This is written with the thought that for anyone who reads it who is a praying kind of person, they may shoot one off for my mom, or dad, or Beth, or I guess even for myself. I don’t presume that this post is of interest to everyone but I sure know that we have many caring friends and family who may appreciate a summary/update. Thanks so much if you fit into one of these categories.
The stress of the last 6 weeks has been pretty intense but I’m thankful that for the most part the 4 of us have weathered the storm pretty well. Mom was feeling pretty weak and sickly for last couple of weeks in April and ended up being admitted to the hospital on May 3rd with a very low hemoglobin blood level and a very high creatinine level (indicating her kidneys weren’t functioning very well). Along with her compromised lungs (a condition called bronchiectasis) she presented the doctors with a very complicated case.
Over the course of the next 5 weeks a variety of strategies were implemented, including receiving units of blood, iron, prednisone and Lasix. Progress was slow and erratic some weeks but by the end she was feeling stronger and was looking forward to going home. However, while she was in the hospital, we had to pack up and move them out of their house of over 30 years as they had sold it earlier this year in order to move into a nearby apartment. So in the end, going ‘home’ meant coming and seeing the apartment for the first time since they had walked through it in March when finalizing the rental.
At the same time, Beth and I were preparing for our oldest son, David, and his daughter Lindsay, to move into our basement apartment. This meant moving out our previous tenant, who had lived there for 12 years, cleaning, tearing up carpet, repairing walls, and painting.
Through this all, mom’s sisters, Shirley and Marilyn, have been a great support. Aunt Shirley and Uncle Gordie have been around a lot over the past couple of months, especially as Dad needs someone around because of his short-term memory loss. They were able to stay with him through most of mom’s hospital stay. However they did have other commitments leading up to the moving day so Beth and I ended up sleeping over for a few days before the move. Then Dad stayed at our place for a week instead of moving into the unfamiliar apartment environment. He had a few days with Shirley and Gordie at the apartment before mom came home this past Monday.
So the past 5 weeks have been busy with visiting mom (plus trying to connect with the myriad doctors and nurses who were making decisions about treatment) and supporting Dad as he went up to the hospital twice a day and needed rides (as we don’t feel he should be driving anymore) but this past week may have been the craziest/busiest one yet. Beth took Dad up to the hospital on Monday and shortly after she left Mom called to say she was going home today. This was a surprise, although we expected her to be released early in the week. So there was a lot of arranging to do – Beth went back to the hospital to ensure all of the supports would be in place for the transition and I went to rent a wheelchair (Mom had been using a walker in the hospital but was only making quite short trips, usually just to the bathroom, so we felt we’d need a wheelchair to at least get her from the car to the apartment, or for when going to appointments).
It was great to have her back home and she has done really well, showing a real positive attitude and surprising us with how strong she is. While in the hospital she was mostly in bed but since being home she is mainly up sitting, and is having no issues getting around the apartment. However, one bigger complication began almost as soon as she arrived home – significant swelling in her feet and legs. This resulted in Beth, on Tuesday, needing to advocate for a doctor to get involved and hopefully order some medicine for her. After a number of phone calls she was able to get Lasix ordered and for her to see her nephrologist (kidney specialist) on Thursday. The drugs did help a bit, but when Mom saw the doctor he said that she should begin on dialysis the next day.
In the meantime, Dad has found all of this change pretty unsettling, even though he doesn’t always articulate it well. Adjusting to a new place brings a ton of challenges for someone who has limited short-term memory. The most concerning behavior has been an unwillingness to get out of bed in the morning. He often presents as being almost in a catatonic state and can remain uncommunicative for quite a while as we try to rouse him. This past Tuesday was particularly difficult and so we made an appointment for him to see his family doctor the next day. Beth and I went with him and had written up a document outlining our concerns with his behavior over the past 6 months. The doctor prescribed a drug to help curb memory loss as well as behavior, and is running a battery of tests.
It was at this appointment that we also talked further with Dad about driving. There have been more issues with this for him lately, and now with the move, which puts him in an unfamiliar neighbourhood, he finds it quite difficult. Also, when Mom was in the hospital he didn’t really drive much at all, and the new apartment has very narrow parking spots in the underground lot they use. This seems like an appropriate time for him to stop driving and the doctor was supportive of that decision, but as someone who basically drove for his living every day for most of his life, Dad is obviously finding it hard to accept.
So overall, this has been a week like no other. Beth and I are thankful that we are both retired and available to give support to Mom and Dad at this time, as they sure need it. They (and I) are so grateful for Beth – she has been their advocate and personal support in so many ways, and we all say we don’t know what we would do without her. She is truly amazing but the time and energy that goes in to helping in this situation can be quite draining.
Thanks again for your support and prayers!