Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Dad

Well, it’s been a hell of a week in the Rado/Martin family. Let’s start with Dad.

Dad’s had diarrhea since Monday or Tuesday of last week. He’d just gotten over a bladder or urinary tract infection, and every time he takes antibiotics, he goes thru a bout of diarrhea, so we didn’t really think too much about it. Then on Thursday, he told me that he hadn’t been eating very much, and what he was eating was soup, and that he was drinking a lot of pop. So I told him that No, he needed to be eating real food and drinking lots of water, and any juice they’ll let him have. (He’s diabetic, so he can’t drink orange juice, but I wasn’t sure about apple, grape, cranberry). I’ve tried to explain to him before that pop actually dehydrates you, I think he just doesn’t believe me.

Anyway, Saturday we had to go to Ada for more blood work, and on the way, we stopped in to see Dad and drop off some supplies. It was about 9:00 when we got there, and Dad was laying down in bed – which didn’t worry me because he’s supposed to lay down for at least an hour after every meal to help prevent him from getting pressure sores, or at least keep them from getting too bad. Then on Sunday evening, Mom and I went to go visit him. We were actually supposed to go earlier in the day, but I’d fallen asleep and taken one of my patented four hour naps. When we got there, Dad was in bed asleep. It was only 7:00, but he’s been sick, so again I didn’t really worry too much about it.

Then on Monday, right after lunch, I got a call from the nursing home. One of the residents (thanks Cheryl), had gone to get one of the nurses because Dad had come outside and was slumped over so far that he was about to fall out of his electric cart, and he was not making any sense. So the nurse came to check on him, and decided that he might have pneumonia. She contacted his doctor and he agreed that Dad needed to be sent to the hospital. They asked me which hospital I wanted him sent to, and I told them to take him to one right by where I work. (There’s a local hospital that’s closer, but I’ve heard not good things (not bad, just not good) about their emergency room – and it’s also the place that told Mom after her wreck that she was fine and then called 2 days later and said Oh, by the way, you have a broken rib. Not bad, but not good either.)

So I get to the hospital and ask if Dad has arrived yet. Nope. Okay, so I sit for about 10 minutes in the waiting room and go check again. They quit accepting ambulances 10 minutes before I arrived, and he was diverted to another hospital. Thanks for telling me that when I arrived. Turned out the nursing home, Chris, and my boss had tried to call and tell me, but I had turned off my cell phone since you’re not supposed to use them in the ER. So I went to the other hospital and when I got there, there was a doctor and 3 nurses in working on Dad. They said that they had him on an external pacemaker and his kidneys were failing. They were drawing blood for all kinds of test, the external pacemaker wasn’t working very well, so they started him on dopamine??? to speed up his heart. And they asked me what kind of extreme measures I wanted them to take if it came to that.

Do you all realize how many times Dad’s been the hospital after having an infection, for exactly the symptoms I listed above? Get an infection, take antibiotics, get diarrhea, get dehydrated, get weak, go to the hospital for fluids, and then normally into a rehab hospital for physical therapy. I walked into that hospital thinking he could have picked a better time to get sick than the day before my surgery, and they tell me that he sick enough that he could die. And I know that that doesn’t make me a terrible daughter, or mean that I love him any less, but it makes me feel like less.

I called Chris and Mom and told them to get there as quickly as they could. This hospital is wonderful, and is now my hospital of choice. I went back into the ER room after calling Chris, and they let me stay in there while they worked on him. The nurse stayed in the room with him almost the entire time, and was never more than 5 steps away from his room. 4 or 5 hours people. They took really good care of him.

Turned out that his potassium levels were too high. He takes a daily potassium supplement, and I’m not sure which order this happened in, but because of the dehydration either the kidneys shut down and weren’t processing the potassium, or the kidneys weren’t processing the potassium which then shut down the kidneys. Same difference either way. So they decided to do dialysis to clean the potassium out of his blood. They told us he was “fragile”.

Here's about the only information I found about High Potassium

Hopefully, the dialysis would clean all the potassium out of his blood and that would free up his heart and kidneys. Or it wouldn’t help. Or anything in between.

Mom had decided to spend the night up there, and she wanted me to go ahead and do my surgery on Tuesday (she’s been really worried about that, I can’t convince her that it’s not cancer, and it doesn’t mean I’m going to get cancer). I had told her we’d wait and see how Dad was doing after the dialysis. So we went home to get stuff for spending the night and called Lesley to see if she wanted to fly down yet. Poor Lesley – to be that far away. We finally decided to wait and see how he did overnight. If we lost him, she wouldn’t be here in time anyway, and if the dialysis worked, she wouldn’t need to come at all. Other than that, there would be time to get here. They got everything set up (short of the plane tickets of course) and can leave as soon as needed.

We got back to the hospital at 11:00 Monday night and he was stable. They had the temporary pacemaker off of him, but had left him on the ventilator. They had had to put him on a ventilator earlier because he stopped breathing when they put the dialysis catheter in him, so they vented him, then they no sooner got the ventilator hooked up and he started breathing on his own. They left the ventilator on him just in case. He was awake and very agitated. They had had to restrain his hand because he was trying to pull out the dialysis catheter, and he had the ventilator tube down his throat so he couldn’t talk. He wasn’t really aware, he didn’t know that Mom and I were in the room. The nurse ended up having to sedate him because he was fighting her so hard, and they had to keep him sedated part of Tuesday as well.

So I went on home and decided to go ahead and do my surgery and Mom spent the night up there. I called and checked on him early Tuesday morning and he was still stable and made it thru the night okay.

We called again while waiting for my surgery, and they have him in isolation because he has this virus or bacteria that I can’t remember what it’s called, but it’s common after taking a lot of antibiotics. I’m not sure whether this is what caused the problem to begin with or if he got it from the antibiotics they gave him at the hospital. Still stable, still sedated.

After my surgery (I’ll write about it later), we went straight to the hospital. We got there just about 7:00, and the only times during the day you can’t visit is from 6:30 to 7:30, so we had to wait before we could go in and see him. He was sleeping, they had just finished a breathing treatment and he had slept through that, so I just talked to him for a few minutes and then we all headed home.

I called to check on him this morning and he had a rough night. He kept calling for us and didn’t understand why he was in the hospital, and was worried about where he was going to go when he got out. They tried to call the house once, but I never heard it ring. He’s sleeping now, so I told the nurse we’d be up there soon. Mom and Chris are both still asleep, I’ve got to go wake them up and get us moving.

The nursing home…They have called to check on him, and someone from there went to see him last night. We’re going to have a meeting with the director and the head nurse, and we’re going to find out how no one up there figured out there was something wrong with him. They fucked up, and they fucked up bad. One more day and he’d have died. But right now I’m feeling pretty guilty myself. Why didn’t I see that something was wrong with him? Well, I did see, but I was busy, and had my own shit going on, and I knew he did have diarrhea, and I just didn’t worry too much about it. Same old shit, different day.

The nursing home has taken good care of him for over a year now. In the last few years, Dad has gone into the hospital at least 3 times a year, every year. Since we put him in the nursing home last May, he’s been so much healthier. He hasn’t fallen and he gets his physical therapy. They aren’t perfect, and there’s been a few minor wrinkles, but I’ve always been confident that they were taking care of him. And now they’ve fucked up bad. My first, gut reaction is to move him somewhere else, but that is so hard on him. When we first put him in the home, it messed him up for over a month. For three weeks, he would call me in the middle of the night wanting to know where he was, where I was, what was going on. When they moved him to a different room, we went thru the same thing for about a week. And then trying to find another good nursing home, that will take good care of him. With him asking about where he’s going when he gets out of the hospital, where does he want to go? Of course, I know the answer to that, he wants to come home, but we just can’t do that. We are not capable of giving him the care he needs.

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