Monday, February 09, 2009
I talked to Dad last night, and he sounded better. This morning I left a message with his primary-care doctor at the VA about getting him in to see someone about his depression. The PCP called me back around noon, and when I explained what was going on, he said he'd work on a referral.
Ten minutes later, a VA psychologist called me, and shortly thereafter, she'd set up two appointments for Dad for tomorrow: he's seeing a psychiatrist at 3:00, and her after that. This isn't the usual order, but it's what was open for tomorrow.
Nice to see that government bureaucracy can move quickly on occasion! Dad and I are both very grateful that he has such a proactive primary-care doc. The PCP had evidently walked into the psychologist's office to explain the situation, rather than relying on phone or e-mail. Thank you, doctor!
I can't be with Dad tomorrow, because I'll be teaching at the med school, but he's arranged for the paratransit van to pick him up and bring him back home, and someone from his assisted-living facility will go with him. Gary and I have to pay for that -- I think it's $20/hour -- but I want Dad to be seen quickly, and this is the only way it will happen.
Meanwhile, we're waiting to see if the weather will permit us to travel to Palo Alto on Thursday. If not, some of the tests Dad would have had there can be done at the VA here, although his echocardiogram has to be done at Stanford. We could drive him down the following week for that, although the long weekend this week would give us more wiggle room.
Today Dad asked when he's going to see me next. Tomorrow I'm busy all day with class prep for Wednesday, teaching a narrative medicine class at the med school in the afternoon, and facilitating the hospital Lit & Med discussion group in the evening. Wednesday I'm busy with teaching, so Dad probably won't see me until Thursday. Although he's been interested in and proud of my medical-school projects in the past, Dad grumbled this time. "Why do you do all this extra work?"
"Because I enjoy it," I told him. (The med-school stuff also gives me service points for my annual review.) The implication, though, was clearly that I should devote every spare moment to him.
A speech therapist is going to visit him tomorrow morning to work on his swallowing; his occupational therapist was there today, and patiently led him through the oxygen drill again. She also reminded him that having people transport him to and from meals raises his bill, which is good motivation to get him walking, or at least using his scooter. I haven't wanted to emphasize that because I don't want him to feel guilty about money (my sister and I have to pay any extra expenses), but I'm glad the therapist mentioned it.
If nothing else, he's getting lots of attention from lots of people. I just pray that it eventually helps him feel better.