The Monkey Chased the Weasel

A month ago, I sent a text to my best friend that said, “Today we had to commit Mom.” Those are words a daughter never expects to type about her mother, but it happened.

It started again, The Cycle, over a month ago, and this time yet again, we as her family, determined to get her help, stepped in and advocated for her. We formed a formidable union, my four brothers, my dad, and myself, and we chose to have her committed.

My dad stood and watched as two police officers kindly and gently convinced my fragile and afraid elderly mother to get into the back of an ambulance to take her to a “Behavioral Health” hospital. He called me after she left, trying to hold back his tears and told me how grateful he was for the kindness of the two police officers and how afraid he was for my mother who was so outside of her mind that she had no idea where she was going.

She spent a little over three weeks there. I joined my four brothers and my father for a family meeting where they basically told us that they had no idea what is wrong with my mother. They believe that what is going on is physical, and since they are a psychiatric hospital, she needs further medical testing. They released her a week later. That was a week ago.

Monday, the day she was released,  she called and assaulted me with a myriad of grievances dating all the way back to my birth. I listened patiently and lovingly all the while shaking my head from behind my phone at the fact that any hospital would release her. Clearly, she wasn’t/isn’t well.

Later in the week, per the instructions of the hospital that released her, my father took my mother to her primary care doctor. During that visit, the doctor determined that my mother was both a danger to herself and to my father and that she needed to be sent immediately to the ER and then taken to a different psychiatric hospital that specializes in geriatrics.

He followed yet another police escort to the emergency room where he learned that he could not see her, that she needed to be on a 24 hour watch without any outside influence. They told him to go home.

He called me from outside of the ER, beside himself with guilt and frustration and unbelievable heartache. He hated that he couldn’t explain to her what was happening, and he hurt for her once again because she didn’t know why she was there.

He followed their instructions and went home. A few hours later, the psych assessor from the hospital called and told my dad that she did not see a reason for my mother to be kept at the hospital, that my mother’s “agitation” was not a good enough cause to keep her in there. My father, confused because a few hours earlier my mother’s doctor said otherwise, asked, “Well then, should I come and get her?”

She responded, and I quote:  “Either that, or I’ll put her out on the street.”

Either that, or I’ll put her out on the street?

My 72 year old mother who is suffering from what we think is dementia? In what realm of reality is this appropriate? Is this how we care for our elderly patients? Am I just being sensitive because she was speaking of my mother?

I called the ER, I asked to speak with her. She conveniently had left for the night. I asked to speak to her supervisor. They basically told me that she didn’t have one. I spoke to the charge nurse, and he told me that his hands were tied, that because my father agreed to take my mother home, they did nothing wrong.

Because my father’s options were to pick up his elderly, confused, frustrated, and scared wife rather than have her “put out on the street,” their hands are tied.

Three years, countless doctors, countless hospitals, numerous medications, and still no answers.

I have had enough. We have had enough. She has had enough.

We need answers. I need answers. She needs answers.

The behavioral hospital told us that she needed to seek medical care for something physical. She met with her primary care doctor who said she needed further medical testing. She went to a renown hospital to get the medical testing. She was sent home because they are not a psychiatric facility. And round and round the mulberry bush, the monkey chased the weasel.

What is wrong with our healthcare system?  We, as her family, are trying to get her help, and she keeps slipping through the cracks, and someone could get hurt. It could be my mother. It could be my father. It could be any random person. She is not well. She needs help, and nobody will help us.  Instead, they want to “put her out on the street.”

Have any of you been through something like this with a loved one? Do you have any advice for me? Am I just being sensitive about the lack of professionalism and care shown to my family? 

 

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38 thoughts on “The Monkey Chased the Weasel

  1. I will continue to pray for this endless journey of chasing the weasel! Goodness, our healthcare system is pretty awful most of the time, I have not encountered anything like this, but we will all have a time that comes that we will need more help than some health care providers are willing to give. There should be a stipulation besides education for health care providers…a heart test that tests you are good giving human being!

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  2. I can not imagine what you and your family are going through at this time. My prayers are with you.

    Sometimes you just have to google, to see what your rights are. There is no guide. Sadly. Healthcare at this moment is uncertain and confusing, for both patients and medical professionals, I don’t see any “benefits”.

    http://jessijsteel.wordpress.com

    I started following her blog, simply because I liked her stories, she’s a doctor who deals with elderly patients. Maybe you can find some answers there? Sorry if I didn’t ping or whatever back right, I am lucky I can copy and paste with out screwing that up!

    NIBSIH 🙏

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  3. Seriously?! What the actual fuck? That person needs their head banging together with the charge nurse’s! Your poor dad, to have to hear such a heartless comment. WHERE THE HELL IS THE COMPASSION?!

    Good grief.

    I hope you get some answers soon. *sigh*

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    • I even spoke to her supervisor who said the same thing (hands were tied, etc.) and even went as far as to say that he though my dad was being dishonest, that he didn’t think that she (the Psych Assessor) would ever say something like that. I just need to know what to do next. It’s so incredibly frustrating, and as I sit here typing, my mother is not getting help, and that breaks my heart.

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  4. I would hound that person and tell them off in no uncertain terms! How completely heartless! Put her out on the street indeed! Makes me terrified as I get older I tell you. Your poor father. Big hugs to you all. Have you tried calling your local congressman? Anyone like that? Hell, I would go to the press. I bet something gets done then!

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      • It’s what I would do if it was my mother. There is no reason to be so completely heartless and to me unethical. Would it hurt to have told your father, come pick her up, we will have her sit in the lobby? Instead of such a cold response that he got.

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      • When I spoke to the administrator of the hospital later that day, he explained that she was a voluntary patient (because she didn’t put up a struggle with the police officer in the police car on the way to the hospital) and therefore, if she chose to leave, they would be forced to let her walk out on her own, thus “putting her out on the street.” It was an unacceptable response, and I’m reeling over it still. I just want her to get the help she needs, and at this point, I have zero faith in our healthcare system.

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      • Sometimes it’s the ones who make the most noise that are the ones that finally get something done.

        It’s still unacceptable their excuse. I find it so too. You are a very good writer, I would start writing everyone you can think of about your story. Good luck in whatever you decide to do.

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  5. I like what Jackie says, not sure you could get me to stop telling everyone I could about this.

    I don’t think you are being over sensitive at all. We ran into a situation with the social worker at the hospital right after my mother’s cancer surgery. Why security didn’t escort me out is still a miracle to me (I was not loud, but I was not standing down either). I get legalities and limited resources, but they were effing ridiculous.

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    • If I lived in the town, I’d be there in person with my voice blazing, but I’m 350 miles away. It’s so hard when you’re so closely and emotionally connected. I still can’t quite rap my brain around this entire situation and how it was handled. I like what Jackie says, too.

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  6. If she had insurance, I would see if they have anyone you can talk to and help advocate for her care. If not, then mental health agencies, state or private charities or advocate groups.

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    • She has insurance. I am going to look into it and see if someone there can do just that…advocate for her. Also, another person commented on a different post with some online resources that I have yet to research, so I’m also going to do my homework.

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  7. Oh my heart! I think this might be the most heartbreaking, frustrating post I’ve ever read. My mouth literally fell open. You poor thing. Your poor mother and family.

    I have no helpful advice. I wish I did. Just keep trying for her, and keep your friends close for those days when you can no longer shoulder it all by yourself. I wish for her an advocate in the health system so that she can get the care she deserves.
    *HUGS*

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    • My dad is now against taking her to any more hospitals. We have an appointment on the 29th with a neurologist. I’m considering driving down there and going to the appointment to ensure that they do a complete Neuro work-up and dementia work-up, and then I kind of want to demand a diagnosis. And maybe I’ll run over the the hospital and c*nt punch that psych assessor.

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  8. I will tell you this….if this was my mother, I would not stop. I would not be quiet. I would use my online presence and that of my willing online friends to make sure it was heard. I would make phone call after phone call after phone call until something was made right. Since when did it become acceptable for a health care “professional” to threaten to put an elderly and unwell woman out on the street? This is bullshit. Start making some noise, Mandi. Let me know if you need some help!

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    • I think you’re right, Sandy. I do have a voice and an online presence, and I need to get this figured out for my mother. My dad asked me to hold off for a bit so that my mother could rest at home, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t expose the hospital and the hospital staff for how they treated her. I do not know when it became acceptable to threaten an elderly woman of putting her out on the street, but apparently, and according to the people who I’ve spoken with at the hospital, it’s quite acceptable.

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  9. Oh man.

    This was so hard to read and I’m so sorry that you are going through it.

    I honestly wish that someone somewhere picks it up and helps. It’s heart breaking 😦

    Sending you virtual hugs! Xx

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  10. I’ve been the cop coaxing people who are clearly not in their right minds into the back of an ambulance for a ride they want no part of taking. I dislike those calls the most I think. You’re obviously biased, and you better be for your mother. Just stay on them. The squeaky wheel always gets the grease.

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    • Don, I actually found out that the reason that she was not held at the hospital is because the police officer who gave her the ride to the hospital did not deem her a threat. Since she cooperated on the ride to the hospital, he didn’t order an emergency detention. I didn’t even realize you had to be put in these situations, and I know that the PO probably thought he was doing my mom and my family a service. I’m sorry you have to do this kind of coaxing and that you ever have to make these kinds of decisions. For the record, all of the police officers who have helped with my mother have been phenomenal. I want to send them all cookies for being so kind and gentle and respectful to her. I have so much respect for you. You have no idea. Thanks for what you do.

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  11. No, you’re not being overly sensitive. You’re frustrated and worried and you want to find answers. I am also outraged by the apparent lack of compassion the psych assessor displayed – there should be official channels for submitting a complaint at the hospital that will start an investigation into the matter (thats how it is at the healthcare organization where i work). That woman’s unprofessionalism is appalling, but don’t let it drain valuable energy that you can use to try to find answers for your mom. I would humbly suggest that you call your mom’s primary care doc, explain what happened, and let him know (demand) you need a referral to a neurologist or other specialist so your mom can get the needed work up. This shuttling her to ER’s is ridiculous! She needs a proper diagnosis so she can get proper treatment. I’m frustrated on you and your family’s behalf – I wish I knew a simple solution for you!

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  12. I don’t think you are being overly sensitive – you and your family have to advocate for your mom. I wish I had answers for you, Mandi. I will echo what others have said and suggest that you make lots of noise. You know that you have many people online (and I’m sure in-person as well) who will spread your message if you choose to spread it far and wide.

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  13. No you’re not being sensitive, these ‘professionals’ are being completely INsensitive. I hate how we treat the elderly in this country. I also hate all of the specialized care, as all too often people wash their hands of the problem to let someone else try to handle it. That is unacceptable. I’m so sorry your family has to go through that. I have no idea how you mitigate this, just awful. I wish you all luck and love and peace and answers.

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  14. Oh Mandi, how awful. You are absolutely not being too sensitive. It is a travesty the way we treat the elderly in this country. And the way we treat the mentally ill. (I’m not saying that’s what is going on with your mother). But it seems like you’re in some kind of bureaucratic donut hole. How can they not find a diagnosis? How incredibly frustrating for you and your family. I know that not knowing and speculating and the back and forth is so agonizing.

    I do want to mention one thing, and god knows I’m not trying to diagnose or anything, but have you heard of the book out recently called “Brain On Fire?” It’s about a woman’s struggle with a rare autoimmune disorder that affects the brain. Apparently it can be mistaken for mental illness. And apparently it is not well known and often goes undiagnosed. Again, I’m not suggesting that’s what your mom is dealing with. But I do know that when doctors are giving you no answers that you start looking and investigating any thing and every thing. I was just reading about it in a magazine so I just thought I’d mention it… here’s a link http://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/health-wellness/2013/05/26/when-brain-attacks-newly-discovered-disease-can-mimic-psychosis/dyixxnwdHJJIUITsNYJC3O/story.html

    I hope you get some answers soon. *hugs*

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  15. My heart is aching for you. I am so sorry to say that to be honest I do not have much to offer you as far as advice. My mother is my best friend and I would be losing my mind if this was her. I am a patient, intelligent and non-violent person, but if someone messed with my Mum the way they are neglecting yours I think I may have been arrested by now for abusive language and being a “public nuisance”.
    To be honest I probably would have lost my job by now for lack of attendance, my Grandfather hammered into us the family first moto and in me at least it truly went to heart. I love my job, I adore being a Librarian… but it is just a job, there are other jobs and many ways of making money, but I only have one family. My Grandfather was very old fashioned and a very passionate person when it came to his family and a couple of us Grandkids have ended up with this trait and it is one of the things I love about myself and I stay true to it. Why am I babbling on about this? I guess because the only advice I feel I can offer you is to stay true to yourself. Often when people are being screwed over they feel helpless (because we are) and don’t do what their gut tells them because it is not “proper procedure” – I say SCREW THAT… stay true to yourself. Do what you think is right for your Mum and your family, push where you want to push, yell at them if they are doing a crappy job… you’re paying them after all. If you paid someone to paint your house and they only painted the wall as far up as they could reach without stretching… would you put up with it? Same thing… they are a service and their service is crappy!
    I truly hope you get some satisfactory help asap!

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  16. For starters I’m dreadfully sorry to hear about this gut-wrenching nightmare you are going through. For your family. And most of all for your mom. That “…leave on the street…” remark is a crime in my book. Yes, our healthcare system has some horrible problems and you are not being too sensitive whatsoever. I went through many difficulties with my father, mother and grandmother. The father and grandmother suffering dementia. What it came down to was finally finding the right specialist(s) and you have been beating down every door you can where you live. I haven’t read any of the above comments so maybe someone else offered this. But, if it were me, I would contact Stanford, The John’s Hopkins Hospital and the Mayo Clinic. See if a copy of your mom’s file can be sent to them so they can take a look at it and go from there. I DO understand how painful this is for you and I can tell you I FEEL your frustration in your heart. You have so much love and so many prayers and thoughts being sent your way from us, Mandi. Always, Mike (and my kid too)

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    • Mike, I am so sorry that you know what I’m going through. It is so mind boggling and frustrating that we have this confusing illness and at the same time are chasing our tails in trying to find a diagnosis, medicine, hospital, etc. I have suggested some of the places in your comment to my father, but he is anti hospital after this last experience. Once she gets to the point again where he can’t be in the room with her, I’ll suggest this again. Thanks so much for always supporting me. You’re a great friend.

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  17. I only just discovered your blog via Casinos to Castles. You made me laugh with the Salamander story, but you truly grabbed at my heartstrings with this post. Unfortunately (or fortunately) I left you a long post empathising as I’ve got a very similar experience with my elderly mom in the Canadian system, but the internet shut down and I lost it.
    I won’t rewrite it; it was hard enough to get it out the first time around, but I will say congratulations on not stepping back from this one. I completely get your frustration and I hope for you, your family, and especially your mom that you may find the answers and the support that you need.

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    • Thank you so much, and I’m so very sorry that you’re going through something similar. It’s so hard to watch your mother experience something so horrible and out of our control. I also hope that you get your answers and some peace. Having said that, welcome to my blog. I hope to see you again!

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  18. Absolutely unacceptable and horrific. The hospitals should have social workers on staff who should be able to help you navigate options for locked dementia care facilities. Unfortunaately, I do not think that our (the US’s) health care system pays for that level of care. Medicare pays for hospice care, but not assisted living. Clearly your mother needs to be in a locked facility that specializes in geriatic dementia care. Our health care system is a disgrace.

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