Friday, March 13, 2009

Caregiving - what are my responsibilities?

I have had a tough week. My dad is suffering. His foot is not in great shape. He is a great deal of pain.

When we left the Duke University Hospital after the 3-week stint in November 2008, Duke Orthopedic Surgeon organized a discharge plan.

The orthopedic surgeon determined that before he could perform the final surgery to (hopefully) save the foot, the following would need to happen:

1. The Duke Plastic Surgeon must discharge dad from his care and okay dad for the additional surgery [DONE]

2. Dad must be monitored by the Duke Infectious Disease Clinic to monitor the wound on the foot and the foot infection [the ID fellow that took care of dad left Duke and ID dropped the ball -- a risk we all take as patients at a teaching facility]

3. Dad must participate in physical therapy 3x/week [DONE]

And as if the Blue Devils choked during an ACC tournament, the Duke orthopedic surgeon's "game plan" was blown. No one at Duke is monitoring the infection or wound management. Instead of Coach K regrouping the team and refocusing on the game plan, support staff at Duke Medical orthopedics and infectious disease expects me to devise a plan.

I suggested to support staff at Duke orthopedics and Duke infectious disease that the orthopedic surgeon should directly communicate with the infectious disease physician about dad's case. You would think that I was asking for something unreasonable.

I think my request was more than reasonable --- it was responsible. It is incumbent on the physicians to communicate with one another. I know they are very busy. Perhaps the Duke doctors are also shy.

I am doing my part to make sure that dad is ready for the final orthopedic surgery. But there is only so much that I can do.

My job in the care-giving/taking care of my dad gig is to:

1. Follow physician and physical therapist instructions with respect to medications and etc [DONE]

2. Make sure that dad is clean, well fed, nourished and mentally active [DONE]

3. Make sure that dad gets to every scheduled appointment [DONE]

My job in the care-giving/taking care of my dad gig does not include re-creating a game plan by taking my dad to miscellaneous doctors to be "assessed."

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