Exactly two weeks ago today at just about this time, my 89 year old mother was beginning surgery for a broken left hip. It was repaired with a plate and screws and the doctor said the surgery went fine, but she had difficulty breathing when the tube was removed, so it was reinserted.
Not long after, her heart stopped and was restarted. It stopped two more times and the third time they suggested I let her go because they couldn't get her heart started after 15 minutes of CPR. I was really in no state of mind to make a decision like that, but went along with what those working on her suggested. There was no doctor there, just nurses and the anesthesist.
A few hours earlier, before surgery, the anesthesist told me she had some fluid in one lung and that worried me. I asked if that would make the surgery risky and he said no, "She'll be just fine." That's a quote. I took his word and let them go ahead with the surgery.
A couple weeks earlier she was in the hospital where they found she had anemia with a blood count of 6.2. They said 12 is normal. They also found an ulcer. She got a transfusion and was sent home with 2 antibiotics for the H.pylori bacteria, Prilosec for the ulcer, and iron supplements. The very next day she was doing great. Eating better, getting around more, etc. In a week she gained 3 poumds. After 4 days she had a very hoarse voice and had to keep clearing her throat. The doctor said it "probably" just a cold.
Since my father died in 2006 I had been caring for my mother because her memory wasn't to good. Four days after her trip to the doctor for the cold, she woke up at about 3:30 am and used the bathroom and walked back to her room. A few minutes later she yelled out that she may have broken her left leg. She had injured her left knee 8 years ago when a car smashed into the car my mother was in. That took about 3 months to heal.
I went in to check. She insisted her hip didn't hurt, just a little knee pain when she tried to lift he leg. She got up and walked around a little, then sat back down. She rotated her foot and said there was no pain there. She felt under her knee and said there was some aching there. There was no swelling
I called 911. They used a special chair to get her out the door to the ambulance. That's when the pain began. She was lying on the couch when the got here. One person grabbed her under her arms, the other grabbed her legs. I told them that was going to hurt and said they knew what they were doing. She really yelled when they picked he up to put her in the chair and again when they put her onto the gurney. They didn't use a flat board, splint or anything. Jut picked her up. When I got to the hospital they had already put her in a bed, so I presume that was painful too.
They found she had a left hip fracture which they intended to repair with a plate and screws.
Lying on the bed she was in no pain, with no pain medications. She was cheerful and alert. I asked her some questions about where she grew up, etc. and she was really enjoying talking about that.
Her hearing was a bit bad so when the doctor came in and asked me to sign permission for surgery, she didn't quite understand what I was signing. She did tell me to make sure it was nothing for surgery because she didn't want surgery.
I signed her admission papers too.
This was at a small local hospital. After checking her heart they found a weak valve, so sent her to a larger hospital with a cardiologist. She was there two days before the surgery. The surgeon, nurses, etc. all knew she had a cold. her O2 level was in the mid to high 80's. One nurse said that concerned her because they like it to be a minimum of 90. On the day of the surgery they found fluid in one lung, and she was still slightly anemic (blood count up to 11).
When her heart stopped they gave her epinephrine twice and atropine. I have read that epinephrine can be risky if given during resusitation.
What really irks me is I can't get any answers about what happened at either hospital other than a single paragraph note that mentioned everything here, but no real details. Trying to talk to a doctor is like a private trying to talk with a general. I don't know what type of hip fracture she had, what anestheia was used, etc., etc. A couple friends have said it really doesn't matter now, but I want to know these things.
The larger hospital where she died said they will send the records to me, but the smaller hospital said I would have to go to court and file some paperwork for something. I don't have the money for that. I asked the smaller hospital why they accepted my name on the admission papers, surgical permission papers etc., but not for the records and they just say that's how they do things.
I almost think she had refused to agree to surgery and that's why she told me to make sure I wasn't signing anything to allow surgery. If I could have thought faster at the time, I would have asked what would happen if I didn't sign permission for surgery. Would they have put her in traction where she would at least be alive today?
My decision may have been different if the anesthesist hadn't told me, "she'll be just fine." She was afraid of surgery and I guess I should have trusted her judgement. Instead I chose to trust the doctors who said surgery with all her problems would be ok and that "she'll be just fine", which was a mistake on my part.
Do doctors usually do surgery on older folks with the problems my mother had?