The thing about suing for damages (and I’m clueless about what we would even sue for, other than our misery) is that I don’t know where to begin with it. Nor do I have the energy to coordinate it, which is what would have to happen. All we want is for him to get better and it to go away.
I think this is what really happens with malpractice most of the time, contrary to what people like George Bush and Norm Coleman would like you to think. People don’t sue willy-nilly. They don’t even usually sue when they have cause. They are treated or mistreated, and they want to get better and move on. If a lawyer materialized and offered to do the whole thing for a portion of damages, that’d be great. But there is neither excess cash, time nor energy to invest in suing.
The other complicating factor which I have consciously left out is the woman who is boarding at my mom’s house. We’ll call her Nancy. Nancy is a family friend, not a close one until very recently. She moved in to my mom’s (Ramon’s) house because she needed a place to stay and he needed help with grocery money.
You may think I’m overdramatizing, and if I am, just go along for the ride, pretend this is fiction.
Nancy is a former model in her fifties. She claims she grew up on a farm. She says she was in charge of the medical care of the head of the mafia in New York years ago. She works as a manager in a retail store in the Twin Cities. She works out regularly, bleaches the kitchen and bathroom incessantly and goes through about 7 bottles of laundry detergent in a week (no lie). She does laundry every day, regularly at 1, 3 or 6 in the morning.
Nancy has fallen in love with Ramon. Within a month of her moving in, Ramon started to talk about having surgery. She did all the research, interviewed doctors and guided him to the surgeon and the hospital he ended up at. Every other family member tried to discourage Ramon from doing this. We were all worried that he might not survive the surgery and recovery.
We were also concerned that he could afford the after-care he would need, and the time off from work (minimum of 2 months). When Ramon decided to go ahead with it, Nancy was clearly in charge. She talked to doctors and nurses, she ordered the medical equipment and she went with him to all appointments. She came up with a diet, vitamin and exercise regimen for him to do in advance of the surgery. She brought him to her homeopathic doctor.
She called me from the hospital right after surgery, telling me that it was touch and go because Ramon has sleep apnea. While talking to me from the hospital room she would cover the phone and say, “Ramon, you need to remember to breathe.” I could hear the equipment beeping in the background, and the whole thing was pretty dramatic.
There were a series of dramatic happenings reported from the hospital, but whenever I talked to Ramon, he sounded alert and good. She reported him being in “Tremendous” pain, but he reported his pain being at a 1 on a scale of 1 to 10. She spent all her time at the hospital when she wasn’t working, and the hospital staff started to hate her. She questioned every decision, every procedure and every medication.
She talked constantly, mostly about things that were irrelevant. She would talk about putting on his socks and finding pants for him that would fit over his apparatus, about the layout of the house, and why it made it difficult to get to the bathroom at home, about his high calcium count and his homeopathic diet. All these were from the angle of, “I have gone to the ends of the earth to help this poor, disabled guy.” The thing is, some of the things she talked about were important. But it was nearly impossible to tell which was which.
The clinic staff and hospital staff started to ask her not to call. When I went to appointments, they would heave a sigh and say, “You’re really easy to deal with. Can you come to appointments instead of that other lady?” I tried to make that happen, but Nancy got pretty upset if I opted to go instead of her. She was willing to allow me to go when she absolutely couldn’t, but often it was both of us, and she monopolized the visits.
All along, the key thing is, that The hospital and clinic made significant mistakes. They didn’t keep him long enough post-op, didn’t prescribe the correct medications, or the correct doses, didn’t keep sterile conditions, didn’t change bandages, put his struts on upside-down, installed the whole apparatus upside down, and didn’t listen to Ramon when he voiced concern about things.
But the way which Nancy approached the case made it very hard for them to figure out which concerns were valid and which weren’t. Their mistake was that they just started tuning her out completely and assuming any concernes about Ramon were bogus attempts at drama and martyrdom on Nancy’s part. They even started to tune out Ramon.
I have asked more than one person at Symphonia if there is any way to remove her from the process. They seem confused at the question, and although they have agreed to remove her number as main contact and replace it with mine (after contacting Ramon first, which doesn’t seem to occur to people, maybe because it involves having a translator involved, which they would rather not do).
She insists the meds be kept across the room, so Ramon can’t take them on his own. She tells people he doesn’t have appetite when they offer to bring food (but when they do anyway,his appetite is hearty), throws away food people bring for him, second guesses the home health nurses and seems to have an incredible gift for figuring out ways that things might kill Ramon. She told my brother, in tears, “We almost lost Ramon.” But none of us can figure out when he was almost dead. But maybe she means that she didn’t know where he was for while…
She has confessed to being “way more in love with ” Ramon than he will ever be with her, “because he’s still in love with your mom. But that’s just something I need to deal with, it’s my choice. I love him more than I ‘ve loved anyone in my life”
Ramon, for his part, is heavily drugged, and always a little obtuse. He’s concerned about hurting Nancy’s feelings by asking her to back off. He’s lonely and accustomed to having someone else be in charge.
I do worry about this, but I don’t exactly know what I can do to fix it. I asked Ramon to come and stay at my house for just a couple days, and he said he’d think about it. Nancy says he needs to stay at his house because he’s used to those germs, but I’m pretty sure that if he had 3 days of consistent, unmeddled-with care, he would get better. But I’m not going to insist. As a matter of fact, I think I’m going to refuse to be involved with this as long as Nancy is involved. He’s an adult and I have an entire family of my own to meddle with. I’m happy to take advice.