Saturday, May 2, 2009

Caregiving when patient stops trusting Duke orthopedics

Duke orthopedics stalls until my dad either completely gives up or is dead. And I am too worn out to advocate much longer. (That should make Duke happy.)

My dad was so thrilled when his Duke oncologist told him that the slow growing cancers can wait . . . the priority is to get the foot fixed. The Duke oncologist assured my dad that he would speak directly with the Duke orthopedic surgeon.

Since that time, the silence from Duke orthopedics has been deafening.

Initially the Duke Infectious Disease physicians promised dad that he would speak with the Duke orthopedic surgeon. Then the Duke oncologist promised dad that he would speak with the Duke orthopedic surgeon.

Both the Duke Infectious Disease doctor and the Duke oncologist "worked dad into their schedules" so that the doctors could accommodate he Duke orthopedic surgeon's "clearance" requirements and he final orthopedic surgery could be completed.

The Infectious Disease and oncology doctors recognized that dad desperately needed to get on with his life.

Now the Duke Orthopedic Surgeon's office is giving me grief about how I missed an appointment on May 31, 2009 and now dad just had to wait until mid-May. Apparently dad's situation (and the need to get the orthopedic surgery completed so that dad can resume chemotherapy) is just not a priority to Duke orthopedics. And that leaves a 75 year old man who is struggling to have a purposeful life feeling hopeless.

(Maybe too old to be helped by Duke orthopedics. But I do recall a "we treat world class grandfathers" ad. Though, admittedly, that ad has not aired in a while. Hmmm....)

1. We did not go to the March 2009 orthopedic clinic appointment because we did not have the required clearances and therefore the orthopedic surgeon was not in a position to make any clinical decisions; and

2. Duke refused to care for my injured left leg and I am often unable to manipulate dad to appointments.

BTW, I have no clue why Duke refuses to care for me after performing 4 surgeries on my knees and legs. Duke Women's Sports Medicine Orthopedic Surgeon (Alison Toth, MD) had her medical staff call me and say that she would not help me. I presume it was because Dr. Toth told me she would probably cut my damaged saphenous nerve and then she sent me to a pain management anesthesiologist who warned me that I should not let Dr. Toth cut the nerve!

I asked Dr. Toth to please explain. Dr. Toth ignored me and then dumped me! Sweet. I hope and pray that Dr. Toth treats the Duke female athletes with more professionalism, respect and dignity than she did me!

I have been taking care of my dad and his cancer and related issues since the day I completed chemotherapy and radiation therapy for my invasive cancer. On days like today when . . .

(a) I am physically and mentally worn out,
(b) I get very little support from the Duke medical community,
(c) I am in constant pain and do not have time to follow-up with my own cancer doctors,
(d) I am in constant pain and do not have time to get my knee and ankle repaired and
(e) I try unsuccessfully to comfort my mom and dad . . .

I cannot help but wish that God had given me the colon cancer too. I could have handled it better than dad is handling it. And (thanks to Dr. Chris Dangles of Carle Clinic Association), I am used to being unable to use my legs properly.

I hope tomorrow is a better day.

I hope that dad will believe that the orthopedic surgeon will help him. I hope that dad will accept that my orthopedic situation is an anomaly. I have just had some bad luck with orthopedic surgeons.

Dad should not expect all orthopedic surgeons to be as "bad" and "dishonest" as Dr. Chris Dangles. And, dad should not expect all orthopedic surgeons (albeit Duke orthopedics) to abandon patients as Dr. Alison Toth abandoned me.

God help dad and me stay strong.

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