My Father’s Dying; They Just Turn Their Backs

Posted on: March 12th, 2018 by

After a harrowing few years filled with suffering from end-stage Parkinson’s disease, his days are finally coming to an end. My dad has stopped eating, and now all my family can do is sit and wait. For a doctor’s phone call.

Understandably, this is a difficult time for my family, made even more difficult by the people who are supposed to make things easier — medical personnel.

Such is the nature of health care in the US, or maybe everywhere.

It’s difficult enough to lose a loved one, but it’s exceedingly difficult when medical staff take on a philosophy of non-cooperation and callousness.

When I found out this weekend that my dad was probably not going to make it through the next couple of weeks, I called the nursing home to hopefully speak to a doctor on call.

I was not in denial and grasping at straws for a doctor to tell me my dad would be just fine. What I did want, and what I do want, is assurance that he’s comfortable and a guesstimate as to about when the doctor might think my dad will pass away.

I don’t think that’s too much to ask. Yet, by the reaction of the nursing home, you would think that I had asked for $1 million. They told me that no doctor is available to speak with me, even though I insisted there must be a doctor on call who can speak with me about my dad’s physical state. The head nurse gave me the number of the hospice corporation, where I might get in touch with a doctor.

Even though my name is listed as a contact who has a right to medical information, the nursing home didn’t want to be bothered. So I called hospice.

Hospice told me that even though I was listed as a contact, they could not give me information because I was not listed as my father’s caregiver. They told me to call the nursing home for information. Maybe I was a tad emotional about this runaround, but I gave them a few pieces of my mind — and then some more.

I called the nursing home again, and the head nurse told me to call them this morning, as the hospice doctor would definitely be in this morning. So I called this morning, and lo and behold, the doctor was not in. As of this writing, 1:10 p.m., Florida time, the doctor is still not in. I just got off the phone with a nursing home staff member, who sarcastically said, “Well, if the doctor comes in and I go to the bathroom, I might miss her.”

I felt like getting equally sarcastic and telling her she might fare well using a catheter, but I don’t want to escalate things.

My goal here is not to start a fight, although I pissed off quite a few people lately.

All I want to know is if my dad is comfortable. I’m not asking for miracles. I know my dad is going to die anyway, so I guess my efforts are futile.

I’m tired and resigned.

I have a feeling that no one will get back to me.

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14 Responses to My Father’s Dying; They Just Turn Their Backs

  1. Elaine had this to say about that:

    That sucks. These people all need a kick in the butt. I cannot fathom why someone cannot talk to you, moreover, why they are so rude.

    I am sorry you are going through this at this particular time. I hope your father is comfortable, and has as easy a time as possible during this.

    I would be soooooo angry. Maybe later, ruffle some feathers. For now, I hope you can find some peace.


    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Hi Elaine, thank you for your supportive comment. I gave them a resounding, thorough butt-kicking, and that’s why the hospice doctor finally called.

  2. Suzy Posluszny had this to say about that:

    So sorry Beth :( Having working in skilled nursing facilities for slmost 25 years…all I can say is the squeeky wheel gets attention. So keep at it, you’ll get your answers. Soeaking w/ the administrator may be helpful or ask for the Ombudsman’s number (they are patient/family advocates assigned my the state)
    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family ❤️

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      You are right, Suzy, the squeaky wheel does get the grease. I did get the doctor to call me, finally, as I made a huge commotion. The staff there must hate me now, but I don’t care. I’m not here to be their friends but to advocate for my family.

  3. Eileen had this to say about that:

    Just awful. I’m so sorry, Beth.

  4. Kathi had this to say about that:

    It happens in other states than Florida, but I have to say, my mom spent her last five years in Florida, and I was NOT impressed with the health care system there. I’m so sorry this is happening to you and your family, Beth. That kind of callousness is unconscionable. You are in my heart. <3

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:


      Thank you so much for your support, as always. I didn’t know your mom’s last years were in Florida. Like you, I am not impressed with the way things are handled there. xoxo

  5. Caroline Ronten had this to say about that:

    That is awful. Can you go visit him in the nursing home and speak to someone in authority to find out what is going on. I just lost my father to pancreatic cancer so I can understand that part. And its horrible to think how much worse it would be to have to deal with idiots at the same time. Hugs.

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Hi Caroline,

      I’m so sorry for your recent loss. I’m in Chicago, and he is in Florida, so it’s difficult for me to get there right now, but my brother is flying down to be with my mom and him on Wednesday.

      You are right: I had to deal with idiots.

  6. Nancy Stordahl had this to say about that:

    Hi Beth,
    I am so sorry. About all of it. It’s horrible that the very people who are supposed to be making this time easier for you are doing the exact opposite. I hope your dad is comfortable and that someone has told you that by now. Please know you are in my thoughts, Beth. This is all so hard. Hugs to you, my friend. xx

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Hi Nancy,

      Thank you for your support. The doctor did get back to me later that day and gave me all the information I needed to know. It’s criminal that lazy-ass staff members have to be in charge of people’s medical care.

      It is so hard. I feel incredibly sad and depressed. As of now, I’m waiting to hear from my mom and/or brother about my dad passing. It could be any day.

      Hugs back. xo

  7. Marie Ennis-O'Connor (@JBBC) had this to say about that:

    Oh Beth, my heart aches for you. I found the attitude of my Mom’s doctors unbearably insensitive and in one case downright awful when he stopped her IV without telling us. It made the stress of watching her die all the more terrible. Sending loving thoughts your way xxxxxxxxxxx

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      I’m so sorry, Marie, that the doctors were horrible in the case of your mom. Stopping her IV without consulting the family is cruel and incompetent. It’s traumatic enough to watch someone you love die, without the added stress of medical people who don’t seem to care.

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