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April 14, 2005

Ken Mullinax on his mother's visit with Mae

Topics: News

- via email
UAB Medical Center spoke with Beth Gaddy and they arranged a humanitarian visit for Ken's Mom and her brother Buddy each day at 5:30 PM CST with no stipulations. Ken Mullinax's mother, Mae's sister, was allowed to visit with Mae 30 minutes late yesterday.

Ken is still filing before the newly appointed Judge on Monday in LaGrange, Ga.

Ken on Mae's condition:
(1) Mom spoke to the charge nurse and Mae is listed as stable....that is fabulous for a women who was in hospice.

(2) Mae has an IV in her arm and is being hydrated.

(3) Mae has a temporary nasal feeding tube.

(4) The charge nurse said Mae's heart is doing well.

(5) Mae is cognizant.

(6) Mae recognized Mom and spoke in sentences.

(7) Mae is still speaking softly because her throat is still very sore from dehydration but she is speaking.

(8) She is in the critical care unit but stable.

(Ken continued..)
When I visited my Mom at the hospital early this morning she (Lonnie Ruth McLeod Mullinax-Mae's sister)told me "I visited with sister Mae last evening and she looks so much better now. Mae opened her eyes and when she saw me said 'where you been Lonnie?' I asked her how she felt and she whispered 'I can't buck dance.' I stayed with her for 30 minutes and when I got ready to leave, she grabbed my hand and said: 'Bring me a brown sack and take me home.' That was a saying of Momma's that means pack up my stuff.

Posted by richard at April 14, 2005 11:06 AM

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That dear sweet woman! She reminds me of my grandma and so does her picture. How can anyone think of doing that (dehydrating and starving) to someone, let alone someone who is cognizant and can speak for themselves! This grand-daughter of hers, I'm sorry, but she has some explaining to do! This is plain, old-fashion murder!

Posted by: Sirena at April 14, 2005 11:59 AM

NEWLY APPOINTED judge? Does this refer to Judge Boyd or is there now another?

Now's the time to clarify directly with Mae about her wishes concerning the extent she wants Beth Gaddy to make financial, legal and medical decisions for her in the future. Document her wishes and have her sign if she can. If she can recall anything about her dehydration and starvation experience, have that documented too.

Posted by: Anna_Nordin at April 14, 2005 12:24 PM

I'm amazed that she's doing so well. Do we know for sure how many days she was without food and water?

Posted by: Graham Lester at April 14, 2005 1:15 PM

Wow, that's great. Ken's mom must be doing great, too, to be able to travel down to Mae's room and visit her.

Posted by: purple_kangaroo_Angela at April 14, 2005 1:36 PM

Man, is this ever a delicate moment for the brother and sister.

On the one hand, if they _knew_ that Beth was just waiting for another opportunity (perhaps discharge from the hospital) to take her off, tell hospice she was dying, and start the whole process again, then they would _have_ to take this chance to try to give her a rough sketch of what's been going on and get her to appoint a DPA for healthcare, hopefully other than Beth Gaddy.

On the other hand, there has been some talk to the effect that people aren't sure she's fully "competent," a very important legal issue. If they did try to tell her anything of what's been happening and get her to appoint someone other than Beth, they would probably have their visitation privileges rescinded, and Beth might very well retain guardianship on the grounds that Mae isn't deemed fully "competent." And if that were upheld by a court, then any designation Mae had made--of Lonnie or Buddy, say--as having Power of Attorney for healthcare would be deemed invalid. They would have lost visiting privileges for no gain to Mae.

It would also doubtless be claimed that any attempt to get Mae to talk about her wishes for a DPA or to tell her of the controversy would be dangerous to her health because it would be "upsetting the patient." And in fact, that might be _true_. On the other hand, I still feel that, perhaps only through being seriously misguided, Beth's guardianship is dangerous to her health!

So this would be a very hard decision to make--what exactly to say to Mae or ask her during these visits.

If any people see the same dangers I do--including the fact that Beth may be a danger later if she continues to make the healthcare decisions--and have legal experience and knowledge, I'd be interested to see what they think Buddy and Lonnie should do. I hope they are getting good legal advice and are not going to be either too diffident or too precipitous.

Posted by: Lydia at April 14, 2005 2:01 PM

> (5) Mae is cognizant.
> (6) Mae recognized Mom and spoke in sentences.

At this point, why isn't Mae her OWN medical decision maker? Get her on the phone to the Judge, whoever he is now. Let him ask her who the president is, or whatever, to show she has her marbles.

I'd still like to know why Georgia judges are asserting jurisdiction in Alabama.

Posted by: Suzanne. at April 14, 2005 2:10 PM

Perhaps the new judge taking over the case will handle things in a wise and fair manner.. I am hopeful that, now Mrs. Gaddy knows what her aunt is saying, that she'll back off a bit.

The guardianship is just temporary isn't it--expiring some time around mid-May? If so maybe new guardianship can be drawn up if Mrs. Magouirk even needs it at that point..

Posted by: Midwest Kay at April 14, 2005 2:32 PM

"At this point, why isn't Mae her OWN medical decision maker?"

Cognizant does not mean competent. Also, note that both the Georgia relatives and the Alabama relatives both claimed in their emergency guardianship petitions that Mae was not competent by reason of senility (although that is not the term used); and there has been a financial power of attorney for the last 10 years. It is entirely possible that Mae is awake and aware but not fully capable of understanding and making complex decisions. That does not mean her wishes should not be heard, but I think it is unlikely that Mae will request to have all guardianships vacated. The question is who serves her best interests as guardian and the court certainly must take her wishes into account even if she is not legally competent.

Posted by: Creatureofhabit at April 14, 2005 3:31 PM

Hopefully, Mae won't even need a guardian, once the temporary guardianship is expired. Although it would be a good idea for Mae to still clarify her wishes, as Anna said, while she is cognizant. And when she is feeling better (after all, she is still in treatment right now for aortic dissection), I hope she will be able and also willing to talk a bit about her experience of not having any substantial nourishment, and of dehydration, if she was not too drugged to have a good memory. I think it would be very good if another witness could speak of the experience, although....we did already have a witness to it. Remember, during Terri's horrible death? The woman who had been through 9 days of it, and had been diagnosed PVS, and her husband, bless his heart, helped to get her fed again and saved her life? She was on Larry King Live and spoke about it. And the dehydration was extremely painful. And she was aware of what was going on, the whole itme.....I can never forget that story.

And Lydia, I too am praying that Mae has a good attorney on her side, because I do see the concerns exactly as you do: that any weakness or (falsely) perceived lack of 'competence' (and anything might be drummed up to look like that if someone wanted to do it - heck, sometimes I don't look competent if I trip or stutter for a moment, even being fully cognizant - )could be misrepresented and begin a trip back into terror for Mae. Hopefully not, but it could be possible, and I am praying God gives Mae and her siblings the best lawyer possible to help them through these precipitous waters.

Posted by: juleni at April 14, 2005 3:33 PM

Lydia, I don't think Beth is making health care decisions at the moment. Judge Boyd's order pretty much tied her hands and she has to follow the advice of Mae's physician, Dr. Aqel. The critical time will be when Dr. Aqel decides Mae is ready to be released to a lower level of care (nursing home or rehab center) or he decides she is indeed terminal. That is when the Alabama family needs to be prepared to step in. Since they are being allowed visitation and Mae is receiving medical care, this is time to prepare for the next hearing; gathering evidence, non-family witnesses, review financial documents, and so on.

Posted by: Creatureofhabit at April 14, 2005 3:38 PM

What is it with this 5:30 stuff? Is Beth Gaddy as restricted as to when she can see her grandmother?

Posted by: Anna_Nordin at April 14, 2005 3:51 PM

Alright, now is the time for y'all to e-mail, fax, get on the phone;take the concerns and suggestions you mentioned above to any one and everyone you can think of, not including politicians and beaurocrats. To the family, Fr. Pavone, Richard and who ever.

Posted by: mary et. al. at April 14, 2005 3:51 PM

Creature, if I'm understanding you, this is what you're saying: They've all already said that she isn't mentally competent in the full legal sense. That means that she _won't_ be able simply to choose her own DPA for healthcare, because you have to be fully competent in the legal sense _first_ before you can do that, you can't do it while under guardianship. Have I got that right?

In that case, would you advise that the relatives not "rock the boat" right now by saying anything to her about the hospice stay? Would you also advise that they not ask her whether she wants Beth or somebody else to make medical decisions for her? After all, if they asked her the latter of these and she understood the question and gave her answer, she might think that wish would definitely be carried out, while in fact there is legal question about that.

I agree with you that check-out is probably the most dangerous time. There is a story on the web site for that hospice watchdog group (I've gotta get that URL on hand) about an elderly man, conscious, who recovered from a UTI despite some young relative's attempt to starve and dehydrate him in hospital. The man was begging for food, and eventually the case got taken to the hospital ethics committee, which ruled that he _should_ receive food and water. But then he was discharged, because he'd recovered from the condition for which he was hospitalized! So the hospital got the whole problem off their hands. The young relative promptly took him to hospice, told them he was dying right then (he did have cancer, but the assertion is that he was not in fact immediately dying), he was drugged up, and died a couple of weeks later.

In this case, as well, the problem arose when she was discharged from the hospital after being in ICU for the aortic dissection. I know there are people on here who take offense at negative references to hospice, but I'm afraid there just is evidence that it won't be a good thing if we hear that Mae is being taken to hospice when she is discharged. To put it mildly.

Posted by: Lydia at April 14, 2005 4:02 PM

Anna - I know, I thought the 5:30 thing was weird, too.

Lydia - that was a frightful story, and no, it won't be good if we hear anything about hospice again, in Mae's case. Especially soon. Her sister and brother have offered for her to come live with them after leaving the hospital, which would be better.

Mary, I will be glad to forward the concerns brought up by Anna and Lydia to a few who are standing for life in the case of Mae.

Posted by: juleni at April 14, 2005 4:25 PM

Lydia, you're right on the legal situation, I think. She can't designate a medical POA unless she is legally competent.

At this point we don't know what she knows about the hospice situation, what her awareness was with the aneurysm, drugs, and so forth. If she asks questions, I would answer them honestly but with as little personal invective as possible. If she doesn't ask, I wouldn' start telling her stories about this relative or that relative tried to interfere one way or the other. (And that goes for both sides of the family, too.)

There may come a time where a judge asks her opinion of who she wants to care for her. Although her opinion would not be binding unless she was competent, a humane judge would ask and I'm pretty sure the Georgia law talks about taking the person's wishes into account. Now, to offer an informed opinion she would have to be told the story, making sure she got both sides.

In the meantime, it would not be a good idea for either side to try and stir her up against the other side. That would look very bad in court, and could mitigate against the party that tried to exert undue influence.

Your story is exactly what I am thinking in this case. Which is why the Mullinax's lawyers need to be focusing on the next hearing and getting everything properly on the record rather than get in a pissing contest over every little issue.

Posted by: Creatureofhabit at April 14, 2005 4:29 PM

"What is it with this 5:30 stuff? Is Beth Gaddy as restricted as to when she can see her grandmother?"

If I were the hospital and I wanted to head off another big confrontation, I would suggest a designated time for the disputed visits so the other relatives would have a clearly defined window to be somewhere else. I would also point out that the floor nurses would see to it that no one tries to bring in a video camera or something (which would be a huge privacy violation and might be just the thing Beth is afraid Ken would do).

In any event, the 5:30 time slot is a compromise, so both sides to have to go yell at the judge again.

Posted by: Creatureofhabit at April 14, 2005 4:43 PM

"In any event, the 5:30 time slot is a compromise, so both sides to have to go yell at the judge again."

So both sides DON'T have to go yell at the judge again.


Posted by: Creatureofhabit at April 14, 2005 4:44 PM

Thank you, Juleni

Posted by: mary et. al. at April 14, 2005 5:33 PM