I am sitting here in my mother's bedroom, sipping some Gray Goose, thinking, "Sh't, some years it's not getting out of bed on New Year's Morning, even if I did go to bed at 9:00 PM the night before."
The Wednesday before Mom died, I went to the rehab center to visit Dad, who is there because he had spent several weeks in the hospital and nursing homes, and needed to get his strength and stamina back before he could return to his apartment in this retirement community. He was glad to see me, and bragged about walking 100 yards with minimal help that morning, when three days before he could barely stand up.
Friday he felt very tired, but still did physical therapy. Saturday he spiked a temp and began having diarrhea more than usual. Sunday, when Luke and Mary went over to tell him Mom had died, he seemed quite sad (appropriate after 60 years of marriage!) and a bit weaker than the day before. Monday he declined to go to Mom's Memorial Service, and when we all went in, he looked both depressed and sicker. Tuesday he was back up doing physical therapy in the morning when I saw him, but was sick again when Luke and Mary dropped by later.
Tuesday night Luke got a call saying he was sicker still, but refusing to go to the hospital. Luke, Mary and I arrived back at the nursing home, to find him really sick, having frequent diarrhea, and in pain, still adamantly refusing to go to the hospital. We stayed until midnight, then left, planning to go in early this morning.
Hey, none of us blamed him for refusing to return to the hospital. He was there in May with a blood infection and back for most of June with C Diff, an intestinal bug usually picked up in hospitals. It is highly contagious, extremely insidious, inflaming the colon, and most likely to affect the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. He falls into both categories. I will refrain from describing too much about C Diff, because if you are interested you can Google it. ( And if you have an elderly and/or immune compromised relative in a nursing home or hospital, I recommend that you do.)
And yesterday, he was diagnosed as having C Diff again. It is insidious because it can come return and return and return, each time worse than before, causing more pain, worse symptoms, and can lead to death.
This morning at 8:00AM Luke called to say he had just hear from Life Care of Littleton that Allison (yes, my father's name is Allison, and we often call him by his first name) had had such a bad night that he had requested to go to the hospital. Now, this is the same hospital that Catherine and I left three days before rejoicing that we would not have to return to, maybe forever. The same one at which he and Mother had just celebrated their 60th Anniversary, since they were there at the same time, the same one they had said good-bye to each other one week ago.
We found him in the ER looking awful. I will not go into long detail, but eventually he was sent to ICU, where he is in isolation with terrible colitis, in a lot of pain, finally getting meds. Not, however pain meds, because his blood pressure was so low. When I left he was getting a pic line put in, so they could deliver meds and draw blood easier.
I don't think he is going to die at this point, but it is becoming clearer that he may never fully recover, especially since the C Diff returned so quickly and virulently in such a short time. He is determined to fight it, completely plans to rehab and come home, but one of the doctors we talked to today said this was very unlikely, and we had to begin to face reality and start thinking about long term care. Of course, she does not know how stubborn he is-stubborn to the extreme all his life-but who knows where reality will lie?
I am feeling triple whammied, and more. After spending the winter and spring inside, healing from surgery, I was barely able to make it to Meg's wedding, a joyous event, but physically difficult for me. I was home two full days before I had to drop everything and fly to Denver for Mother's death, and now Allison is critically ill.
I am still flying home Saturday, unless Allison suddenly takes a turn for the worse. This is unlikely, but it is possible that he will never return to this beautiful apartment in the retirement community that they moved into last October, and that just breaks my heart.
I am beginning to wonder when thing will finally start getting better. Not just for Allison and my brother Luke who lives out her, but for me as well. No, of course I am not giving up. I'll go home and back into my own rehab (I have now been in physical therapy for the better part of six years!) and occasional walks with Meg and Myla, and whatever else I can scrape up to keep moving forward. I will probably have left shoulder surgery in the late fall or winter, then figure out what to do to keep me busy for the rest of my retirement. And I will stay away from hospitals as much as possible!
Today has been another hard one, but tomorrow I will get up and go over to the hospital (I have the early shift) and put a smile on my face while I gird my loins to be an active advocate for my father, because I believe everyone should have one full time when they are hospitalized. Friday I will do the same, and Saturday I will fly home to collapse for a while.
I truly, truly hope that you all are having good summers, and that sometime in the not too distant future I can catch up with you all.