Mewsings from Lowecat (aka Indianacat)

My rants, ravings, and overall 'mewsings' on life, the universe, and everything.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Lowecat's Daddy is Ill

As many of you may know from my posts on the Twitter and FB, my father has been pretty ill lately.  Fact is, he hasn't been doin' well for the last few weeks.  I've been postin' short updates for the last month on Twitter/FB about his condition, but figured it was time to go into a little more detail. 

Last year, Daddy had spent a lot of time in/out of the Washington (IN) Nursin' Center.  He would get sick - unable to keep food down, dehydrated, weak.  He would go to the local hospital, then three days later get transferred to WNC's Physical Therapy unit.  After about six weeks or so, he'd be released to go home, where he'd have temporary in home PT visits/care.  Then the whole cycle would start all over again. 

Well, January of this year, the cycle started again, but he didn't spend the requisite three days at the local hospital before bein' transferred to WNC, and this time, he wasn't put in the PT unit, but the general population unit.  About the only up side to this was that he was in the same facility as my step-mom (who has advanced Alzheimer's). 

He didn't seem to get any stronger this time.  In fact, when we celebrated his 85th birthday in February, he seemed to be weaker than ever.  Then, about the time he was thinkin' of goin' home, he was taken back to the local hospital with a diagnosis of pneumonia.  Frankly, I don't think it came on all of a sudden.  As weak as he was, it might have been dormant for awhile and hard to diagnose until it wanted to make itself known. 

It became obvious to the people at the local hospital that Daddy needed much more care than they could give, and arrangements were made between yours truly, my Aunt Kay, my DH, and the hospital staff to move Daddy to a long term care hospital.  Initially, I thought of the Evansville facility, only because it was closer to home and also closer to his oncologist and dermatologist. 

Fortunately, Aunt Kay pointed out how isolated he would be from friends/family, which is something very important for an ill person in Daddy's situation.  Evansville is nearly four hours from Indy, over two hours from the Louisville (KY) area, making it very difficult for family to go visit.  Additionally, most of the people that knew Daddy from his tenure at Central United Methodist Church (UMC) aren't there anymore. 

So, we opted on the long term hospital here in Indianapolis which is close to us.  The day he was to make the transfer, however, Daddy had a seizure, which delayed his transfer by a day.  It was NOT a stroke of any kind.  But seizures can be serious enough when one's never had such.  He was brought to the Indianapolis facility on a Thursday, and has now been there five weeks. 

He has made progress; the pneumonia infection is gone, as are the other infections.  He is not having an easy time with getting oxygen in his system.  When he is not on a bi pap machine (which is similar to a c-pap.  It's a machine that forces air into the lungs on a continual basis), he goes into respiratory distress.  He is still very weak, and after sitting in a chair for 90 mins with the PT nurses working his arm and leg muscles, he is worn out. 

On Tuesday, he had a feeding tube inserted into his stomach, which meant the gastric - nasal tube could be removed.  I think that made him feel a little better.  He has had some soft foods by mouth, such as applesauce.  The idea of the feeding tube is that he gets nourishment directly into the stomach, and he can have soft foods for taste/texture.

Just about the time I thought we might be seein' a little daylight at the end of the tunnel, comes the news that his kidneys aren't functioning like they should.  His potassium level is high, and that is a cause for concern.  He has no difficulty with 'makin' water', but despite the iv fluids (saline), he is still dehydrated. 

On Thursday, the kidney specialist came in to see him.  He mentioned the possibility of dialysis, which made Daddy a bit agitated.  He has a living will and a Do Not Resuscitate order (DNR).  The idea of dialysis - even short term (if there IS such a thing) made him think that the livin' will wasn't bein' recognized.  I assured him that it is, and anything like givin' blood, dialysis, the feedin' tube - all had to be approved by me.  The kidney specialist admitted that dialysis might be more harmful to him in the long run due to his weakness.  The problem is that his body doesn't seem to be gettin' rid of toxins like it should.  I suppose that's because of the kidneys not workin' right and all the medicines used in fightin' the infections.

This last week has been an emotional roller coaster.  There have been some days where he's been able to carry on a good conversation - though his voice is very distorted, like talkin' under water - and other days where he doesn't seem to know I'm present.  He sleeps a lot.  He twitches his feet and hands in his sleep and while awake.

Initially, his hands were restrained to the bed because he kept pullin' on his nasal tube and the oxygen tube.  Today, he had these cushioned covers over both hands, they looked like white boxing gloves without the thumbs.  He wasn't tied to the bed like before.  I wondered if the gloves were due to his severe itching and scratching himself raw and bleeding in places.  Found out that was part of it, but the other was he still tries to remove the bi - pap mask. 

When he first came to the speciality care/long term care hospital, the minimum admission is 25 days.  The case management RN was hopeful that he'd be out in six weeks.  Well, I don't know that's goin' to be the case. 

Don't get me wrong; he's improved significantly since he was brought in.  But on days like today where I go in and he's not able to talk much to me or anyone else are drainin'.  I know he hears me.  I know he understands as he's passed every test for cognizance they've given him. 

Daddy's fought a long hard battle against prostrate cancer since 1982 or thereabout.  He's survived it, but the last year has been rough for him.  I hope that his spirit is willin' to stay, but his body is worn out and not as willin'.  This doesn't mean I've given up on him, but there's a part of me - the cold, logical thinkin' bitch - that says it's time to prepare for the worst. 

Yeah, I called myself a cold, logical bitch.  There's a lot of things I'm dealin' with at the moment.  I have POA for Daddy, though for the life of me, cannot find the copy we signed a few years back.  The lawyer sent me a copy of the original, unsigned paperwork, but the stuff I need has to be signed.  Still lookin' for it. 

In the meantime, I'm tryin' to make sure that the bills that aren't automatically taken out of his account are paid, and that my step - mother's bills for the nursin' home are paid.  So far, so good.  Sortin' through all the mail, keepin' in contact with people, runnin' to the hospital, runnin' to work, payin' the bills, and dealin' with my own health problems (have a nasty pain in the right shoulder; uncle arthur has decided to live with me there.  Since auntie flo has left the scene for good, uncle arthur has taken a likin' to me).  Supposed to do PT on the shoulder, no time right now to work it in. 

That's why my bloggin' and fanfic writin' has taken a back seat.  This blog and my fiction are my release mechanisms, but they take second place to the other demands on my time.  Daddy, Robert, the cats (and yes, the two fur boys are STILL missin'), work all have their place.  Sometimes I'd like to crawl under the covers and hide from the world.  Social networking has helped me keep people advised - and has been a tremendous help to me emotionally.  Otherwise, I'd be bouncin' off the walls right now. 

One of the last good conversations I had with Daddy earlier this week involved my relatin' how friends I've made on line all over the world were thinkin' of him and prayin' for him.  I mentioned England, Australia, Canada, all over the US, and other places that all y'all that have touched my life through the interwebz.  He said very softly, "I appreciate that." 

The next blog from me will likely be a review of Kurt Sutter's new project, which will run on the Discovery Channel starting 14 May.  It's called 'Outlaw Empire'.  I'm very interested in this, and hope it's worth bearin' the Sutterink production stamp.  I feel pretty confident about it, and excited about it.  The only reason why I might not blog a review (and it WILL be objective, despite my affection for the man), will be if something dire happens between now and then. 

Thanks for lettin' me get this off my chest.  Hope I didn't come off as whiner.  I don't begrudge any of the time I spend at the hospital with Daddy.  I just wish it wasn't necessary.  And if that doesn't make sense, too frackin' bad.