Wednesday, April 13, 2011

emotionally beat...

What a crazy week it has been.  This week, I was the only kid in my family that was still in town.  My sisters live on the east coast, my brother Ray moved to California, my brother Marty and his family were in Florida on vacation and my husband was in Germany for work.

My mother called me at work on Thursday morning to tell me that my dad was not responding to the aide (Donna) when she tried to wake him up.

Once in a while they'd be able to get some words from him but they were repeated and were eerie to those who had to listen.  He would say "I don't know what happened" or "why am I hurting?".

He was taken to the hospital by the EMS where I was there to check him in.  We were in the ER hallway for a couple of hours with many hospital personnel asking the same questions "What brings him in today".  I think I answered this question to 5-10 different people...I wish they'd all have a meeting because my story seemed to be changing with each visit.

Emotional time when he would "wake up" and moan "ow, ow, ow, ow, ow"....and couldn't explain where he was hurting.  If he hurts, he never lets us know about it.

I was with him from 10:30 that morning until 7:30 that evening with little change.  I reported on Facebook that he was 20% of himself when I left.

He spent the next several days in the hospital.  My sisters came in to town to be there for my mom.  Our one sister is a little, I don't know, hypochondriac-like, by that I mean that she thinks about ALL the possibilities and asks a TON of questions.  This is OK, but makes our mom nervous.  But, if it wasn't for her, we would not have known until much later that it was not a stoke...it was not an infection (as previously told)...but it was severe dehydration that brought him to the hospital.

It seems kind of a weird thing, since it's not like he doesn't get fluids, but I guess the wrong kinds; coffee, wine, beer, juice.  It also seems weird that the reaction to dehydration was so extreme; being unconscious at times and then being delirious (signs of dementia), so weak too.

He came home on Monday night.  He's not fully recovered but nothing more could be done at the hospital and home is a better place for him.  By not fully recovered I mean that he's delusional - seeing people that aren't there, thinking he can walk (he has been unable to walk for 15+ years).  It's just really sad.  I'm sad.  I don't like this - he was painting everyday and now he's mad because the aides won't put him in a "regular" chair so he gets angry and tells them to put him back in bed.  He hates bed...but he also can't physically sit in a regular chair.

Anyway, I wanted to share a little something that my sister wrote today about my dad:

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING PLEASANT....a lesson from my dad.

My dad suffered an "episode" this past weekend on his long journey with Multiple Sclerosis.

It appears that dehydration caused him to pass out for short periods of time and when speech returned, he only babbled the same word over and over again. It was as if he had suffered a stroke.

In the hospital, after several hours of IV feedings, he started to revive, though over the few days of his stay, he continued to have moments of delusions.

Many of his delusions had strings connecting back to a truth or an event.

I'd like to share one that was rather poignant.

Before sharing my story, it has to be pointed out that my dad rarely complains.  We're all pretty sure that he is in physical pain on a daily basis. He was once a downhill skier, a mountain climber, a paratrooper, a water skier, a baseball player.  Now he is mechanically hoisted from his bed, moved to his wheel chair, and well taken care of by a few angels, my mother included. He still paints every day.  I can only imagine that his pain includes a certain amount of emotional pain over the other things he's lost along the way.


But you wouldn't know it - for he truly believes he is living a good life...and in some instances...a great life! When asked how he's doing, his favorite response is, "Fantastic, never been better!" (without a hint of sarcasm).

Yesterday, while he and I were chatting in the hospital, he mentioned that he "wanted to go up the street to St. John's (hospital) and visit Uncle Harry". Now, Uncle Harry passed away several years ago, but I was quickly learning that it's better to go along with dad's visions, so I added, "Oh, Uncle Harry was such a nice guy."

My dad responded, "Yes, Uncle Harry is a great guy, a very pleasant fella, good at making conversation and a great listener." "He's one of the most pleasant guys I know. And it just shows you how very important it is to be pleasant in this life. What goes around, comes around."

Aha! A family treasure, uncovered! A secret revealed!

We've often wondered where my dad gets his pleasant demeanor from. And in fact, after seeing both him and his brother, my Uncle Chuck together in the hospital (who suffered a stroke in his 50s, and is somewhat hindered on one side of his body, and can't really form words now)...the two of them are THE most pleasant men I know. (married to two of the strongest women I know!)

I was so touched by my dad's recollection of his Uncle...and moved to realize he was still trying to teach me something he valued....and what a lesson it is.

Grace in the midst of severe hardship...
And the importance of being pleasant.

8 comments:

jen @ homeinthecountry said...

So sorry to hear about your dad. He sounds like a wonderful man! Hoping for a smooth recovery for him!

Jabbles said...

Sorry to hear about your dad. Glad it wasn't anything to severe. Hope he gets back to painting soon.

I do have a funny story though. I was golfing with my mother and her friend one time. It was quite a hot day. At one point my mother's friend hits a ball into a water hazard. My mother and I start to walk towards our balls. I look back to her friend and I see her with her pants rolled up, in the lake looking for her ball. The problem was well she was doing no such thing. We quickly, (well mom not me so much) realized I needed water right away. I may have lost an IQ point or two that day but it ended well.

dynochick (Jan) said...

Damn it...you made me cry and I don't cry very often.

Getting old is something that scares me because I know for sure I won't be pleasant.

Your father has done a fabulous job of taking what life has given him and making more out of it than I know I could.

His paintings brings joy to both himself and many others.

My father got dehydrated the last time he was sick and he too, ended up in the hospital. We now make sure we have some children drink on hand for the balanced electrolytes. I think it is called Pediacare or Pediacure. My dad likes the grape flavored.

He's hoping your dad's recovery is swift and complete and he is back to painting in a couple of weeks.

baby sister said...

I'm sorry for making you cry (or I'm sorry my sister made you cry).

Yes, we bought a bunch of Pedialite Popsicles...he prefers them to the drink (I don't know why, I'd like the drink myself), but whatever gets him some fluids is what's important.

Did your dad have delusions too?

Right now he's doing much better, but he is not liking his wheelchair seat - he finds it uncomfortable, so he spends more time in bed than he'd like. My mom will figure it out.

dynochick (Jan) said...

Our biggest problems is that he doesn't want to eat because he isn't hungry. This causes my mother to go off the deep end because she is obsessive compulsive and a control freak. He in turn gets stubborn because she is nagging him and it just becomes a vicious cycle.

I didn't know you could get them in a popsicle. That might be something he would like especially in the summer.

Getting old sucks.

Deni said...

My father has a beautiful attitude about his situation. He told me that life is what you make it and it's all about your attitude.

baby sister said...

He's never the problem.

josie said...

Was browsing to see how things were going on the EU trip and kindof kept reading and found this great blog re dad's hosp stay in Apr. Don't know how I missed it--alls I remember seeing on facebook the 2 brothers holding hands. Guess it's good you do all the blogging, cause it sure can bring rememberances of the not so distant past. When I read your help that 'D' for dehydrating day and Terry's later note on being pleasant--now old toughie did shed a teardrop. And I have copied your day and Terry's note for a show and tell at my next MS meet. Thanks so much.