Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Another Day, Another Ambulance

Yesterday was a very busy day: I upped Dad's care level in the morning -- bringing the bill to the maxiumum Gary and I can afford -- got yelled at by the assisted-living nurse about his meds management in the afternoon (she wants them to do it, which we simply can't afford) -- and went to his apartment in the evening to make sure he'd taken his bedtime meds, since he wasn't answering his phone.

I found him profoundly disoriented (as in talking to people who weren't there) and ramming his wheelchair into furniture to try to get to Congress to work on the energy bill. Righto. Dad's politically engaged even when he's demented. After some dithering, I called 911, who came and said that his edema was halfway up his thighs and that his lungs were almost full of fluid, and oh yeah, he had pinpoint pupils which meant he'd overdosed on his pain meds, which made me feel horribly guilty, although now it turns out he may have taken the normal amount but been unable to handle it because his kidneys aren't doing so well.

Off to the VA ER. Up to ICU, where they said he'd stay overnight while they put him on IV lasix to try to get the fluid out of him.

When I called this morning, the nurse told me the lasix isn't working well. He's had very little urine output. He's oriented but still groggy, with good O2 sats but so-so BP. He'll stay in the ICU at least through today. I'll go over there in a few hours; right now, I'm still recovering from last night.

Oh, and yesterday I also swam, taught two classes, met with three students, took care of paperwork at the VA, picked up my own meds from the pharmacy, and, uh, I think there was something else, but I forget. Oh, right: we also met with the social worker in the morning.

Everything's fading into a blur in through here. But I have a purring cat on my lap, which helps.


  1. Anonymous11:39 AM

    Dear Susan,

    I never fail to marvel at how much you manage. I wish life were easier for you and your family right now, but I continue to think that you are doing a great job. I admire the way you are taking each hurdle as it comes and taking care of yourself at the same time.

    Thank you, as many others have said already, thank you for sharing your journey. It is a path that many of us will walk with parents or others that we love at one time or another, and I, for one, continue to find your example and experiences an invaluable source of advice and comfort.

    Thoughts and prayers,


  2. Oh, no, Susan!!! This sounds awful. I am sending up prayers for you all. Please give your Dad an extra hug; don't tell him about the prayers but know they are there for you. This is so hard, and you're doing a great job. I hope your Dad can get better--scary stuff...

  3. Sending good thoughts to you and Gary and your dad. Sorry to hear his medical status has been so unstable - his rapidly fluctuating abilities in ADLs (bathing, dressing, toileting, mobility) and IADLs (taking meds with reminder, going to meals, managing his oxygen/WC, etc) means that what he needs and the best way to provide it does change so often that you have not been able to keep up - and neither can the care providers.
    How long has it been since he has had 2 consecutive weeks with no medication or oxygen changes and no urgent/emergency medical care? He may benefit from a rehabilitation stay in a nursing facility, where he can have access to 24 hour RN/LPN assessment and 24 hour access to aides to help him, to try and get him onto a stable regimen of medications, activity, oxygen, etc.
    If he can't get stabilized in a 24 hour care setting, then maybe it is time to talk about hospice care for end of life issues.
    This are observations from someone who works in the eldercare system, but is not immersed in the situation you are in. If he needs to be in a nursing home, either short or long term, it is NOT that you are abandoning him or not taking care of him, it means you are involved in supervising his care team and working WITH them to help him, AND you can enjoy some visits with him without spending all of your time with him focused on accomplishing tasks.
    Glad you have cats for calming. They have no words, just purrs.

  4. You know you continue to hold a special place in my prayers.

  5. Prayers ascending, Susan! And lots of energy, good thoughts, and hugs for you and Gary. Miss Mouse's response seems to make sense, not that I know a whole lot about all of this.


  6. You are in my prayers. I have been where you are.

  7. Anonymous10:55 PM

    Hang in there, Susan. He's so lucky to have you as a daughter.


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