Go, Go 2018

Being in the hospital does not always bring out the best in people. No, let me restate that. No one in the hospital is at their best. Given that fact and that throughout each day a myriad of different health care professionals come in and want to do something, or talk to the patient on the health care providers time line and not the patient is a recipe for disaster, at some point.

For the most part my Dad has been well behaved, but every once in a while there is a little eruption. Those that know him, know what that can be like. I don’t blame him, but I remind him that these people hold his life in their hands so tread lightly. We don’t have to make every situation a learning opportunity to make the hospital more customer focused.

Today was supposed to be an easy day for me. I went in very early because my Dad needed an ice pack for his back. Why the hospital does not have an ice pack I don’t know. My Mom was supposed to come and do a two hour lunch shift so I could get a break, but it was raining. My minister Chris and cousin Peter came for a nice distraction. Thankfully Russ came at 3:30 so I could go at 4:00.

Between the eruption and no food for me all day I was a little tired. I stopped and picked up dry cleaning and came home to begin ornament removal from the tree. I got half done and only broke one ornament. I consider that success.

It dawned on me that this is the last day of 2018, really a shitty year and one I am glad to see go. Tonight I pray that 2019 is an improvement. I also pray that my mother shows up tomorrow so I can finish un-decorating. I hope that everyone reading this has a safe New Year’s Eve and a healthy and productive new year. Lord knows we deserve it.

Changing Everything in the Hospital Room

Slowly, day-by-day, we are making improvements to my father’s tiny hospital room. It started with a king sized down pillow. Then better toilet paper, real Kleenex and food from the outside. No hospital gowns for Ed. He has discovered that a t-shirt and shorts with pockets that can hold his heart monitor work best for day and sleeping. Of course his own socks, entertainment systems, coffee from Starbucks, towels and bath mats from my house and condiments. Today took the cake with a new memory foam gel mattress topper and a special case that holds it on like a fitted sheet.

All these improvements and it still is a pain in the butt to have to live there. But the best improvement of all is when people he likes come to visit. My cousin Sarah, who is tops on his list came today from Raleigh and spent a good few hours. It is the best way to while away the time between naps.

Last night my father finally got a doctors’s order he likes- no one is to enter his room between midnight and six am unless he calls! That doesn’t mean he is able to sleep, but at least no one is waking him if he is asleep!

So with all these creature comforts filling up his tiny room I was able to go to see Mary Poppins Returns tonight with Carter. It was the perfect escape from my hospital redecorator/case manager/nutrition specialist/ entertaining daughter role at the hospital. I can see the progress. Six days down and four more until the procedure when we hope for everything to be on the way up from there.

I am running out of space to add anything to his room so I hope he stops thinking of improvements. Of course I also have the every other day home laundry service to put away, but so much better to be in clean clothes everyday. I am thinking I could sell these memory foam things in the hallways along with all my other improvements. I have told him that he has to live with the bordered Wall paper they have in his room.

Two Halves of Our Day

I have been looking forward to this day for years. It was the celebration of Megan and Max’s wedding. My mother came down to be with Dad so Russ, Carter and I could go to the party.

It was a lovely brunch where we had lots of time to catch up with the beautiful Megan. We were lucky enough to get to sit with Max’s brother Oli and his girl friend Charlie who came from London for the party. The Ketch Family are our favorites so we were honored to be included in the party of family and friends.

After brunch I went to Duke to relieve my Mom of duty and I hung out with Dad. Russ came over too. Being stuck in his small room is starting to make my Dad a little nuts. We asked if we could take him in a wheel chair to the outdoor courtyard. This of course needed to be approved by “the doctor.” Having to get permission from “the doctor” also made my father nuts. I can’t blame him, he is not in prison, but they just want to make sure nothing will go wrong.

Thankfully they gave “permission.” I am not sure what would have happened if they hadn’t. My Dad got a phone call from Cousin Harry right as we were getting the wheel chair, so for most of the outdoor visit Dad was talking on the phone so Russ just did laps with him around the court yard. Russ is the real hero here!

My Dad is up to having phone calls and a visitor or two since he still has four days of waiting for the operation.

The Boredom Of Waiting

My Dad has always had a very short attention span if he is not doing something he loves. So waiting for his operation is not something he is good at, especially since he has to stay in the hospital. The good news is he was feeling better today than yesterday. He finally was allowed to shower. He got dressed and hung out in his room.

Thankfully my sweet cousin Leigh came for a visit and delivered my father’s computer to him. She was an excellent distraction since my father adores her so much. Russ came by and got my father a Starbucks treat.

The highlight of the day was when my father’s favorite Doctor of all time, Dr. Crawford came to see him. They laughed and talked and it brightened his spirits greatly.

After Leigh departed Russ and I took my father on his first walk outside his room. One lap of the heart unit and back to his room. It was a good thing.

I brought my father some head phones which made watching Foyle’s War on his computer much easier. I left him, clean, watching his show and with a good plan for sleep tonight.

My friend Melanie sent me a message about how she kept her husband entertained in the hospital for a month this year. It was great advice, so I am going to me getting some newspapers for my Dad. It might have to be the Sunday papers because my Mom is coming tomorrow to do a shift so Russ, Carter and I can go to a brunch to celebrate the marriage of Carter’s long babysitter Megan.

Love ideas for someone who doesn’t like games and is not too mobile.

Duke Day Three and A Plan

I arrived at My Dad’s hospital room before eight this morning since this was going to be a big day of tests. He was just finishing his Cheerios and announced to me that he did not sleep the night before. Not the news I wanted because no one is happy when they haven’t slept. Despite that pronouncement my Dad was his nicest self all day.

He had an echo first thing. He loves the transport guys at Duke and asks them all kinds of outrageous questions. Like today he asked the young man with an intricate hair style that was very tall if he had a sunroof because my Dad worried his hair might not fit in his car.

After the echo his Physical and Occupational Therapists came to see him. This was the highlight of the day. He loved them. I had met his physical therapist the day before and in her interview about him she asked if he lived in a mobile home because it said that on some report about him. I quickly corrected that so as to save her from what he might say if she mentioned it to him. She would have no idea my father’s lifetime campaign against mobile homes.

After therapy my Mom showed up for a nice visit. Unfortunately she had to witness my Dad getting two different IV’s inserted and it pained her so to watch him get tortured. He then went off with two transport guys to get another big test. Carter got to see him before he left as she brought lunch for me, and her grandparents. After eating her lunch my Mom went home since she can’t drive in the dark. She did a great job to get to the hospital on her own and get home.

When transport retuned my Dad a new doctor came in. He looked at Carter who was still there and said, “Don’t I know you?” Carter used to babysit for his kids and sit for his dog. After they got that out of the way, he told my Dad that the tests went well and gave them all the information they needed to proceed with the operation they think will solve his issues. One interesting thing this latest test found is that my Dad had a undetected heart attack sometime in the last five years and one major artery had failed and his body grew a new one around it. Just like my father!

Yeah, Yeah to the news that he can have this operation! Then the hammer fell. They won’t do it until NEXT Thursday and my Dad had to stay in the hospital until then, plus at least four days after. There are still somethings that need to improve in terms of too much fluid to make sure the operation is successful. It was a good news/bad news story, but when I said to my Dad, “It’s a short term pain to fix a long term problem,” he agreed. But I am worried about keeping him entertained and trying to get him enough sleep and bring in edible healthy food for the next week.

Thank goodness I already brought him a good down pillow yesterday. Tomorrow my assignment as primary care giver is to bring better toilet paper, bar soap, lotion and dark roast hot coffee. I am praying the PT and OT ladies come back early and get him up and walking round.

He was wiped out by six PM tonight so I remade his bed with clean sheets and tidied up his room and got him all snuggled down and he fell asleep. Sadly after he fell asleep his favorite resident came by as I was walking down the hall. He wanted to go say goodbye to my Dad because he was changing services. I am going to hate to break the news to my Dad that Crosby is gone. I am praying that the new resident is just as good. We have at least ten more days in this room and that is a long time for my Dad.

Child As Parent

There is a closeness you get when you take care of a parent in the hospital. It is different than any previous stage in your relationship. Somehow it is the switching roles, where you are more the parent and they are more the baby. In my case it is a baby with attitude and a sailor’s vocabulary. Spending hour upon hour in a small room together with constant visitors of varying healthcare jobs is an experience like no other.

Today was a good day. I arrived at the hospital around 8:00 to find my father had actually slept, which was a godsend after almost two months without a good night’s sleep and had eaten breakfast, also a rare occurrence in the same time period. My sister Janet said he hadn’t eaten much at all for the four days she was taking care of him.

Some visits with health care people go better than others. I am there as the interpreter, referee, memory keeper, coach, phycologist and cheerleader. I knew things were looking up when Kevin, a transport tech came to my Dad’s room to wheel him away for a test. My Dad took one look at Kevin and asked, “Do you have a band?” You never know what my Dad is thinking.

We got my father settled in this new high tech wheel chair and as Kevin pushed him down the hall I heard my father’s loud, low voice say, “Kevin, how long have you been doing this?” This is the sentence that he says first to anyone new he meets for his whole life. I knew he was more himself in that moment.

Hospital food is not something that anyone likes, especially someone who hasn’t felt like eating their own good food. I discussed with Dad’s nurse, Micheal, if my Dad could have a lunch we brought him and he agreed to it. Hope Valley Diner sometimes has egg salad as a special and it is my father’s favorite. So Russ called them and asked them to make it especially for him, which they did once they heard it was for him in the hospital.

Carter delivered the lunch of egg salad on rye to her grandfather and stayed to watch him eat practically two sandwiches. He may still have a lot wrong with him, but the eating was a good sign.

Russ texted me a message just after four this afternoon, which I read to my Dad. “Dow just gained 1000+ points on the news that Ed is now up to eating egg sandwiches…”. My father roared his big laugh. Happy about both the food and the market.

As I was giving the evening instructions to Micheal the nurse for him to pass on to the night team I said, “I really need to go home and rest and will be back first thing in the morning.” Micheal said, “We need you to rest so you can be here.” There is no place else for me to be.

Thanks for all the kind messages of support and prayers. I appreciate all of you even if I don’t have time to respond.

The Christmas Jinx

Two years ago I was sick as a dog on a Christmas. Russ and Carter went to the Chinese restaurant for Christmas dinner alone and declared it the worst Christmas ever, except for the food.

Last year we came home from Germany to celebrate Christmas alone because my whole family went to Florida and had an absolutely terrible time. It was a toss up as to who had the worst Christmas, but Carter declares it was another horrible Christmas.

Due to these two in a row failures for Christmas the only thing Carter wanted for Christmas was to have our whole family together for the holiday. It was looking good. My sisters we coming with their significant others and my parents. Carter planned the menu and baked a killer, but very complicated cake.

Then last week my father who has been really sick told my sister Margaret that she and her boy friend couldn’t come for Christmas because he did not feel up to it. So Carter’s Christmas wish started to unravel, but my sister Janet and Sophie we’re still coming with my parents.

But my father’s condition really started to deteriorate. So it was just going to be Janet, Sophie and my Mom. Last night in the middle of the Christmas Eve service I got a text on my watch, my Dad was doing too badly to be left alone so we were to come to the farm for Christmas. Still together, just not at our house. I packed up the dinner and the cake and all the gifts.

Half way to the farm we got the call that my Dad had to go to the hospital. The volunteer paramedics, all 13 of them in five different trucks, arrived at the farm just as we were getting there. So Janet, who had been up all night taking care of my Dad, and I went off to the Danville Hospital with him.

After a few hours of excellent care by people who had to work on Christmas, my father’s Dr. Lawrence Crawford called from his Christmas skiing vacation and said they got him a bed at Duke and another ambulance was going to move him.

So I left one hospital for another where I spent the last hours of Christmas getting him settled and hopefully able to sleep. I came home to see Russ and Carter for the last few minutes of Christmas. Definitely not the one Carter was wishing for.

I declare this is the actual worst christmas for us. Those others pale in comparison. So tonight as I am home to rest a few hours before going back to Duke as the primary family caregiver and one who is keeping him in the hospital. I am giving thanks for all the kind health care professionals who are helping my Dad. I mostly pray that he follows orders and is able to sleep since he has not had a decent night’s sleep in two months of sickness.

I am thankful for Russ and Carter who keep everything else together for me. And my dear sisters who have been sharing this care with me. I pray that everyone had a better Christmas than us because no one needs this on any day, especially Christmas.