Friday, April 3, 2009

Daddy's Down Time

I don't like getting calls from a hospital or care facility . I particularly don't like getting calls from a facility where someone I love is a patient. So when the telephone rang yesterday morning and the caller identified herself as Suri, one of the charge nurses caring for my father, I cringed.

In the midst of morning activities, my dad began to complain of dizziness and weakness, enough dizziness that he needed to go back to bed. Suri had called the doctor and was still waiting for his instructions. She suspected another TIA (mini-stroke). My dad has a no-code order; would we agree to sending him to an acute care hospital if the doctor deemed it necessary? Ian and I say yes. Mother doesn't think any additional care is necessary. "Let his body do naturally what it is going to do." she says. Meanwhile, there wasn't much to be done. My dropping everything and rushing down to his bedside would do nothing but frustrate me for lack of parking.

Later, Suri caught me in the hallway. The doctor says "Monitor, don't treat." So we monitor.

My stubborn father insisted on getting up and walking to the toilet rather than using his urinal. In the bathroom, nurses found traces of blood in his urine (at least on the diaper), and possibly trace blood in his stool as well. Suri left another message for the doctor, who has not yet called back. Bladder infection, treatable with antibiotics? Prostate issues? Something more sinister? My brain makes fantastic leaps.

By mid-afternoon when I eventually arrived at his bedside, everything looked -- and sounded -- typical. His bed alarm was sounding, but a CNA was at his bedside helping him to dress after a trip to the toilet. Alarm silenced, he greeted me with a big smile, shook my hand with a firm grip and said, "Bonnie, how nice of you to come. You're lucky. I just got back myself about 10 minutes ago. Did you have along drive?"

With some difficulty he moved two steps sideways toward the head of the bed, sat, then lay down.

We talked a little. He didn't remember most of the day. He acknowledged being dizzy. He said he had been out, couldn't remember where he had gone, but assured me it was an important meeting.

A CNA arrived to take his blood pressure, which they have been monitoring several times a day for several days. It is low, at the bottom end of normal limits. He was cheerful and thanked the CNA for visiting him.

He scratched his arms, remembering (a pleasant surprise!) to use the flat of his hand rather than his fingernails. I asked if some cream would help. His face lit up with obvious pleasure, and he nodded. It reminded me of a preschooler being offered a favorite treat. I put some Keri Cream on his arms and hands. Better? He grinned again, nodding. No verbalizing, just nods. His eyes closed and he dozed.

I read for a few minutes. He dozed on. After 15 minutes, I kissed him good-bye, promised to be back tomorrow (now today) and left.

Give thanks for time shared with loved ones. Focus on positives. Don't forget to pray.

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