Anyone who has cared for and loved someone with dementia knows all too well that the whole world needs education and training when it comes to dealing with this disease.
This point was proven once again by Jim’s urologist and his staff. From the very first appointment, I was acutely aware they were ill equipped to handle him with the grace and understanding he needs. But with his most recent visit (and his last to their office) I could no longer accept their inability to treat him quickly and in a way that would make the visit a smooth one.
Jim has been having bladder issues for a few months now. Catheter in. Urinary Tract Infections. Antibiotics. The same cycle each week.
I won’t go into a lot of details, but the urologist kept commenting on how young Jim was to have Alzheimer’s Disease during our first visit. In front of Jim. While he was examining him. Like Jim couldn’t hear him.
Like we need another doctor and medical expert to tell us what we already know. He also made a few other comments. They were the typical ones, but you just don’t expect to hear them from your physician. The worst part was when he went to give Jim a prostate exam and didn’t warn him or explain what was about to happen. He was lucky Jim didn’t turn around and sock him.
This last visit was to try to figure out if there is a problem with Jim’s bladder. When I made the appointment, I asked how long it would be because our son had a counseling appointment two hours later. I was told that wouldn’t be a problem. Jim would be first after lunch and it should only take about 20 minutes. I was feeling good because I actually arrived to their office ten minutes early which never happens these days.
They removed his catheter and told me it would be a 20 minute wait in the waiting area. No problem. After 45 minutes, I went up to the nurse and asked if she had forgotten about Jim. She told me “No, we are just really busy. We have three doctors in the office today.” I reminded her he had been waiting twice as long as they had said and he couldn’t sit out in the waiting area much longer. She told me she would see what they could do.
A full 5 minutes later, they call us. We both get up, and she stands at the door and tells me she isn’t calling us to go back, but to just inform me they are backed up and can’t see him yet. I reminded her that our son had a counseling appointment in what was now 45 minutes and I still needed to get Jim back to his place, pick our son Brad up from school and drive him to his appointment. No empathy in any way shape or form. I was done.
I told them to put the catheter back in Jim and we would find a new doctor. So that is where we are. Searching for a doctor and staff who actually understand and care about patients who cannot advocate and speak up for themselves. There is much that needs to be done, and I certainly think some training for all medical staff would be a good start.