Monday, May 31, 2010


I have posted this picture before - this bottle opener means SO much. In honor of it being Memorial Day I will re-tell it's origin and journey. My Dad was captured the last seven days of WWll. They were held prisoner in a barn. For some reason they had beer and opened their bottles with this bottle opener. My Dad hung the bottle opener on a nail, outside a window on the second floor. When the war ended and they were released the bottle opener stayed on that nail. Twenty-five plus years later my parents returned to Germany. My Dad found the barn in which he was held captive which was now a restaurant. He went upstairs to the second floor loft and reached out the window and retrieved the very same bottle opener he had placed there over 25 years before. Amazing huh? I am so honored to have it displayed in a glass case in our home. I in memory and honor of my Dad salute all of our military that fight and protect and sacrifice for our freedom.

I spent yesterday afternoon with my Mom - giving my sister a much needed time away. We are all on high alert as decisions are made and procedures planned and options discussed. My Mom and I watched a beautiful Memorial Day concert from Washington.

amazing huh? My Mom and I cried quiet tears of honor and hope, fear and joy, loss and gratitude and on and on..........our emotions were on high. I watched her breathe as she eventually drifted in to a gentle sleep - a steady rhythm - a soft rise and fall - a peaceful rest. And so this morning - a new decision was made. My Mom said she felt free and relieved. I listened intently as she spoke - "I cannot turn my body over to that machine - I do not want the procedure and I feel so free now that I made this decision - (she went on to say) and they are just going to have to find another way to build a 'site' in my arm so I can have the other type of treatment, and if not, then so be it" ........ and there it was - the decision was made. I felt a mix of emotions but easily felt her sense of freedom and power over her own life. I honored her lovingly. I felt a twinge of sadness as the reality of narrowing options became clear - and yet the freedom in her own power of choice over-shadowed my sadness. Oh this is such a difficult time. Faith is tested, beliefs and values about life and death and after-life are swirling in my soul - my mind spins, my heart soars and then sinks - races and then quiets - I am overwhelmed.

Today, I am going to feel the sunlight on my face. Someone I love told me to enjoy the sunlight-and so I will. I am going to grill myself an 'official' Memorial Day hamburger. And I am going to grill one for Gracey-Blue too. I am going to play my favorite music - and watch a movie too. Skipp is working - the day is my own. Well, as much as it can be - my mind wanders easily - my heart feels deeply - fear overtakes me - and I know - I am alive.

and FYI, the following is an example of some of what we are dealing with in regards to our 'Health Care System' - and quality patient care issues. This is the letter I emailed to 'patient relations' at Yale New Haven Hospital........

To all concerned:

It is with great dismay, concern and outrage I write to you today. On Friday, May 28th, 2010 My 86 year old mother was treated horribly at the blood draw/EKG section at the Physicians Building - 2nd floor-, 800 Howard Avenue. I report the following as a formal grievance:

We were given pre-op paperwork for a blood draw, EKG and chest X-ray following our visit at the kidney transplant clinic on the 4th floor of the Physicians Building in preparation for surgery necessary for dialysis. This, in of itself is overwhelming for anyone, let alone my weary, and brave 86 year old mother. We arrived at the 2nd floor blood-draw/EKG suite and were told it would be about a 10 minute wait. My Mom was called and her blood was drawn. She reappeared in the lobby area saying that no one could do the EKG and we were told by the receptionist to have the chest X-ray done on the first floor and then return and that by then someone would be able to do the EKG. On our way to the first floor my Mom was VERY upset as she explained that the staff was arguing over who ‘should’ do her EKG, and they were bickering as they argued back and forth, each telling the other they were not going to do it and that someone else should do some work for a change, etc. . This is appalling and my mother was visibly shaken and upset. Also, my Mother walks with a rollator/walker, as do I. This ‘extra’ trip back to the EKG area was unnecessary and showed no consideration for the patient, Louise.

We returned to the blood-draw/EKG suite and were told someone would be with my Mom, Louise, shortly. We waited. I heard the receptionist say three times, “Louise is back”. A technician came out and the receptionist said, “Louise is back for her EKG”. The technician said, quite righteously and justifiably, “I’m not gonna do it, let someone else do some work around here” and she walked off. By now, my mother began to cry - I now begin to react and advocate for my mother and said to the receptionist - “My 86 year old mother is crying - crying!, NO patient should ever here staff fighting over doing their job AND they were fighting about who was going to do her EKG before and they are still fighting over it now - this is an outrage - who is going to do this EKG for my Mom?” I was VERY upset as was my Mom as she sat next to me sobbing over how she was being disregarded. I asked the receptionist for the supervisors name, and number which she wrote down for me. The EKG was finally done.

This treatment is “ABUSE OF THE ELDERLY”. I shudder to think what would have happened if I were not there to advocate for her. I cannot believe the lack of professionalism and lack of regard for a patient, an elderly patient - she felt very abused due to their lack of compassion and refusal to provide the service she was there to receive. She was dismissed with NO regard. This is abuse. This is incomprehensible. This is completely unacceptable.

I implore you to look in to this matter. Clearly, some of the staff at the blood draw/EKG suite should NOT be working with patients. The way my Mom was treated is shameful - their refusal to happily provide her the service is abuse, clear and definite ‘abuse of the elderly’.

I trust I will be informed of a response that outlines the action taken to deal with the abusive staff that harmed my mother and also what is being done to prevent this type of abusive treatment to ever happen again. I do expect a written apology to my Mother.

Can you even imagine? Like I said above in the title of this post, "This and That"...and so I have written, "This And That" Good Lord!


Lola said...

I am so sorry you and your family have been through all this.
Warmest hugs... it's all i can say.

Bernie said...

Gail, I have to say your letter concerning how your mother was treated has made me cry, I cannot bare the thought of an elderly person or a small child being misused or abused, it breaks my heart. Thank heaven you were with her, there are absolutely no reason for this to have happened.
I remember the story about the bottle opener and I love it, I love how you honor your father and look out for your mother. It is the right thing to do Gail, and I know your family will gather round her and support her with love and the attention she now needs. God Bless all of you.......:-) Hugs

Gail said...


"thank you" so much for ALL your support AND your tears of outrage at such injustice mean so much tome as well. And I am so glad my repeated story about my Dad's bottle opener still warms your heart. :-) And YOU warm my heart Bernie, the thought of you and your kindness warms me all over. I love you..
peace and hope

Gail said...


So nice to see you and "thank you" for your warm hugs.

Love Gail
peace and hope

Wondering Soul said...

Oh Gail,
I've just read your post and I am so so so sorry that you and your poor mum have experienced such awful treatment.
As though it wasn't enough to have to find peac in the midst of such difficulty... to have staff behave in a way that traumatised and confused someone so vulnerable... to cause such outrage at a time when you needed some support and care YOURSELF... Well... It's not good enough and I a so glad you have written a strong letter,
I'm sorry it's been so hard and hope that you can take a little time to restore balance and peace.
So much love to you Gail. Both you and your mum are in my thoughts.


Unknown said...

Dear Gail,

First: I must say the story about your father's bottle opener gave me chills. Wow! So amazing! Thank you for re-posting. I would have missed it.

Second: I am glad your mother is making decisions she is at peace with. I so remember those mixed emotions when my father was ill. The feeling of relief for him...The feeling of panic for me...Know we are praying for you all.

Third: Oh! I am so very sorry your mom had to go through that. To think a woman who has lived her life as a mother, wife of a WWII veteran, very much a vibrant woman has to feel ashamed and disrespected at her age makes me cringe. GIVE THEM HELL!!! Teach them how to respect life with your letters, demands and there jobs.

Lastly, I want to tell you I have joined your blog. Thank you for joining mine.


Diana said...

First of all Gail I will say that I love that story about the bottle opener. I remembered the story and still enjoy hearing it.
I am so sorry about how your mother was treated and it is a fact that this country treats our elderly like crap. It makes me afraid sometimes to grow old! However I have seen this horrible behavior not only with the elderly but others as well. Some of it I believe, is due to rudeness and lack of customer service training. And yes I do believe that ANYONE working with the public should have some sort of customer service training. We have reached a point in our society today where many adults were not taught politeness at home. This makes me sick. I was taught to be polite, I taught my own kids to be polite and you know what? It's not that hard to do. However it does take some time out of parents lives!
I'm sorry that I got a bit carried away. I respect your mothers decision. And she should be able to make it herself. You are a loving and caring daughter. And you deserve more than a burger today.
Love You, Di ♥

Bonnie Zieman, M.Ed. said...

Harrowing times in every way Gail. You are handling everything with so much courage and compassion. Take care.

Wanda..... said...

You've had a very emotional filled weekend Gail. I'm sorry...I can't believe the treatment your mom received, it's disheartening to think there are such uncompassionate people in the medical field.

Health care decisions are the hardest to make sometimes. It's almost 3 years to the day that my mother passed peacefully, June 4th the day after my dad's birthday and their anniversary.

My thoughts are with you, Gail. I know how terribly difficult it is.


Eileen said...

I'm so sad to hear about this happening to your family. And I'm so sad to say that it doesn't shock me at all. Our family has been through so many similar situations with my Mom and Dad.
It brings up such feelings of outrage and sadness. It's bad enough when a loved one has to suffer from medical deficiencies but then to be dismissed, ignored, and many times to be treated as nothing more than a nuisance by medical personnel just adds insult to injury.
My heart goes out to you.
You are a wonderful advocate for your Mom. Keep up the good fight!

I remember the story about your Dad and I enjoyed reading it again. God Bless him and all those who sacrificed so much for us.

Love and Prayers,

Gail said...

JOEY-WONDERINGSOUL - I so appreciate your caring and kind support.

DIANA - you are so right that parents need to teach their kids to be nice. And I know you understand so well everything I am writing about.

KATHRYN- I am thrilled you are following my blog and that you enjoyed the bottle opener story. :-)

BONNIE- I so appreciate your compassion.

WANDA - will be thinking of you on June 4th.

EILEEN - I know you understand all too well.

thank you ALL so much for your shared outrage at such injustice AND for your continued love and support of my Mom and me. Wow, I am overwhelmed with emotion at the out pouring of kindness and love.

Love to you all
peace and hope

Grant said...

I don't have to imagine. I've been dragged through the medical systems for two years now. If McDonald's had customer service that poor, they'd go out of business.

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Oh, Gail...I'm so very, very, very sorry...what would people do if they had no family to look after them...I'm sure I don't know...

I loved the story about the bottle opener and the song was indeed you are! You and your family are in my prayers!! Love, Janine XO

Gail said...


thanks SO much for your shared support and continued prayers. I am so glad you enjoyed the story of my Dad and the bottle opener.

Love to you
peace an dhope

Gail said...


Great example of comparing the two systems - McDonald's and Health Care. I was sorry to hear that yor health has dragged you through the muck as well - I hope and pray you are well.

Love Gail
peace and hope

cordieb said...

High Gail! What a wonderful story and tribute for Memorial Day. Amazing! I am saddened at the treatment you and your mother received in the hospital. It is shameful. I do hope your letter reaches the right person to prevent this from happening again. I can only imagine the sadness you experienced watching your mother cry. It is abuse and abuse should not be tolerated - but especially by those we entrust with our lives. Bravo to you for writing the letter and sending it!

Peace, Light and Love,


Lisa said...

Hi Gail,

Just thougth I would drop by to see how things are going and let you know I am thinking of your mother, you and your family.

PS ~ The last comment I made was somehow made under my 13 year old daughters e-mail account Kathryn...Uuuu's me and not my daughter.

Mark said...

Thank-you for sharing the story of the bottle opener also known as a "Church Key", what a great story!
I love that you were there with your Mom when she shared her choices and I am pleased to know that you will help her to honor her choices even though the reality of them is tough. My heart is with you! Much love you my dear friend.

Gail said...

Hi Mark-
yes, a church key, yup!! :-) and I am so glad you enjoyed the story. My Mom's journey through htis illness is life changing for us all - and she is at the helm - we are her "mates"

Hi Lisa-

interesting snafu with the accounts, huh? :-) and thank you for your continuued care and concern

Hi CordieB

Yes, it was so awful the way she was treated and I so appreciate your support of my advocacy. I am waiting to hear form the 'powers that be' about the issue.

Love to you all

Grizz………… said...

DEAR GOD! What a horrible, unnecessary experience for your mother…and how wonderful you were there to step in and help. There is just no excuse for such behavior. It doesn't matter who wasn't doing what when—that could be dealt with AFTER the patient was seen. It was childish and shamefully unprofessional to have put your mother in the middle.

You wrote a great letter, though!

Gail said...

thanks so much for your strong support and horror at such injustice.

Love to you

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Just thinking of you, and thought I'd tell you...Love you, Janine XO

Gail said...


"thank you" SO, SO much. Your words of love soaked right in :-)

Love you too
peace and hope