I just sent the following email:

[name redacted],

I’m copying [name redacted] on this since I haven’t had a chance to update her on my call with the hospital this morning yet, too. I’ll leave it up to [her] to update [name redacted] and / or [name redacted] if she wants.

The nurse told me that she was basically crying and making “silent screams” all day yesterday (Monday), so the neurologist started her on Zoloft and Namenda. I flipped out, because I specifically told them I didn’t want them putting her on any drugs at all without talking to me and they had said that they would respect that, and they clearly didn’t.

This was nurse Patty, a new nurse and the fourth or fifth one she’s had since the 16th when she was admitted. I told her the whole back story, like I do every time I talk to someone new.

The nurse was very understanding about my frustration. She said that she spent two years basically living in a hospital with her 3yo daughter who had lung cancer and died, and that was why she became a nurse. So that was awful.

She let me speak to Dr. Escander again, and he said that they ran all the tests on vitamins and hormones and everything seems fine. She’s not deficient in B-12 or any of that stuff, and her thyroid seems fine. He said that he had another doctor review her CT scans and nobody thinks she has ever had a stroke or any brain damage, so he doesn’t know why Dr. Caliendo told us that in December.

She got the neurologist to call me and I told him the whole “story of my mom”, which I can now deliver in full in less than fifteen minutes. He reviewed the eight or nine CT scans they have on file of her and confirmed that she has never had a stroke and that there is no evidence of any brain damage, and that I was probably right to ask them to lay off all the psycho pharmaceuticals for a while, so he stopped the Zoloft and the Namenda. (Namenda, by the way, he told me has no real proven benefits but “it can’t hurt”, so they just give that to everyone. Ridiculous.)

He said that he would try to get her a psych consultation, but that she was basically just not talking to anyone or responding at all. She’s not unresponsive; she just ignores people. He also said that he doesn’t think she has dementia, but that it looks like she has severe anxiety and depression. But he said he thought it was a good idea to lay off the antidepressants for a little while to clear out her system.

She’s supposed to be moved out of the intensive care unit today or tomorrow; she’s fully off the respirator and physically she’s doing very well.

They’re not talking about discharging her yet; they seem to be a little anxious about the whole “forgot to sterilize the endoscope” issue so they want to — gasp! — maybe find out what’s wrong with her before discharging her this time.

[name redacted],
I can’t remember if I talked to you since Friday or told you about it. They performed a colonoscopy on the 23rd and on the 25th I got a call from the gastroenterologist, Dr. Nasr, who said they were really sorry and they didn’t want to scare us, but the nurse “forgot” to autoclave (sterilize) the scope they used. So they are running tests on mom to make sure she didn’t contract Hepatitis C or HIV from the previous patient(s) that might have used the same equipment. They know for a fact that the patient who was “scoped” immediately prior to mom does not have HepC or HIV, but they “just want to be careful”. They said they would let me know the results of the tests today or tomorrow.

David Vincent Gagne