Tag Archives: Caregiving

CAN I DO THIS?

I started to notice small differences in my Dad after his car accident.

He was taking a lot of medication he should not have been taking. His Doctor never explained the medication to him. You give a strong opioid to someone who never used to take so much as an aspirin.

He struck a guardrail, his front tire became stuck up on the rail and he took out 350 feet of rail. His brand new truck was destroyed, both airbags deployed, the State and Town Police came to the scene. He refused to get in the ambulance or go to the hospital.

I handled the insurance company (not easy), the State and the Town. My Dad winced every time he moved the wrong way. We argued about him seeing his Doctor and he still refused. It took several weeks to settle everything and we discussed that he should get a used truck and not a new one. He agreed.

Next thing I know he’s bought a brand new Nissan Rogue. He had it 2 days when I noticed a big dent in the back.

I told my twin sister all of this because I knew something wasn’t right. My Dad is extremely frugal. He doesn’t like to owe money and after everything was paid he wasn’t getting much from the insurance company.

My Dad also began having problems talking. He kept running out of breath. I told him the day after the accident that he could possibly get fluid in his lung from the rib I could see sticking out. He still refused to see anyone. I called his dialysis place and let them know what was going on.

We were trying to get him help with his bladder that had been ongoing for years. He was at the point where he was screaming into a towel each time he urinated.

We finally got him in to see a Urologist. My Dad insisted on going alone. They inserted a catheter for a few days so he could go back and have tests done. He was in so much pain all he could do was sit there and grit his teeth. He thought the nurse cut him while inserting the catheter.

Three days later he goes to dialysis thene24a0470e843063ac24ede8055779515 back to the Urologist for tests. When I got home he was in his chair unresponsive. I couldn’t wake him right away. When I did wake him he was confused.

He could only give me his first name, he didn’t know the day of the week, and he said the year was 2008 (this is the year my Mom passed away). I called my sister and even though he was mad I called 911.

I should also say during this entire time his weight was steadily going down which I complained to everyone about for months.

When the EMTs came they tried to ask him similar questions that he couldn’t answer. He had a fever and his vitals were all over the place. One of them said “Sepsis”.

He had been to 2 different places with plenty of doctors and nurses who had to have noticed that he was walking like he was drunk, was incoherent, confused, had a temperature, any of the above! He was driving like this!

He spent a month in the Hospital. He had a UTI, Pneumonia, a Pleural Effusion, Sepsis and weighed 127 pounds.

He spent 20 days in a Skilled Nursing Facility for Rehabilitation. He was too weak for any rehab. When my sister and I brought him home we had to half carry him in.

Most people don’t know that a UTI and Sepsis can cause a form of Dementia, there is also a type of Dementia that people on Dialysis are prone to.

I’m with my Dad 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. He didn’t want this for me but right now he’s scared. We talked about this. He didn’t want me to take care of and watch another parent die. We didn’t talk about any of this with my twin sister or anyone else.

My Dad didn’t do any paperwork. No Will, Durable Power of Attorney, nothing. He didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or cause arguments so he kept putting it off. I kept telling him I didn’t want anything that he needed to just do it. Then my brother would do something stupid and my Dad would be back at square one.

My twin said she would be with me all the way and help as much as she could.

She did for the first two weeks. Now she comes twice a week and stays 2 hours. She does do our laundry because of course we can’t go in our basement right now (don’t ask). She also insists on cooking which is tricky with my Dad. He’s become picky in the last few years.

I don’t know how he went from a vibrant 75 year old who did everything to a stooped over frail old man in diapers. One who wakes up every hour on the hour to get ready for dialysis because he can no longer tell what time it is or what day it is.

I had to explain time to a man who fixed and collected antique clocks.

There are days I want to leave and never come back.

There are days I’m so afraid I can’t swallow because of the lump in my throat.

There are days I don’t want to do this anymore.

There are days I’m so tired I can’t sleep.

And there are days I’m angry, sad, and feel alone.

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TAKING CARE OF DAD~ MORE ON THE ELDERLY AND ADDICTION

There are some people who abuse alcohol or drugs their entire lives and live to be 80 years old with no problem. On the flip side of this you have people who later in life, form addictions due to an “event” or “trigger”.

Retirement, death of a spouse or loved one, loss of income, or a decline in physical health can all be triggers for addiction in older people. Depression is one of the biggest problems.

You wake up one day unable to do the things you once loved, worried about finances, still grieving the loss of your wife/husband who was also your best friend, your children have their own lives now and you find you have fewer people to talk to. All of these things can lead to depression.

I’ll discuss more about depression at a later date.

A person’s age and gender contributes greatly to how open and honest they will be when answering a doctor’s questions but doctors play a role too. Too often an older adult’s concerns are dismissed as “old age” and prescription medications are used to solve the problem.

The #1 drug prescribed to people over the age of 65 and on Medicare are Benzodiazepines. They are used to treat anxiety, pain, and insomnia. They are also one of the most dangerous medications prescribed to seniors.

According to the American Geriatric Society benzodiazepines pose an increased risk for impaired alertness, respiratory depression and falls.

All benzodiazepines slow down the Central Nervous System. When used for insomnia it’s only effective for a few weeks. When combined with another benzodiazepine you can lose consciousness and stop breathing.

There are symptoms people experience when combining benzodiazepines that you need to contact your doctor if you exhibit:

  1. Continuing slurred speech or confusion.
  2. Severe drowsiness or weakness.
  3. Staggering.

There is a big issue with over-prescribing or “polypharmacy” which means having more prescribed medications on a daily or weekly basis than is healthy for one person to have. It becomes dangerous due to different drug interactions and side effects.

A person with a chronic or serious illness can find it challenging to keep up with a complicated medication schedule. Taking multiple meds at one time can cause some medications to neutralize each other so they end up taking more believing they either didn’t take it or it’s not working.

My Dad didn’t understand why he was still feeling so anxious specifically at the end of his dialysis treatments. He wouldn’t understand unless he had a degree in Pharmacodynamics or was a doctor (most doctors still don’t understand how to adjust medications for patients on dialysis). The pain medication he was on for his compressed nerve was making him anxious as it was being dialyzed. The anxiety medication he normally takes is at a very low dose. He didn’t think twice about doubling the anxiety medication. He would be unsteady on his feet when leaving the Dialysis Center and no one said a word.

Some people go to more than one doctor who may prescribe a medication without knowing what the patient is already taking. Patients don’t always remember all of their medications and don’t make a list like they are asked to.

I usually go with my Dad to any new appointments to fill out the paperwork and list all of his medications. His Nephrologist doesn’t see him in his office he visits him during his dialysis treatment. This means I can’t be there. I’m not there to fill out any new paperwork or to let them know about any new medications. My Dad isn’t going to tell them. My Dad will say everything is “Fine” when the doctor comes around.

Primary Care Physicians should be going over a patient’s list of medications on a regular basis and making adjustments. I know my Dad’s does not. If he did he wouldn’t have prescribed 2 benzodiazepines with an opioid. My Dad shouldn’t still be on Klonopin and they should be looking at Chronic Pain Management instead of him taking Hydrocodone that isn’t even working. I made him stop taking the Restoril. I personally wanted to go to his doctor’s office and tear him a new one for even prescribing it to a 75 year old man. It’s a dangerous medication for anyone to take long term but even more so for people over 65.

None of this matters when you are dealing with someone so full of pride and stubbornness that he won’t admit just how sick he is.


Crazy From The Heat (Not Really)

In four days I leave for Florida. I bought a one-way ticket and rented a beach house for two weeks. Can I afford this? No. I put it on a credit card and hopefully I can pay it back. I needed some time away. Most people think that because I’m on Disability my life is filled with TV and eating Bon Bons on the couch. It’s far from it.

Everyday I am in physical and emotional pain. Everyday I wake up with a lump in my throat, a stiff neck, lower back screaming, hips popping, and a wave of dizziness that let’s me know I’m still here. Lucky me. If it’s a Monday I look forward to my dad coming home from Dialysis. I watch the clock. If it’s past 10:30 I know it’s going to be bad. This means that the staff has infiltrated his fistula again and can’t stop his bleeding. They have to leave him “clamped” longer until the bleeding stops. They blame him and make him feel like a scolded school boy. They have even gone as far as putting him at a station without a TV for a week and that was built for a Right Handed Patient, this means the tubes and wires have to across my dad’s stomach and chest making it hard to relax for four hours.

My sister said today that he needs to speak up for himself. She was pissed at me because I hung up on her. I hung up on her because she wasn’t paying attention to anything I was saying. I couldn’t reach her all day yesterday. She had just come back from another week long vacation where there was supposedly no cell phone reception. This was her seventh or eighth this summer. I’m afraid to leave now because she won’t even answer the phone when she’s 10 minutes away. What if something happens to my Dad while I’m gone and she doesn’t answer the phone? Why can’t she understand that I am sick too?

Lately my stuttering is so bad it scares me. I find myself on the floor in the bathroom rocking back and forth, stuttering to myself. When I stutter it’s to a point where it sounds like a deaf person trying to speak for the first time. I mean no disrespect, I mean my voice has the same pitch and tone. The Doctors found it odd themselves, it was unusual for someone with a stutter to have a change in their pitch and tone. It was a key factor in the diagnosis of the type of Conversion Disorder I have. It’s why it sounds so disturbing to the people who know me. I don’t find it funny and I will never understand why or how anyone could laugh or mimic someone like me. I do think it’s unacceptable the same way my dad’s Dialysis care is.

I find my fuse is short lately. I also find myself not really caring. I have had episodes where I have let things that bother me simmer for so long that one day I see red and hear a rushing sound in my ears. If I continue to swallow it down it’s going to kill me. I’m worried my dad is going to hurt himself when I’m away. He’s been extremely depressed. It’s been 90 degrees here and he’s working under his truck for 8 straight hours without stopping. He does these things just to see if he still can. He’ll lift a 100 pound bag of grain just to see if he can. He just had his Aortic Aneurysm repaired and he isn’t supposed to lift anything heavy with the arm that has the fistula! I can’t take it some days.

I also wish my twin sister would love and understand me someday. I wish she would stop with the guilt and shame. I wish she understood that I didn’t take attention away from her consciously. I don’t remember most of it because of alcohol or I just don’t remember it. I know, thanks to my one friend, that I’m not that crazy. She has one of the best memories and wonders what the hell my sister’s problem is. My best friend remembers the bullying and teasing I went through. That’s putting it nicely. While that was happening my sister had a large amount of friends and wasn’t bullied or teased. She never intervened on my behalf. When I became a Senior in High School and started drinking I turned a little mean and they left me alone. The kids in my school knew who I hung out with outside of school at that time and were afraid of them. For once I caught a break until I realized I was tossed into a much worse place. A place of worse degradation, brutality, and suffering.


Feeling Alone and Knowing It

I understand that unless you are Bipolar or have a Mental Illness you will never be able to truly comprehend what some of us go through. Something that others would “get over” in time, takes me years or sometimes never to “get over”. I am told almost daily to “stop living in the past”.

Let me ask this. Would you want someone to whip you everyday then pour salt in your wounds? Would you want your head to feel like it’s going to explode with the pressure? Your heart with the pain? I don’t think so. Neither do I. But it’s what it feels like. Often. I can’t pray it away, wish it away, chant it away, think of a stop sign, snap a rubber band, or use any behavioral management. If it’s going to come I can’t stop it. I can only wait it out and hope it leaves me whole and not in pieces.

There was an incident recently where someone said something to me about how I need to get used to being alone. They said my father’s health is failing and once he passes I’ll be alone. It isn’t like I have children like my sister does. Well, thanks for that pep talk! Assholes, everybody has one. I would’ve loved to have children if I hadn’t spent most of my child baring years drunk. I refused to bring a child into this world that I couldn’t afford, to be raised in dysfunction. When I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder I made the decision not to have children because of my family history. I was kind of on the fence. If I had met a man who was kind and stable who knows? Then due to kidney disease and other health issues the choice was taken from me. I went into Menopause at 39/40 years of age. So that was that.

I always thought my twin sister would be there for me. I should have known better. Even when we were younger she didn’t want us to have the same friends. I was not allowed to be at the same parties she was in high school. It got a little better when we got older but we never were as close as I wanted us to be. She thinks we are too close if we talk more than 3 times a week. My mother and her sister talked sometimes 3 times a day! And would see each other almost every other day! They talked and laughed. How I miss hearing them laugh. I miss a lot of things.

Good news is my dad is feeling a little better. He sold all of his chickens and a few pigeons. That’s progress. His mood has improved a little bit but it comes and goes. I still get the brunt of it as usual.

 


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