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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Family Emergencies Happen So Have An Emergency Fund

Nothing can prepare you for the emotional toil and stress caused by a family emergency.  Nothing.  The difficulty of experiencing a family emergency is in living with serious unknowns.

That's where the Gomez family is today.  In a world of unknowns brought upon by the sudden illness of Jessica's (my wife) father.  Mr. Grimmett, as I know him, has not been in good health as of late.  He takes medication for his heart.  He had a heart attack last year and ever since he's had to be on a strict regimen of different pills.  Prior to Christmas last year, Jessica and I decided it was time for him to leave Hawaii, where he, his wife (Not Jessica's mom), and their teenage daughter (Jessica's half-sister) had been residing for three years, and to come live with us.  Not divulging too much out of respect, it made financial sense for Mr. Grimmett and his family to take-up our offer.  They did.

We were relieved once they arrived in San Diego.  It just didn't make sense for them to be struggling out there on an island without any family support.  Maui is expensive and its geographical isolation makes visiting difficult.  It's not just a vacation spot.  People live there and have to pay $5 for an avocado and $10 for SPAM!  No kidding.



Jessica and I had planned to take a trip to San Jose to visit my family and let my parents enjoy their grandkids during the Holidays.  Mr. Grimmett requested to borrow one of our vehicles to travel to Las Vegas (his previous residence) and finalize some business affairs.  He took his wife and daughter with him.

At my parent's home, prior Jessica receiving the bad news
  
While in San Jose, Jessica received a phone call from her brother, Chad, a Las Vegas resident.  I remember hearing the words, "What?!" and "How?" come out of Jessica's mouth.  My parents, my children, siblings of mine, we were all in the living room enjoying each other's company.  I rushed over to Jessica's side, "What is it?" I asked.  She couldn't answer.  But the look of distress and worry on her face said it all.  To not spill the beans…literally spilling beans in a Mexican household would be a travesty…I probably shouldn't have said that but…that is, to keep the matter between us at the time, Jessica and I went for a walk.

"My dad's at the emergency room," she said.
"Another heart attack?" I asked.
"No," she said, "he's got this serious infection. He started leaking fluid from one of his legs several hours ago.  His blood pressure is way down and the doctor thinks his kidneys are failing."

I have a good friend who is a doctor.  He started his career working in a hospital in Las Vegas.  The scenario Jessica described with her father was not good.  My buddy did not have great things to say about any hospital or health care services in Sin City.  He left Nevada to work in California a few years after his residency.  I didn't share my buddy's personal opinion with Jessica, of course.  Perhaps I should've.

Apparently, doctors ran a battery of tests over the next several days.  They told Chad that his father's kidneys were failing and that he'd need dialysis if he recovered.  Then they told Chad that his father's liver was essentially destroyed, cirrhosis had taken hold.  Several days later, Mr. Grimmett showed signs of improvement.  His blood pressure was back to normal.  But what about the leg, right?  This is where the infection started.

Doctors in the ICU kept providing Mr. Grimmett with strong anti-bacterial medication, believing now that it was a staph infection that had set in from a spider bite wound.  Nurses bandaged the leg and moved him out of ICU.  Despite the nurses going in to clean the infection, re-bandage it, give him his strong anti-bacterial meds, the infection kept growing visibly unbeknownst to us.  His leg was darkened and shriveled.  It looked like beef jerky from his ankle all the way up to his knee, when I eventually saw a picture of it in Oceanside.

Almost two weeks went by.  We were not under any impression of there being any additional danger in having Mr. Grimmett come home to San Diego so we could better attend to him.  Chad helped Mr. Grimmett get discharged from the hospital in Vegas.  The exit consultation consisted of Chad being told that his dad's bandages had to be changed every other day, and that he needed to take a certain type of anti-bacterial pill everyday.  They gave Chad a coupon for the medication prior to leaving.  The cost of the medication: $2,000 a bottle.

This is the medication the Vegas hospital told Chad to have his dad get.  At one point we were considering traveling to Tijuana, B.C. Mexico to get it cheaper.  The generic brand is called, linezolid, or something.

Now, who gives a senior with a Hawaiian state insurance policy a prescription for a medication that costs $2000?  Ridiculous!  No one, other than the elite 4% in this country, can fill a prescription costing that much.  Chad drove Mr. Grimmett and his family back to our home in Oceanside last Saturday.  On Monday of this week we had to call 911.

We got help from the paramedics.  They stabilized Mr. Grimmett's infected leg, wheeled him outside, and loaded him into our SUV.  Jessica took him and his wife to the hospital here in North County, SD.  She was there overnight, from Tuesday evening to 5:00 a.m. Wednesday morning of this week.  The doctors here were flabbergasted.  One of them said…"I wouldn't have left him leave the hospital (in Vegas), not until this leg (the infected one) looked like this leg (the non-infected one)."  Mr. Grimmett is still in the hospital.  The doctors believe he has some sort of internal flesh-eating bacteria.  The infection has moved into his hamstring and is giving him pain near his buttocks now.  He's been seen by two Orthopedic surgeons and two General surgeons.  They don't feel his leg can be saved.  And worse yet, if he doesn't get an amputation soon, he can get sepsis.  But he's in danger either way.  His other health issues complicate an operation, and he may not survive the procedure.

My wife's a mess, understandably.  I'm doing everything I can to support her.  I've been at home with my children the past two days.  It's the least I can do.  This blog post was therapeutic for me.  My wife has very few brief moments of rest and only time has the power to eliminate her current world of the unknown.

Please keep her father, Mr. Grimmett, in your prayers.  Thanks.

Jessica with her father on our wedding day in 2010.  (Of course I remember the date!)






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