Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Intangible Gifts

Ending my fourth year of blogging here with my 500th post, how fitting I'm writing this then at the turn of the New Year.

I seemed to sense early on that this blog would end up being about caregiving. Being a caregiver has consumed my life for over sixteen years now. My husband contributes greatly though to its success and I always give him credit for providing me such interesting content to write about.

To prove that our life may be hopefully more stable this coming year, Dean surprised me by folding the towels from the dryer this morning without even being asked. As he put the last one away in the closet (leaving me with the washcloths to do), he came to announce at the door of my computer room that he would like to list all the ways he helps me around the house. Here's all I do, he said, (as I mentally prepared to discount all his assertions):

  1. not much
  2. very little, and
  3. almost nothing
Well, he got no argument out of me with that one! Perhaps even his mental confusion is finally making a turn for the better.

This must mean that I do:
  1. very much,
  2. a whole lot, and
  3. everything
That does seem to sum up our roles around here. At least as far as the household affairs. But there are other areas that my husband shines.

He provides me with:
  • laughter
  • love, and
  • a purpose for living
 What would I do without him?

Maybe God isn't helping me with all the material things of the world these days either, but He's always there supplying me with intangible rewards that I wouldn't want to do without. (...another lesson of faith in the life of a caregiver)

Sunday, December 13, 2015

God Knows!

We were just getting settled into our old routines last month after Dean's return from rehab with his broken ankle and our lovely Thanksgiving with family, when things started going downhill for his health.

Several symptoms pointed to a drug interaction, similar to the ones he had last spring--slurred speech, sleeping more, just overall not-himself. We had just started him on a new blood pressure medicine after a doctor visit on Monday, but by Friday our home health nurse agreed that it might be time for an emergency room visit on the weekend sometime, due to his feet swelling and low pulse readings he was also experiencing. We honestly couldn't figure out what was going on.

I waited till Saturday morning, not wanting him to finish his birthday Friday with a trip to the hospital. By that morning he was doing so poorly that I feared even being able to get him safely to the hospital by myself (didn't want another fall on my watch). So I called an ambulance.

With a very low pulse and temperature reading, the hospital staff immediately suspected a sepsis situation and put him on antibiotics with an IV and spent all day running test after test to determine what could possibly be accounting for his condition.

By the end of the day they had him in ICU and still didn't have any clear diagnosis for us on Sunday, besides a possible blood-born infection called sepsis. Knowing it would help to know what kind of infection they might be battling, I finally came up with the idea that it might be related to his dental appointment earlier that month.

At that time, the dentists said his teeth, what few he had left, really needed attention. They pulled one that day and we were told to come back in December for more extractions. They didn't have time for more treatment that day, since we were being seen as an emergency visit.

When I mentioned this possible source of infection to the nurses on Monday, the doctors acted quickly by ordering a mouth/head scan that day. Sure enough, he had two rather large abscesses, no doubt causing most of the problem. The hospital dentist pulled the teeth that night, under light sedation. And he was able to transfer to oral antibiotics the next day.

The drug interaction may have contributed to his condition too, however. After stopping that medicine, he was able to keep his blood pressures normal with just one medicine, instead of two. Fortunately, that has continued since he's been home. Hopefully, we won't have to worry again about what blood pressure medicine to try next.

By Thursday, he was able to leave the hospital, but they were hesitant about sending him home, since he seemed so unsteady on his feet. They thought physical therapy in a rehab facility would allow him to gain more strength and walk better.

I assured them, however, after being with him all day and seeing him walk all around the unit, that he was about as good as it gets, even considering his dementia behaviors. I convinced them that with the home health agency sending therapists over after his broken ankle episode, our house is more fall-proof than it's ever been.

I just knew Dean would progress more quickly at home than he would in a facility, and they finally agreed that he could be sent home safely, with home health nurses and therapists to monitor the situation.

Our most immediate challenge now is to get his lungs healthier if we can. He seems to need oxygen during the day and night now. I am really nervous about this, mostly for the increased chance of him tripping over his tubing, but so far he's stayed upright and hasn't landed on the floor.

As his family caregiver, my knowledge of Dean aided the professionals in his treatment. I'm so thankful that God knows about all of us too. We can trust our care to Him. He knows what to do to get us to our Heavenly home, a place where there's no sickness, and we won't ever fall into sin again. I can't wait to breathe that Heavenly air. It will be my first DEEP breath...well, ever. (Those who know my shortness of breath can appreciate this!)

Still in ICU
Dean finally got to celebrate his 70th birthday at church after his unexpected hospital stay!