dear friend. You are indeed the best. Sheri

  20. Jane Sadek says:

    Oh Sheri, I knew things had to be bad for you to be so invisible, but I had no idea how bad – and then there were all those tornadoes in your area. I just keep praying!!

    You are making me grateful (all over again) for my Mom’s doctor. It’s sad that we have so many so-called health care professionals and so few good doctors and nurses. It’s all about procedure – and if you’re a senior citizen or otherwise marginalized, every diagnosis is just a re-iteration of the obvious without trying to get at the cause for new symptoms. They pigeon-hole you and move on to cases where they can be heroes (or prescribe expensive surgery).

    We’re still building the new house, but it’s drawing to a close. We move in Friday – we hope!

    • Jane – I’m thrilled you are at the moving in stage. What a wonderful experience. I’d thought Tom and I were going to be in your area over the weekend a few weeks ago and I was definitely going to call and at least chat but as you know, that was set aside because Tom was too ill to travel.
      We finally have a smooth medical system going for him and his internist is taking every call and we have a call back within 30 minutes and the doctor is working Tom into his schedule within the hour. It means an extra trip to Little Rock but I don’t care. Tom is getting the medical care he needs. I really like his new internist and the doc is determined to get to the bottom of what is going on. Of course, Tom has so many serious conditions, we tread lightly.
      I’ve thought of you often and the delight and yes, the headaches that come with designing a new home. One of these days, I’ll get over to your blog and hopeful read all about it. I’ve missed our banter back and forth.
      Sitting with Tom, I only have my iPad and it slows my typing like crazy and I’m simply not that speedy on the laptop. I want to hear all about the new home and getting settled in. With love, Sheri

  21. Sheri,
    How is Tom doing now? Sorry I didn’t get a chance to read about this until today. I really hope Tom is improving and that you are able to get some rest for yourself as well. Sending hugs your way and lifting you both up in prayer. ~M

    • Hello Michelle – Thank you for asking. Tom is resting comfortably at the present time. After all the problems of getting through to his internist, we are now on a great track and now all I have to do is call and we have a response from his nurse within 30 minutes and normally see the doctor on the same day. They are trying different medications to help him breathe normally. He still has something going on in his lungs and it’s an unknown and we’ll see a Pulmonary Doctor on May 1. I so appreciate your asking.
      God’s grace greeted me this morning when I opened the blinds of my office this morning. I’ve been working and developing my gardens to attract birds ever since we moved here 9 years ago. This morning God sent me a red cardinal. It’s the first one I’ve seen since living here and my heart took off in praises of thanksgiving and I’ve been smiling ever since.
      Tom and I both always accept all prayers and appreciate our Christian friends more than I can express.
      I so appreciate your stopping in and thank you for your ministry. With love, Sheri

      • Sheri, I’m so glad to hear that at least you are now able to get Tom the care that he needs in an appropriate amount of time.
        I will be praying about his appointment with the doctor on May 1st. I can see how important it would be, to get his lungs functioning properly.
        I just saw a cardinal yesterday. First one of the year! I called out to my husband Brian, that I could see one. He absolutely loves cardinals himself. Birds always seem to bring a smile to my face too.
        I’ve got you both on my prayer list, so I will check back in with you later and see how everything is going.
        Love to both of you! ~M

  22. What a blog Sheri! Those cell phone numbers are like a wee security blanket I’m sure. So glad Tom is finally getting the medical attention he needs, mental health issues notwithstanding. You are both in my thoughts and prayers.

    • Hello, Mary – What a special friend you are. Yes, those cell phone numbers offer me a peace of mind like nothing else. I haven’t had to use the internist’s private number once his office staff was taken care of. Within 30 minutes of my call, the nurse is calling me back to find out what we need and how fast can I get Tom there to be seen. I really like this internist, now that we know how to access him. He’s treating Tom like a real patient and not one he can just set aside because he’s bipolar. He’s not mentioned Tom’s Bipolar Disorder not one time! Tom’s making progress – it’s slow – but after coming so close to the final chapter, I can accept slow. I love you my friend – off to the doctor again today but hope to be home tomorrow. Love you and Jacques, Sheri P.S. I want to hear all about the interview you have on Friday – – – how exciting.

  23. Sheri, we all worry when you get quiet. I was debating to bother you … email or call … but the events of the last year have taught my … you are absent when you are taking of business and your sole business has been the love and tender care of Tom.

    I hope that you both make it around this corner to a better day. Love and miss you too 🙂

    • Florence – My dear, dear friend. I’ve also thought of you so many times during this terrible upheaval and tragic time. Often I’ve thought, oh, if we could only sit and enjoy a cup of coffee as Tom sleeps. My mind has a tendency of racing in circles when Tom is so dreadfully ill. I was beginning to feel as though I’d beat every bush for someone, anyone who could help us and it seemed every door slammed in my face. This past 9 months has been so full of mystery and I know we aren’t home free. However, funny things happen on the way to a miracle. It was when I told the internist I had to go through Doc in the Box to finally reach him that the truth came out of what was really happening with his staff.
      I’ve also thought often of sending both you and Patti an e-mail for we’ve been together for so long but things were changing at such a rapid pace, I rarely entered my office long enough to turn on the computer.
      Know that I love you my friend. You along with the others know me well. When I go silent, it’s because something is terribly wrong in my world and it has to do with Tom. This was a close scare and we’re still fighting whatever is going on in his lungs. The doc tells us it’s not pneumonia – but they still don’t have a name for it.
      Thank you for being such a good friend. With love, Sheri

  24. Lignum Draco says:

    I don’t understand your medical system, but I empathise with your distress. But it seems there is hope now, although time may be a limiting factor. Take care of Tom and yourself, Sheri.

    • Lignum – Thank you for stopping by and lending your support. I’ve missed everyone and it’s interesting to me how connected I feel to my blogging world. I’ve done research on what’s happening with medical care world wide [in developed countries, as they like to say] and it’s not a pretty picture. Everyone seems to be in the same boat [not enough money and too many elderly to care for]. The UK has come right out and said they will run out of money by the year 2018 and other countries are in the same category for socialized medicine. Every country I research, it’s all the same, health care is directly tied to money.

  25. Patty B says:

    You made the right move. I will not look at an urgent care the same after this. You and Tom have been through alot. My prayers are with you both. God bless you both.

    • Patty – Hello my friend. Remember the days when Tricare said they would take care of all our medical needs. It’s no longer a joke! Tricare has not paid 1 cent toward Tom’s care during the past year while I’ve been knocking down doors finding care for him. Congress guts every avenue of health care we have and still doesn’t want to pay physicians willing to treat Medicare patients. I really don’t have an answer. Medicare has become our arch enemy and stands in the way of so many other avenues of care I could explore for Tom. He’s not out of danger yet but at least Urgent Care got us to where we needed to be and no one else had been able to make that happen. I credit them for saving his life on that awful day on March 23.

      • Patty B says:

        I did not realize tri care has gotten that bad. Of coarse I am not on medicare yet so it looks like the same problems exist when mom was on champus and medicare…it was a nightmare for her too. So far I have had no issues, other than tricare did not cover dr visit before and after colonoscopy, said dr visits were not medically necessary,,, really… but that is minor with what you are dealing with. Prayers for both of you and for Toms health issues.

        • One of the issues that angers me to the point of no return is that Tricare will not pay for colonoscopy or other preventive measures. They do pay when you have another insurance that pays first. For example: With my Federal BC/BS and I always carry the high-option for both Tom and myself, [before Medicare], Tricare would pay the remaining balance after BC/BS paid their portion. Of course Tricare took forever to pay their portion. Now that we are forced into Medicare and I still carry the high-option of BC/BS, Tricare is off the hook for most everything. They do get pulled in on medications to pay the deductible that Medicare won’t pay.

          • Patty B says:

            They paid for my colonoscopy 100% except for office visits…go figure. anyway I was told they would cover a percentage if it were not preventive. Is it because you are retired?

            • Patty – I’d have to find regulations on this one. The standard for colonoscopies is age 50 for screening purposes. If you have a family history of colon cancer then the doctor can make a case for earlier screening and more frequent screening. It’s not like anyone goes because it’s such great fun. I’ve never had to worry about the payment due to having Federal BC/BS and we already know Tricare doesn’t cover the medical care of the active duty or retired military adequately. Tom and I would both be dead by now if I hadn’t picked up a major pay insurance policy to pay ahead of Tricare.
              If your doctor suspected you might have polyps and he removed any for biopsy then he should be able to argue your case for you or at least his utilization review nurse. Let me know what happens. The whole idea about having colonoscopies early is to detect cancer and thus prevent expensive treatment. Tricare baffles my mind!

              • Patty B says:

                Tri Care paid for everything because it was preventive. The only thing I paid was the pre office visit to set it up and the follow up. I know go figure? But since the colonoscopy was over $5,000 I am not complaining. So far I have not had any problems with Tri Care. That is all the insurance I have now so I have no choice on what they will or wont’ cover. They cover most preventive items and thankfully so far that is all I need.

              • Patty B says:

                I will add, it baffles my mind too so I leave it up to the dr office to sort through things. Or I just keep calling and bugging them on what they cover and what they don’t.

  26. M-R says:

    I’m tempted to commiserate with you regarding your beloved husband’s illness and the system’s neglect, Sheri … but the balancing factor is the deep knowledge that you are doing good for him. Without your loving care, he would be long gone.
    I wish I had had even a fraction of your knowledge when my husband was dying; the 5½ weeks that were his last featured nothing more than panic, hysteria and terror on my part.
    All I can say in my own defence is that I did what I could. And I loved him far more than myself.
    I was just – ignorant.
    How incredibly wonderful it would be for the pair of you to have any normalcy in your lives … but how incredibly rewarding it is to know that you, and only you, have found a way to face things without the fear of rage and frustration.
    To say ‘well done !’ is to grossly understate things.

    • M-R: I disagree with my entire being that you didn’t give your all to your husband during the years you were together. You loved him unconditionally and gave him the best years of your life. There’s no greater gift a woman can give to her mate. You were not ignorant. I happened to be in a place and a career wherein I learned skills that were useful when it came to helping Tom. Tom and I’ve talked about how he would probably have been dead within the first 5 years of our marriage if I hadn’t been there to fire doctors that were pumping him full of psychiatric meds and nothing else.
      I believe it also helps that my father taught me to be brave and challenge anyone and everything. He taught me to never take a back seat to anyone and to push and shove for what I knew was right. He strongly believed in education and fought my mother when she told him I didn’t need a university degree. His reply, “We educated the boys and Sheri will have an education as well.” I’ve never forgotten that statement and it’s benefited me over and over. It took me places I never dreamed of in my career but it also enabled me to do the research I need for Tom. It also made me a more compassionate person and my father will always be my very own, “John Wayne.”
      M-R, those of us that love passionately, also give everything we have to those we love. It’s in the very nature of what makes us women! Never doubt, you are a member of the club. Love, Sheri

  27. What a whirlwind your life has been and for you to find time to post in your blog….but yes, we take advantage of urgent care clinics when it is more convenient than trying to schedule with our primary care physicians.

    Sending warm wishes and positive vibes your way!

    • Hi, Vic – Sometimes I wonder if life will ever return to normal, whatever that may be. I’m so tired of medical doctors taking a look at Tom’s med list and making a snap judgment that whatever his illness is, it must have something to do with mental health.
      We’ve had so many challenges over the past 25+ years but everything has been pure medical as in his body is falling apart in serious ways the past 5 years and I’ve had to do everything in my power to put together a competent medical team. Over the next several blogs [not all in a row] I’ll blog how some doctors have signed off on there’s nothing else that can be done when in fact they’ve signed a death warrant for Tom and another specialist in the very same field has said, “No, that’s wrong and this is what has to be done.” It’s a slippery slope out here and it scares me when I look at all that goes on.
      Thanks for your support, Vic. I know you more than have you hands full. I’ll be over to your place soon to catch up on what’s happening in your world. Sheri

  28. Mae Clair says:

    I’m so sorry to hear you had another close call with Tom. Clearly God has plans for the two of you. Whatever obstacles you may face, your continued story and the depth of your love for each other is an inspiration to many. Hugs and God bless both of you.

    • Mae – Thank you for the well wishes. I was so depressed last night and I knew I would find fun and whimsy in reading at your blog. I always find smiles and love the way you care about other authors you promote on your blog. You are a force to be reckoned with when it comes to the speed of your great storytelling, one after the other, and your knowledge of social media is well, it’s wow. If I had a hat on today, it would be off to you.

  29. Oh, dear. I feel deeply touched whenever I come visit your blog.
    Deeply admire your strenght and wish you and Tom all the best.
    Warmly, Luana.

  30. Some relief and progress at last but at what cost to get there. I’m so sorry for the pain Tom has suffered and I know you did too, while fighting to get proper medical care. I pray from now on and forward, no more missteps and more sleep and peace of mind for both of you. Bless you for your tenacity, Sheri. ❤ ❤ ❤

  31. Thank God for the Doc IN The Box people when you needed them. Despite the setting they were in, it’s obvious that the people who were in that box, were good at what they do. Where as the the people who were previously in a position to help Tom did not. Your story is, sadly, not the first of it’s kind to me. And it won’t be the last. I am told story after story of older patients going to the hospital for a health issue, the doctor’s not diagnosing it and discharging the patients expecting them to follow up with a bevy of specialists to track down the problem and solution. It used to be that’s what you went to the hospital for. To find the solution. That’s where the answers lie for our health mysteries. Thank God Tom has you. Thank God you still have Tom.

  32. Elyse says:

    There is an urgent care facility in my very upper-income town. We used it once when a visitor smashed his finger and needed care right away. The place was clean, the doctor competent, the staff competent (which in a medical visit is really the greatest compliment!). My friend got what he needed and we were on our way with no wait, no hassle. In and out and back home in less than an hour. It was terrific. So in a far less dramatic way, I too had my opinion of Docs In Boxes changed.

    As to Obamacare, well, we differ on that. I think it is a highly imperfect law — I think we should have done universal healthcare and cut the insurance companies out of it. But that was all that we could get. My 23 year old new college grad is still on my insurance policy because of Obamacare. If I quit my job, I with my 40 years of health problems can get insurance. Those are two vital problems solved.

    You touched on the money in healthcare. Hospitals and healthcare facilities now are run not by physicians but by MBAs whose interest is the bottom line, not care (except to the point that it affects the bottom line). These folks aren’t in it to help people. They are in it for the money which is HUGE and growing.

    Glad Tom made it. I’m sending you cyber hugs.

    • Elyse – Thanks for the hugs and all. Tom is still very ill and we are taking things day by day. A major concern I have with Obamacare is that it doesn’t help the heathcare crisis in this country. I’ve researched universal healthcare for hundreds of hours and many countries will be bankrupt unless major changes are made, as early as 1918. I’ve been working on a blog regarding that matter. Every country comes to the conclusion that if they could just get rid of the old people, then they wouldn’t have such a big problem!
      There’s an interesting report at http://www.msn.com/en-us/money/insurance/huge-obamacare written by Dan Morgan that you may be interested in. Dan Morgan is a leading analyst of all insurance issues and he writes middle of the road, stating facts and not opinions.

  33. Sheri, I am so glad things have taken a bit of a good turn for Tom and for you. Being a caregiver is extreme hard work and for a loved one twice as hard on the caregiver. Your advocacy for Tom against the healthcare system is a blessing, he is very fortunate to have you in that aspect. I too took a long break from blogging/writing I found/felt my blogging was no longer beneficial to myself and especially to others if it ever was. My muse has been on an extended vacation of nearly a year due to hubs continued dance with Ms. Alzheimers, my health has been a constant battle as well and has decided I don’t have enough on my plate, I must now spend some time fighting the
    Big ‘C’ (NHL) non hodgkins lymphoma. All is well otherwise or at least it is what I think I can handle. Much love,respect and prayers my friend. Oh how is you arm, it has been so long since I read anyones blogs I have no idea how you are doing, please let me know ❤

    • Len – Hello my friend. Wow – you’ve been hit with a full plate haven’t you? I’ll be the first to agree, there’s nothing easy about this business of caregiving. It wears and tears at a person the way nothing else ever has.
      Alzheimer’s is still such a mystery to the health community and so difficult for the loved one. Not only do you have to keep your husband’s environment safe but there’s every other aspect of his well-being to care for. Just knowing your partner is no longer there is something that is the hardest part [at least it is for me when Tom is so sick]. I miss the man I was married too and want him back]! Slow dancing with a memory is not fun.
      When were you diagnosed with NHL? I know the diagnosis comes with it’s own set of difficulties. Are you in the middle of treatment or where are you in that respect?
      I too haven’t been able to keep up with reading blogs. Each time I think I’m going to make a great effort and catch up, something else blows up and there goes my time. Know that I’ve missed chatting with you and send love and healing prayers your way. Sheri

      • Sheri I am on the last lap of treatment and my latestbiopsy was good so I am thanking the man above for that. I agree with you each time I think I can take a deep breath, something or someone within explodes and life becomes tumulotous again. I am dealing with ex husbands death and the fighting between my daughters as well over his estate, caught in the middle and really don’t like nor do I want to be I am doing my best to stay out of it but in tryingto be supportive to both it is hard. I am asjhamed to say I have used my hubs illness as an excuse a few times to not have to listen to the complaints one is making agaoinst the other. Somedays I just wish I could hitch a ride on a UFO .LOL much love to you my friend, my email is grammielen@gmail.com if you ever want to converse tht way. Much love to you and Tom, how is your arm/hand doing?

        • Len – Being caught in the middle is never a good thing and when it has to do with an estate, that’s even worse.
          I have your e-mail written down in my address book. I don’t have as much computer time as I used to but sometimes I find a minute here and there.
          My hand and arm are not good. The disease has moved up into my neck and shoulders. I refuse to take additional pain medication because I might not here Tom. So, I keep the medication to mild relaxants and prayer.
          I’m thrilled your last biopsies looked good. You know you can always e-mail me at sdegrom@conwaycorp.net. I try to keep up with my e-mail but at present I have something like 27,000+ in the in-basket. Many are newsletters, etc. but I subscribe and read many of them to stay current on different subjects. Take care my friend. With prayer. Sheri

  34. willowdot21 says:

    Hi Sheri as ever I am sending you goof vibes, love and prayers to help Tom to grow stronger and ease his pain mentally and physically and also to give you the strength to carry on you ate the one on who all the burdens fall. I am relieved to hear that your Dr is finally taking note of you?!!! You have worked like a Trojan over these past several years fighting for Tom and countless others. I applaud you. 😉
    I do hope things can ease up for you now for a while so you can get some rest bite.
    today we are off to visit our youngest son and his family to celebrate the. Newbie’s first birthday ( it was actually Friday before the one just gone). Be well be happy and and know I am thinking of you. xxxxx

  35. rabbiadar says:

    Sheri, I have been worried – sounds like with good reason. I am so glad that you had your Doc in the Box miracle and that things are looking up. You and Tom are permanent residents on my prayer list. Whew.

    • Ruth – The days whiz by and I often wonder where they begin and end. I had a long list of Medicare advocacy issues, researched, suggested changes and almost ready to send to you and then boom – – – I know every one in the entire world has the same experiences day in and day out – – – and I pray for breathing room and then wonder how God might interpret my request. Then, there’s the mental health issues and the gun related advocacy and it never stops. I found I simply had to take a step back and concentrate on the man before me.
      Doc In The Box was indeed a miracle in it’s own way. We have a great new relation with Tom’s internist and the 3 times we’ve needed him since the incident, his nurse has returned the call within 30 minutes and we’ve had an appointment either the same day or the following day.
      Tom is still a very sick man. Pulmonary is the next stop on our new explorations as to what may be irritating his lungs so much.
      Thanks so much for reading with me, leaving a comment and we always appreciate the prayers. Sheri

  36. mihrank says:

    Sherie – this is such wonderful and powerful presentation with effective information and facts..wow

  37. Gallivanta says:

    Sheri, so pleased to have an update from you and Tom. Like GP I was beginning to be concerned about your blogging silence. And it seems my concern was justified. Hopefully this is the beginning of proper healing for Tom and for some rest and healing for you, too. Hugs and the warmest of wishes.

    • Hello, Gallivanta – I always have my little conversations with you whenever I’m able to get away to the gardens, even for a short period of time. There’s much on my to do list but while Tom is resting, I wanted to ‘talk’ with my wonderful friends and thank you for your continuing support and oh yes, hugs are joyously accepted.
      Tom is struggling with labored breathing, severe coughing that takes over his entire body and a host of other issues.
      We have a great working relationship with his internist now and the 3 times I’ve had to call since the awful day and night at the emergency room, I’ve had a return call within 30 minutes and he either offers to see Tom the same day or the following day and he always makes it clear that it’s our choice.
      I feel 100% more confident now that some one else has Tom’s medical interest at heart and coordinating many of the medical specialist. I can hardly wait to check out your blog and see what you’ve been up too.
      I’ve often wished you were here to walk through my gardens with me. I have several flowers coming up from last year (from seed) and I have no idea what they are:)
      Thank you for being here and thanks for commenting. Your support as well as G.P.’s means the world to me. Sheri

      • Gallivanta says:

        Yes, we are here for you both. Don’t forget we are just an email away, if there are times you can’t sleep, or you would simply like to talk.

        • Thank you – it always seems the darkest just before dawn. I have the most beautiful pure white iris blooming in my garden. They are dancing a bit due to a breeze – I want them to stand still a bit for photography purposes. I don’t have your perfection. I’m a point and shoot person.
          I’ve picked up the seeds and will have red and white carnations growing with the white iris next year.

  38. Oh my, I’m so glad that you used Doc in box and that Tom was blessed to have a PA that was on the ball. Tom surely came close to losing his life. I’m glad that now it seems that the internist’s staff we be on the ball each time the need arises. I so hope that Tom continues to improve and that your burden will be lifted as Tom’s health improves. My prayers are for Tom and for you.

    • Yvonne – Thank you for your kind words. Unfortunately we’ve had to test the internist ability to see Tom immediately 3 times since our terrible experience. I am able to report that each time I’ve called, I’ve received a return call within 30 minutes and the offer of an appointment that day or an appointment morning or afternoon the following day. Now that we have an excellent working relationship with the doctor, we both like him and believe he genuinely cares about what’s going on with Tom.
      Unfortunately we don’t have an answer yet. Tom’s breathing is shallow and labored and the hacking cough continues. The only sleep he gets is when he’s sitting up, otherwise he’s not getting enough air to breath.
      Next we see pulmonary – there has to be something going on with his lungs that scans aren’t showing. Of course they cannot do an MRI because he has a pacemaker. If it’s not one thing, it turns into something else.
      Thank you for your prayers. That means a lot to both of us. Sheri

  39. Oh my goodness, what the heck do I say to all this? I can’t imagine being in either you or Tom’s positions. I would want to go ballistic, picturing myself as a female Michael Douglas in my very own personalized film version of “Falling Down”, with my Louisville Slugger, demanding someone listen to me or else. But, alas, that would put one in jail and then what would happen to Tom, right? But how you hold onto your sanity throughout this total bloody IN-sanity, is beyond me. It’s all so frustrating and maddening, I want to scream FOR you. AACK! I did not know anything about these Urgent Care Centers but they obviously do “business” differently than the ER. No one likes going through the ER. We have a totally boring small city ER and even then, the average time when we’re there is 4 to 6 hours! And when my daughter has to have them find an opening for a teen in a mental hospital, I finally go home in the wee hours, so she can sleep in the ER alone and then they transfer her sometime the next day. Unreal. Anyway, enough of my rambling. Thank you for the enlightening post, Sheri. I’ve been thinking about you and miss seeing your posts. You and Tom are always in my mind.
    Patti

    • Patti – So sorry for the late response. For whatever reason wordpress didn’t want me to respond to comments in the order they belonged. I was getting a bit frustrated. The Doc in The Box was definitely a life saver for Tom and I on that terrible, terrible day. Of course they couldn’t handle our emergency but they got us into the ER at the hospital without going in the front door and then waiting 8 hours.
      The sad thing is I don’t know if one would be able to find a ‘bed’ for your daughter when she needs in-patient placement. That’s always a tough one and the available beds are losing ground, but then you already knew that.
      I know how difficult it is to go through the ER for mental health. I’ve done that so many times and no matter how often you have to do it, it never gets easier. I’ve lost hope in the possibility that the situation will improve in the near future. . .

  40. Sheri, I am thrilled that your doc in the box saved Tom’s life. For many years, I received my primary care from docs in the box. Wow, you have two blog followers named Kitt with two “t’s”!

    • Kitt – Yes, I have two Kitt’s and they are each so special in my world.
      I’m with you, back in my 20s and fresh to Los Angeles, I too received my primary care from Doc in the Box and had no complaints. I was young and relatively innocent and didn’t want to develop a relationship with what I considered a ‘real doctor.’ That just goes to show you how wrong I was about the value of this segment of our medical establishment. My criteria back in the day was that they were always open, could answer my questions, take care of whatever issue I presented with and they always insisted on well woman exams. I ate right, exercised like crazy and drank far too much. Other than the drinking, they pretty much stamped my file as ‘good health.’
      Our trip to Doc In the Box with Tom was completely different. I was impressed with the advanced care they had available and the speed at which they moved. They had a patient to care for and that’s exactly what they did.

  41. kanzensakura says:

    Sheri, it never ceases to amaze me how you have coped and survived with all the health issues related to Tom. he is blessed. Several years ago, my mother kept coughing, chronically, painfully. One Sunday, I took her to the nearby urgent care facility. Emergency care at the hospital a month earlier had been less than useless and took 10 hours….Not even an MD but a PA saw mama. He listened to her cough, took a couple of xrays. Came back to us in the treatment room. did you realize your mother had a heart attack a year ago (before she came to live with me) approximately? She has what looks to be a damaged valve or two and dangerous fluid build up – she is in cardiac arrest and that is causing the coughing. He called a cardiologist to ask if he would meet us in the emergency room. Carrying the xrays and a note from the PA, we arrived. A week later, mama had surgery to repare the valve. The cardiologist ended up being incredible. We sent a letter of thanks and commendation to the Urgent care and the PA. It never ceases to amaze me how egos, overbooked schedules, (15 minutes for a physical) has not caused more deaths and misdiagnoses. True, many of these places are not up to snuff, but the ones that are, are priceless. The PA chose to practice at the Urgent Care rather than going into a more elite medical practice because he felt, he could do some good. He saved my mother’s life.

    • Another great story. Tell me more, I can use all the good ones I can hear right now.
      I have a blog coming up of how Tom’s gastroenterologist has saved Tom from dying from massive heart attacks not just once but twice. It’s enough to turn a persons hair completely white.
      This past year has been hell on earth and I honestly never thought anything could get worse than searching out the best in mental health care. Watching Tom suffer the way he has, has torn away at every bit of my being.
      Thank you for being here, for reading with me, for being a friend and commenting and telling me your story. It means the world to me.

      • kanzensakura says:

        It seems the “problem” of aging patients and their care is not just in the US and the UK (and you are right – it’s all about the bucks; wealthy patients are treated faster and better than poor patients), the elderly in Japan fear growing older and being virtually tossed aside if they do not have family to take care of them. Us Baby Boomers boomed all around the world. “End of life” care options on Obamacare sends icicles into my heart. The “rehab” facility basically was maintaining my mother – that is all. And herein is another problem – many facilties here in the US are owned by doctors or corps. of doctors who make as much money as they can get away with from these facilities. The rules for Medicare only encourage such. My mother’s roommate was dying of intestinal cancer. So why was she in a rehab center? She was admitted there from the hospital, given her 120 days of care and summarily kicked out. A therapist came in 3 days a week to move her legs – rehab. The aides and the therapists were kind to mama and her roomie. I saw much patience from these people. Not so much the nurses – not cruel but perfunctory. My mother was dying and nobody really cared – she’s elderly. You know went down last year and took her from the facility and my aunt has her in her home now. She is happy. She is cared for. She is only dying in the sense we all die day by day. Cookeville, TN has a wonderful hospital and medical college that specializes in cardiology – their MDs go on to much bigger practices in large cities. She has a good doctor who graduated from that college. Mama was beginning bad dementia. Like me, bipolar but never diagnosed. The doc picked up on it, gave her appropriate meds. My mother is happy, balanced, eating well, social…But so many people are victims of doctors who do it for the money, not because they care. The docs that do care are amazing.

        • How did I miss this? Yes, I knew you had literally rescued your mother and that’s what we children who care do. We give our all to the one that sacrificed their all when we were little and couldn’t do it for ourselves. I’m thrilled to hear about your mother’s doctor and that he’s so tuned in to her that he recognized her bipolar disorder even with the dementia. That’s a talented doctor and an amazing human all rolled into one magnificent gift for your mother and you plus her caregivers. Thanks for sharing this part of your mother’s story and yours as well. With love, Sheri

          • kanzensakura says:

            Being an advocate for a loved one is important, as yoj know very well. Being descriptive with their health issues and bistory and being unrelenting with questions and questioning is crucial. Picking out anomalies in symptoms, treatment reactions, pushing the doctor helps as well. The doc knew we cared and would not back down helped. I hope Tom continues to progress and you get some peace as well. Take care of the caregiver. Hugs and love….also, consider making some fresh fruit sald in your jars to go along with the veggie salads. ♡♡♡

  42. Here in New Zealand, the Minister of Health heavily promotes so-called “after hours clinics,” in their campaign to reduce demands on the ER. The last thing they need is for patients who can’t get into their GP showing up at the ER. It sounds to me that something similar is happening under Obamacare.

    • Hello Dr Bramhall: It’s always nice to see you here and to read your comment. You also always provide me with a perspective of what is happening in New Zealand.
      In the days before Obamacare, the chief complaint from the ER staff was that since patients didn’t have insurance, they used the ER as their entry point of care. They had nowhere else to go for medical care. Now even our emergency rooms have urgent care clinics to assist with medical needs deemed non-urgent! The selling point is they cost less than a ER visit.
      A couple weeks ago I read an article concerning the challenges facing the National Health Service of the United Kingdom and they aren’t any better off that the United States. The article came right out and stated “The Inequality in Health Care Is All About The Money.” I quote from “New Scientist.” [If the low rates of cancer seen in the richer portion of UK society were replicated across the nation, 19,200 fewer people would die every year. It is a shocking statistic, and one that isn’t restricted to cancer: almost every measure of health, those with less money get more disease.”]
      Other comparisons were brought out in the article, but one that struck home for me as I fight for care for Tom, “[Our ageing society is our greatest burden.]”
      Since when, do those of us over the age of 65 have to consider ourselves a burden on society. This statement makes my blood boil. I’ll never agree to socialized medicine. I may not have a choice in days to come but trust me, I will go kicking and screaming all the way.

  43. floridaborne says:

    Incredible what you had to go through. You’re a very strong person. I’m very happy to hear you found some great doctors.

    • Yes, it’s not something I want anyone else to have to go through. Tom has an excellent medical team. What happens in so many cases is the front office staff is so zealous in keeping patients away from the doctors – they act as if they should never make an appointment for the regular patients. I’d spent five years putting this particular team together for Tom and knew if I could ever get through to them, I would at least have a fighting chance.
      I can be a pretty persuasive person, after all that’s what I did for a 20 year career, and I was confident I could literally eventually kick the doors down. However, I didn’t have the time to play games. I needed help immediately. Tom was dying and I could see it with each labored breath he took.
      Going to ‘Doc In The Box’ was the best thing I could have done. They are great for breaking down barriers. They need all patients to make a go of it and they were swift in making life-saving decisions.
      Tom’s internist now responds within 30 minutes. I know the day will come when his internist will be on an emergency and we’ll have to wait longer, but the channels of communication have been opened and in medical care, that’s the most important tool.
      Thank you so much for reading with me and commenting.

  44. This is an amazing story, Sheri. I never think of your words as rushed, always considered and evidence-based. That’s why I subscribe. I’ve come to respect your thoughts. Your story scares me to heck. If it happens to me, at least I’ll have your experience to rely on.

    • Jacqui – I had so much emotion around this story, I originally started out with far too many pages and I still ended up with over 2,000 words but felt I needed to tell the story the way it unfolded.
      Each time I come across a new piece of Medicare legislation, I shudder and wonder now who is this going to help and most importantly when and how. The medication coverage especially concerns me.
      From this point forward, if you wish, I’ll forward whatever links I come across that I believe might help you in your decision process. I never want to overstep my bounds. I’ve learned a lot from the experiences Tom and I continue to go through.
      If you would like, send me an e-mail at sdegrom@conwaycorp.net and I’ll tell you how Tom and I protected my father [before we were medicare age but he was] and thankfully it worked for him and for us. We had peace of mind for over 20 years for Dad’s care. I might not get the e-mail answered immediately, but I promise I will answer you. Kindest regards, Sheri

  45. Sheri, I’m just so glad Tom is with you and you’re starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel. My prayers are still with you both.

  46. Anonymous says:

    Only our Father knows the hardships of your journey. Only our Father will keep walking with you.
    Love, Catherine

    • Dear Catherine – My dearest and closest friend. You’ve walked this walk with me and listened when no one else would concerning my frustrations about getting Tom healthcare [physical or mental]. Our friendship has remained strong and we knew each other when we had the freedom to spend long afternoons doing exactly as we pleased. I often believe God was fortifying each of us for what was ahead in each of our lives. You are the one I turn to when the days are so dark, I think I can’t possibly bear one more and then we turn to our Lord for guidance for we both know, there is no one else to guide us and help us make the right decisions for both ourselves and those we love. All my love to you, my dear friend. Sheri

  47. ksbeth says:

    this had me in tears, sheri. of joy, of frustration and anger on your behalf and for the new hope and possibilities open to both of you. gifts arrive in the most unusual and unexpected of packages at times.

    • Beth – You are so right. I felt many of the same emotions and a lot of them at the same time. Often I wondered if there was any hope left or if we would wander in a sea of unknown mishaps. Each day ended in such mind numbing exhaustion, I’d wonder where the energy for the following day could possibly come from. I could no longer pretend I was coping; every mechanism I had for doing so was gone.
      I’ve had two opportunities now, in less than a week, to test our new gift from the internist and both times the return call has come within 30 minutes. Let’s hope we’re now on the right course of medication and Tom will start gaining ground.

  48. gpcox says:

    The heck with reading the blogs, Sheri, I knew something was up when I didn’t hear from you for so long. First I just figured you were busy as usual and I wouldn’t bother you. Then we got into spring cleaning and tearing up the Florida room to give it a re-do. Then I realized something had to be wrong and told myself last night to be certain to email you and Tom – and here you have a post!! God, I wish I had been there for you, I feel so guilty and selfish!

    • G.P. – There’s absolutely nothing to feel guilty and selfish about. I want all of my blogging friends to have a full and happy life. The main thing I keep learning over and over is to grab the great moments and live them to the fullest. You never know when the opportunity will pass your way again and what if it never does. You do so much for the veterans and if it hadn’t been for your blog, the Arkansas Veterans wouldn’t have so many wonderful programs to select from. I’m so very proud of the programs that have unfurled and keep doing so.
      And, Florida rooms are often the most important room in the house. Someday I’d love to build on an addition – primarily all tempered glass that looks out over the gardens wherein I could do my work and Tom could have most everything he needs close at hand. I wouldn’t think of having one that’s not air conditioned – our summers are miserable here with the high temperatures plus the humidity comes in at 85% +. It’s the humidity that really gets to me.
      Tom is resting comfortably right now. We’re so far behind on our reading I can’t begin to tell you where we even left off. I here from the volunteers how much the vets continue to enjoy your blog spot. They are still working on getting some of the younger ones to interact with the blog – on a small scale. The volunteers are having real success with the young vets from Iraq/Afghanistan connecting with Vietnam Era veterans. Both groups feel like they have someone that understands them.

      • gpcox says:

        It would be wonderful to interact with the veterans. Even if they weren’t interested in my blog, I might be able to put them in contact with those of similar minds, branches of service, whatever. Please thank the volunteers for their time and service to our veterans. All my best to Tom, as always, and tell him not to worry about catching up on the reading – hopefully it will be online forever!!
        Take care of yourself, Sheri!

  49. As is usual with your sharing, quite the rollercoaster ride. Your challenges always read heartbreaking and salvation in one. I’m glad things turned out the way they have. I have thought about you, Tom, and your dog whose name I have forgotten once again.
    Thanks for the thought provoking opinions, Sheri. Continued good wishes to you guys.

    • Michael – I’ve already mentioned in a comment to you [on your blog] that I’d lost your link and Tom and I were both upset. It seemed the hours in the day weren’t long enough to keep things moving in my blogging world. Tom was and still is my #1 priority. I’m so happy to have you back again and your link is now on a permanent list of mine. Might I say here, I love the banner on your blog [new to me]. You look so relaxed and so happy. It lightens my heart to see you there. Keep up the good work, my friend.
      This past year has been a roller-coaster ride, indeed. It seemed no matter where I turned, I couldn’t get the medical care I needed for Tom. It’s been hard on both of us. I’ve never felt more like throwing things but that won’t accomplish anything except another mess to clean up.
      Our dogs [both 16] have also had their own crisis and that’s been a little more than tough. Tom’s shih tzu, Scooter, has lost his battle with cancer and dementia, and must be let go. However, I cannot do this until Tom is able to participate. Thankfully we have a wonderful vet willing to keep Scooter comfortable until Tom is well enough to say his own goodbyes. [By the way, you have no reason to remember their names]. My shih tzu has her own medical issues but they should be taken care of with an upcoming surgery.
      Most of all, Michael, thank you for reading with me. This is the longest blog I’ve ever posted and I really did edit out several thousand words from the 1st version.
      It’s no wonder those that have a mental health diagnosis don’t seek medical care and therefore die many years before their peers. Sheri

  50. spunknbrains says:

    Every time I read one of your posts I am bowled over with respect and admiration for you. I am so happy to hear that in some way things turned around and Tom is getting the help he needs, even if the journey is far from over. Thank you for continuing to keep us informed Sheri with your knowledge. My thoughts and prayers.

    • There were time when I thought if I only had some of the magic armor you have for your set designs and maybe a Viking wheeled cart, and oh yes, how about warrior head dress with lots of decorative ‘I Mean Business Markings’ and those horns on the side! You might be surprised what I use to visualize to get through some of what I do to get help for Tom and the medical care he so rightfully deserves.
      The main reason I let you know what barriers are up with the medical care everyone deserves is so that you too know how to fight and demand that which is already rightfully yours! A perfect example is the transport of Tom by ambulance to the emergency room at the hospital. If the doctor hadn’t written down on the order to call the ambulance and include the words, it was ‘a life and death’ situation, insurance would not have paid 100% for the transport. It’s important to remember what seems small details but they aren’t small when the bills arrive. The ambulance bill for the short trip would easily have been $1,200 and perhaps more.
      I’ve no doubt, should the time come and you have to use some of what I relay in my blogs, your spunk will get you through!

  51. ((HUGS)) 😿 I’m so sorry you had to go to such extremes to get help fur your husband – and I’m so glad he finally got the help he needed! PURRaying fur you both!🌹

  52. You and Tom have been in my prayers since we met as bloggers. Your post answered so many questions I’ve had and suspected. Best to both of you and thank you for the update! Keep fighting the fight, your work has enlightened all of us! God Bless!

    • Kirt – Thanks so much for checking in. In November when I announced I was taking a break from blogging until the first of the year, I had no idea what was on the horizon for Tom and I. Tom wasn’t well at the time but I still had a sliver of hope – oh silly me. I’ll not be able to risk hope again, not until I’ve paid due diligence.
      Kirt, I’ve missed your beautiful photography, completely missed out on Christmas cards, and on and on. However, I haven’t despaired. I love beautiful greeting cards. One day when you least expect, I’ll show up at the gallery.
      All prayers appreciated. Thank you, Sheri

  53. Terry says:

    I was holding my breath during the entire post. My prayers will continue. Love and hugs to you my friend

    • Terry – Thank you, my friend. All prayers are welcomed and appreciated. At the present time, Tom is resting comfortably and I pray he’ll continue to achieve restorative sleep. By the way, when I was grocery shopping yesterday, I checked out the nutrition label on one of my favorite breads. It’s NATURE’S OWN HONEY WHEAT, 2 slices for 80 calories and 2 slices for only 20 grams of carbs. I like the way this bread toasts – it is full flavor, holds it’s shape and taste like wheat bread. Do away with white flour!
      I have to find a padded mailer for your book. I have the huge ones but none the right size for the John Hopkin’s book. I’ll look for one the next time I’m away from the house.
      Take care, my friend. Hugs and love coming your way. Sheri

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