In which being a bitch comes in handy

There are three things I’ve learned about my family this weekend:

1. They are the most polite people you will ever meet — they will thank you for even the smallest of things.
2. They are the nicest people on earth — no matter how much pain they are in, they are as gracious as can be.
3. They never miss a chance to tell you they love you. You will hear it a million times a day and they would say it more if they could.

I went to Pittsburgh this weekend because my grandfather is very ill. I got there on Friday at noon, took one look at him and dragged him to the hospital. (I was supposed to be on call for work. Oh well. Takes a family emergency for me to get my priorities straight.) Twelve hours, eight waiting rooms and two hospitals later, he’s checked in and getting mediocre treatment.

That’s an upgrade from terrible treatment. Because my sweet and nice and fabulous grandfather and my mom who takes care of him cannot for the life of them fight for anything. But then I — a cross between “Harper Valley PTA” and Shirley MacLaine in “Terms of Endearment” — hit town, and planted myself up everyone’s butt possible. It’s the only reason he’s gotten any attention.

I don’t know that people get family emergencies like this. That everyone’s burned out and it takes Miss Attitutde Problem to step in and demand quality care. This is someone we love, need and WANT. Do NOT let him slip through the cracks. It’s fucking ABUSE to leave an 80-year-old in such searing pain, and to write it off as depression? Jesus H on a motherfucking STICK, wouldn’t chronic pain that he’s had for 45 years that you refuse to help with his regular meds that his hotshot, braindead, fresh-out-of-school PCP decided to PULL drive your dumb ass over the edge, too?


They wanted to 302 him, but I fought that with my life. I bartered them down to a 201. (The difference between loony bin and regular admission. Loony bin? 80 years old, in insane pain and you fuckers think he’s mental? I smell lawsuit. Breathe deeply, bitches. 36 hours without a pain pill and that’s only because I had to beg and plead and threaten.

And let’s not talk about the fact that I know how to reset the IV machine because everyone else seemed to forget how. I’m pretty damned handy if I say so myself!

He had a horrible roommate when we checked in. I called the man Snarfalicious, Stankalicious, Sir Farts-a-Lot and just plain Asshole. Really rude motherfucker. Was literally puttting his ass up to the curtain that separated the beds to flatulate as loudly as possible through it. Groaned every 30 seconds but shut up when a nurse was in the room. And nobody seemed to think it was a problem to let my grandfather suffer with that.

So I threatened to move my grandfather myself if they didn’t. And God save the queen, we got the best nurse EVER, who loved my sweet, gracious, amazing little grandfather, who called him “My little man” and went against every rule (and everyone I’d already talked to) and got him into a better room.

The poor man can’t sleep, can’t eat, can’t breathe, he’s in so much pain. Goddamned PCP. I told everyone that my cats get better medical care than my grandfather. I want her ass on a platter. I wish her three times the pain that he’s in right now. (Don’t fuck with a witch. Or bitch. Whichever.) It’s not HER life that gets screwed up by her stupid decisions.

And he? Thanked the one cuntrag nurse (whom I had to practically force into the pharmacy) profusely for bringing him one lonely pain pill and said he was sorry she had to go to any trouble for him. ARGH! That’s him, though. That’s his personality in a nutshell. My response was more of the, “See? Helping someone didn’t kill you!” variety, but it came out a little nicer. But not much. 😉

I may or may not document all the drama online later (but you’d best believe I’m going to be doing it for myself and likely for an attorney), all I have to say is that I drove home late last night (Sunday) and I should not be here. I am so worried what is (or isn’t) going to happen without me fighting for it. I think Mom will do her best, but I’m my grandmother’s granddaughter — I got the hot Italian blood from her that makes me want to whack somebody who acts simple.

I got into it with the psychiatrist they sent him to. Mom loves to hang back and watch me. I asked her why the F they would pull the cocktail o’ medicines that have been working for 15 years (which resulted in an overnight decline of his health that they refuse to address — this is a vital, happy man who’s now a shivering ball of suck right now) without first evaluating him. Why stop what works without due diligence? She was silent.

I got her once again when she asked him the date. He’d said Oct. 19, 2006. She snarled, “Well, you’re wrong, it’s the 26th.” Whereupon I said, “Gee, my calendar says the 27th. You’re not right, either.”


Mom reminded me of how serving around the clock has caused me to neglect my health and mental health in a big way. And this is how it manifests itself — curled up in a fetal position, barely noticeable under a pile of blankets where you rot away on someone’s watch. All the stress comes back to you to remind you of what you did during your life … and what you didn’t.

My whole family has helped others their whole lives and never cared for themselves. And this is what makes me a bitch. Not on my own behalf — god forbid if I make waves. I feel like I must deserve all the pain I get. But when it’s someone I love? Don’t fuck with me. Seriously. My bullshit tolerance is very, very low.

So if everyone can understand that my head’s still in Pittsburgh (he asked if there were any way I could stay because he really doesn’t think he’s going to make it much longer — this is something he would NEVER in his right mind say) and understand that their problems don’t really concern me right now, we’ll call it an OK day.

And if I can find some time (ha) I might want to contemplate checking out the job market up there. I really don’t know if he’s going to come through this. It was like taking a lamb to slaughter. Elder care in this country blows goats, I tell you.

This all took place at Veteran’s Hospital, need I say more. I think we did luck out with some incredible nurses, but the doctors, well, the jury’s still out on that. (We were the only visitors in the hospital all weekend — really sad. Sadder still how they make an announcement into each patient room that visiting hours are over. Great — another day gone by for the majority of them with no one knowing or caring that they’re in there. Splendid.)

I’ll tell you the real shit part of all of this. That it was ME — I am the one who talked him into going to the hospital. (See “slaughter, lamb to.”) Six years ago, I did the same thing with my grandmother. She was so sick, in so much pain — and per the usual, they only listen to me. Mom provides all the care, but it’s my opinion they seek.

And I’d begged my grandmother to go to the hospital. For comfort, for drugs, for maybe a last-ditch effort to fix her up and keep her around for awhile longer.

She died that day. In the hospital. They gave her a few extra shots of morphine when we took my grandfather (with his low blood sugar) for a little bit of food.

She died before we came back from that last horrible meal. While the Fourth of July fireworks were going off. I cannot look at a firework anymore without wanting to die myself.

So here again, I was the catalyst — just trying to get someone I love the help they need and the comfort they deserve.

Maybe I should stick with pets. My ability to help humans at this point is sketchy. I might suggest that some of these so-called doctors do the same.

But I will tell you one thing — I don’t want to be as good and kind and serving as my family and end up with the world using my hair to wipe its ass.

The lesson to learn is one that seems to work in all life domains … the nice people do finish last because they’re willing to wait for whatever they need till it’s convenient for others. But those who put fear into others get results and priority treatment.

I am going completely against character as a mini-Machiavelli here but I rather like how empowering it is to command the respect people should be ready to give you in the first place.

3 Responses to In which being a bitch comes in handy

  1. Valbee :

    I’m so sorry, Dawn. I was reading this post with a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach because while I don’t claim to know how you feel, a lot of it is familiar. Your mom and your grandfather are from a different time, though, one where we trusted our medical providers because it was in their best interest to provide us with the best possible care and they had the least amount of red-tape interference.

    I’ve had my experiences with my husband’s care, but you have the added level of frustration with the VA. The Boyfriend is a veteran and a diabetic. The hoops he’s had to jump through at times amazes me. And his PCP? A joke. I have been with The Boyfriend for five years and I’ve never seen him successfully get through to the PCP’s office when he needs an appointment.

    The worst thing is that advocating for someone else’s health is practically a full time job in itself. Sure the Family Medical Leave Act is a great thing in theory, but it’s useless if you still need to pay the bills while you’re taking care of your loved ones.

    All I can say is hang in there and be the biggest bitch you can be. You and your family are in my thoughts.

  2. Evil Genius :

    The world needs more people like you, Dawn. I mean, I would feel the same way you do if it was my grandfather in that situation, but I don’t know that I could handle it as well as you. It’s all I can do to even fight for my own best-care.

    I admire your strength. Go get ’em, girlfriend.

  3. Stephanie :

    Hang in there, Dawn. I’m rooting for you and for your grandpa.