Saturday, February 14, 2009

Adventures in Oxygen Meets Godzilla

Well, yesterday Gary and I did something that may have been foolish -- and that was certainly extravagant -- and bought Dad the same kind of oxygen concentrator he's renting. We found a new one on the internet for a mere (haHAhaHAhaHAha) $2,995; because it's new, it comes with all the gadgets and warranties. A used one would cost $2,700 without a warranty, and a very used one would cost $2,400 without a warranty, so it seemed better to go with the new equipment.

Luckily, we can take the money out of savings and don't have to take out a second mortgage on the house. I feel like I've bought a car. Dad is, of course, very grateful, and is trying to be good about learning to use the machine and becoming more independent (since if he needs to be escorted to every meal, the assisted-living cost goes up $495 -- haHAhaHAhaHAha -- a month).

Just doing our part to stimulate the economy.

The new machine should arrive sometime next week, if Dad's doctor faxed the O2 prescription to the company on Friday as I requested(they're in Colorado). I just hope Dad gets a good long period of use out of it.

Meanwhile, road conditions on 80 seem to be justifying our decision not to go to Palo Alto this weekend. Lotsa snow up there!

In other news, I volunteered at the hospital today for the first time since late October. I've never worked a morning shift before, and I'm not a morning person, but it went okay. It was a pretty quiet shift, but I had lots of requests for prayer and handed out lots of blankets, so I stayed busy. I also ran into someone I knew from church and someone who recognized me from a lecture I gave at the med school. Two nurses and one PA seemed actively glad to see me; the other folks I knew either didn't remember that I'd ever been there or didn't realize that I'd ever left.

At the end of the shift, I bumped heads with a social worker who was less than sympathetic to a homeless patient. She was doing that "Oh, he just wants to get a place to stay" routine, and I pointed out that in the winter, this is entirely reasonable (it's entirely reasonable anytime, but especially in the winter). I'd already given him a list of shelters, but I was hoping that she'd help with a shelter referral; it's not like I was trying to get him admitted to the hospital. I was annoyed by her automatic assumption that he was trying to play us, especially since I'd talked to the guy and she hadn't even met him yet.

Part of the problem may have been resistance on the part of a paid professional to being asked by a volunteer to see a patient. I've run into this before. One social worker, years ago, flat-out told me that she'd only take referrals from doctors, who often don't know crucial things about the patients' living situations. Physicians, oddly enough, have usually been very open to my giving them information, if I can catch them for three seconds. There's weird social-class/workplace-hierarchy stuff going on here that I can't even try to decode, although I might be more effective if I could. But hey, it's supposed to be about the patients, not about the rest of us.

Anyway, having pissed off a member of the staff, I seem to be back in the swing of things. PITA for Christ! PITA for Christ! Yeee-hah!


  1. I'm glad you are able to be and, more importantly, feel proactive on behalf of your father. Good stuff.

    Re: the social worker -- having performed daily direct service myself for the better part of a decade, I think social workers and others in direct service should be cycled in and out of direct positions every five years. It's just so easy to develop an Us vs. Them attitude. Just my $.02.

    I think PITA for Christ would be an awesome t-shirt.

  2. Anonymous6:40 AM

    Dear Susan,

    It was so nice to read this message Sunday and hear you sounding like yourself - the ER is obviously good for you!

    Congratulations on your new oxygen concentrator - has it arrived yet? It sounded so great in your earlier post, I hope you and your Dad enjoy it immensely. An excellent purchase!



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