Monday, November 22, 2010

Caring for your Parents ~The Post I Don't Want to Write

My friend Fadra of All Things Fadra started a meme that asks you to write for 5 minutes and don't edit, just write.  Since I've always been a little bit of a rebel I am writing on a Monday in hopes of getting through the post I don't want to write.  Please forgive me if this is rambling or non-sensical.

My dad is one of my best friends.  Weird, huh.  We live next door to my parents which is a little "Everybody Loves Raymond" but it works.  Actually it's our house, then a few acres with a barn and pasture, then their house.  We aren't right on top of each other, but we are close enough to help out in a crisis.  This fall we have found ourselves in a crisis.  My dad has terrible arthritis and extreme muscle tightness.  In an effort to help with some of his joints, he has had his right hip replaced and was scheduled to get his left hip replaced at the beginning of October.  Unfortunately, his right knee sort of crumbled underneath him so he switched from having his left hip replaced to having his right knee totally replaced.  Just information here, the knee is a much tougher recovery than the hip.  Someone with medical knowledge can tell us why, but the knee is MUCH tougher. 

The surgery went just as expected, but post surgery is when life got really interesting.  I stayed with my dad in the hospital at night.  The anesthesia and pain medicine threw him for a loop.  He would wake up(sort of) and think he had to be someplace and start trying to get out of bed.  When I broke the bad news that he couldn't get out of bed and tried to get him settled back down he would become very agitated and anxious.  Then they tried to treat the anxiety which you would think would help him sleep but he just had weirder dreams and episodes.  He spent a few days at a nursing home/rehab facility until he fell and we discovered they had been medicating him even more.  We brought him home. 

He improved and was going to physical therapy at an amazing facility not too far from where we live.  About a week ago we went to see his psychiatrist (he was being treated for depression/anxiety) and that doctor told him that he was experiencing episodes of delirium and was susceptible to dementia.  Then proceeded to eliminate any drugs that might aleviate the anxiety dad was experiencing.  He told dad about a book that would help him.  I don't know if any of you have ever experienced a panic attack, but the last thing you want at that point and time is to read a book.  The next day we saw his orthopedic doctor who said he was progressing nicely, the knee looks great.  That night my mom told me that Dad had felt weak when he was walking across the room.  The next morning I was out at breakfast when my mom called and told me that Dad had fallen.  Fortunately he didn't hurt himself, but he is a tall guy and with his lack of flexibility he could not get up.  My husband and my brother and I had to get him up and back into his chair.  (my mom actually broke his fall, fortunately she was okay)
He swears that he didn't actually lose consciousness, but I am not so sure.  Later that afternoon he fell again.  (this time a very soft chair broke his fall~at least he's good at falling)

I wanted him to go to the hospital.  I admit that I was worried about him having a stroke or something along those lines.  He has a very intense fear and dislike of hospitals and I let him talk me out of it.  We made an appointment with his primary care doctor for the next morning and agreed that if he fell again the first call was going to be to 911.  My sister came in town the next day for the doctor's appointment.  The doctor was a little dismayed at the committee of people there for the appointment.  He agreed that Dad should be referred to a neurologist and ordered other basic radiology tests and blood tests to rule out things.  He made the mistake of saying that my dad had been dealing with "malaise and increasing frailty."  Friends, my dad is 73.  He is no spring chicken, but he should not be dealing with the health issues that he is, unless there is a cause beyond aging.

So that's where we are.  Waiting to see a neurologist on December 16th.  If you are a neurologist this is clearly a great market so please move here.  Have an appointment with a cardiologist after that.  I am torn between not wanting them to find anything, and wanting them to find something that is treatable.  I would love for him to have an answer beyond "you have the tightest muscles we've ever seen"  I know that tight muscles doesn't sound like a big deal, but his are ridiculously tight.  Some of his muscles in his legs feel like steel cables they are so tightly contracted.  Words have been tossed around that are scary.  Parkinson's is one that I have investigated and as scary as all these words are, they are at least treatable.  My mom has forbidden us from talking about Parkinson's until we go to the neurologist.  I worry so much about her too because she isn't getting the sleep she needs.  I spent last Wednesday night with him and we were awake a significant portion of the night.  (of course I was brilliant and went to the midnight opening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows~ I was TOAST on Friday.)

He seems to be stronger.  Last night Mom brought him to my house for the first time since before his surgery.  I want him to be okay.  I want him to be as well as he can be.  Maybe he is having delirium and maybe there is a neurological problem.  I just want him to be okay.  If you are the praying kind, would you say one for him?  And I will selfishly ask for prayer for myself.  This is a new road and navigating it is not easy.  Would you pray that I will know the best way to help him and my mom?

that went way too fast but at least I got the basics out. phew. Thanks to Fadra for hosting!


Wendy said...

Thanks for the update on your Dad. We are praying for an accurate diagnosis and that whatever is going on is easily treated. HUGS

Ali said...

I hate to read your Dad, you & family are going thru this.

Wish I knew how to dead with parents becoming the ones who need the care. I struggle with this with my mom. Her cancer diagnosis was a relief in that we got an answer, but then what do you do? Know you aren't alone in this strange place in life.

Hang in there. You are all in my thoughts.

As they say, its the season of miracles... hoping you all get one very soon.

all.things.fadra said...

Did you really write all that in 5 minutes? I'm thinking of increasing the time anyway. It does go fast.

I am sorry for everything your dad is going through. 73 *is* young and make sure you are seeing a doctor that feels the same way. Too many in the medical field feel that once you approach 60, you're pretty much done anyway.

Stay strong and enough. You've got the internet. If you don't get the answers you want, do your own research. After years of breathing problems and lung biopsies and the word "cancer", the doctors still could find anything wrong with my husband's aunt. It was her daughter who researched and insisted on the doctors testing for tuberculosis, which ended up being the problem.

Anyway, well wishes being sent your way. Thanks for linking up. Yes, I'll keep the link longer :)

Jen @ One Moms World said...

Oh Amy... I am so sorry you all are going through this. I do hope you all will get answers. You deserve the answers. My dad is 70 so like you said that is no spring chicken but he shouldn't be experiencing all these falls that he is going through. I hope they will be able to get you in sooner than 12/16.

I will keep him in our prayers Amy. Please keep us posted. Big ((HUGS))