Thursday, February 12, 2009
Good Days (for a change!)
Although I'm almost afraid to say this, maybe things are starting to look up (on this side of the country, anyway; my mother's condition is still pretty dicey).
Yesterday morning I went over to Dad's to wait for the portable concentrator, which arrived right on time. Dad's now on Prozac -- yay! -- although of course it won't kick in for a few weeks, even if it works for him. But we're taking steps to address the problem, and that's a relief.
After I left his house, I went swimming -- double yay! -- and then had a pretty good day at work. Somewhere in there, I decided not to attempt the trip to Palo Alto; we're expecting lots of bad weather over the next few days, and my back's still very cranky (a situation that would hardly be helped by five solid hours in a car, even in good weather), and, as Gary put it, "we could all use a mental-health weekend."
So this morning, I slept scandalously late and then took Dad to the Reno VA for the tests (bloodwork, EKG, chest x-ray) that didn't need to be done at Stanford. This was also an ideal opportunity to test the portable concentrator.
The official verdict: we love it. The portable concentrator is a thing of beauty: small, lightweight, easy to use -- it's controlled with a touchscreen, so there are no pesky wrenches, screws or gauges -- and able to operate on a battery, from a wall outlet, or plugged into a car's power source. Furthermore, you can switch from one of these power sources to the other with no interruption in service. It's what oxygen technology should be: practical, reliable, and user-friendly.
Which is, of course, why it costs $4,095.
And the rental price, at least from Dad's DME company, is $100/week, and we couldn't rent it continuously even if we could afford to, because it's in such high demand that we were lucky even to be able to get it for a second week. Pfui.
We were glad to have a reliable source of oxygen at the VA, because when we got there, it turned out that the requests for Dad's tests weren't in the system. Stanford had called them over to the Palo Alto VA, assuming that since the system's centralized, they'd show up in Reno too. They didn't.
So I called the Stanford people, who called Dad's cardiologist at the Reno VA, who was in clinic all afternoon. His nurse said she'd try to grab him between appointments so he could enter the requests in the computer. Dad and I sat around for an hour or two, and then got word that the requests were in and that we should race to various labs before they closed.
No problemo. All the tests were completed in half an hour, even though they were in different parts of the hospital. Yay!
And it was still light, and we had the wonderful portable concentrator, so we decided to take advantage of it and go for a scenic drive. I took Dad down to the rich part of town, with lots of gentleperson farms and horse paddocks, and then wound back home via Windy Hill, which has a gorgeous view of the valley. We had nice view of mountains, too. Dad said wistfully, "I wish I could hike. I live in this beautiful place, and my health won't let me enjoy it fully." He enjoyed the drive, though. He's been spending so much time cooped up in his room that just getting outside was a treat for him.
With Gary's permission, I brought Dad home for dinner. It was very pleasant. Dad loved the food, and we listened to classical music, and after Gary showed Dad the balaclava I made for him, Dad decided that he wanted one. I was very moved, because he's always been uninterested in my knitting, but he was very definite about wanting a balaclava. His favorite color is red, and I have some red superwash wool he likes very much, so I hope to start the project sometime this weekend.
We took him home and discovered that Fran had left him a phone message -- which made him all kinds of happy -- and Gary put up a wall clock for him, and then Gary and I went shopping for a small dinner party we're having tomorrow with Dad and two friends. He won't be able to complain about not seeing us this weekend!
The only downside today was that I wrenched my back again wrestling Dad's wheelchair into the trunk. We may need to invest in one of those ultralight transport wheelchairs, because I just can't handle Dad's chair, even though it's pretty lightweight too. I've now taken a muscle relaxant and an anti-inflammatory along with my usual evening meds, so with any luck, I'll be able to move when I wake up tomorrow.
It was so good to see Dad enjoying himself, even if it was in a quiet and wistful way. I hope this trend continues!
Oh, and Saturday morning I'll be working a shift at the hospital. Yay!