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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Double Whammy

Today, I took a right hook to my peace of mind and a sucker punch to my plans. It started in a normal enough fashion. Kids off to school, Jeff going back to bed and getting ready for Bible study. Then in the middle of Bible study, my phone vibrates against my hip. It is my sister, Cindy. She knows I 'm in Bible study so I know something is up. I slip out of the room and listen to my voice mail. She and Mom are on their way to Erlanger hospital, following Dad in an ambulance. An hour earlier, while walking with his caregiver, Dad tilted to the right and then couldn't get back up. The caregiver had to support his weight back to Mom's place. Once there, Dad was unable to move his muscles to get into the car and began closing his eyes saying they were burning. So they had to call the ambulance.We were all thinking stroke.

Once at the hospital, they wouldn't let any of us go back. We kept saying, "He has Alzheimer's. He isn't going to be able to answer questions." But they kept saying, "We know how to deal with this." But I'm thinking how do you deal with this? I sure don't know. It isn't like they have an miracle pill that allows them to magically look into the mind of the Alzheimer's patient to read his thoughts. Or if they do, I am plenty mad they haven't shared it.

While we sat in the waiting room, Mom clutched at her abdomen saying she really didn't feel good. She took her meds on the way there but they didn't seem to be touching her level of pain. I also found out that when the caregiver got to the place Daddy is staying, he (Daddy) had trashed his room and a few other residents' rooms as well. In his room, he'd torn pictures off the wall, cushions out of chairs, and pulled apart the photo albums I took him last night. He was also wearing the dirty clothes from the night before with the same food on them that I had seen before I left. So I have to ask, where was the staff when all this was happening?

I had to leave the hospital at 1:30 to teach a class at school. One of my wonderful friends had agreed to be my other adult in the class since my sister was with mom and another friend was trying to arrange things for a stand-by. It is so nice to have such support. At the time I left, we were considering taking Mom to the doctor because she was still hurting. During the few hours I was gone, Mom began vomiting at the hospital and had to be taken home. She threw up in the car and back at her apartment. She had not eaten all day. Hospice was called by my sister and gave her some attitude about Mom until they called her doctor. Then, they agreed to send a nurse out with some anti-nausea medication, some pain relief, and fluids. I got there just before the nurse.

Down at the hospital, my other sister and her husband were waiting for the caregiver we'd called. They moved Dad to a room closer to the nurse because of the level of care he needs. My brother-in-law had to take him to the bathroom and my sister had to feed him. She wondered if he'd been eating the last few days because she said he wouldn't have eaten if she hadn't fed him. The Cat scan showed no sign of a stroke although it did, to no one's amazement, show severe Alzheimer's. They think he may have had a mini stroke and are keeping him for observation. For one moment,  I misunderstood the phone call and thought my sister said the Cat scan showed he didn't have Alzheimer's. It was ridiculous really, but my mind began racing thinking maybe this is something else, something they can do something about. I felt quite ridiculous when I realized I'd misunderstood. Of course this is Alzheimer's. He's had tons of scans confirming it before now. Maybe I was just tired.

Tonight, Sharon is staying with Mom. A caregiver is staying with Dad and then friends are coming in to stay with him. Tomorrow, Sharon and I have a meeting at the Lantern to discuss whether they can meet Dad's needs. Right now, the answer seems to be no. But we would rather not move him again if something can be done to make this place right. Still, supervision is an issue, clean clothes are an issue and at the hospital we discovered that when they applied the new Alzheimer's med patch to his back they left the old one on, so meds may be an issue too. I hope to be able to be at this meeting with professionalism and conduct myself with maturity. Because what I'd really like to do, as Dad said not too long ago about a man who made Mom cry, is punch them in the face. I hope things calm down soon. Thank you all for your love and support.

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