How Doctors Almost Killed My Mother as She Fights for Her Life.

Morning Folks!!

I had to leave Las Vegas TRAFFIC early as my mother was near
death. Death induced by doctors that DON’T CARE and a system that may or may
not work. When it works, and it usually does, it is as good as it gets, but
when it does not work, it is a nightmare.

So I send my mother and her girlfriend on 1 or 2 cruises each
year since 1997 when my dad died. They are the “Golden Girls” and this would have been #27. Each cruise they go on they get special
treatment because they have
cruised more than any other passengers on the entire ship and almost always go with the same line. That’s good for at
least a nice bottle of Champagne. So they sit at the Captain’s table and they
get other little perks and upgrades that they really enjoy. My mom is 86 and her girlfriend
is about 2 years behind.

Our nightmare began on January 10thwhen she
started the last cruise. She got sick on the ship before it even sailed. Went
up for the lunch buffet and that was the last thing she basically remembers. She
was so sick that the ship had to leave her in St. Kitts at a small hospital
with very little equipment. 2 days later She was too sick and too weak to fly
home. (Just yesterday I found out she was sick before she boarded) What to do when you are sitting 1000 miles away and no communications
whatsoever? Who is her advocate? After 24 hours I was able to convince the
insurance company that the insurance I purchased for her cruise now needed to
be activated. They did perform and they arranged an air ambulance on a Lear jet
at a cost of $17,000 plus other fees. But it worked and they did their job. We
were confident that once we got her here we would quickly get things sorted
out. They THOUGHT they had things done and they released her from the hospital
prematurely and unable to even get out of bed. Still in pain and discomfort and
not eating or drinking. My vibrant mother was withering away in DAYS! She even
began to lose her will to live. My brother calls 911 and they readmit her. They
just do nothing and release her. 48 hours more passes, now 12 days into this.
Not eating, not drinking, getting dehydrated, no intravenous to keep her
hydrated. She was dying but there was no reason for her to die. NONE! She had an acute attack but it was nothing chronic which to me meant it was totally fixable!

Ineptness was killing her. Not her age, not even her medical
problem. The doctor was just too busy to pay her any mind or attention. Too
busy to really take a moment to see what was happening. So I left Las Vegas early
when I heard she was giving up.
When I landed my brother called and said he again called 911. He also
left a voice mail for the doctor. Let him know what a jerk he has been. I was
on the way home to pay a personal visit to the doctor. I was going with my
brothers to his office to physically confront him. He has 2000 patients and we
have 1 mother. If it were her time to die it would be one thing. She would
outlast anyone reading this. Tough and strong and survived more than I care to
divulge. I am not sure what I would have done had that event happened. I was
prepared to be disruptive if I had to for him to either focus on my mother or not
be a roadblock to finding another doctor that would.

Well, my brother’s angry voice mail to the doctor finally got
his attention and he got into gear and showed up at the emergency room and a
TEAM of doctors went to work on her. That was Saturday (Jan 23
rd) and she is still
not stable. More tests this morning. Each day getting weaker and the discomfort
is evident. They finally believe they have it nailed down but her recovery is
far from certain. So many
complications can set in and her initial problem is still not resolved as I
write this. So been a pretty rough
few days and there is still no light at the end of the tunnel. Each day we hope
she turns the corner. That has yet to happen and at her age with no food for so
long, time is against her until she can eat and start to regain her strength.
We are hoping after the tests today she can try and eat and drink again.

Sunday the 24th and then again on Tuesday the 26thwere the toughest days. We were just praying the phone did not ring n the
middle of the night. Our mother was dying and the system was killing her not
her body not her malady. The system, the doctors that don’t communicate and the
cracks that things fall thru were more than I can even write about. I started
writing this about 2 weeks ago and it still goes on.

I struggled for the entire time whether
to post any of this. It is very personal, yet I want everyone to know what you
are up against. You cannot trust the medical system to provide good care unless
you have an advocate and watch them like a hawk. With my mom close to death I
just broke down and did not know what to do. The system we all believe in was
failing her. I was trapped with no answers. Then I just cried out NO! NO! I was
not going to stand by and watch this. NO WAY! I solve problems for a living. I solve every other problem, I must solve this one because no problem ever meant more and if I were really good at what I do then this was the moment it all was for. Earlier in the day I tried to get her a
private nurse. 8PM and with all that was going on I noticed they never even
called back. So desperate I tried another route and luckily I got a call back 10 minutes later.

I told them I needed my own
Nurse Ratched' to scare the doctors into doing their jobs. For those that don't know, she was the nurse in one
of the greatest movies ever on the screen. 'One flew over the Cuckoo's Nest' with Jack Nicholson. Pretty damn mean
and nasty nurse. But I need one of those to put every doctor she had on notice that
this was not going to be business as usual. Put them on notice that we are
watching and you are going to CARE! My mom is not just another piece of meat
and I don't give a rats ass that you have 2000 other patients, I have ONE

At 8am the next morning my mom's
private nurse arrived. I did not tell my brothers. I just did it and hoped
everyone was on board. They met her, they loved her and now my mom had somebody
actually tending to her needs. The hospital is just so understaffed that there
is no time for actually nursing anymore. It takes hours to get the simplest of
things and sometimes days. The doctors are so callused they just don't care. They see she is about to be 87
and would rather call a mortuary than a specialist. I write this because everyone needs to
know what they are up against. It is cruel out there and you must be loaded for

So the nurse was great. She
basically nursed my mom off of the death bed the fucking doctors were
sentencing her to. Without the 6 of us and the nurse, my mom would not be alive
today. We were not sure she would survive on Sunday night and then again
Tuesday night. Today (Thursday the 28th) she seems to be on the mend. It would
not have happened without this private nurse. She was dying until she arrived
on the scene.

No insurance will cover this. Not
really. There are some fake stuff out there. But when you have a NEED, it is
useless. The cost is high but life cannot be replaced. The system is failing
and I watched what they did to my dad in 1997 and I watched what they almost
did to my mom in 2010.

It was not easy to find a private
nurse that was qualified and licensed to do what we needed. We lucked out and
now just one week later instead of a funeral she is eating, walking and getting
stronger with every passing day. It has been a very tough few weeks and an ordeal I wish on none of you.
Had the doctors continued to be in control and doing what they were doing,
there is no possible way she would have survived given what we were witnessing.
Sense of urgency? Completely foreign to a broken system. Things that were
ordered to do on one day was not done until the next. We saw this over and over
again. The nurses on staff were great but all trapped in a bad system,
understaffed, over worked and full of roadblocks and uncaring doctors that
manage things poorly and fail to communicate. The hospital itself as a facility is one of the top 50 and a non profit. But a hospital is only as good as the doctors that use it and the management that controls it. This is difficult to post, but I think everyone reading and all my friends need to know what to expect when doctors lose their passion to save their own patients and a system that has no backup but YOU. I thank the domain business for giving me the resources to pay tens of thousands of dollars it took to save my mom!! Dollars the 'System' would not spend. The system would rather bury her. Friday she started to really turn the corner. By Sunday she was sharp, alert and eating pizza. She will be home this afternoon after 3 weeks of hell. Thanks to a great nurse and possibly a story that
Joseph McClendon III shared at TRAFFIC just a few hours before I left that made me refuse to accept what was happening and maybe bend destiny just a tad.

Rick Schwartz

My mom on the RIGHT. Her traveling friend on the LEFT. Our families have been friends for 44 years.

47 thoughts on “How Doctors Almost Killed My Mother as She Fights for Her Life.

  1. Homero A. Gonzalez

    Rick: I am glad your mother is Well. That is the most important thing. Now, as per inept doctors, why don’t you post names so that we can avoid them in the future?. I’ve had my own experiences with”Dispassionate” doctors and really think something must be done, to wake these doctors up. Their job is one of service and caring, if they don’t want to serve and don’t care, then get out of the medical field and do something else.

  2. Abe

    you have been blessed by getting this additional time with your mom and by obviously saving her and by the fact that you only learned this lesson at this stage of life.
    People tend to think Doctors are G-d’s but they are people just like you and me. Some nicer, some smarter, some better and some worse. It’s no different than any other profession, though we hope that the ideology of caring and saving people is what leads them rather than career and personal ambition etc.
    I wish your mother a speedy and full recovery!

  3. andy kelly

    I’m really pleased for you, really ! You beat the system, that rings so many bells for me. My dad passed away in 1995 (15 yrs today as it happens) and I want to tell you that doctors in the UK can be as indifferent.
    Congrats to you and your family, your story is so typical of so many other horror stories and yes without your efforts you mum would have died.
    I had to read the line you wrote twice about the medics not even initially adding an intravenous drip ~ if that isn’t malpractice what the hell is.
    Heres wishing your mum years and years of good health.

  4. Howard

    Barb and I are looking forward to your sunday morning breakfasts with your Mom once again. As you know, my Dad was killed by a staff infection that he got in a hospital when he went in for a routine procedure. It’s all about the beds (like hotels that are all about the rooms). and how they can be filled and the medicine and drugs that they can bill the insurance company or Medicare for. And they say that Lawyers get the bad rap when the Doctors are even worse.

  5. Danny Pryor

    Wow, Rick. I’m so sorry this ordeal has been your government for the past few weeks.
    Gratefully, your mother will be eating that pizza soon! My thoughts with you and your family.

  6. Felipe Barousse

    After this horrible episode, I am glad your mother is recovering fast and well.
    I wish your mom, you and all your family well, our thoughts are with you all.
    Of course, thanks for sharing your story with all of us.
    King regards from Mexico City.

  7. Gil Benatar

    Thank you for sharing this very personal ordeal.
    As the good book says”May the Holy one mercifully restore her to health and vigor, granting her physical and spiritual well-being.”
    Unfortunately, your situation is not unique and happens everyday with the young and old. Active involvement and advocacy are more often than not the only way the caring process actually moves forward. There is lots of blame to go around and I only see it getting worse. Good insurance, bad insurance, no insurance, it doesn’t matter, we are the only ones that really”care”. So remember people, if you don’t like the answer, if you don’t trust the diagnosis, if things are not moving fast enough, be forceful, take initiative and be proactive, if you don’t do it, who will.
    Remember what your parents said to you,”Health is the most important thing” how TRUE
    All the best

  8. Troy

    Like the others I am very sorry to hear about the plight of your mother. It is fortunate that you had the mindset to do whatever it took.
    All I can think is that your experience will be like a walk in the park once we have socialized medicine. If you think the for profit hospitals are understaffed I don’t what to see what awaits us then.

  9. Marcia Lynn

    Rick, glad your mother is recovering and that you’ve had so many years with her. I still miss mine, she died when she was 51.
    “The system we all believe in was failing her.”
    I haven’t”believed in the system” for decades. Sorry you had to find out the same.

  10. Sergio

    Accompany your mom on every cruise you have left with her. Your presence will mean more to her than any of the ones that you merely sent her on in the past. I hope you keep this window slightly open. I cant wait to read what a situation like this teaches a person like you on any level.
    I feel your frustration. My in laws were involved in a major auto accident just before Christmas, mom n law does not visit the Doc often, so she trusts everything they do. Even leaving the truncate on her arm after they discharged her home.When confronted, they made it seem like a common mistake, and tried to pass the blame on to the crew on scene.
    The paramedics took dad n law’s word that he was ok and did not suggest to get checked out at a hospital after an accident that made a full size truck look like an open tuna can. Front end was completely smashed in and he was wondering around the scene dazed when I arrived. I thought the health care system was bad in Vegas, but I guess it’s everywhere.
    I’ve always said that Time is our most valuable asset, you’ve been blessed with more of it Rick! It’s still a blessing, even though you had to work for it. I’m sure you will make the best of it. You got good genes buddy! She looks younger than you Rick!! ;)

  11. John

    The medical industry needs better Transparency and Accountability. We know (have access to information) more about a Cars background than a doctor or hospital. There are far too many people employed in it that have no passion nor the proper skills ( that means continuing to be up to date on medical research etc.) to be in it. I am glad to hear you were able to save your mother Rick and that she is doing better.

  12. Elliot

    I wish your Mom a speedy and full recovery. She is lucky to have a family to care for her needs. Hopefully she will be able to go on cruise #28 next year and have more happy times with her family.

  13. GhettoCaveMan

    Good thing you know how to crack the whip & get stuff done.
    People think I’m crazy when I tell them:”You MUST treat doctors just like CPA’s & lawyers. They work for you and when the service is unsatisfactory, you MUST fire them.”
    I wish I could post the look of the pediatrician’s face when I told her the aforementioned when she kept”pushing” needless vaccinations for my daughter.
    I could go on but it’s getting dark out.

  14. Steve M

    Worthwhile, important information.
    Great to hear she’s on the mend; thanks to the extraordinary steps and efforts on you and your families part.
    And with so many shouting for even more government involvement in health care…

  15. stewart

    Only a dedicated son or daughter could write so passionately as this, how very lucky your mother is that you have the resources to see to it that she gets the sort of intensive care she needed?
    And we all know there are many examples of others who do not get that sort of care at all.
    We all had a great discussion a few days ago here about the Obama-Biden administration, today we are having one about healthcare and your experience.
    Here we are having some of the same issues as you, its been going on since May and we have had a few touch and go situations with a 99 yr young family memeber, but its the siblings in this example we are battling with, thy go to the bedside and act in terms of the end of a life, we on the other hand celebrate the little vitories and see every day as a joyfull reaffirmation of the human will to live!
    Good luck to MOM’s every where!

  16. Bill

    I’m glad your mother pulled through…and it may not have happened without your commitment to her.
    And, if that photo is recent, I have to say she’s a fine looking woman for her age. I’d easily peg her to hit 100, God willing.

  17. M. Menius

    What a terrible, mindblowing ordeal. Just happy to hear that she is beginning to pull through!

  18. David J Castello

    Wow, I can’t believe your Mom is 86 in that pic. She looks amazing! Sorry to hear about your hellish ordeal, but I did laugh when you mentioned assigning your own private Nurse Ratchett to”pit bull” the doctors (I’m a big fan of Cuckoo and your strategy was perfect). Very happy to hear your Mom is doing well.

  19. Jeff Schneider

    Hello Rick,
    Namaste, to you and your family. It is a fact that so many care givers are burdened with a medical system that is run for profit and not for the patients best interests.
    Capitalist driven medicine fails us all, and the notion that it is the best solution for our citizens is a cruel joke. Even non profit hospitals are under money controlled restraints. The problem is a for profit driven medical system.
    Thank God you stepped in and added a financial solution to a profit driven medical system. Love, Joy, Light to you and your family.

  20. jeff

    sorry to hear about all of this rick and your families challenges.
    thankfully she is on the road for recovery.
    family is the number 1 thing in life..

  21. Cue

    Thank you for sharing the horrible experience. I will follow your determination the next time i am caring for a family member.
    I wish your Mother all the Best and will say a prayer for her and the special nurse.

  22. Kevin

    You did the best thing possible with a private nurse for her. Glad she recovered.
    Hospitals are a total joke. Doctors are overwhelmed and just don’t care about patients like in the past. It’s all about the dollar. Doctors don’t even know what’s in the drugs they administer. There are so many now and they just go by the pitch they get from the drug companies.
    If you get sick and have to be hospitalized get as many opinions as possible. Don’t go by what one doctor tells you.
    Our health care system is totally broker and unreliable. In some cases you’re better off handling illness holistically and with alternative treatments.

  23. Altaf

    First we are happy that your mother came round & is alive with you. In life there is none or nothing precious than MOM. Her feelings for the kids are real & most sincere-which no dad could provide.Just pray to God as He kept her alive for you & forget all other feuds. By TEST we become strong.
    I wish your mom fully recovers soon & lives long.Amen!

  24. Nat Cohen

    Sorry you had to go through that hell. Your mother is very fortunate to have you and your brothers fighting for her. Her spirit shines through in the photo you posted. Wishing you both many more years together.
    All the best,

  25. Rob

    Rick- So glad your mom is ok. I feel your pain my family went through some similar issues due to medical record keeping. Make sure for the future you have all of your family’s medical records on file. If something like this where to happen again while she was away you can provide detailed records instantly. I highly recommend
    It saves life.

  26. Michael Collins

    Hi Rick,
    I am so glad to hear that your perseverance paid off. Your mom is a beautiful woman and looks so strong in the picture you posted. May she have many more strong years with her loving family and friends.

  27. williamH

    To Rick and Family Praise God you had the wisdom to take charge and react to the everyday norm. I took my brother to urgent care, his blood sugar was 493. Hey doc is this level ok? Sure take these pills to lower his condition. The Fin* doctor should immediately responed with urgent care. Our Brother died at 46 2 days later. Words of wisdom always choice emergency care call 911 asap and then the doctors should follow thur. Take no for an answer and follow thur. Good Luck Rick,, WilliamH


    What an ordeal! Yes our health care system is broken. Unfortunately, if nothing is done, your Mother’s situation will be repeated over and over as the baby boom generation begins retiring this year.
    Your Mother sounds like my Mother who I lost in 1996. No amount of money replaces the ones you love. Your Mother must be one hell of a woman to have raised a family that would go to such ends to ensure she is given the care every American should have access to. In the greatest country on earth.
    My prayers go out to you and your family. I hope your Mother makes a speady recovery.

  29. Mike Law

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. My prayers are with your mother and family.
    It is very important that this stories like this echo loudly and continue to be shared. Without a sharp, attentive and critical advocate that is there for the patients sake, you just never know what could be going on in some situations. My mom has ALWAYS been a loud and outspoken advocate whenever a family member is in the hospital. No matter who she pisses off she wants to know for damn sure that her son, brother, dad, whoever it is is being paid close attention to, has more than one opinion before any risky procedure/prescription, and is not just another number. Ironically enough, she works in the marketing department hq at one of the largest US hospital networks.

  30. LS Morgan

    Ugh, my condolences Rick. I think you just ran into one of the more frustrating failings of the American medical system; the ‘herding’ mentality it fosters amongst physicians, where people genuinely in need of additional care are improperly shuffled along without anyone bothering to dig deeper and find out what’s really wrong.
    One thing I’ve hammered into the heads of my own family is the need to be able to identify situations like this and self-advocate accordingly- loudly, if need be. Your mother is tremendously blessed that she has family willing to go to bat for her but far too many people simply defer whatever decision is made by ‘the person in the uniform’, even if his/her judgment isn’t being motivated by the best decisions for your loved ones.
    Yours is a lesson we all can learn from. There is a time and place for overriding cynicism, having the courage to tell ‘experts’ that they’re wrong and that you require more out of them than what they’ve given thus far. When someones life is at stake, hurting someones feelings or offending someones ego is trivial compared to the other outcome.

  31. Richard St Cyr

    Hi Rick,
    Glad your Mom is OK. Thank goodness you took the bull by the horn and interceded,
    it looks like that special nurse pulled her through.
    There are a lot of good doctors out there and some well you fill in the blanks.
    Good Luck,
    Dick St Cyr

  32. Andrea

    I’m glad to hear your Mom is ok now.
    This story, as many similar stories, make me think that all countries really need a”really socialist” medical system.
    You saved her because you are willing to pay, whatever the price, so we can’t expect to obtain the same results when the hospital managers have to”be within the budget”.
    A friend of mine had a very serious health problem during a trip, he was in a”rural zone” of Cuba. Almost dying, his insurance co. refused to help. But a man used his car to carry him to the hospital in La Habana. There, they helped him asking just for his name and surname.
    That hospital paid around 70,000 USD as medical expenses during the period he was there. He had no expenses, and the most incredible fact is that they paid part of the air ticket to go home too!
    p.s. I’m not Communist, Leftist, Cuban, Obama”ian”, etc…

  33. Ozie

    I often wonder about the many millions of Americans who can’t afford to hire a private nurse to look after an elderly relative as you were able to do. How many poor and elderly die simply because an hospital was understaffed or worse… that they simply didn’t CARE enough?
    It is often stories like yours and others that don’t end on such a positive note, that get lost in the debate about healthcare between politicians only concerned about protecting their pockets and getting themselves reelected.
    I wish your mother many more happy cruises.

  34. VicW

    Hi Rick,
    Wow what a story. Glad to hear your mom is OK. But it is a pity that the people who were supposed to be looking after her was so incompetent or uninterested. I am suprised that happened in the US in a good hospital. But thank goodness you found a nurse who knew her job.
    There must be good doctors out there but sometimes it seems a bit hit and miss whether you get one of them or one of the others. Anyway I’m glad to hear it all had a positive outcome.

  35. John

    The same thing happend to my mom. She had full insurance, top of the line, retired New York City teacher. Make a long story short they diagnose her with diabetes and send her home with a glucose meter. She was dead in a couple months.

  36. Dennis

    Hi Rick,
    Sorry to hear your family had to go through that – but I’m glad you decided to post it..
    In my opinion it’s the most important post you ever made because it means so much. It’s the exact reason I used to post such personal things and leave the business talks to you and those who did it so much better than me.
    Mom is the most precious relationship you ever get – period. Bless your and all the Moms out there.

  37. Lynda

    Sounds like your mother has an HMO plan. Like many seniors it’s a shame they just blow them off. We had the same situation with my parents. We have to be their HC advocates. When we are not there with them seniors are ignored. It’s a must. We HAVE to speak up and fight on their behalf. Now that she is better I’d be finding a new doc for her. When she is really feeling better which I hope soon, ask her if she would like to meet a nice Jewish boy. My father will be turning 90 in 2 weeks. :)

  38. Kitty

    ‘You cannot trust the medical system to provide good care unless you have an advocate and watch them like a hawk.’
    – They provide no care at all, they sit behind desks and take money every month for NOT giving people care at all – they are actually prized by trust funds to spend NO money on Patients – this is British NHS. They are cruel and discriminative, they lie to cover for themselves. I just gotten a writing from the ombudsman that they won’t even investigate the case :-) NHS is covered from every side, and we patients are nothing. I was stupid because I didn’t go to the press (anyway what that would change, so many similar stories all the time, right?). Some people are just psychopaths in white aprons, that’s it – and all this for public money. They couldn’t care less, situation is sick sick sick.If you are a patient in the UK you are being treated like trash, you can of course go privately to a doc – same one will treat you differently, what a surprise, isn’t it? Oh I know you will say I’m angry – sure I am… sure. The only thing I can’t stand is how sadistic the whole system is, medicine is a business dear people, it’s Only a business.
    A Hawk is not enough…


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