Western education 2013

Saturday, June 30, 2012

.....a surprise visit....

.....on the heels of another of Dad's illnesses. I should say that after 4 rounds of antibiotics and the beginning of a fifth round, Dad is not doing so well. He is looking frail these days and the wracking coughs bring up thick mucous. I am heading to the home to put him to bed on Thursday evening and note that he is already laying down with his eyes closed and he is muttering with each breath. I touch his forehead as always and note that he is hot to the touch. I find the RPN Natalyia and she follows me down the hall. A quick temperature check and he is registering 38 degrees. I am deeply concerned when another check 20 minutes later lets us know that it is rising. She administers more Tylenol via spoon but he wants to sit up to take it and I move in to brace him as he swallows them down with some ice water. I cradle his head and whisper 'I love you's as I help to lay him down. My face is a few inches from his as he reaches over to tousle my hair. He pulls his blanket up and makes sure he covers me too. He reminds me of Will when he was a child and my heart aches for the child I miss with all my heart.....he is so much like my father. I cuddle with my Dad until I can hear his snores begin. I will miss you so much when you leave us to be with your maker and I am grateful for these times we have together. I love you so much. He is still so hot and Natalyia and I are putting cold cloths on his forehead. I re-read the text messages from my sister Gina from a few minutes before i arrived at the home and realize that she is in town - all the way from BC. As I leave the home, I call Mom up and yes, she is there at the retirement residence with Mom. They know from my texts that Dad is not well. The staff have received my request to the doctor to get a sample of sputum and will do so at the first opportunity. We need to determine what is causing him to be so ill. It is now 10 pm when I cross the parking lot to visit with my Mom and Gina and minutes later we head back to my house so the kids can go for a night swim on this hot and humid night. I wll be taking care of my Mom's cats while she goes back to visit her friends in Elgin and sees the new changes to the farm house she left in March. Perhaps that is closure to Mom..... I will be seeing Dad this morning before I head out to the lake. The red sunset and the cool breeze tells me that it will rain today some time. It is peaceful out here on the deck and listening to the birds waking up. I will see Mom and Gina on Sunday and hope that my brother comes down as well. I have a sense that we do not have much time with my Dad.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

.....moving forward...

....and keeping positive despite life's challenges. Max and I sit across from one another in bed - he has been there for me through so much over the years. He knows something is wrong and is clearly disappointed when I read him an email which has been sent from someone we both considered to be a good friend. He shakes his head in disbelief and offers an explanation that somehow her behavior is not in keeping with the gal we have both come to love and adore. It is hurtful and accusatory.....and of all an email. Max figures that she needed to pick her allegiance to the team I recently left. Either way, Max is right, we should just support her no matter what...perhaps one day....until then....I will miss her very much. Thursday morning I was up before the crack of dawn. I promised Sarah that I would help her with her hillside garden. We managed to remove 4 very overgrown juniper bushes to make way for a vegetable garden. We decorated it with petunias, marigolds and alyssum to border the garden perimeter. It was an incredibly hot day but we managed to get so much done and just in time before the heavy rains began to fall less than an hour after planting. Sarah is pleased that she will now be able to grow her own Roma tomatoes for salsa. Thursday evening I attended the Althouse orientation for teacher candidates. We learned about choosing our courses and when our timetable selections would be available. I am getting excited about this new chapter in my life. This summer will pass by so fast that I am just trying to enjoy each and every day as it comes. I am loving the time spent with family and friends as I prepare for a year of crazy balancing of home, school and work schedules. Ah to be busy again!!!! I dropped in to see Dad and to put him to bed. I checked him over for bruises but found little that would indicate the terrible fall he had on Tuesday. I read him National Geographic from my iPad. He was fascinated with Easter Island and enfpgaged in a very animated discussion of his theories. He was very lucid tonight. The staff are keeping a close eye on him and monitoring his urine output to ensure he does not dehydrate again. Today is Lydia's birthday party. She is officially 10, although you would swear she is older. I am just so relieved that I am here to celebrate it with her. I remember being diagnosed the day after her 7th birthday....I look around and see the changes we have made to our beautiful backyard and listen to the girls squeal with delight as they swim around in the warm water. The recent purchase of a roof mount solar panel has made the pool so inviting!! There are 4 girls enjoying a sleep-over in the family room downstairs and from our vantage point, we can hear them swapping their treat bag goodies. It's so hard to believe how fast the years have rolled by!! I look over at Max as I blog and he is playing with his iPad version of garage band. He is my soul and my love and I am blessed to have married my soul mate. He is my best friend and confidant....he is quick to point out my faults and just as quick to tell me why he loves me. He loves the changes in my life as much as I do. He would have preferred me to make some of these decisions a while back but knows that everything happens for a reason.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

.....when the phone rings....

....and wakes you out of a deep slumber, you know it can't be good. "Your Dad has fallen and has hit his head", the nurse tells me through the fog. I pull myself up and note the time is 7:44 am. She continues, "Your Dad struck his head after tripping on his feet. He was chatty and joking around and suddenly he was down". I am dumbfounded when she tells me that he is lethargic and that is vitals are dropping. She is calling to let me know that he will be taken to hospital by ambulance and would I like her to call me to let me know where he will be. Of course she can and I hang up the phone on my way to the shower. Max let's me know a few minutes later that he has gone to UH.

I drive Lydia and Amber to school and wave to Shelley as we pull into the parking lot. It is now work traffic and I try to pick the fastest route to the hospital that does not involve construction....but it still takes 40 minutes to get there and find parking. I glance at the wall clock after entering into Pod A in the Emergency department where Dad is in bed 4. In April, he was nestled in bed 2 with pneumonia. I bent down to kiss Dad and noted how cool he felt to the touch. Even his hands were cold??? They are always soft and warm to the touch. I sit down after speaking briefly with the intern. He wants to know some medical history and I oblige him. I look up at the clock again and it is now 9:25. I look over to Dad and watch as the color completely drains from his face and the distant clouded look of his eyes as they begin the roll upwards. "DAD, DAAAAAD, DAAAAAAADDDDDDY!!!! STAY WITH ME! SOMEONE HELP US!!!!". The monitor is flashing orange, a big 0 and a long beep tells us he has flatlined. The staff are moving in and I catch my breath....the tears are falling and I am wiping them away. Dad is moving in the bed now and the beeping has resumed. I am able to rejoin him within minutes and no sooner do I sit down but I can hear the monitor beep begin to slow, Dad's palor change and the eyes rolling back. "DAD!!!! DADDDY!!??". The staff have returned and the activity has me moving out of the way while the staff are busy trying to evaluate the second incident. The male nurse witnessed this second event as it was happening. An X-ray machine is moved bedside to rule out pneumonia which he has been treated twice for since April. The tears are coursing down my face for the second time in as many minutes. Again, his heart has restarted on its own and he is now sitting up in bed and cracking his first of many witty remarks of what would prove to be a very long day.

The staff just thinks he is so sweet. I am his buddy and I feel so helpless standing by. I call to him and he waves to me. Later he will ask me if his heart stopped. I tell him yes and then listen while he asks me if I can hear the voices speaking in a language he does not understand. He tells me that he almost touched the ceiling.....the ceilings are at least 9 feet tall...I believe Dad had experienced an out of body experience. I asked him if he had seen me holding his hand and he said no, because he could almost reach the ceiling. I noted the calm in his demeanor and the cloudy far off look. I checked Dad over as much as I could and I have not found any bumps or bruises, just a minor rub on his elbow from what could have been caused by sliding on the floor - the skin has rolled showing he slid on it. He did not complain about any pain?? I believe that his heart likely stopped prior to his fall at the residence. They thought the fluctuating and dropping vitals may have been the result of a head trauma but where was the bruising? Swelling? An intern from Cardiac came in to evaluate Dad where they had moved him to a cardiac triage unit. He gently squeezed Dad's Carotid artery in his neck and we watched as his blood pressure dropped and then went back up when he released the mild pressure. He called for an ECG using ultra sound. The technician arrived at 2:30 and spent the next 1/2 hour going through a full evaluation of the heart valves and chambers. It was fascinating watching the valves open with each beat from so many different angles. In one series of pictures you could see the Venus blood and arterial blood enter and leave the chambers of the heart. I had to help keep Dad in place while they completed their examination. By 3:15, the warmth was coming back into his external limbs and I no longer had to ask for warm sheets to cover him with. Poor Dad, so many holes poked into him to take blood and give IV fluids. Never mind the dozen or so sensor tabs and the two external defib pads that had to be removed....and all the hair!!! Sarah Brown dropped by earlier in the afternoon with a wonderful packed lunch which i shared with Dad after getting the OK around 5. Just as he was finishing up the last morsel, dinner arrived!! He Voraciously consumed the hospital offerings. By 7 pm when it was time for him to be loaded into the Voyageur patient transfer to go back home. The nurse had been on for 12 hours and the sharp tone in her voice bearing commands did not go over well when sundowners hit. I got his attention and placed my hand on his face while looking into those now crystal clear eyes. I love you so much Dad was all he needed to hear and quieted down. I helped to dress and stayed with him until the girls from transport arrived. I hugged the tired nurse, kissed Dad on his forehead and laughed as I walked down the hall when I heard him describe how rare the seat belts were that were used to buckle him in. I could hear the girls laughing with him as they rolled him down the hall. I met up with transport outside his residence and escorted him up to his room. After another snack and plenty of fluids, he was ready for bed. Gail helped me dress and ready him for bed. Night night Dad, sleep well!

It was a long day but I am ever so grateful to the staff at UH who were there for us, the ambulance attendant who wanted to hold my hand when the second incident started and especially to Sarah, whose kindness and help meant so much to my Dad, myself and our family in crisis - I love you so much. Xo