Sunday, March 4, 2012

Learning to be a CALM caregiver

Psalm 46:1-3 God is a safe place to hide, ready to help when we need him. We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom, courageous in seastorm and earthquake, Before the rush and roar of oceans, the tremors that shift mountains. Jacob-wrestling God fights for us, God-of-Angel-Armies protects us.

Last week Dad went into the hospital again. This time it appeared that he wasn't getting rid of enough fluid, he had swelling in his face, feet and abdomen, and we both became concerned. We called home health, and they suggested calling our doctor, who immediately said "Bring him to the ER." Dad was thrilled (not). They gave him lasix (water pill) in his IV and kept him for 48 hour observation. He lost six pounds in two days. We probably could have handled this at home, but we weren't sure.

Unfortunately we were in the ER for six hours. My back can't take six hours of sitting without much of a break. The back flare-up that started a few weeks ago has returned with a vengeance. Physical therapy, and a CT scan to see if the fusion I had in 2009 actually fused are on next week's calendar.

Now that he's home again, we weigh him every day. If he has more than a few pounds of weight gain, I will give him an extra furosemide (lasix). If he still retains fluid, that will be another call to the doctor. Weighing him every morning before breakfast is still hard to remember, even though it's essential.

We will begin the search again tomorrow for an electric wheelchair that is covered by Medicare. In the meantime, in spite of the doctor telling me over and over that he should be non-weight bearing on his right leg, he often is. It seems to be the only way to transfer him into the wheelchair. He often gets up to get around his bedroom, and uses his walker.

I know he is in great danger of breaking that hip, and I know what that will mean to his health. The break would be inoperable. I know we lost my mom ten years ago in a little over two weeks that way. I also know that keeping him either in a wheelchair or bedridden would be forcing him to live as though the hip was already broken.

I have been told several times that his care would be easier if we had hospice. Dad would certainly qualify: aseptic necrosis in the hip, chronic congestive heart failure, issues with his blood thickness or thinness caused by coumadin, abdominal aneurysm--well, the list is pretty long. He's 96. We're not designed to live forever in these bodies.

I feel like I have no control over any of this. That's because I don't :-) My father is of sound mind. He knows how bad his hip is. If he gets up and puts weight on it, he knows what he's risking. If he wants home health care instead of hospice, it's his call.

He can't be home by himself, at least for more than 15 minutes to half an hour. For Bruce and I to go out together, we need an "elder" sitter. If one of us leaves, the other needs to stay home. I have some family available who can help, but it's often difficult for them. My sister is in England until March 20, but my brother-in-law is here, and has helped out already. But the day-to-day care inevitably falls to us.

That's okay--we expected it. But there is no doubt that it creates stress in me, and in my husband. When I am working, or when my back is out, almost everything lands on Bruce. He has trouble handling stress, so it's definitely a challenge for both of us, since his stress rubs off on me.

Ultimately I must regularly remind myself that the One who created my dad knows the number of his days, and will be ready to welcome him home. Dad is ready to go. I need to take a deep breath and remind myself of that.

1 comment:

  1. Carol, I think that it is awesome that you are willing to take care of your father at this point in both of your lives. Im sure he appreciates things, and though it will be hard at times, Im sure that he will do much better at your home as opposed to a nursing home. We had to put my wifes parents in the nursing home due to their health. Her mom was on hospice care the last 6 months of her life. It was great. They would come in and read to her, and sing hymns with her, and when the time came, they were there to give her comfort.

    May the JOY of the Lord be with you thru this new journey.