Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Carol is back.

Hello and greetings to all. This is Carol, finally back on line after being a snowbird for several months. We were told that we had missed some serious winter weather while cavorting naked in the Florida sun.
When we first got back I was tired and a bit bummed between the gray skiies, the coldness and dampness (especially in contrast to sun and warmth we had been enjoying), Dad's being hospitalized, my doctor being concerned about my blood pressure being elevated, telling me I have to give up soda and cut down on salt (ekkk!), she also put me on Lisinopril-10mg daily (ase inhibitor). I have known that I wanted to lose weight anyhow. Now I know I need to. The doc's order will help give me the kick in the pants that I need. It is so hard to balance mood and when it messes with physical health it gets to be an even more delicate balance. I was soooo worried about going over the mania line to psychosis last summer that I did not care what else went to hell. Now my mood is stable, I have to deal with the weight I packed on staying out of the psych ward. So goes the life of a person with bipolar disorder!
After three years of legal work, my SSI finally came through. Disability turned me down saying I was not insured when disabled (hospitalization in 2003). Never mind that my moods have been unstable all my life! Anyway, I have some income of my own now after years of depending totally on Barb, who is very generous with hers. Two days of warmer weather and some sun have perked up my mood and motivated me to get out more. (I was a worthless couch potato for a good week after our return!!!) We have crocus, grape hyacinths, tulips and dafodils peeking out of the ground all over our yard (I went crazy with bulbs last fall) and the iris bed at Kelly clinic felt some attention from me the past two days when were at the clinic for appointments. I also have a mural to paint up in Rochester around Morley Schloss's swimming pool. We are using the lump sum from SSI to splurge on a much needed new bed (soft sided waterbed) and my personal splurge was to get myself an ipod, so now I can groove to my tunes everywhere. I lent Dad my walkman at the hospital when he was in pain and could not get comfortable. I put on a Mozart Effect healing CD and put it on his ears. It was nice to watch his eyes close and his face relax. We are looking forward to a visit to see the Alfred Clarkes very soon. We missed seeing Doug or Jeanette or Ian when we stopped to see Dad. Doug et al were in Rochester seeing Leo Kottke that night. I was envious and still have not heard a report about the concert. It would be silly to ask if you enjoyed it!
Can y'all come visit for Memorial Day again? I enjoyed having y'all here last year.
In addition, we got a nice selection of fireworks in TN that we need help viewing, could be either Memorial Day weekend or whenever we choose. Doug, can you help set them off safely for us?
Well, I will close for now with much love and hugs all 'round. -Carol

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Journal Entry

Today is Tuesday, and I am a Tuesday's child. A little melancholy and dreamy. Spring is in the air. There is much to be done in and outside the house. Pesach is coming, hametz must be consumed or sold. Every room of the house needs cleaning and search for crumbs and dust. Much to do and not much time. I would like to be organized and efficient in chore duty. "Make it so", as Captain Picard would say.
I am glad to know that Dad is going to come home from the Wellsville Manor. I need to be in contact and figure out what whether I can reasonably take some time from work to be in Alfred for support. Maybe I should try to transfer my state job up to Belmont.
Must work for State of New York.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Doubts, Dismissiveness, and D.N.R.s

After Jeanette headed off to work yesterday, I got Ian ready for school and took care of as many necessaries as I could. Then I drove the old Blazer to Dad's house and gathered up the things he'd asked for, and headed Wellsville arriving at the hospital at 11:00, the time scheduled for Dad to be transferred to Wellsville Manor. I had time to check briefly with the nurses and talk with Dad before Jeff and the wheelchair van arrived. I followed them over to the Manor and it had been snowing moderately by the time I walked in with Dad and Jeff. A nurse helped him get seated in his room and I talked with him while another nurse got their first set of vital statistics (blood pressure, pulse, oximetry, and temperature). The diet coordinator came and I helped answer questions, but reminded her that he had been on fluid restriction and low sodium and potassium intake while at the hospital, so she'd need to check the doctor's orders regarding things like orange juice, bananas, and so on. So we went to the nurses desk when she had finished, to see what was in the record. One of the nurses, twice, said "we'll take care of it" but I was thinking "no, she needs the information so she can plan his diet correctly, and I need to know what Dr. Coch's standing orders are". I didn't say anything out loud at the time, but keep reading.
I think it was difficult for Dad to answer questions like "Do you want eggs for breakfast?" because he's not accustomed to having the same thing every day. He isn't fussy about what he eats or drinks, and has difficulty choosing, anyway, so I was having a hard time not answering all the questions for him. I tried to let him choose and not meddle, but I think they could have skipped that whole interview because he would have eaten whatever they put in front of him, and they could change it every day and still get no complaints. He started off with liver and onions for lunch, and ate it with relish (pun intended). The dietician seemed truly astonished when he told her he would eat any vegetable -- she said "you mean you'll eat cauliflower and spinach?" to which I added "and brussels sprouts and turnip greens" and I should have added dandelion greens. Later on, a nurse came and confirmed that his only dietary restriction is the fluid restriction (1500 ml. per day), so they eliminated one or two servings of liquid at meals.
After the dietician took off, I put Dad's things away in his room (#323), and we talked some more until the admission director (that probably isn't her correct title, but she conducts the admission interview), Amy came in. She asked Dad about his preferences and asked the same questions Dr. Coch has to test for dementia or Alzheimer's. Dad did just fine except when asked to repeat three items spoken to him and then remember them while she asked him to spell a word backwards. He had repeated "apple, tree, and pen" just fine and then spelled "d,l,r,o,w" just fine but couldn't think of any of the three, even when she said one was a fruit, and the three didn't seem familiar when she told him what they were. He had remembered two of three, the last time Dr. Coch did it. I sat there reciting "apple, tree, pen" while she was telling him the word to spell backwards, but I could see it was taking all his concentration to take in what she was telling him. I talked with him afterwards and he said he used to be able to do such tasks but it's aggravating not to be able to anymore. I said it must be, especially since I think I'm better at it now than when I was younger.
When Amy began telling him she was going to ask questions to gauge his level of depression, I pretended to have to go to the bathroom, but stood outside the door and listened. I thought he might answer most honestly if he thought I wasn't there, although he's been quite candid with Dr. Coch, even when I have been present. I heard him give all the worst possible answers, in terms of feeling bored, useless, uninterested in new things, and so on. It has a lot to do with him wanting to work on his book but not feeling up to the tasks, and he's told me so many times. I waited a short time before I re-entered the room and helped Dad through her questions about whether he wished to have a Do Not Resuscitate order in place, meaning that it his heart should stop, they should not re-start it. Dr. Coch had given me the idea that Dad had told him he did want a D.N.R., but he told Amy he did not. We confirmed that he has a living will, so life-extending measures are not to be taken if he's in a coma or whatever, but I was glad to learn he does want to be resuscitated, for now.
Amy left and I chatted with Dad about how we can do things differently when he gets home (in two weeks or less) so he'll feel more useful and stimulated. Then we talked about his book, and he really got going then, in all the best senses of the word. It takes some patience to stay with him and keep him from getting side-tracked too far, but I did it. He's complained that people have not given him much feedback (except Sherm) about his book, and I've talked with him at length a number of times, but I hope he felt as satisfied as I did, that we had connected on his thinking yesterday. He seemed so much more able in that discussion than he did about what he'd be eating for the next two weeks.
I went to the nurses' desk and asked if there was anything else I needed to do, and was greeted with "I think we can handle it from here" that came out in a dismissive tone, just like the other nurse had given the dietician, and at this point all the bells and alarms were going off in my head. I had spoken with several of the nurses at Jones and been quite candid that I wanted to converse with them about Dad's vital statistics and the Doctor's orders and that I would be active in coordinating his care. All of them had been open, supportive, and seemed to welcome my participation in it, and more than one had remarked that many patients were simply dropped off and left alone.
At this point, I spent a little more time with Dad making sure he was all set, and made up my mind what to do next, and then went looking for Amy. I asked if we could speak privately and she pointed me toward her office, where I told her I had left the room to be sure Dad didn't feel reticent to be honest while she interviewed him about his depression level. She seemed understanding and appreciative of my doing so, and confirmed that he ranks as quite depressed, so we talked about what we might do when he gets home, to help with that.
We reviewed a few more things and then I asked if I could speak quite candidly. She said yes so I closed her office door. I told her that the dietician and I had been given answers by the nurse at the desk that seemed dismissive, and that this had made me uncomfortable. Then I told her the nurse's response when I asked if there was anything else I needed to do. I told her that I intended to be involved in Dad's care, that I am his medical proxy, that I care a great deal about him, and that I won't put up with staff being dismissive of me. Then I actually said "I won't take any shit with regard to my father's care."
She responded in what I felt was a very supportive fashion, confirming that having such negative experiences before my father was even settled in would not be acceptable, and that she would address the situation. At this point I said that if I had encountered someone whose style of working was just that way but that they were competent and caring in their work and that I needed to adjust somewhat, then she should tell me so. She asked which nurse was the one, so I told her it was two different nurses, and that such an emerging pattern was very disturbing.
She told me that one nurse was only filling in for someone that day, but that the regular nurse who would return on Monday was not that way. She reiterated that she would do something about it, and I told her I would check back when I visited again. I told her that if only one incident had occurred, I might not have said anything, but two in such a short time caused me to be alarmed. She spoke with earnest concern and we agreed to communicate more in the future to be sure everything from there would be copacetic (if you like etymology, look that word up).
I trust her.

Dad's room is on the west end of the building, with a bed and dresser and a wardrobe and recliner. He has a window looking out on the back yard and some scrub trees, so there were a few juncos and chickadees darting around in the snow when I was there. I think I might take a bird feeder over, just to give him more to look at. He had a TV at the hospital, but I think the only time it was on was when Ian got restless during one of our visits.
Carol, the yellow carnation is lovely, and Dad spoke appreciatively of your leaving the Mozart for him to listen to. I left some Readers Digests and the Alfred Sun for him to read, and brought him his diary. I need to drop off some note paper on the next trip.
Carol and I have talked about her and Barb coming over to stay with Dad some, after he gets home, and I am grateful for the offer. Cathy has talked about coming, and may this weekend, but the weather is not encouraging me about that. Bert has also made an overture about coming out to see Dad, but no plans are in place. I still don't know if I got the job at the Equestrian Center, and will learn Tuesday night if I win the election for village Justice, so then I can make commitments more easily, but either way, I plan to do some sorting, cleaning and sprucing up at 33, before Dad gets back home. He had rejected all my previous overtures regarding our moving in with him, and I checked yesterday to confirm that it was because, as he put it, it would complicate things. He added another point yesterday, but I can't recall right now what it was. When I told him Barb and Carol might come, he thought they would stay in their RV, but I told him I figured we'd clear up space upstairs for them. Jeanette and I agreed that we will, last night.
I'm thinking it's probably time to work toward renting out the upstairs apartment, perhaps to Tim and Pat Bancroft, since they have to move out of the house on Palmiter Road, or maybe to Bill and Jenn Schultze and their girls. Anyway, more on that later.
If you want to call Wellsville Manor, it's 585 593-4400, but if you want to call Dad's room, it's 585 593-0309.
Due to all the snow coming in, Ian's activities last night and this morning were cancelled, as was vespers, which Dad and Jeanette usually go to. I've got to close and go plow driveways and clear the church steps of snow.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Before I go . . .

Ok, here's the latest that I have, although I expect I'll have plenty more later today:
Carol and Barb blew in from down south on Wednesday and spent some time with Dad, then spent the night in their RV at the hospital and visited with him again in the morning. Good thing, as I didn't make it to the hospital yesterday, although I talked with him and with Dr. Coch on the phone.
At that point Dr. Coch said he didn't believe Dad had adrenal insufficiency (they injected him with cortisone to stress his adrenal gland and evidently got a normal response), but instead is afflicted with SIADH, or Syndrome of Inappropriate Antidiuretic Hormone Secretion. Quoting a website, SIADH occurs when excessive levels of antidiuretic hormones (hormones that help the kidneys, and body, conserve the correct amount of water) are produced. The syndrome causes the body to retain water and certain levels of electrolytes in the blood to fall (such as sodium). So Dad's muscles got weak because they didn't have the right balance of electolytes, leading to his falling. Coch is convinced that it's not because of what he takes in, but due to a glandular problem, and he's taken Dad off of the ASE Inhibitor (for his Congestive Heart Failure) and the Fluoxitine, because he's concerned they may contributing to the SIADH. One step forward; two steps back.
Dad has rejected the idea of repairing his leaky heart valves, and Coch has dismissed the use of kyphoplasty to treat the compression fracture in his lumbar vertebra. It is a minimally invasive spinal surgery procedure using a balloon to restore the vertebral body height and shape. This is followed by bone cement to strengthen it.
Dad is scheduled to be moved to Wellsville Manor at about 11:00 today, so I'm trying to wrap things up so I can go over with him.
Cathy called last night and said Bruce has an appointment in Rochester next Monday, so they may fly up tomorrow so they can see Dad. I told her Ian has the Pinewood Derby (Cub Scout gravity-powered car race) in the morning, then we have church, then a birthday celebration for Virginia Bassett. Ian has been invited to a skating birthday party on Sunday too, so I told Cathy we would see them when we could. On top of that, we're supposed to start getting a bunch of snow at noon today and running through Saturday night. Meanwhile, flooding has required the closing of the roads between Hornell and Almond, so they'll have to drive in via Crosby Creek or Interstate 86. Anyway, we'll make up Dad's bed with fresh linens . . .

you said what?

Doug said:
This may be the origin of Dad's recent difficulty:

[end quote]
Excuse me, is that article in English? I don't do much internet cruising for medical information nor do I read that literature very much (ok, not at all). That was clearly focused at the professional audience. And I'm glad if they found something they can identify and treat, or work around, or whatever.

If you saw that news about the four people killed in Greenwich Village a couple nights ago, it was close to me (not scary close). We had had a librarians drink night at Baggot Inn on West 3rd. I left about 8 pm and heard a bunch of helicopters when I got home. The killings were about a block and a half from the Baggot Inn (where I understand they do bluegrass on Wednesday nights), further from my apartment. No, I'm not going to get all excited about it but just in case ...

On the other side, I was at Carnegie Hall last night and heard a lovely concert with the Orchestra of Saint Luke's: Strauss Capriccio; Beethoven's Emperor Concerto with Garrick Ohlsson at the piano (he plays very crisply and purely), Mozart's Symphony 40 (wonderfully familiar).

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

He gets it.

"If I could save time in a bottle, the first thing that I'd like to do is to save every day 'til eternity passes away, just to spend them with you.
If I could make days last forever; if words could make wishes come true, I'd save every day like a treasure and then, again, I would spend them with you.
But there never seems to be enough time to do the things you want to do, once you find them."

Jim Croce's widow, Ingrid (who has a restaurant in San Diego, and their son is a jazz musician) is quoted as saying that she thinks part of his inspiration for that song was the knowledge that they were going to have a baby. She says his Italian family man nature kicked in, and he sat down and wrote the song that night.

Ian told us on the way to see Dad last night, that he hopes Dad lives a lot longer, and I said that I wished it too, but only if he can be happy living.

Whenever he spends time with Dad, I remind him that he should not spend all his time watching cartoons, but that the time he spends talking with Dad will be something he will cherish for the rest of his life. He gets it.

Tuesday update

Another night in the hospital; another call from the doctor; another morning filled with concern and impatience for information but dreading any bad news.
I had picked Ian up at school yesterday and met Jeanette so they could come home together while I got our groceries; I felt exhausted, positively as if someone had cut off a corner at my bottom and drained all the energy and will out of me. I was choosing what kind of soup to buy and having to fight back tears and sleepiness.
After I'd gotten home and put groceries away, Jeanette drove Ian and me to Wellsville, where we had supper at "The Texas Hot'. Then we went to the hospital, and up to Dad's room, where they were waiting for him to pee so he would not have to be re-catheterized, so we spent part of the evening talking about bodily functions, which I'm sure suited Dad to a T. Carol, you'd be pleased to know, I think, that through having to use a chamber pot before I took him to the hospital, the Foley catheter installation and all of yesterday's exercises, Dad was unabashed, whereas even the nurses were more concerned with modesty than he was. It was the same when Jeanette went to have her ankle checked: the nurse closed the curtain around her and asked Ian to wait outside while J. got her clothes back on, but Jeanette told the nurse to let him in.
I read Mike Ellis' short account of how he and Sue had done in the Can Am 250 (sled dog) race this year, and that swelled up Dad's pride and spirits a bit. Then Ian and he looked at the happy birthday card that Carol and Barb had sent, and Jeanette rubbed his back and washed his face while I consulted with the nurses. He seemed to cheer up with all that, but he was on a deadline to produce some urine by midnight.
Sherm called while we were there, and Carol had called me first and then talked with Dad, earlier in the day. I know that helped his spirits, too.
Anyway, we spent some good time with him and wished him well, but I figured he wouldn't be home for a couple days, at least. We headed home to get some sleep, and hoped he would rest well.

After Jeanette and Ian got off to work and school this morning, I got a call from the discharge planner at the hospital. She told me they had found a nursing home bed for him.
I said "huh?" and then she told me that they automatically start making arrangements to see if a nursing home has an opening for patients. But when I questioned her she confirmed that no doctor had actually put in orders for that. As we talked I learned more about what the doctors have prescribed for him, and that he had not produced urine by the deadline. I told her that I'm unemployed and could stay home with him until he gets stronger, but she said he would get more physical therapy if he were in a nursing facility, even though they would send someone to the house if he were there.
We tried to get Dr. Coch on the line at that time, but he didn't answer his page at the hospital, so I left word at his office, asking him to call me.
Dr. Coch did call back a little later and told me that Dad's heart is strong but all the valves leak. He repeated that he does not believe that our use of potassium chloride caused his potassium imbalance and weakness; it may be adrenal insufficiency but we won't know anything for several days, since the test results take some time to get back. He said he wants to figure out why Dad's sodium was low and potassium high, and that will take a little time. He said he will order rehabilitation in a nursing home, which is covered by Medicare Part A., but that it could be done at home. He figures Dad will be in the hospital at least through Thursday, but we will talk more over the next couple days and figure all of that out.
He confirmed that Dad has been fibrillating for some time, and displays signs of either the beginnings of dementia or of a cognitive loss, but said you can't tell them apart at this point. We will go from here.

The thing that continues to be of concern to me is that Dad does not tell me what's going on. He didn't tell us when he fell in the bathroom some time back, and hasn't seemed to get it that my being busy is not excuse not to tell me. I've asked him not to anticipate my situation, but just tell me how he feels or what his needs are, and let me work out how to respond. He wants to save me the trouble, but I've pointed out that that method usually leads to more trouble in the long run. This most recent situation is a case in point.
Pat Bancroft has talked with him and me about it, and I have, and so has Jeanette, and we hope that he's learned something. Pat reminded me the other day when I was beating myself up a bit, that my father wasn't giving me the information I needed to help him effectively. He responded to Jeanette on Friday evening, that maybe he should see the doctor. He has been trying to "spare" me, but I hope he won't do that any more.
Meanwhile, I'll try to be more observant and attentive and whatever else I can think of that may help . . .

sherman's contact info

March 18-20
Carrier Flight Number Departing Arriving Booking
City Date & Time City Time

American Airlines 1 NEW YORK JFK SUN 18MAR
9:00 AM LOS ANGELES 12:20 PM N
D Clarke FF#: M4V1720 Economy Seat 36A Food For Purchase

American Airlines 10 LOS ANGELES TUE 20MAR
9:30 PM NEW YORK JFK 5:38 AM N
D Clarke FF#: M4V1720 Economy Seat 36A Food For Purchase

Steve Ong, 2630 Ivan Hill Terrace, LA 90039
323-953-8450 -

March 26-April 1
Flight# Departing
Date & Time Arriving
Date & Time Meals Stops Service Aircraft
YX81 New York (LGA)
Mon, Mar 26, 2007
11:29AM Kansas City (MCI)
Mon, Mar 26, 2007 1:41PM Best Care Cuisine 0 Signature Service 717

YX82 Kansas City (MCI)
Sun, Apr 01, 2007
9:50AM New York (LGA)
Sun, Apr 01, 2007 1:30PM Best Care Cuisine 0 Signature Service 717

Ken's Place
18 West 38th St, Kansas City, MO, 64111, USA
Lodging Type: Bed & Breakfast
Hosts: Ken Yelvington
Phone: 1 816 753-0533

Monday, March 12, 2007

Dad's hospitalization, etc.

Here's what I know:
Dad had fallen a week ago Friday, on the steps of the Parish House, striking his face and bumping him up other wise. He seemed only ok all week, complaining of back pain and leg spasms but not being willing to go to the doctor until Jeanette suggested it on Friday. By then it was too late for an office visit. When Dad didn't come to Sabbath School, I called and he told me he wasn't feeling up to coming to church, but I was obligated to take pictures (for hire) at a family reunion, so Jeanette checked on him after lunch. Later in the afternoon we dropped Ian off with him so we could go to a dinner for Jeanette and her colleagues and their spouses. When we picked Ian up at 11:30 that night, he and Dad had been watching cartoons and talking, and Dad was on his feet, although he didn't look great. In the morning, I was on the phone dealing with Fire Company and other business for a while, so I didn't call Dad until 11:00 or so. He didn't answer, but he has lost track of where the cordless phone is, before, so I was only a little worried at first. He forgets that I set up a spare for him, so I figured I'd just call back a little later.
When I did call back, I still got no answer, so I told Jeanette I was going to check on him. When I got to the house, both doors were still locked so I was getting a bit anxious, but was relieved that although I found him on the bedroom floor, he was conscious and there were only a few spots of blood on the floor (from his forehead, I think).
It took some doing, but I was able to re-construct what I think happened: While getting ready for bed, he toppled over and bopped the right side of his forehead on a bookcase or something. From there he got himself to bed but didn't get a cordless phone to keep with him. A couple hours later, he got up and went to the bathroom but fell there. He thinks he got up, but fell again, and then pulled himself into the bedroom and pulled a small blanket onto himself and lay there beside the heater vent until I came to the house. He did not pass out, he says, and never felt dizzy.
I helped him up onto the bed and got him dressed and called Jeanette and got his medicines and cane and such, and walked him out to the van. I tried calling Dr. Coch at home but got no answer. I also called Jeanette and she agreed to meet us at the hospital.
Once we got to Jones hospital in Wellsville (at about 1:15 yesterday afternoon), they did a CAT-scan, numerous X-rays, took blood and urine samples, examined almost every square inch of him at least once, questioned him and me, and made him wait for about six hours without even a sip of water, even though the ER doctor had initially talked about either a urinary tract infection or dehydration as being the source of his trouble.
I had to learn from the attending doctor that they planned to admit him, as the ER doctor never returned to advise us of his findings (they had a couple trauma patients and I heard someone say it was the worst day they'd ever had in the ER), even though I saw him coming and going between rooms several times.
Jeanette had taken Ian to get some late lunch and brought back a burger for me, so I took a few minutes outside to try to reach you guys. I went with Dad for the X-rays, but by that time Jeanette and Ian had gone home.
I stayed until Dad was set up in room 330A. I think Mom was put in that room on one of her can call Dad at 585 593 1100.
Nurses and doctors had talked about his potassium levels being high, so I made a point of telling them that he was using potassium chloride as a salt substitute, and had used potassium chloride in his water softener ion exchanger. I was afraid I had caused the problem, and was feeling badly that I had not checked on him earlier, and was kicking myself for not taking him to the doctor sooner, kicking and screaming if necessary.
I stuck around long enough to try to be sure all the details were taken care of and he was relatively comfortable (he didn't flinch when they put in the I.V. nor the Foley catheter, but had some pain when they did X-rays). I had to pester the nurses, once he was finally checked in and catheterized, to get him a tuna sandwich and some juice, because of course the kitchen was closed by then (~9:00 pm).

When I talked with Dr. Coch this morning, he said he felt Dad's fall last week may be when a compression fracture of a lumbar vertebra was sustained, since Dad had complained of some back pain after that. Dr. Coch said he could perhaps treat the fracture but isn't advocating it. I confirmed with him that the X-ray technician said Dad's bone density was good for someone of his age.
I asked Dr. Coch if Dad's potassium being off could be because I had used potassium chloride in his water softener and he was using potassium chloride as a salt (sodium chloride) substitute. He said no, but that he thinks it's because he had Dad on an ASE Inhibitor, so he's taken him off that and will re-evaluate the situation. Coch is having the Foley catheter and IV taken out today and is ordering therapy to help get his strength. He also told me that Dad is fibrillating, and he is sending him for an echo test (I assume echo-cardiogram).
I'll ask him about scheduling the removal of the basal cell cancer on his right arm, when I talk with him again. Dr. Coch didn't say any other serious injuries resulted from his multiple falls Saturday night, although he looks like he got mugged, what with bruises on his face and the back of his head, his forearm, and back.
Dr. Coch said something about the sad aspect of age catching up with Dad, when he has defied it for so long.
I'm heading over there in a while, and will take a copy of his medical proxy and living will. He told Dr. Coch he wants to place a D.N.R. (do not resuscitate order) on file, too.
Thank you, Barb and Carol, for getting him signed up for Medicare Part A, as I hope it will cover most of these costs, but I haven't asked those questions yet.
Jeanette and I have already discussed moving back in with Dad, but we'll have to see how things look when he gets out of the hospital. We will work out a way to be with him most of the time until he gets his strength back, and Bert and Cathy and Carol have all made overtures about spending time with Dad, at one point or another. Thank you, as I'm sure we will need help.
On top of everything else last week, Bob and Lois sent a message informing me that they had already filed Ethel's "married but separate" tax return, and Sherm received an assessment notice indicating that the value of 33 S. Main just went from $70,000 to over $100,000.
I'm still waiting to hear about the job at the University Equestrian Center, but if I get it, it will mean more income than I've ever made before (and probably plenty of headaches, but some horsey, outdoorsy pleasures, too). We could sure use that right now.
I have not heard from Sun Publishing yet, and am still holding off on other options until I get more news.........too many balls in the air! I am considering withdrawing my name from the ballot as a candidate for Alfred Village Justice............the election is the 20th.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Watching and Worrying

Hello again folks,
I spent a fair amount of time talking with Dad this week, much of it just re-assuring him about things like my willingness to take him places and do things to help him and that he has enough money so that if he wants some cash he can just get it, without worrying about the exact balance. After having apparently mastered the task several times before, he had had trouble when he went to the ATM on Monday, so I went with him and talked him through the procedure. That was on Wednesday, I think.
Then we went to the other bank and rolled over the Certificate of Deposit that had matured, so that it is in my name and his, rather than Ethel's and his. He had been prepared to send the proceeds to Lois but I talked him out of it on the basis that, although it was invested with funds from Ethel's tax return, he had a stake in it. I reinforced the idea that he has more potential need than she will, and that she probably intended him to have it, even if she could not really answer the question competently now.
I am now a joint proprietor of all his accounts, I think. The power of attorney he has given me will cease at the moment of his death, so now I'll be able to take care of things without waiting for probate of his will, to act as executor.
I'm still trying to find a death certificate for Aunt Dora so I can get access to the rest of the Allegheny Energy stock and get it invested with the others that have come down from Uncle George Degen, since before the Depression. We had started the process of getting that done several years ago but the papers languished with him in SC when Ethel started getting to be so needy. So now the stocks have been designated unclaimed assets, and I have to file a claim with the state to get them back. They aren't worth a great deal, but have been paying regular dividends for years and Dad has not cashed them because Aunt Dora's name is on one account. The company assured me they would pay all unclaimed dividends, once we got the ownership transferred. Dad had successfully gotten one stock certificate transferred to his and Mom's name, so I have that one taken care of, but the other certificate is turning out to be a pain in the ass to reclaim. I know I've seen a death certificate for Aunt Dora but we can't locate it, so I've tried to get a duplicate but neither the town of Alfred, nor Hornell City, nor North Hornell village, nor Hornellsville township has any record of her death. The certificate is supposed to be issued at the place of her death, and I believe she died in Bethesda Hospital or an affiliated nursing home, but I'm still trying to track that down. I still have to try South Hornell, if that's an official municipality, and the village of Alfred, or resort to requesting a copy from Albany.
Dad is having a hard time being positive about much of anything, takes forever to decide the smallest thing, and has been saying he wanted to counsel with someone. For some time he had said he would like to talk with Pat Bancroft and I encouraged him to call her and set it up, but he told me recently that she didn't seem interested. I talked with her about Dad some yesterday, and she told me that she had offered to come by for a pastoral visit several times, and he had turned her down. So there are evidently mixed signals being misinterpreted there.
I certainly have trouble on that score, as I try to ask direct questions and get all kinds of answers from him, and explain things but find that he didn't get any of what I said. I have talked with Dad -- and I try to do it right at the moment it occurs so he'll understand -- about how he tries to anticipate others' needs and wishes and ends up not answering the question at all, but he's never caught on very well. I remember talking with him about that back when I was still working at AVX.
Dad recognizes that misunderstandings occur, but can't seem to shake off old habits. I've increasingly come to feel that Dad is obsequious in many circumstances, and yet he can be so stubborn about doing things in his "Scotch" fashion in relation to me. I keep trying to give him reasons to assert his own needs and wants and take some pleasure in living, rather than just being plain stubborn about squeezing the last bit of juice out of a lemon.
I've talked with Dad about not walking downtown when the sidewalks are bad, and I offer to take him places and walk with him when I can, but he keeps saying he doesn't want to bother me. He has vacillated back and forth several times about whether he wants to have a car so he can do his own errands.
After agreeing that he wouldn't venture out again, earlier this week, he did. That's when he had all the trouble with the ATM, but he didn't walk across the street and pick up his prescription refill while he was out. Then, yesterday, he had walked to the bank to get more cash, then to Kinfolk Grocery, and then was headed to vespers at the Parish House when he stumbled at the top of the stairs of the Parish House and hit his nose and forehead. The steps, mind you, were bare of ice, and he was holding the railing with one hand and had his groceries in the other. He was evidently bleeding a good bit, as I would expect since he's on aspirin regimen, but resisted being treated, but Pat (who is now an EMT), got the bleeding stopped.
When I joined the vespers-goers so we could all have supper, I saw that he was pretty well bunged up, and later asked about his glasses. He admitted they were scratched but when I suggested we'd better replace them he said "There's no need to replace them at my age". I pointed out he had complained earlier this week about not being able to work the ATM, and had not been able to read several things very well, even before the glasses were damaged, but I guess I have yet another challenge ahead, just to get him set up with usable glasses (the ones he had were already pretty badly scratched and even Doctor Coch had snatched them off Dad's head during his latest visit, and cleaned them.
I know Dad has the right to do as he chooses, and I know that it's difficult to change old habits, but I also want him to have what he needs and have some chances to take pleasure in things. He has denied himself so much for so long that he just doesn't seem to know how to do that. He worries about things that I see no need to worry about, and doesn't care about some things that I think could give him some real joy. Oh well, I'll keep working with him and trying to give him as many good days as he can get, and not create new trouble for him.
The Rogers are selling Al and Janette's old house, where the Bancrofts have been living, and the Bancrofts don't think they dare try to buy it, as Tim is preparing to leave his current job, and Pat is relying on a congregation of old folks for her salary. So I'd like to broach the subject of renting the second floor of 33 South Main to them, with all of you.
Cathy, I understand you invited Dad to come and stay with you for a while. When is Purim, and could I bring Dad to Sherm's some weekend and come back a week or two later, to get him?