Archive for January, 2008

Arranging Transportation to Doctors’ Appointments

Saturday, January 5th, 2008

For those of you who live in Georgia, have Medicaid, and are wondering how to arrange free transportation to doctor’s appointments, here you go. I set up my son’s first Medicaid ride yesterday and it was a little less painful than usual for dealing with the medical/governmental bureaucracy.

After some digging around I found this link to the Medicaid transportation program:
Choosing the right telephone number for the county he lives in, I listened to all the menu options because I figured I might learn something. When I finally got a human being on the other end, they took DS’s medicaid number, and they said, “he’s on SOURCE, so you need to talk to L–.” They transferred me to her voice mail and I left my name and telephone number.

No less than five minutes later, “L– from Southeastrans” calls me back. She takes the important information like addresses, dates, and times. She says when he is done at his doctor’s appointment to call her or the generic Southeastrans number to arrange his return home. His pickup time was an hour before his appointment time, which is not too bad of a wait for a twenty-minute trip. She also gave a confirmation number. The process to set up transportation was not too difficult on the whole. I hope the actual execution of the transportation works.

I have received a couple of telephone calls from DS in the last couple of days. We were mainly talking about this business of his upcoming appointment. I am mailing him his Medicaid card. He also told me CA has some more papers for me to see; they won’t fax well because of highlighting or something. DS sounded a bit nervous about riding the Medicaid transportation and I am feeling nervous about this now too. Not about the transportation as much as whether I should let him go to this appointment alone. It means the doctor will only hear DS’s input about how he is doing, which knowing DS he will say he is just fine. I have been going with DS to all his doctors’ appointments since his diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder. It is difficult for me to go to this one because of the distance and my schedule. Also, I did not enjoy my last visit with DS AT ALL, and doctors and medicine are topics that I have to be careful about with DS.

I am still trying to decide whether I should just go. After all if something goes wrong I will be the one to pick up the pieces. We had something happen last October where I think I made a difference by being at an appointment. (That story is a doozy, in my opinion. I need to finish my Recollections posts to get to that one. I am trying to tell these stories in chronological order.) Remembering last October and thinking about how nervous DS sounded about going alone, I think I have now convinced myself to go with him. Then again, I have not been around DS a great deal in the past month because he is living an hour away. I am not sure I have much to say to the doctor.

There is one rather sad thing to report today. I asked DS if he was spending a great deal of time on the internet, since it used to be a great love of his before he was ill. He said, no, he has been too busy. I should have been more curious and asked him what he was doing. In the past when I have asked that question he usually told me what keeps him busy is thinking. Since he has been ill he has been too busy to read or do anything it seems. Mostly he walks and meditates, as he calls it.

Recollecting the Second Hospitalization Summer 2007

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008

DS’s second hospitalization last year for schizoaffective disorder with psychosis lasted from July 13th through July 24th, 2007.

It began with a marathon session in the emergency room. DS’s grandfather (my dad) and I accompanied him. After we got in an examination room, a woman came in to do an evaluation. I am sorry I do not know her job title or name. She remembered DS and his grandfather from his previous emergency room visit, and after we were able to speak with her privately in the hall, she expressed her shock that he was back so soon. I now wonder how long she may have been in her job. Given our experience this year and all I have learned since, can it really be possible that it was a shock that he returned? My Dad spoke with her about our disappointment in the lack of communication we felt we had with Wellstar Behavior Health last time. She gave me the name, “Lily,” someone in a position there, and said I should speak with her if I ever feel communication is a problem again. I never did that, and I probably should have. 

It did not take too long waiting in the emergency room for arrangements to be made for the hospital transfer from Wellstar Kennestone Emergency Room to  Wellstar Behavior Health. What REALLY took so long was waiting for an available ambulance. We were there before noon, but DS was not transferred until after midnight. I wonder why mental hospitals do not have their own emergency rooms or triage area or whatever. It was not at all a pleasant experience with DS belittling or berating me constantly for causing him to be there. Finally around 10 pm, my dad, who is a very soft-spoken and gentle man, somewhat uncharacteristicly let it be known to DS that he was out of line. I was very grateful to Dad for that. I suppose it was not a necessity that we wait with DS for his transfer. They had a security person checking the room every few minutes. (Would that have been enough to prevent an “escape?”) However, he was sick and I did not want to leave him alone if it was humanly possible for me to be there. Also, I think anyone is justified in not wanting to leave a loved one alone in a hospital any more than absolutely necessary with nursing shortages and medical mistakes, etc. We had a very bad experience with my mother in this same hospital a few years ago. 

So, DS was transferred to Wellstar Behavioral Health in the wee morning hours on Saturday the 14th. On Monday morning, I believe, I received a telephone call from Dr. LT. Almost the first thing she said to me was, “it sounds like you have had a rough week.” I wondered if she knew that from talking to DS or from some reports from the emergency room. In any case, it instantly endeared me to her. (At last, a doctor with a bedside manner and who called me first!) I wondered if DS was assigned to her because of our complaint we made in the emergency room about communication.

This time DS was started on Risperdal, Depakote and Zoloft. He continued to take the Clonapezam. I did not visit DS as often in the hospital, but we talked on the telephone nearly every day. I noticed a big improvement in the delusions within 48 hours of starting the Risperdal.

During this hospital stay we (DS, his father and I) had our first ever meeting with a social worker, JC. He mainly wanted to establish where DS was going to be staying after his discharge. DS was certain he could go to live with another patient there named Mary. All the rest of us said that did not sound like a good idea. DS was very argumentative, interruptive and demanding the whole meeting. To finally reassure him that I was interested in his concerns, I took out my red memo pad and wrote down what he wanted me to about what he desired in a personal care home. That calmed DS down long enough to give JC about a minute to have his say. DS turned to me and said, “Why are you not interrupting him?” I said, “Because I want to hear what he has to say!”

little red memo book

After the meeting when JC was showing us out the security door he said, “You were really great. I do not know how you do it.” I was shocked. You mean, he does not deal with people like this every day? Well, obviously, I was feeling like I could not “do it” much more, at least not on a daily basis. That is why we were having a search for a personal care home. I must have said something that gave away my naivete at this time about how quickly I expected medicines or therapies to help DS get back to himself. JC gave us a warning to expect things to take some time. My mind has turned back to his warning again and again when I have been disappointed.

As I was saying in this post, A Place for the Young & Mentally Ill, I did have a personal care home identified by the time DS was discharged.