Our Parents In Crisis (ebook)

Our Parents In Crisis (ebook)

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On the evening of Friday, June 7, 2002, 78-year-old Fern Sjoerdsma lay in a Chesapeake, Va., hospital bed, moaning and breathing rapidly and laboriously. Her whole body seemed bloated, especially her legs. She failed to respond coherently to questions that her daughter Ann asked and acted irritated by her attempts. She was disoriented and withdrawn, listless, but also fitful. Just two hours before, Ann's father, a distinguished scientist-physician, and brother had left, without questioning her mother's status. What had happened in the interim? Ann wondered. Was Mom having an adverse reaction to some medication? Her mind raced: "What should I do?" What author Ann G. Sjoerdsma did was endure what she describes in the compelling, fast-paced first chapter of her eye-opening new book, an "interminable night," as she sought to convince the "placid, polite, yet intractable" hospital physician attending to her mother that his perceptions were faulty, and he had to take action. "Much to my amazement," she writes, "[he] couldn't—or wouldn't—see the deterioration in Mom that was so evident to me. He described her as having 'slight edema' and being more uncommunicative, but not that confused. When he questioned her about pain, she denied having any. I pointed out her stoical habit of minimizing her discomfort, but he attributed her fever and rapid breathing to the meningitis infection. "'She's very sick,' he concluded. 'Her brain is fighting a serious infection.' "Yes, but caused by what?" Ann asked herself. Based on the medical research she had done, haemophilus influenzae meningitis didn't make sense, and the antibiotic therapy wasn't working. For the next hour, the hospitalist calmly talked about her mother's worsening condition with Ann—as well as with her father and older sister, a nurse, whom she called on the room telephone—and resisted all of their suggestions.

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Our Parents In Crisis (ebook)


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