Writing Works

Slice of Life #1

My mother is 87 and has lived with me over a year now.  We call her the Big D, not only for Dolores, but for her grand person.  Establishing her medical team down here in the South Bay after living for years in San Francisco has been a huge challenge.  Since November she’s suffered disabling back pain and needed a referral to a local spinal doctor.  And, so far, all we’d gotten accomplished was better neural pain medication.

For Leap Year,  I went to bat for Big D again, by sitting down at my keyboard and writing. Just the facts.  Who sent what letter when.  The number of times she has left voice mails with the new doctor asking him to contact the MRI team.  The dates she got her x-rays done and when the labs were taken.  Naming the lab and noting the phone calls and letter asking her to do her labs.  To summarize here, I asked why it has taken a month to get her MRI scheduled so that she can receive treatment from the spinal specialist.  My writing project took me about an hour to piece together all the dates, contact info and details.  Off went the email, with an HMO plan PR person copied on it.

The Big D got a phone call this morning at 9 a.m. from the spinal specialist’s office and the MRI appointment by 10 a.m. I was talking to her on the phone checking in about bringing home take out or not for supper.

As she listed the results, she exuded, “Laura, you must have given them heck.  I can’t believe how fast everything got done this morning.”

“No, Mom, I didn’t give anyone heck.  I laid out the whole picture so they could understand it.  And I said we’d appreciate knowing why you weren’t getting your appointments.”

“Oh.” she said.

I was thinking nobody wants to be given heck.  “Didn’t I copy you on the email?” I asked.  “I did say at the end that if we didn’t get an immediate reply I’d take the day off teaching school and drive you in to the office to talk with them.”  Mom laughed.  This quest had taken a total of three months.

So now she has Outreach, the senior ride service, lined up and will, finally, tomorrow get her MRI which is the ticket to treatment with the specialist.  The suffering has beaten her down. Sigh….

This is a small echo of the writing project I had to do when the locals at her SCAN HMO kept denying her the primary care physician — whom she had visited when she first moved down here.  They sent rejection letters, told her to see other doctors who weren’t taking new patients, and inhuman paperwork-driven nonsense that made my brave, strong mom eventually cry.  Finally I wrote.  To the corporate offices in San Diego.  Not giving heck.  Just laying out the events, and making the case for some sensible action by asking the question.

That got a phone call the very next morning, too.  And the PCP the Big D had requested was signed on for her.  Only took five months.

Writing.  Thoughtful, truthful writing works.

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2 thoughts on “Writing Works”

  1. Laura, I was right with you through this whole journey. I too have elderly parents who can no longer take care of their medical needs on there own. The power of writing indeed.

  2. Me too, also helping out an aging parent (my mom’s 96!)
    You are so right about the power of writing. It took effort to lay out the story but then it was clear what needed to happen next.
    Though I also imagine your line about bringing Big D in to explain it further to them may have helped further your cause!

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