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Old 03-19-2006, 04:14 PM   #1
Jimmy S.
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On Thursday night my girlfriendís mother got into a severe car accident. She was in a 4 runner, hit the median, flipped in the rain and she is pretty bad.

We got a call on Friday, ran down to the hospital (about an hour away) and have been going back and forth since then. She is not looking good: All ribs cracked, she is on a respirator because air got outside her lungs and collapsed them, broken femurs, ankles, neck (dont know how bad yet but did not sever anything), hands are all broken, arms, her face is EXTEREMLY swollen, both her eyes are black, and her brain swelled so they had to relieve the pressure (also are having to drain blood from up there as well).

So needless to say, she is pretty ****ed up, and is not looking good.

My girlfriend broke down all day Friday, especially when they asked her to fill out the DNR (do not resuscitate) paperwork. That was horrible IMHO to ask someone to do right off the bat when she first say her mom, but thatís another story.

Anyways, some of the swelling has gone down but no major improvements yet. Who knows what is going to happen from here.

What I need is some advice. Serious advice.

I have never had to deal with anything like this in my entire life. I have been trying to support my girlfriend and family the best I can by being there, but really I donít know how to act. Am I supposed to cry with them? Be supportive? Do nothing? I am confused and am just trying to make sure everyone is comfortable and giving encouragement and positive stuff throughout this crisis. Any help here?

Next on the list is all the legal stuff. No one in my family or her family has NO IDEA where to begin with this stuff. How does it work? Can we pay the bills? How do we get control of her assets? If she has debt, and we take control, will we then be responsible for said debt? How do we get a hold of her mail? How do we know how much of what she has where? Credit cards? Should we get a lawyer?

She has no will either btw.

So please give me (us) your advice and help if you can.

Thanks

-SF
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Old 03-19-2006, 04:18 PM   #2
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sorry to hear...be supportive...especially to your g/f...try to help as much as you can...best of luck to you g/fs mom
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Old 03-19-2006, 04:22 PM   #3
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Damn that sucks. I would see if the hospital has social workers to offer advice, and in case she does pull through, aftercare/rehab advice.

I wouldn't worry yet about debt/financial matters in case of death. I'm sure they (unfortunately) have some standard practices in cases like this.

Possible lawyer involvement? Maybe...
*edit I'm not a lawyer, and by habit, careful about anything I sign.

More importantly I hope she has health insurance.

Last edited by PhatMatt; 03-19-2006 at 04:34 PM.
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Old 03-19-2006, 04:25 PM   #4
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Is your girlfriend's mother married? Does she have a will? The state will take control of alot of her assests if its not directed to heirs (at least that's how it is in Florida). As of debts, does she have medical and life insurance? In terms of acting/behavior, try to get your girlfriend to talk about the situation as much as possible.

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Old 03-19-2006, 04:25 PM   #5
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So sorry. Be supportive and calm with your girlfriend. It's ok to be sad about it with her, but as much as you can, be a rock for her. Lean on YOUR family to console you.

Legally, I dunno how it works in your state. Talk to family who know lawyers, find someone you both can trust, at least to get pointed in the right direction.

Were they encouraging her to sign a DNR or just asking if that's what she wanted? She should talk to someone before signing that. That sounds fishy if they would try to encourage that right off the bat.

Good luck. I hope she makes a miracle recovery or passes in peace.

HIJACK: Wear your seatbelt, get a will, and make a medical advance directive / living will. All of the above can save your family tremendous pain.
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Old 03-19-2006, 04:29 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SolidForce
On Thursday night my girlfriendís mother got into a severe car accident. She was in a 4 runner, hit the median, flipped in the rain and she is pretty bad.

We got a call on Friday, ran down to the hospital (about an hour away) and have been going back and forth since then. She is not looking good: All ribs cracked, she is on a respirator because air got outside her lungs and collapsed them, broken femurs, ankles, neck (dont know how bad yet but did not sever anything), hands are all broken, arms, her face is EXTEREMLY swollen, both her eyes are black, and her brain swelled so they had to relieve the pressure (also are having to drain blood from up there as well).

So needless to say, she is pretty ****ed up, and is not looking good.

My girlfriend broke down all day Friday, especially when they asked her to fill out the DNR (do not resuscitate) paperwork. That was horrible IMHO to ask someone to do right off the bat when she first say her mom, but thatís another story.

Anyways, some of the swelling has gone down but no major improvements yet. Who knows what is going to happen from here.

What I need is some advice. Serious advice.

I have never had to deal with anything like this in my entire life. I have been trying to support my girlfriend and family the best I can by being there, but really I donít know how to act. Am I supposed to cry with them? Be supportive? Do nothing? I am confused and am just trying to make sure everyone is comfortable and giving encouragement and positive stuff throughout this crisis. Any help here?

Next on the list is all the legal stuff. No one in my family or her family has NO IDEA where to begin with this stuff. How does it work? Can we pay the bills? How do we get control of her assets? If she has debt, and we take control, will we then be responsible for said debt? How do we get a hold of her mail? How do we know how much of what she has where? Credit cards? Should we get a lawyer?

She has no will either btw.

So please give me (us) your advice and help if you can.

Thanks

-SF

The best advice I can give you as a professional is talk to the ICU social worker. They have a wealth of knowledge about the questions you have and can point you in the right direction.
Also, if you want honest advice, the major factor in you g/f's mom's prognosis is 1. the amount of damage to her brain, and 2. her age and overall state of health (exercise daily, good heart/lungs, etc.) vs. older, inactive, smoker, heart disease, etc.
Overall, the determining factor in a major trauma is age. Young people simply do better than older people.
Hope this helps and sorry about what happened.
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Old 03-19-2006, 05:07 PM   #7
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I am so sorry to hear it. Just react according to how you feel, be a rock when you can, cry if you need to. Take breaks.

The advice about the social worker is spot on. This is what hospital social workers do and if you have a good one, he/she can offer all sorts of advice, and also offer support to the family.

I deal with DNRs everyday, and there's nothing wrong or fishy about it. The immediacy of the situation is why the urgency may seem callous, but trust me, this is actually a good thing for your girl and her family. The DNR states that if her mom is in distress that the hospital will let her go w/out breaking her ribcage and causing her further pain by trying to resusitate her. Sadly, it also means they consider her terminal to a degree. In hospice, we try to get clients and families to sign the DNR so that if 911 is called they'll know right away what to do. It cuts down confusion about how to handle emergencies.

Ask her regular doctor if she ever signed a living will. He should have a copy if she did.

Somebody in the family needs to be her Power of Attorney. It could be anybody, butit should be the relative closest to her who knows the most about her daily affairs and who she'd trust the most if she were able tpo speak for herself. Social worker can help with this too.

In the meantime, have someone go to her house and look thorugh desk drawers, wherever she kept bills, and make phone calls. This would be the thing I'd stress about the least. They'll get their money when they get it, and when it all washes out and they know the situation, they'll have to offer some relief and forgive any lapses as long as they aren't TOO long.

In the past few weeks I've encouraged OT to get a Living Will. No matter how old you are. I'm saying it again. A living will helps your family and physician SO much, and it helps you to eb treated the way you want to be treated at the end of the day.

This document is only $5 and it is the most straightforward and detailed LW I know of. LWs aren't just for old ppl, just like this poor girl's mom, any of us could be in an accident and need to make these decisions.

http://www.agingwithdignity.org/5wishes.html

SF, if you want to PM me with specific questions I'll do my best to help or ask another social worker and find out for you.
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Old 03-19-2006, 05:12 PM   #8
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Call the insurance company. Get them to send someone out to take care of the medical expenses. Especially if the other driver was at fault, they will pay for the hospital stuff.
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Old 03-19-2006, 05:13 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BAM
Call the insurance company. Get them to send someone out to take care of the medical expenses. Especially if the other driver was at fault, they will pay for the hospital stuff.
Yup. But my guess is that the insurance company will work hard to get out of it, so be prepared for a battle there too.
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Old 03-19-2006, 05:51 PM   #10
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Who is her health care provider? I hope its in the Wellpoint family, as I've got connections there.
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Old 03-19-2006, 06:42 PM   #11
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Really sorry to hear this.

POA in a situation like this is a big job. My mother had POA when her uncle died last year and it kept her pretty busy for a while. **Make very sure whoever gets it is trustworthy and responsible**. I can't stress that enough.
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Old 03-19-2006, 07:18 PM   #12
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Also, it's possible to have more than one person as POA. This is good because it can help divide work up, but it can be bad if a major decision needs to be made and there's disagreement.
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Old 03-19-2006, 10:10 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuzz541
HIJACK: Wear your seatbelt, get a will, and make a medical advance directive / living will. All of the above can save your family tremendous pain.
12345..Infinity

SF best thoughts man to your peoples people.
Horrible happenings.

- Janq
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Old 03-19-2006, 10:19 PM   #14
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My condolences, SF.

The DNR sounds callous, but having seen friends and family in that sort of state, sometimes the best thing is just to let go to make things easier for them.

Be supportive of your lady and her wishes, and the family situation will work itself out.

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Old 03-19-2006, 10:37 PM   #15
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Sounds aweful. The only suggestion I can offer is to try to figure out who has power of attorney, if anyone does. I'm going to assume no one has it since this was a completely unexpected event. All I know is that it can take months before assets come in and takes even longer if there isn't a will. My great aunt passed away over a year ago and even though the assets are going straight to my father where he will split it with my aunt, the majority of the money hasn't come in yet. I'm sure you're not interested in that stuff right now but that's the little I do know about.
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Old 03-19-2006, 11:23 PM   #16
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To be as sensitive as possible, and without knowing the relationship you have with the g/f and her family, are you really the person who needs to be figuring out how to handle the estate/legal part of this? Shouldn't this be the responsibility of family members, and not family members' boyfriends? Unless specifically asked for help by someone other than your gf, it might be better to stand clear of that stuff and just be there for emotional support.
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Old 03-20-2006, 02:17 AM   #17
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Aight here is some more info:

*No will to be found

*This her mom is one of those "I am organized but in my own way with my crap EVERYWHERE" people, we went tot he house and have filled up about 3 hefty bags full of paperwork and went through some of it today, but there are PILES of stuff

*Kasier is her healthcare provider and they have been AWESOME. They sent my g/f a claim form incase the hospital she is tries and bills her. They are taking care of everything which is awesome.

*So far we cannot find any car insurance stuff, except random old ones everywhere...not the most current. She is calling a bunch of people tommorrow and hopefully we can get the car out of the towyard...cost us $75 bucks to even see the car and grab what we could. ******* tow people.

*No one has POA on her mother yet. Can someone give me specifics how this is done, what is entailed and if the credit/debt (if there is any) people can come after anyone else??? This is a worry to the family.

Thank you everyone for the kind words. Both my g/f and I are working on our MFT/PPS masters, and have no problem discussing our feelings She is feeling WAY overwhelmed and as if none of the rest of the family is helping. They are all telling her to do everything, pay for everything, while they just sit and cry. It makes me sick. She has a 30 hr a week job, 15 hours of interning and 3 days of classes to do during the week, and now this on top of it all!!!!

-SF
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Old 03-20-2006, 02:45 AM   #18
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Don't worry about tracking down bills. Monitor her mail. They'll send a notice asking for money...when they do that...she calls them and explains the situation. They'll offer a reprieve or explain the status of her account what's expected. Deal with that as it comes(it's preferable to have this all arranged...but too late for that now...so just roll with it).

As far as power of attorney...if she didn't sign it while in a concious state, and she doesn't have a husband, getting it while she's incapacitated becomes a little more difficult. The rules will vary from state to state. The social worker will be able to tell you what's required in your state and who you need to talk to about that. And Power of Attorney does NOT make someone else liable for her debts. There's two types. We're talking about medical power of attorney here. That only allows the person to make medical decisions for them(like signing a DNR, really). There is a Power of Attorney which would allow that person to sign documents, pay bills, etc... as well. It might be something you'll eventually need...but I know in Ohio, obtaining one of those is more difficult. Here...medical power of attorney is free. You get the form, fill it out, witnessed, and then notarized(you pay to notarize it, unless at the hospital...then I think they cover it...at least the one I worked at did).

As far as insurance...if she has a current policy, then no reason to expect problems from the hospital. Especially if she's still there under active care. Only issue you'll have is if she leaves the hospital for some type of extended care(nursing home, rehab, etc...). Depends what her insurance will cover(many don't cover much). That's when the hospital will stop helping so much...cause they aren't getting paid for that. But worry about that later...it may not even become a problem.
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Old 03-20-2006, 04:36 PM   #19
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[quote=SolidForce
*No one has POA on her mother yet. Can someone give me specifics how this is done, what is entailed and if the credit/debt (if there is any) people can come after anyone else??? This is a worry to the family.



-SF[/QUOTE]
Talk to her mom's hospital social worker. She probably has a POA form in her office. It'll only need to be notarized.
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Old 03-26-2006, 02:43 AM   #20
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went to the hospital today again, and boy the swelling in her face has gone down to basically nothing. her eyes are open and she is tracking people all around the room and is moving her arms and legs consistently to determined positions for brief instances....like she would cross her legs for a bit like she was sitting in a chair, ress them on the edge of the bed...move them around constantly

she is on no pain med's right now, and is moving all her limbs even though she has multiple fractures throughout the body

crazy

anyone know if this is normal and if it has a name?

-SF
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Old 03-26-2006, 04:06 AM   #21
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Be supportive. Don't cry with them. Your girlfriend probably wants you to be strong and make her feel like everything is ok. I accompanied my sister to her fiance's funeral and I embraced her pain and cried with her b/c I thought that's what she wanted...nope. That's not our role. She wanted to have someone to pick her up off the floor if she collapsed sobbing. Luckily that didn't happen...you're supposed to be a pillar.
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Old 03-27-2006, 02:08 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SolidForce
went to the hospital today again, and boy the swelling in her face has gone down to basically nothing. her eyes are open and she is tracking people all around the room and is moving her arms and legs consistently to determined positions for brief instances....like she would cross her legs for a bit like she was sitting in a chair, ress them on the edge of the bed...move them around constantly

she is on no pain med's right now, and is moving all her limbs even though she has multiple fractures throughout the body

crazy

anyone know if this is normal and if it has a name?

-SF
anyone?

-SF
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Old 03-27-2006, 02:44 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SolidForce
anyone?

-SF
She's conscious right, maybe she's doing it on her own?

Ask the doctors if you want a good explanation.
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Old 03-27-2006, 03:06 AM   #24
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Yea about that DNR, I know you have already gotten some advice along the way, but if she was in good health before the accident and you have no reason to believe shes brain dead or has serious permanent brain injuries, I say no DNR. She deserves every chance she can get if she was otherwise healthy IMO, people have recovered from staggering injuries to have a full life. [In the case of people that have terminal illnesses, a DNR is excellent advice.]

Also be wary of being pressed to sign a DNR if the person in question is an organ donor or they ask you also to allow organ donation.

All that aside, I am glad to read through my first pass she seems to be doing better already.

ss
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Old 03-27-2006, 06:28 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SolidForce
went to the hospital today again, and boy the swelling in her face has gone down to basically nothing. her eyes are open and she is tracking people all around the room and is moving her arms and legs consistently to determined positions for brief instances....like she would cross her legs for a bit like she was sitting in a chair, ress them on the edge of the bed...move them around constantly

she is on no pain med's right now, and is moving all her limbs even though she has multiple fractures throughout the body

crazy

anyone know if this is normal and if it has a name?

-SF
it strikes me as odd that she's moving all around with all those breaks, and no pain meds, but at least she's moving!! Sounds like she's understanding commands etc, and is able to execute them, this is a GOOD sign!

Good luck man!
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