Being medical point-of-contact changes everything

Being medical point-of-contact changes everything
First in a series

Saturday, February 17, 2007 – Three rooms away from where I lay in deep sleep, the phone rings incessantly in the predawn hours.

Saturday is my only day to sleep in. While I bury my head further underneath feather pillows, I convince myself someone has called the wrong number.

Everyone who knows me does not call this early on a Saturday morning.

The phone stops ringing and I fall back to sleep.

I crawl out of bed at around 7:30 a.m., groggily shuffle to the kitchen and notice the light flashing on my message machine.

I'm suddenly reminded of the distant ringing that interupted my Saturday morning slumber and push "Play Message."

"Mrs. Damon, this is Carlota at the rehabilitation center." Broken English frames her voice.

I picture a nurse tying up loose ends before her night shift is over at the elderly care center where my father is convalescing.

The center is located in a sea of concrete and traffic outside of Los Angeles. As the medical point-of-contact for my Dad, I am used to getting regular updates on his condition.

"This is regarding your father, Peter Bosco. Please call me as soon as you receive this message."

A month earlier, my 86-year-old father, whose spirits were failing, had been prescribed a stronger dose of an antidepressant. Within a day or so, he fell at his residence, was admitted to the hospital and things just kept getting worse from there.

The fall aggravated his Parkinson's, which none of us kids knew. He became delusional, he contracted MRSV, his body was invaded by a staff infection, and he could not stop aspirating. He was outright miserable and wanted to go home.

After three weeks in the hospital, he was transferred to the rehabilitation center to "recover."

I return the call and ask for Nurse Carlota.

"This is Carlota. May I help you?"

"Yes, this is Paula Bosco Damon. My father Peter Bosco is a patient there."

"Yes, Mrs. Damon, thank you for returning my call." Pause. "Mrs. Damon, at about 5:30 this morning when I was checking on your father, I found him expired. I am so sorry, Mrs. Damon. Your father passed away." Silence.

I hear what the nurse is saying, but I am not prepared for the sense of defeat her words have over me. To be continued…

A resident of Southeast South Dakota for more than 30 years, Paula Damon is a popular columnist, keynote speaker, and freelance writer. Her columns have won first-place national and state awards in The National Federation of Press Women competitions. Most recently, Damon's writing took second place statewide in the South Dakota Press Women 2007 Competition. For more information, e-mail paulada

© 2008 Paula Damon

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