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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Caring for Parents

So it's been a really long time since I've posted.  Much has gone on in the last month plus.  I hate excuses, but I've used plenty this year... but this last month I don't even count as an excuse.  It's life and life, sometimes just plain sucks.

November 1st my family had our annual cook-off.  It was a blast, so many of us participated.  But the one guy we can always count on eating a ton, didn't even come up from the basement to visit with us nor did he eat one morsel of our foods.  We were all pretty upset with him that he didn't even come up to say hello.  Some of us went down there to chat with him and some didn't.  That him was my dad.

For one week after that he didn't eat much.  He said he was in pain and didn't feel good.  Felt scared to eat because he thought he'd get sick.  He slept a ton that week.  He had been sleeping more and more over the past year, but we just thought he was lazy.  My mom noticed he wasn't always doing his blood sugar and taking his insulin.  She asked him to call his doctor and make an appointment.  He said he would when he wanted to.  He didn't do it.  I begged him to go to the doctor, he said he would Monday (this was Thursday).  I said, what if Monday is too late.  How about we go to the hospital.  If you're that sick, then you should be getting seen by someone.  He said to wait.

The following Saturday (one week from the cook-off) my brother took my dad to the hospital.  My mom and I were out with friends, delivering a meal to my friends parents as her mother was diagnosed with Cancer and wasn't seeking treatment.  She was receiving home hospice care.  After we delivered the meal we went shopping and had a good time.  One last hoorah before my mom went in for complete and total knee replacement surgery.  On the way home that night, we got a call from my brother who was frantic.  "I'm taking dad to Maple Grove Hospital.  He's very yellow and we can't understand him very well."

They admitted him and started doing tests.  7 days of tests.  In the mean time, that following Monday we had a horrible snow storm, so my mom and I rented a hotel room so that we were sure to be on time for her Surgery that Tuesday.  So we had our dad in Maple Grove Hospital and our mom in Woodwinds (Woodbury) hospital.  My mom had her surgery Tuesday and by Tuesday night she was trying to communicate with the doctors/nurses at Maple Grove via the phone from 45 miles away.  All drugged up and only comprehending some of what they were saying.  My brother was incredible (as was my sister in law) trying to stay on top of everything with my dad and the doctors.  Asking incredibly good questions, getting incredible information and relaying that information to the family.  They were doing this while I was staying in the hospital with my mom (oh my god the "bed" I slept in was horrible).

I came home one night so I could get my parents garbage down to the corner, sleep in my own bed and turn around and head right back up to the hospital for my mom's therapy.  They wanted the patients coach there for therapy so that we knew what we needed to do when they came home.  Mom came home Thursday... so again, I was back up there that day too.

During these two days we were documenting and posting how good my mom was doing... but on the inside we were so terribly worried about my dad.  No knowing and not being able to talk with the doctors ourselves is very hard.  Even though my brother and his wife were updating us often.

The night we brought my mom home was horrible for her.  She was in so much pain.  I stayed the first night with her.  I couldn't take my ambien because I was afraid I wouldn't wake up to give her her pills (every 2 hours)... so one more sleepless night for me.  I don't do well on no sleep (poor me I know).

Friday I had a concert to go to... Garth Brooks.  I was meeting my husbands friend's basically for the first time.  I needed to be fun and have fun.  I wanted them to like me...  Friday is the day we were told my dad had terminal cancer and had 2-6 months to live.  Pancreatic Cancer is what they said, after all those tests.  The problem is that they couldn't do some of the tests because he also had a heart condition.  Diabetic... and his kidneys were failing (apparently for quite some time, but he never told us how serious that was).

I put on the bravest face I could that night at the concert.  I met some nice people, I liked them and I think they liked me.  BUT we had to the leave the concert half way through... I just couldn't do it.  So my husband took me back to the hotel where I proceeded to cry the rest of the evening.  It was horrible and from this point forward I will forever hate that night.

Since my mom had just had knee surgery and my dad is a 330 pound man that needed constant care, he couldn't come home.  So the following Saturday we moved my dad to transitional care up here in Buffalo.  The place we moved him to was supposed to be the nicest place.  We did not think so.  We didn't like it at all.  The nursing staff was super nice, but very overwhelmed.  The place was gloomy.  They shared super small rooms, so visiting was very uncomfortable.  The people in that place were much older than my dad (71).  He hated it there, thought he didn't belong there.  At this point he still didn't realize how sick he was.

We had a care meeting a week and a half later... the day before Thanksgiving.  They evaluated him and said he had a great attitude and that he was doing well.  He wasn't progressing, but just hanging in there.  He was able to walk to the bathroom by himself, but beyond that he really didn't walk much.

My brother brought him home for Thanksgiving.  This was to be the test.  If he did well at Thanksgiving, he would likely come home the following Wednesday after we had the more conclusive tests done (for Pancreatic Cancer).  Unfortunately, Thanksgiving didn't go all that well.  He was tired and from the little bit of walking inside the house he was done for.  He went to the basement, we brought him his dinner.  He ate maybe 3 bites.  He then went and sat on the couch and watched his football... for the rest of the night.  We all went down to talk to him for a little bit, but it was scary and sad to see.  So I personally didn't spend a ton of time with him... but enough to see he was not well.

We brought him back and my mom and I went to visit him that following Sunday.  The visit was not good.  He looked yellow again, hard to understand, he was somewhat confused again.  He was crying because he said he ruined Thanksgiving.  He didn't... but it was ruined for him.  I think he thought everything would be back to normal.  It wasn't.  We talked with him, cried with him and assured him he didn't ruin Thanksgiving.

The next day we were on the phone with the nursing home.  Pushing to see the house doctor.  We were able to see him the next day.  He ordered tests and confirmed that my dad's numbers were sky rocketing again and he was very ill.  At first he was telling us that there was hope, but after these tests came back and talking to my dad - he realized he was not long for this world.

Saturday came... my dad was brought to Buffalo Hospital.  All of us were there to support him.  He was even more hard to understand and in and out of it a lot.  He cried a bit...  I cried a lot.  You could tell he was making peace with things and people.  It was very weird to watch and be a part of.  Buffalo Hospital could not help him, so they transported him to North Memorial.

The next two days North Memorial tried to figure things out.  They couldn't help him.  We, as a family, made the decision to turn off his defribulator and stop all treatment and move forward with pain management for my dad.  It was the saddest, most scariest thing we've ever had to do.  The odd thing was is that we all agreed on the best approach.  They told us once we do all of this, he had hours to maybe 2 weeks to live... and that they needed him to be moved to hospice.

We moved him to hospice the next day.  He was there by 11... he passed that evening at 8:30 pm.  I won't go into explaining what we went through / saw that day... except I will say it was horrific.  I hope you will never have to see anything like this in your lifetime.

So... long story long... this is why I haven't been writing.  I haven't given up on myself... I just now need time to grieve and then refocus on myself... and I will.  I have to, for my dad.

Take care of your bodies...

I can't wait until I'm Healthfully Ever After.

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