I try not to have this be a doom and gloom type of place. But, there are times when doom and gloom are just the norm. I previously intimated about my father being in the hospital in my prior post. Well, there’s still a bit going on with him. And, it’s weighing heavily on my mind. In fact, it’s one of the things that has been foremost in my thoughts over the past couple of days. Since this is where my thoughts reside when they need to leave my head, I guess that means that this is where I need to let things out.
For those of you who have had the opportunity to meet him, you know my dad is a pretty great guy who would do just about anything for anyone. His recent bout of being there when he was needed was the proverbial Achilles heel with regard to his own health conditions.
Dad suffers from neuropathy in his feet. He gets along alright with it. It just means he can’t feel his feet. While clipping some callous from his big toe about a month or so ago now, he clipped a little too deep. It wasn’t a big deal for him at the time. He caught the error, and kept close watch on his toe. But a couple weeks in, he realized his toe wasn’t healing very well. With everything going on with my grandmother, and my mom needing him at home with her, he let things go for as long as he could on his own. When things were settling down a little bit, he made a point to check in with the doctor.
Turns out that that little bit of wound on his toe had in fact become infected. The doctor put him on some antibiotics and told him to follow-up if things didn’t get better. After a few days, things weren’t getting better. In fact, things were getting worse. His foot was constantly swollen and red. And the swelling was spreading up his leg. Then there was the pain. With neuropathy in his feet, he couldn’t really feel the pain when it was limited to his feet. But, when the infection was spreading up his leg? Yeah, he started feeling that. He felt it into his knee, and then into his thigh, and into his groin.
When things got that bad, he finally found himself on his way to the hospital last week. They admitted him, diagnosed him with a staph infection, and immediately put him on an IV antibiotic.
He was in the hospital for about 4 days on that IV antibiotic drip.
During his hospital stay the pain diminished in his upper leg. And, the swelling started to come down in his lower leg and foot. But, he still wasn’t out of the woods. Because he had left the infection unattended for so long before seeking treatment, the infection had gone into not only the soft tissue (muscle) of his foot, but it had also started into the bone. The doctors had to determine how far it had gone into the bone, and there was a discussion as to whether they would need to amputate his foot. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, they continued him on his IV antibiotic therapy to see how things would go.
Thankfully, he was responding well to the IV antibiotics. The swelling had gone down dramatically. The color in his foot was no longer an angry, emblazoned red, and it appeared that the bone was starting to heal. All of this was good.
Or so we thought…
Dad was told he would be able to go home. During his discharge procedures, the doctors advised they wanted to install a PICC line so that his regimen of IV antibiotics could be administered following his discharge. This new regimen would consist of either (a) Dad driving 12 miles from home to the hospital to undergo IV therapy and then driving the 12 miles back home; or (b) a visiting nurse coming to the house to administer the IV therapy at home. Under either option, IV therapy would need to be administered every day for at least the next 3 weeks (possibly up to the next 8-10 weeks depending on how things develop with his progress). Under option (a) Dad would need to put gas in the car to drive the 168 miles each week (round trip 7 days a week), as well as the near $30.00 co-pay each visit he would be looking at around $300.00 a week ($1,200.00 a month) out-of-pocket. While option (b) saves the gas mileage, it includes additional fees for at-home medical supplies (IV machine, etc.) and in-house nurse visits. Either way, the money needed for co-pays and uninsured treatment stack up. With dad unable to work and my parents living on his limited Social Security funds, coupled with his lack of insurance coverage, those figures are nearly impossible to fund.
Dad’s solution? Sign himself out of the hospital anyway.
Thankfully, his primary care doctor was able to talk him into a regimen of oral antibiotics. On the plus side, the oral antibiotics are cheaper – both in that the pills themselves are cheaper than the liquid IV medicine, but also in that he can self-administer them instead of having to go to the hospital or have a nurse come to the house to administer them daily. But, on the down side, the oral antibiotics are not as reliable to ensure that the infection will “go away.” He will be monitored throughout the entire process, and my mom is making sure to check his foot and leg for any signs of worsening.
What I find unsettling about the latter part of this story is that someone who has worked so hard for the majority of his life finds himself in such a situation that he is ineligible for various healthcare programs, and is stuck in between income brackets where his disability checks are just over the amount required for certain local, state and federal programs, and just under the requirements for him to be eligible for other programs. It’s not even like I can add him to my healthcare plan because he doesn’t live with me. If there were ever a time I hoped to hit the Powerball or become an overnight success at a multi-million dollar venture, it’d be now. I could go ahead and pay for the treatment he needs (the one that would have a better projected success rate vs. the band-aid treatment that has been strung together because of his unfortunate circumstances). I could even take the time off work to be home with my parents and help out with things they need help with while being a comfort to them both during this rough patch.
I know that things will work out the way they’re supposed to. I guess it’s just the control freak in me that wants to make it all better right now. And I honestly feel guilty that I live 4 hours away from them, especially under recent circumstances.