Friday, November 21, 2008

Back in SF

Here's another view from Dad's hospital window. We arrived back in San Francisco last night, after a call from Dad saying that he was being sent back to the Reno hospital, and that the SF VA would handle the transport, but that they had to wait for a bed. We decided to drive down, but joked that Dad might not be there by the time we arrived.

Instead, it's now clear that we'll be here at least until Monday, and quite possibly longer. Dad's had neither surgery nor catheterization -- on the grounds that the first would involve replacing two valves, for which he isn't strong enough, while the second wouldn't accomplish anything at this point -- so they're ready to send him back to Reno. The question is where and how, since they've decided that he doesn't need to be in the hospital anymore.

If he goes home, we have to drive him, a prospect that fills both me and Gary with alarm verging on terror. He's been choking a lot: what if he chokes in the car? What if he passes out when we're in the mountains fifty miles from the nearest hospital?

But he may not go home. He may go to a Skilled Nursing Facility, or SNF, pronounced "sniff." The physical-therapy and occupational-therapy people have evidently recommended two weeks of rehab, and Gary and I think that's a good idea, although Dad's less than thrilled by the prospect.

Dad's very nice doctor told us that if he goes to a sniff, she and the social worker will try to arrange transport, but that I should be trying to make my own arrangements in the meantime. The respiratory therapist told us that if he gets sent to a sniff, he'll definitely be transported by van. Whom should we believe? I guess we'll find out when he's ready to leave.

Meanwhile, when a bed in a stepdown unit becomes available in the SF VA, he'll be transferred there to free up the acute-care bed he's currently in. On Monday, the OT and PT people will reevaluate him. If they decide he can go home, we all leave Monday. If they opt for the sniff, Arrangements Must Be Made, which could take until Wednesday.

My dad's depressed about hanging around his hospital -- despite the gorgeous view of the ocean -- and he hates the idea of the sniff. Gary and I are hoping fervently for the sniff, both because of the transport issue and because we don't think he's ready to go home yet, even with home healthcare. It hasn't escaped our notice that the VA flew him out here for procedures that weren't available in Reno, and then didn't even do the procedures. *Sniff.*

Meanwhile, here's a photo my sister sent me of our mom when she was about to go home from the hospital. Mom's been told that she needs a new heart valve but won't be getting it because she's too old to be a good surgical candidate. Does this sound familiar? She refused to go to a nursing home for the physical therapy her doctors have recommended, even though she's been falling a lot, and even though the stairs in my sister's house are so steep that they make me nervous when I'm on them. So Mom's home now; my sister says she's doing okay in some respects but not in others, but I don't have details.

So that's the news. I'll post an update if anything changes (which it seems to be doing every five minutes, in through here).

Thanks to everyone for the supportive comments. I'm sorry I haven't had time to answer them individually!


  1. Will pray for your family.

  2. Merciful heavens what a mess. You must be so exasperated, as must your Dad. At least your Mom looks a bit cheery in her photo; I hope the antibiotics and heart meds are working for her. How come your Dad is choking??? Or, since that is not the problem he came in to treat, have the doctors sort of left it be? I understand why the snf seems appealing if only for the safer transport if that is true, but I can imagine your Dad is depressed, having come out there to live and having only spent a day or so in his apartment with Fran! I can imagine you're ALL depressed actually. Prayers and hugs and kisses all round.

  3. Susan, prayers continue to ascend. I too hope the hospital does the transporting.

    Reading abut your experiences with your Dad is giving me better insight into my Dad's experiences taking care of Mom. Thank you for being so open about all of this.

    Hugs! & Peace!

  4. More prayers for you and your family. It's a hard enough situation to be in without the institutional frustrations added in. I'd be hoping for the SNF for your dad, and totally understand why you don't feel good about driving him back to Reno.

  5. Well, you've been through so much lately. I read often but don't usually comment. And with all this you've been handling I just hope for the best for you and your family.

    I have no idea if your dad is a candidate for this type of service or even if they offer services in your area, but Angel Flight is an organization that provides air transport for medical reasons.

  6. Thanks, everybody! S of the P: Yes, I know about Angel Flight and contacted them last night. Dad would be eligible, but there's a seven-day lead time for each mission (except in truly critical cases like organ transplant), and that's probably not going to work for us.

  7. Oh Susan, I picked a heck of a time to catch up on things! Prayers to all for strength, for rehab time for your dad (and transportation to rehab), and that your mom does better at home.

    I'm here in Hayward - not far from you. If you need anything, email me!


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