Monday, September 26, 2011

An Earthquake? Here?

Yes, late Saturday night, there was a 2.5 earthquake centered less than four miles from us. That is the fifth earthquake in the DFW area this year. I knew there was a fault line running through the area, but until this year, I've never heard of earthquakes in our area.

With all the stuff going on this week, I forgot to announce that we got 1.25 inches of rain on the 18th of this month. It was wonderful. It poured on us in Tulsa too, while we were trying to drive through town, pulling a U-Haul, with headlights that were so oxidized that we could barely see the rain much less the stripes on the road. Hubby announced that he was springing for new headlight assemblies when we got home, and he did. They are wonderful. I might even drive the beastmobile at night again. If I have to.

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Life At The Nursing Home

My father-in-law, Pawpaw to his grandchildren, is doing much better at the nursing home. Now that the methadone is out of his system, he has many more lucid moments which sometimes stretch into hours. The first few days at the nursing home, he was in a continual hallucination or daydream where he thought he was building a house with his friend Dossie. He was having a terrible time getting a wall up and wanted us to help him lift that wall for several days. Eventually, he knew he was at the nursing home, and that "his helpers" were nurses and aids.

He had some stubborn moments with them when he refused to get dressed, or undressed, when asked because he didn't want to be told what to do. Today, he confided to Hubby that little boys were stealing his hearing aids, and sometimes they came in and took them right out of his ears while he was sleeping. Then he said that the little boys came in the next morning and tried to get money for the hearing aids but he wouldn't give them any. He was quite proud of getting his hearing aids back without succumbing to their extortion.

For awhile, he thought physical therapy was where he went to school, but now it's his job. Which it is, in a way. He was glad to have a break from it today, and admitted that he often loses track of days. He was having an especially lucid day today and had a frank conversation with Hubby saying he can't follow a baseball game anymore or most things on tv. He tires quickly but today they played dominoes for an hour before he began getting tired.

Hubby wanted to check Pawpaw's supply of ice cream bars in the community refrigerator/freezer and found another man in the room, making a sandwich. The man struck up a conversation and asked if Hubby's father was there. When Hubby answered yes, the man asked if Pawpaw had gone fishing with them. Hubby smiled patiently and assumed the man wasn't quite there. But then the man went on to say that the director of recreation scheduled several fishing trips every year and the next one is Friday. So it wasn't an imaginary trip after all.

Pawpaw is doing much better with physical therapy and the therapist told mother-in-law (Deedee to her grandchildren) that he should be able to get out of bed and dress himself by the time he leaves there. So they are expecting him to move back home or into an assisted living center. Deedee is in a tizzy about that. She doesn't think she can handle him by herself, but she doesn't want to be the one to make the decision for him to stay at the nursing home. She hasn't wanted to make any decisions since he first had the stroke, so that's no big surprise, but it's my opinion that she wants to be able to put the blame on someone else when Pawpaw hears that he is staying at the nursing home or going to an assisted living center. Another option she can't seem to grasp is that they could have home health care.

In case you are wondering why I didn't go to the nursing home also, it's because the shingles is back. I felt tingling on both sides of my face Thursday; it was worse Friday, so I went back to the doctor. I started a new course of antiviral medication and once again the doctor said that we caught it early and it shouldn't progress. It hasn't gotten much worse today, but there are a couple of bumps forming and the tingling has continued on the right side (where it was before) but has stopped on my left side.

So there's your update kids. Come visit Pawpaw when you can.

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Have You Ever Wondered If Anyone Lifted Your Blog Photos?

I just learned an easy way to check and thought I'd pass it on to my blog buddies. This tip is from annkathryn, a poster at gardeweb.com.

Go to one of your blog photos, right click on it, and scroll down to the word "Properties" in the pop up box. Click on Properties to bring up the Element Properties box. Copy the address of the photo.

Now go to images.google.com and click on the camera icon in the search box. Paste the url of the photo there, and click the search button. Now you'll see websites with a copy of that photo.

Note: Sometimes there is an error message with the pasted url of the photo. If that happens, you'll have to save the image to your hard drive. Then when you click the camera ion at images.google.com, you need to then click "Upload an image" and load it from your computer.

Also, if the photo is really specific, like my painted bench, it will find the websites quickly, although it didn't find all of them that I know are saved on other sites. But if a picture is non-specific, like a sunset, or a multi-colored quilt, it will come up with many non-related items.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Area Meteorologists Rejoice as Citizens Suffer

As of today, we have broken the 1980 record for total number of days above 100 degrees. (It is now 70 days if you want to add that to your bucket list.) Area meteorologists have taken off the sackcloth and ashes and can finally quit lamenting the accursed cool front that robbed them us of the record in August. Oh happy day. Now we are the envy of the state, nay, the nation.

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Saturday, September 10, 2011

It Has Been a Tumultuous Week

On my last post, I told you that the nurse told us that Fil couldn't stay at the center if he had another combative episode, and they wanted one of the sons to stay with him every minute until the methadone wore off (48 hours). Hubby took the first shift and didn't get any sleep that night. Fil managed to get the bed alarm off and stand up before Hubby could get to him, so the rest of the night Hubby would doze off, jerk awake, make sure his dad was okay, try to stay awake, doze off, and do it all over again.

The doctor was supposed to be at the center between 8 and 9 a.m. I was going to pick up Mil so we could be there before 8:00, but a weekend of eating junk food got to me and she had to go on without me. I got there about 8:15 and the doctor still hadn't arrived. So we all sat in Fil's room and watched him sleep. The doctor finally arrived at the center at 11:00 and started his rounds. We didn't think it would take long, since he knew we were waiting on him, so we opted not to eat lunch, but to have Fil eat in the room while we waited for the doctor. And we waited. And waited. Brother Bear arrived at 11:30 for his shift with Fil, and waited with us. Finally, at 1:00, Hubby asked the nurse when the doctor would be by and she said it shouldn't be long. So we waited some more. At 2:00 there was a shift change, and at 2:30 Hubby went to a different nurse and explained that we had been waiting for the doctor since 8:00 a.m. She took action, went to the doctor and told him to interrupt his schedule and come talk to us. Bless her heart.

The doctor came in about 15 minutes later and was very nice and apologetic. Fil was awake and alert, and even knew what year it was when asked. He was able to swing his legs out and over the bed, sit up, and all without much pain. So that was the end of pain medication for Fil. He has done fine without any since then. The doctor was very optimistic about getting Fil up and around again and said they would start physical therapy the next day.

After that, Hubby and I left, and Brother Bear stretched out on the spare bed to get some rest before Mil left and his shift began. Brother Bear is a chain smoker and he was NOT looking forward to the long night without a break. Everything went fine for him until the next morning when he got Fil into the bathroom. Then, for some reason, Fil decided that the emergency alarm cord shouldn't be there, and he wrapped it around his fist and tried to pull it off the wall. Brother Bear tried to stop him by giving him a towel to pull instead, but Fil just wrapped the towel around his hand and then the cord around that, and pulled harder. A quick thinking nurse came in with a pair of scissors, snipped the cord in half and helped calm down Fil. Even though there are alarms sounding all the time, I'm sure that continuous alarm was driving them crazy. Then, Fil decided the soap dispenser shouldn't be on the wall and he tried to tear that off. Brother Bear did stop him though.

Hubby and I had talked about finding a backup nursing home in case Fil did pull something else and they kicked him out, and I said I would look Tuesday. After hearing about Fil's morning, I figured they would tell Mil that morning that she had to move him. I started calling, first local homes, and then further out, and found that NO ONE will take him if he is aggressive, even those with secure units. He would have to go to a psychiatric hospital, and I got several names from the homes I called. I found that only one psychiatric hospital would take him, and they could take him that day if needed. Mil's meeting with the admissions director was at noon, and I needed all my ducks in a row before her meeting.

Luckily, the admissions director told Mil that Fil could stay. She said the weekend nurse spoke out of turn when telling us that Fil would have to leave if he had another aggressive outburst. She said they had dealt with much worse before and they wouldn't make that kind of decision without a staff meeting. So whew! He can stay, at least for now.

Fil did really well at PT that Tuesday, then again Wednesday and Thursday. He was cooperative, fairly with it, and was making enough progress that he was walking on his own, and they quit using the adult diapers. Then Friday, Mil decided not to go to PT with him, but to stay in the room and rest. That's when things began to fall apart. He wouldn't cooperate with the therapist, wouldn't get out of the wheelchair, and finally they called Mil back there. Fil was in a mood, said he didn't see why he had to do anything, he wasn't getting better, he would never get better, and he was never going to get to leave.

So three steps forward, and one step back for Fil. It's still progress.

I haven't been back to the center since Monday. I was on the phone for Fil Tuesday morning, and on the phone trying to get a dental appointment for me Tuesday afternoon. And then I needed a break. Wednesday morning I woke up with a little pain at the top of my upper lip. I thought at first it was a little cut, but as the day progressed, it felt more like a zit that was about to break through. That afternoon, I was leaving to run some errands and the next door neighbor was standing in front of her car with the hood up. She said it wouldn't go in reverse and she was late for work. So against my better judgment, I let her drive our pickup. I dreaded telling Hubby, but he agreed it was the right thing to do in an emergency.

Wednesday night, Hubby came home from work, dropped into his chair and went right to sleep. By then, I had a spot on my cheek that felt like a splinter. When I woke up Thursday morning, my lip didn't hurt as much, the place on my cheek still felt like a splinter was sticking out, and my eyelids were burning a little and felt like stys were forming on them. My ear was also beginning to ache and I was feeling tired and dizzy. I had signed up for a class in north Dallas, and had to leave by 8:30 am to get to it by 10:00. I got there ten minutes early, only to find that it had been cancelled. To say I was ticked was an understatement. I stopped at a Central Market on my way home so the trip wasn't a total loss, and when I got home, the pickup was gone again. This time Hubby wasn't very happy about it because he needed to get it ready to go to the lease on Friday. He thought she should have rented a car Thursday morning. By the time I got home Thursday, I really didn't care about anything. I was exhausted and the vibration on my face was driving me nuts.

My first thought was shingles, but I had never heard how it started, just that it was a pox like rash that formed along nerves. And whatever this was felt like it was following a nerve. Friday morning, there was a bump on my lip, my eye felt better, but the place on my cheek felt like an electrode had been attached and turned on low. I had called my neighbor and told her Hubby needed the truck Friday afternoon, and she said she would rent a car. She knocked on my door about 11:00 a.m. Friday asking me to drive her to another town to pick up the car. I felt really crummy by then, but I did it since there wasn't anyone else around to take her.

After my last experience at the GP's office, I swore I would never go back there, and my gynecologist suggested I use an internist at their office. So I called and tried to make an appointment. I had to leave a message for them to call back even to make an appointment, and when they hadn't called back by noon, I called my sister-in-law to see if her shingles started out this way, and she said it did. She told me to go to the doctor now. Immediately. Don't wait. So I went to an urgent care clinic, a doc in a box. At first he didn't think it was shingles because I only had one erruption and it was on my lip. He thought it might be a cold sore, or did, until I told him that a line from my lip to my eye was vibrating. He prescribed an anti-viral medication and I went to get it filled. By the time it was filled, I had four more bumps on my lip, two inside, and two on my cheek. The doctor had said it might not progress since I caught it so early, but now I'm not so sure. I have several more bumps on my cheek and the ones on my lip have burst. Of all the places to have shingles, why my face?!!!

So that's how my week ended. Hope yours was better.

Blessings,
Marti

Sunday, September 4, 2011

We Got Father-in-Law Settled In

Hubby tried to get Fil out of bed this morning without any pain medication, and it was just too much for Fil. So they gave him a pill and then waited for it to start working before they got him up and dressed. By the time we got to the health and rehabilitation center (which I'll just call the center from now on), he was groggy and so loopy he could barely answer simple questions. The nurse who did the evaluation thought he had dementia or Alzheimer's even though we kept saying that he wasn't like this before the pain medication. She was very gentle with Fil and got him to stand up by himself, and showed him how to help others get him onto the bed. She also mentioned that some patients NEVER heal from a vertebrae fracture, especially if it is a compression fracture, and the doctor at the VA didn't mention what kind of fracture, just that it was on the L1.

Then, while we were eating, she came over to say she had called one of the staff doctors to tell him about Fil's pain medication. The VA doctor put him on methadone because he is allergic to codeine. This staff doctor was shocked and suggested tramadol, or even a cortisone injection. The tramadol should relieve the pain without making him as sleepy and confused, and the cortisone shot would even be better because it wouldn't affect his mind at all. The doctor put in an order to start tramadol tonight and only use methadone if the tramadol doesn't work well. He is also going to meet with us tomorrow - yes, on Labor Day - to discuss all this and to see if Mil wants to switch Fil's primary care from the VA to him.

We are so impressed with this facility and the level of care he is already getting from the staff. If they can control his pain while keeping his mind clear, I think he might make some progress. After seeing him decline the last two weeks, Mil is afraid he is there to stay though. It broke her heart to sign the DNA form, but his quality of life has not been great lately.

So, things are looking up right now. Mil also heard of a condo nearby that is for rent. Brownie, our daughter, is a CNA. We have been trying to talk her into moving back to Texas, and when we told her about this facility, she said she would look into employment there. It would be good for Fil to have her there every day too. And she could share the condo with Mil so neither of them would have to live alone. I know that's a long shot, but it sure would be nice.

Both girls were home last weekend, and I asked them how much they remembered of Fil when they were young and spent a week every summer with the grandparents. Sadly, neither of them had solid memories of their grandfather when he was strong and active. So Hubby and I are going to start reminiscing, and I'll probably record those stories here so the girls can read them and hope that doesn't bore the rest of you too much.

*****

We just got a call from Mil. The center called her and said Fil is combative, and to come right over. So more later.

*****

Back again. There are a lot of fires today since it is really windy and has been dry for such a long time. Two fires were near the center, and they had an emergency staff meeting to explain evacuation procedures if the fires got closer. The aid checked Fil's room as she went to the meeting and he was still asleep. After the meeting, she looked in again and he was gone. The meeting had only lasted ten to fifteen minutes, but in that time, Fil had woken, gotten out of bed, and walked down the hall and into another room.

When they saw his empty room and didn't see him in the hall, they organized a search party and found him in the room down the hall. The head nurse ran to bring his wheelchair because they were afraid he would fall, and he began running down the hall. They ran after him and when they caught up with him, he began hitting, kicking, and grabbing their hands when they tried to get him to sit in the wheelchair. He twisted the wrist of one aid, bent back the thumb on another, and hit two others. The head nurse picked up a towel and held it tight between her hands to give him something else to grab onto. He got the towel away from her and began flailing them with it. They decided he was a very strong man who only looked thin and frail.

They finally convinced him to go back to his room to rest, and that's when they called Mil. So within three hours, he had gone from the man in a groggy stupor, to the man who flipped his lid (at least that's the way I overheard one aid describing him to another).

The head nurse is still an angel, and told us she called the doctor who said it is common in methadone patients to experience aggressive outbursts as the methadone wears off, and that the methadone stays in the system for 48 hours. She quoted the doctor as saying "Who in the h*** ordered methadone for him?!!!" From the research I did in our brief time home today, I can see why he said that. Parkinson's patients often have hallucinations and methadone causes hallucinations, so why on earth would anyone prescribe something that would surely make them worse?

She said they all understood he isn't doing this on purpose, but still, they aren't equipped to handle it and they needed Hubby to spend the night if Fil is going to stay there. Also, if he has another episode like that, they will have to send him to the ER and then back to the VA hospital. That's certainly understandable. We don't want him to harm anyone else, or himself either. But we are also worried that we won't find anywhere else with this level of care.

So I made a quick trip home (the center is about 30 miles from us) to pack some things for Hubby, and make us a few sandwiches for dinner, and went back to pick up Mil and take her home. Now to get some sleep so we can be back at the center at 8 a.m. tomorrow.

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Saturday, September 3, 2011

I Know It's Been Awhile, But I Have an Excuse

My father-in-law had a stroke two weeks ago. It wasn't a severe stroke, but enough that he was a bit befuddled and had trouble walking upright. He was listing to the left both walking and while sitting. So Hubby and his mother took fil to the VA hospital where they did a bunch of tests, determined he had a small stroke, a heart arrhythmia, and was having trouble with his memory. They admitted him for observation and more tests and kept him for four days. I don't know if I've mentioned it lately, but he also has Parkinson's. All those things together made him a real treat for the staff there. He was hallucinating almost all the time he was there, and they decided to put him in a room with a 24 hour attendant. There was another man in the same room, who seemed to be either heavily drugged or who just slept a lot.

Fil saw things that weren't there, like yellow jackets crawling out of hole in the ceiling, an airplane that he was on, and even in moments when he was fairly lucid, he thought he was in jail there. He kept his house shoes on so he could make a jail break when he had a chance, and he pulled out his IV twice. He finally got a chance to make his break but the attendant caught him, so fil took a swing at him. The attendant probably weighed 240 and fil weighs 160. It wasn't much of a jail break. Later, when Hubby and I were there, fil said he had called the police and they brought us there. Luckily, there wasn't a phone in his room or he probably would have called the police.

Finally, on the fourth day, he was lucid enough to answer questions correctly, and he even knew that something was really wrong. He told the social worker there that he felt he was at a crossroads. They determined he was ready to be discharged, and they gave mother-in-law the option of putting him in a rehab hospital, or taking him home. Of course he wanted to go home, and mil didn't think rehab would do him any good, so she turned it down.

Father-in-law could walk pretty well with a walker, get up and down by himself, but still had trouble with his balance. Then he fell backwards into the shower. Mil was right there, but the walker was between them and she couldn't catch him, and he probably would have pulled her down too if she had tried. He said he was okay, and he didn't hit his head, so even though mil got Hubby out of bed at 10 p.m. to drive to town and get him out of the shower, they finally decided he didn't need to go back to the hospital. A couple of days later, fil couldn't get out of bed to go to the bathroom, and mil called Hubby at 5 a.m. to come get him up. He was in severe pain and couldn't walk by himself, and they finally got him dressed and took him back to the VA.

There, he had x-rays and a prescription for pain medication, and they sent him home. They had to go back the next day to find out the results of the x-ray. He had a fractured vertebrae. Yeah, that would hurt. The pain meds work, but they make him really groggy and mil can't seem to understand that she needs to give them to him every 12 hours like the doctor prescribed. She only wants to give them to him when he says he is in pain, but then he is in severe pain by the time they kick in.

By then, mil had run out of what little patience she had left, and wanted Hubby to spend the night at their apartment to get up with fil at night so she could get some sleep. She is really impatient with fil, even after hearing about the fracture. And she told the social worker at the VA that she couldn't take it anymore, all the waking up at night to go to the bathroom, his sleeping all day, and not being able to leave him alone to go anywhere. She's suffering caregiver fatigue, and her focus is pretty much on herself right now.

So they made the decision to put him in a nursing home with rehab. But mil didn't want to find one, she just wanted it done. The social worker told her she needed to go to a lawyer who specialized in elder law. She didn't want to do that, and thought it would just be done for her. Basically, she just wanted to put her head in the sand and pull it out when everything was okay again.

So I called on my friends to find out what to look for, then called a bunch of homes, and narrowed it down to a couple, and took mil to see them. She thought the second one was great, and so did I. They do rehab for stroke patients, but with him being on pain meds that keep him loopy all day, I'm not sure what they can do to help him regain his balance. He is being admitted tomorrow, or at least he will be admitted if he is approved after an evaluation. So now Hubby is trying to decide whether to give him his pain med so the ride over there won't be so painful, and have him loopy at the evaluation, or keep him off the pain med so he is somewhat alert and lucid when they do the evaluation.

So wish us luck tomorrow that he is admitted, and that they can help him. We all need him to be there, and he needs to do what they say so he can get better and come home. Otherwise, we have to put him in long term care. He needs a break from mil and she needs a break from him, though the facility we found is 20 minutes from her apartment and that drive everyday will get old. And Hubby just needs a break. He hasn't worked a full day in two weeks, and sleeping on an air mattress, getting up all night, and then trying to go to work is wearing him out. Brother Bear took his turn on the air mattress too, and his father-in-law has also been in the hospital, so he was already exhausted.

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