Some scaremongers are wailing that the aged will be left to die with no care. Maybe that's already happening.
In October, tests revealed my husband's prostate cancer. Later, a tumor was removed that was blocking his bladder.
A nurse tried removing the catheter after the tumor operation. Apparently, she didn't follow procedure. She pulled the thing out without deflating the balloon inside which keeps it in place, thereby dragging it all the way into the light, bleeding. He screamed during the whole process, causing concern in the ward. Dazed and out of kilter, he discharged himself and took a taxi home.
We rang for help later that evening. A doctor visited and called for an ambulance. My poor man has worn a catheter ever since, despite several tries to do without it.
The head of the urology department sent a letter and apologized three times for the mistake. Since then, my husband has only seen a member of his team.
An x-ray revealed another tumor the size of a walnut in his right lung.
Driven by our neighbor, my man has attended many appointments with the urology, oncology and cardiology clinics at our local hospital. Nobody does anything helpful except the generous, kind neighbor, who will not allow my husband to pay for costs and tells him to keep his chin up.
The main problem now is a strong infection, which has been with him for seven months. A nasty rash ensued, which although faded, troubles him with itchiness day and night. He's taken every antibiotic known to man—to no avail.
I attended an appointment with him last month, hoping to hear how his case would be handled. Instead, I was shocked. A secondary specialist saw him. My husband wasn't feeling well that day, white-faced with red rims around his eyes. The specialist refused to listen to our concerns and said everything was going as planned and that he would be discharged from the urology department. I came away incredulous. When a copy of her letter to our doctor arrived, my mouth fell open at the statement that the patient 'seemed well in himself.' He did not.
At the last day-care procedure on Saturday to clear the obstruction in his urethra, the head nurse told him she couldn't go ahead until the infection had gone, and that he shouldn't have any operations because the infection would spread to his blood, thereby infecting his whole system. She said she would ring his doctor and cancel his appointments.
My man suffers from stress—itself a killer. He has trouble sleeping. So far, he's handled all bookings for appointments without assistance. It's driving him mad. He knows he's dying but no one person takes charge, and no department works in conjunction with another. Even worse, the doctor is out of the loop until a department sends them a letter about his progress a month or so afterward, and the doctor gives no follow-up care after a urine test. No medication is forthcoming until my husband takes over and asks to speak to a doctor.
After hearing the news that he should cancel all appointments, my organized man wrote to his local doctor, asking them to take charge—to cancel his appointments, to sort out treatment for his bladder infection, to give him some help. No contact after three days. Does anybody care?
How can a sick, stressed man organize his own treatment?
This is a man who is kind, generous and active. Although he's lost so much weight that his arms are like sticks and he's shrunk in body size, he still does the shopping and takes charge of most of the meals. Unbalanced and confused at times, this is a man who stumbles and falls, let down by a National Health system he has paid into for the whole of his working life.
I fully understand that every form of life dies—trees, birds, animals and people. But we want to be valued as we age.
Are we rubbish to be cast aside when we are too old to work work and contribute to society? Would you want your parents treated this way when they age?