A hard, sad week

It’s Thursday, Jan. 26, my brother’s birthday, so happy birthday, R.
I’m writing this from my mom’s hospital room. I’m in disbelief at how fast she has deteriorated in just a couple of days since Friday when she was admitted to the hospital because of dehydration and a low-grade fever.
Here’s the timeline of events:
Sat., Jan. 14 – We drove into Dallas to see J & R’s new apartment and to see the newly engaged D and S. Mom did well with the walker albeit walking slower than usual. She still kind of had an intermittent glassy, far away look, something I noticed a little last week. She did fine with our visit though.
Sun., Jan. 15 – Stopped by mom’s apartment after lunch; she was sleeping. She slept the entire 3 1/2 hours I was there. BP has been low.
Mon., Jan. 16 – Now have fairly regular aide, TJ. Seemed like mom was sundowning a little tonight.
Tues., Jan. 17 – Appointment with Dr. K. Everything sounded good. After looking over meds, saw that her normal dose of 2.5 mg of Norvasc was increased to 10 mg during her last hospital stay in December and never reduced back, which could have contributed to her lethargy and zero energy. Mom was ambulatory, using her walker.  Mini mental status test however, showed a 13 point drop in 13 months. In 2010, she scored 19. Today, 6.
Wed., Jan. 18 – I stopped by during breakfast. She was sitting at her table in the dining room eating. Her face lit up when I walked in. Had difficulty talking. We visited for a little while, then I left for work.
Thurs., Jan. 19 – Spoke with Dr K re current issues – speech, lethargy, etc. Dr. K suspicious mom has had some TIAs. I stopped by on my way home from work. She was sitting in a wheelchair in her room in front of the TV with her companion. Mom really wasn’t watching, and looked like she dozed off a little. Companion told me she refused to get ready for bed. At that, the companion and I assisted mom to get into her pjs and wash up.
Fri., Jan. 20 – Because I was concerned about her Thursday night I stopped by Friday morning on my way into work. The wonderful companion, TJ, who Dr. K had independently recommended was with her. She was dressed but laying on her bed with no energy. TJ and an aide helped mom into the wheelchair and took her to her small glass table for breakfast. Her appetite has dwindled. I’m pretty convinced mom might have has some TIAs. Faraway distant look in eye but understands and knows who I am. She was able to squeeze my hands when I asked her. Mom unable to walk well or dress herself. Increasing care to 12-hr shifts. Working from mom’s apartment all next week. Her BP this morning was excellent – 140/70. Got call from home health nurse at 3:30 that mom was very dehydrated and running a low-grade fever 100.9. Dr. K ordered blood work but couldnt do because of dehydration. Had ambulance take mom to hospital where I met her in the ER. BFF C. met me there, too. Husband J. also came by. I have the best, supportive friends.
Sat., Jan. 21 – My brother flew in and L. picked him up at the airport. C. spent most of the day with us at the hospital. Mom slept on and off. Seemed she would stay alert between 5 minutes and if lucky, 10. All of her labs came back fine, so we were in a quandry about how/why she got like this. Dr. B. basically said it has a lot to do with the debility of old age coupled with her advancing dementia. Mom was able to engage in short conversations and later that evening we skyped with D. in Houston via iPad. Gotta love technology. I also did some wedding planning and got confirmation for the band we wanted.  C. spent most of the day with us and brought us a bunch of healthier goodies to eat. She understands what I’m going through having lost her mother about 14 years ago to lung cancer.
Sun., Jan. 22 – I was back at the hospital by 8 a.m. and mom was up. Her eyes were open and continued to be able eat her meals OK. A neurologist came in and we decided to proceed with an EEG. My brother and I stayed ’til about 7 and then went out to dinner.
Mon., Jan. 23 – My brother R. and I returned to the hospital and remained there during the day. R returned to NY tonight. Today mom was sleeping a lot more with few periods of alertness. Mom was moved to another floor she was no longer considered a cardiac risk. I’m grateful to be able to work remotely from the hospital this week.
Tues, Jan. 24 – Mom is sleeping much more and awake less and less as well as eating and drinking less and less. I met with various people from hospice as we decided to supplement her at-home care when she’s discharged with hospice care. However, with less and less awareness of her surroundings, when she’s discharged, probably on Friday, she will go directly to a hospice facility nearby. Mom had an EEG yesterday. The doctor is putting her on Keppra IV for the seizures that were indicated.
Wed., Jan. 25 – I freaked when I walked into mom’s room. She wouldn’t respond to me, wouldn’t open her eyes and the floodgates opened. It’s been one big sob fest. Turns out the Keppra simply zonked her out. She really ate or drank nothing today. R. and D. talked to her on the phone and she  responded. She was even able to have a short conversation with D., said her name and “I love you, too!”
M. came up in the afternoon and BFF L. brought dinner and stayed with me for 2 hours until we both left at 8 p.m. Having tragically, suddenly and unexpectedly losing her own mother last March when she suffered a stroke at her son’s wedding, she knows and understands what I’m going through as well as the wonderful benefits of hospice. Later this afternoon, mom was discharged and transported to hospice. Huge kudos to the hospital staff caring for mom…and me.
This has been the most emotional journey I’ve undertaken and grateful for the wonderful friends and family I have.
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2 thoughts on “A hard, sad week

  1. What a harrowing few weeks you have had! And what a wonderful caregiver you are – especially with everything else that’s going on in your life.
    I know a little bit about it – my wife suffered a massive stroke in 2009 at age 48 while we were in London (we live in New York). The two years since then have been filled with highs and lows, but above all with love and plenty of it. It’s still really hard – both mentally and physically – but with the support of friends and family we muddle through.
    Feel free to visit me at http://www.getbettermaryelizabeth.wordpress.com or http://www.the liftedveil.com.
    Good luck with everything.

    • Scott, thank yoou so much for your
      kind and comforting words. I’m so sorry to hear of
      your situation. If I’ve learned
      one thing as a caregiver, particularly
      at this stage of my mom’s life, it’s the
      fiercely intense love we have for our
      loved ones that helps pull us through. Without
      question it is tough and emotionally exhausting.
      But it looks like we both have a wonderful support system of family and friends to help us through this.
      Best of luck to you. Your wife is lucky to have you.
      I look forward to reading your blog. Godspeed.

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