The Twilight Years Are Here

The Twilight Years Are Here

Friday, July 16, 2010

Why I Took A Hiatus From Here

My head is reeling and my heart is weary over the events of the last month. On Thursday, June 10th, as I was cooking dinner, Dad called out that maybe I should run him over to the hospital because he was having chest pains. I asked him if I should call 911 as I settled him in his chair and ran downstairs to grab my purse. He said no. I was trying to figure out how to get him to the hospital and do CPR at the same time if I needed to. Before I could make it back upstairs (less than 2 minutes), he yelled that maybe I should call them after all. I was dialing as I ran back up the stairs. I took his blood pressure as I gave the dispatcher our information. It took 7 attempts (ERROR, ERROR, ERROR…) before I got a reading of 258/139. I practically yelled the numbers into the phone. I was assured that the ambulance was on the way just before I hung up the phone. I prayed frantically as I took his BP again 253/138.
I was so relieved when EMS arrived. Dad told them he had already taken 4 Nitroglycerin tablets as I was informing them of his shallow breathing, chest pains and extremely high blood pressure. One of them asked me if I had given him an aspirin. When I told him I hadn’t, he immediately gave one to him and told him to chew it up. I had no idea this is something that should be done with a heart patient if the Nitro doesn’t work. In many cases, it can be the difference between life and death to anyone having a heart attack.
I was relieved at the hospital to find out that he had not had a heart attack but was shocked by the discovery that he not only had Pneumonia but a mass in his right lung. Needless to say, he was admitted. They also discovered a rampant Thyroid condition and he was severely anemic. 2 days later they made a decision to do Thoracentesis. See for a detailed description. Unfortunately, the test was inconclusive.
On the 15th, I arrived early because Dad was being discharged. I walked into a nightmare beyond belief. Overnight, he had gotten so bad he couldn’t sit up or roll over by himself. He could barely feed himself. He didn’t recognize me or anyone else. When the doctor arrived a couple of hours later it was immediately decided he would have to go to a rehab facility because I wouldn’t be able to manage him by myself at home in his condition. He was transported via ambulance across the parking lot to the rehab facility. We spent 17 days there with another trip to the ER via ambulance in the early morning hours of June 22nd (to be told once again, that he had Pneumonia), he was sent back to rehab after about 6 hours in the ER.
Every day that he was in rehab, I spent part of the morning and part of the evening with him (and often, part of the afternoon). And every day I saw small signs of improvement. Arrangements were made to bring him home on July 5th. On July 3rd, he was again sent to the hospital via ambulance. He was assigned a new doctor. For once, a doctor stopped everything to listen to me when I insisted they kept diagnosing pneumonia and he kept getting sicker. I asked if there was any way he could test for Congestive Heart Failure. He never batted an eye as I explained why I thought it was a possibility, he simply ordered an Echocardiogram for the following morning.

My relief was staggering when the doctor returned the following day and smiled at me before saying, “Good call, girl. He has CHF.” As soon as they began treating it, we saw visible signs of improvement. He was released to come home on July 7th!
On the morning of the 8th, I was startled to realize Dad has NO memory of his time in either the hospital or rehab. Alzheimer’s has become a protection device for him at times. Life has drastically changed for us yet again.
We have home health involved to try to help speed Dad’s recovery. Physical Therapy 4-5 days a week, Occupational Therapy 2-3 days a week, Speech Therapy 3-5 days a week and an RN who comes in 2-3 days a week. I am thankful for the extra help, as they give him a reason to get up and get moving. He is eager to please and is making steady progress because of it.
There have been many events over the last month that I will share as time goes on. But for now, this is where we stand. Tomorrow will be an important day. We go to see the Oncologist to get the results of the PET Scan and Lab work that have been done over the last couple of weeks. Tomorrow we find out if Dad has lung cancer. Tonight, I simply pray for peace beyond understanding…