Thursday, February 17, 2011

Update on Dad (and my "special" test)
I went to visit Dad on Tuesday afternoon. His friends Tom and Megan went to visit and he said they spent about two hours with him.  They live conveniently across the street from the hospice.

The hospice is trying to work out a schedule for his care so I came up with a tentative schedule that I discussed with them first before I talked to him about it. I wanted to make sure that the times I had on the daily schedule would work for them and for him . They said that the schedule I prepared would work well for them but the only thing they were concerned about was that he was very adamant and reiterated on a number of occasions that he needed help eating and he could not do it on his own.

There are a few reasons why I think he is saying this. I was sure that he was quite capable of eating on his own as witnessed by me and the rest of the family at dinner on Sunday with him. I thought he was using that as an excuse to have someone stay with him in the room because his meals were taking almost an hour to eat which is not normally the case. They said that he likes to visit with whomever is feeding him so he extends the meal time long past what is necessary to eat.

Another reason for insisting that he needs help is that he does not want to go to the dining room and eat even when the nurses encourage him to do so which makes eating in his room a lonely task. He also refused to eat with the other residents and refused to go out into the common areas by himself. So he is isolating himself in his room which makes the situation worse. I then had the task of talking to him about his behaviour (the nurses are not quite sure how to handle him yet) so I had another 90 minute conversation with him where I called him on his seeming inability to eat on his own. He insisted that he could not feed himself. I told him that if he is capable of shaving himself every morning with a razor (which requires more skill than putting some food in his mouth) he can eat on his own. He kept insisting that he could not do it and when he tried the food fell on the floor or he had difficulty finding his mouth. He kept repeating that so I had to up the ante. This is like a crazy chess game!!

After telling him that I saw him eating dessert on his own on Sunday (with a fork no less!) and that he had no difficulty finding his mouth or making to food fall on the floor, he told me to “Go and shout it on the roof top.” That’s when he knew he was busted! Is this a game or something – he makes a move and before he does that, I have to anticipate what his next move is going to be and block him? I told him that I had no patience for his sarcasm and he ought to know that I know every one of his tricks and I was sure this was one and he was using it to make sure that some staff member will stay with him all day. His next request? “Okay let me go home and I’ll be able to manage by myself.” I told him that he overplayed his hand when he pretended that he could not feed himself because it tells everyone that he really is not capable of taking care of himself and most definitely not at home.

He then started with the tears and the trembly voice about how lonely he is and how he is surrounded by four walls all day and he just waits for someone to visit. I also know that’s a trick to make me feel guilty that has worked many times in the past but it wasn’t working on Tuesday. He stopped as quickly as he started when I said that the “pity party” will have to other attendees but him and if he continues with that, I would leave and return when he was in a better frame of mind and not trying to make the whole family feel guilty. I told him that I would rather that he was not in the hospice and frankly, I would rather he didn’t have to deal with cancer but he does and we are doing the best we can do to make the time he has left a good experience. He wanted to know why God doesn’t take him now and my response was that God will take him when it’s his time and in the meantime, he has to stop acting like he is already dead.

As if on cue, the Health Care Aide came in with his dinner tray and asked him if he wanted to eat in his room or go to the dining room. Imagine my surprise when he said that he would go to the dining room!! He started eating his dinner and when he saw me looking at him his hand started to tremble so much that I thought the spoon would turn upside down. It took an almighty will not to take the spoon from him and start feeding him but I didn’t and low and behold, he ate the whole plate of food by himself and started on dessert when I left.

By the time I had been home for a couple of hours, I was mentally exhausted. I really do know every trick in his book but I also know his moods and his needs. I know that when he is really sick, he does not complain – not at all. It’s only when he is feeling okay that he tries these stupid tricks. That’s why I have to pay attention to the smallest changes in his routine, meals, meds and just about everything else. I feel bad for telling him that he cannot come home but I know we are not capable of meeting his needs and the reality is that I feel like in order to accommodate him wanting to come home, I am killing my mother with the stress of the situation. Is that the proverbial “rock and hard place?”

On a much brighter note, I had a colonoscopy yesterday (yes there is a bright note about that) and everything was fine. I requested it from my GP as a preventative - not because anything was wrong but more to make sure that I am managing my health. For anyone who has had one of these, the worst part is the preparation. I had to fast for 33 hours in total (except for clear fluids). I like my food too much so I won’t be going on a hunger strike any time soon. Of course when the nurse tried to give me the needle for the IV, she could not find a vein on the back of my right hand and the thing you don’t want a nurse to say while she is shoving a needle in your hand and wiggling it around is “oh heck, it blew up!” She tried and was successful on the left wrist but that was painful on the right hand. I was wheeled into the operating room and the nurse said that she would give me a sedative which would keep me awake but relaxed for the procedure and I could see what they were doing on the monitor. I told her that my body has no tolerance for sedatives and anaesthetics and by the time I was done, I was out like a light and waking up about 90 minutes later. When I got home, I had something to eat and spend the rest of the night sleeping. This morning I am finding my tongue and feeling a bit more like myself with a very sore right hand.

Mom and Sophie went to visit Dad yesterday and they said that he was up and dressed and was in a pretty good mood.  He even ate by himself. Ernie the volunteer who plays a guitar for the residents, is going to have to learn "Hey Dood" (get it? ) so he can play that for Dad.  He played some Elvis (Love me Tender) and one other of Dad's favourite songs.  I called this morning at the hospice and his nurse said that he was up and about in the sunroom and visiting the nurses at their station.  She said that she was pleasantly surpirsed that he had progressed to being able to eat by himself.  What a difference a day makes!  That's the father I know who was hiding in that sulky attitute for the last week.  Pretty soon, he'll vacuuming the floors and setting the dining room table (I hope).

This was long update but like I said, I will only post something when I have something to say - like talking about a colonoscopy! If you are over 50 and have not yet had one, please ask your doctor to schedule one. A very good friend of mine passed away in December from colon cancer which he did not know he had. Maybe a colonoscopy earlier may have saved his life.

Take care all.
Have a good weekend.

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