The last two weeks have been the most trying of times for those of us caring for my Dad. However, the good news is that both he and the Mother have turned into the Monsters That Ate Their Young, so keeping one's distance will now be easier. All part of the fledging process, as the mother bird said to her chick.
I've been increasingly stressed, as you know, seeing that Dad could no longer survive safely at home and seeing how hard it has been to convince the Mother of this.
These past ten days, all that changed as Dad grew lethargic, unable to walk, unable to feed himself, and uninterested in getting out of bed. After antibiotics for an infection made him bounce back for a couple of days, he was back into his lethargy again earlier this week.
The hospital wouldn't take him because the doctor said he wasn't sick enough. (Did you know ER physicians call patients Gomers, as in Get Out of My Emergency Room?) and I finally hired a private ambulance to take him to his doctor. His doctor had me spend the day wheeling my 89 father in his wheelchair from test to test, with my exhausted 88 year old mother in tow, and at the end of the day, said physician made this brilliant medical deduction: "He needs to be in a nursing home."
Oh and he also has a compression fracture of his lumbar vertebrae and his infection has come back.
Fortunately, some smart person invented the cell phone, so in the middle of this all epic journey, I called my sister, who was trying to visit her grandchildren in Florida. "Help!" I said. "I'm being held captive by the health care system! Call that Big Fancy Nursing Home on the Hill and find out if they have a bed please! A bunk bed will do! Just Google the number."
I must be a slow week for sick old people up on the Hill. And my sister is resourceful, found the number, and from long distance in Florida, got Dad admitted. About 5:00 p.m. I was taking Dad by private ambulance to the BFNH (private ambulance: $375 each way). Wow. The BFNH is really nice. And my blood sugar was so low at this point any place would have looked good to me.
It is so much fun doing Good Deeds for one's elderly parents. After a full day of pushing an unresponsive Dad around in his wheelchair from test to test on Tuesday, I was pulling a blanket up around him so he wouldn't be cold, when he suddenly came to and said: "Oh Robin, your hands really look bad." Thank you muchly Dad, but schlepping you around for 12 hours has taking all the skin off my cuticles and broken all my nails.
Wednesday, when I took the Mother up to the BFNH, I sat for a minute in the garden with her and Dad and sighed, "I haven't even had time to go to the hairdresser, or eat or take a shower." And she looked at me and said, "Yes. Yes. And I liked your hair better when you first came. It was shorter and ... " I held up my hand to stop her. Thinking, perhaps, I might slug her she ceased her critique. I'm getting dangerous.
Oh and it gets better.
After four trips up there yesterday, I was exhausted. By nightfall, my father had become abusive. This is called sundowning but is no less fun for having a name. I've hired extra caregivers to help him make the transition, but even they couldn't calm him and when I walked in, the garbage really hit the generator blades. He called me names. He was sarcastic. He called for my mother. Repeatedly. He yelled. He refused to eat. He refused to take his medication. I considered smashing his dish of ice cream on his head. I decided that wouldn't be mature. I hid behind a curtain, which was much more mature, and let the on-duty nurse handle it.
Finally, like a little child having a tantrum, he wore out after about 90 minutes. Also, a male CNA seemed to bond with him and Dad began to be tired and hungry enough to take orders. He fell asleep. His once-favorite caregiver, Carmen, and I sneaked out the door. I vowed never to speak to him again.
Until the next day of course.
I called my sister and told her how much fun I was having. Besides needing a manicure and a new hairdo. We laughed and laughed.
I told her about this crane they have that lifts Dad up and rolls him into the toilet and then sets him down where it can do the most good. (I'm going to have to get a picture of this thing. It really is an interesting piece of equipment!)
I told my sister I wanted to suspend Dad from the crane for the night.
She and I were laughing so hard we were crying. Or we were laughing to keep from crying, I don't know which.
She'll be here next week to join in the party. I can hardly wait. Meanwhile, gotta go. Dad is at it again, and I'm going to have to go up there and learn how to use that crane-to-toilet machine. Just in case.