On Tuesday, my father lost his balance and fell in the kitchen. My mother and I couldn't get him up because he said the was pain around his hip. We called an ambulance. CT scans at the ER showed a 'burst compression fracture' in his L4 vertebrae. So they admitted him to the neurology/neurosurgery floor. The hospitalist explained that they weren't doing surgery because his bones are too weak to hold the hardware they'd need. She said there will be lasting neurological effects from the fracture, in terms of mobility, because of that area of the back controls movement.
On Wednesday, we didn't get there in time to talk to the neurosurgeon. We did talk to a palliative care doctor who got him to set out and sign his wishes about DNR and being kept alive with machines and feeding tubes, which we've never been able to do. She said she did not see impending end of life and did not see signs of dementia or Alzheimer's. She said she would be involved from now on.
On Thursday, a coordinator from my father's PCP office came in and asked us about discharge dates and plans. Which was shocking, because we'd been given the idea that, at the very least, he was looking at a couple days in the hospital and a couple weeks in rehab. If not more extensive rehab in a nursing home.
And then a case manager/social worker came in and asked more questions about discharge plans... and we knew then only that we'd been told physical therapy was still doing their assessments... and what we were thinking about long term. We had no idea how to answer that.
And then, just before we left, we ran into his admitting hospitalist who sat down with us (which he didn't have to do as he was on his way somewhere) and tried to explain things (which he was not very good at). I walked away more confused than I was before... now with a maybe possible diagnosis of NPH (which is apparently a form of dementia?) but the reassurance that the neurosurgeon would take care of it in his clinic. And the hospitalist insisted that a little rehab, two weeks or so, and my father can come home... despite the fact that his therapy yesterday was sitting up in bed and "it didn't go very well."
So... who do we talk to to get one story? Is it possible to get one story? I thought that was the point of hospitalists and even palliative care doctors? Why do they bother talking before they know something?
What should we do?
Sorry for rambling but all this kept me awake last night and the people here are so kind and thoughtful that I hope you won't mind.