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.


shermaniac said...

Darn, Doug, I was looking forward to voting absentee for you. Or, rather, after the exposés in the Times, I was wondering why anyone would want to be a justice in NYS.

These tales of Dad's experience, combined with those in Buffalo, make me wonder even more about the state of health care. I'm glad to say that I didn't experience much of this ignoring (and Dad and I are probably similar in our ability to say "no, it's ok, I'm fine" and patience).

I'll try to give Dad a call when I'm home for lunch. On one hand, I'd be happy to just take some weeks leave. On the other hand, this is a tough time for me with conferences and stuff. Maybe I'll call you this evening. Are you likely to be home?

gdeecee said...

Hi Sherm,
I just got off the phone with him, and he was eating lunch, but happy
to talk. Carol just called and will be calling Dad (from Kentucky)
too, so don't be surprised if the line is busy.

We'll probably go see him this evening, but you can call the cellular
phone at 607 769 0769, regardless.

We continue to go to Jones because for the most part the wards are
good, but the ER has gotten two major complaints from me, and I've
received apologetic letters both times. All I can say is, if you get
sick, get someone to go with you and be your advocate-- someone who
isn't afraid to be pushy, and bitch and complain when things don't
happen like they should. I've done it for Jeanette, Ian and Dad, and
I probably don't push hard enough.....

I'm trying not to feel guilt for how things got to this point, and
everyone says I couldn't have known. At least we did stay in touch
with him and did check on him and let him be independent. But it
still hurts to see him in such a state, and he may not be able to be
so independent in the future.

More later,