Saturday, September 17, 2011

Update on Joe

I keep thinking I'll write a more detailed post about what's happened and happening with Joe, but I find at the end of the day, I'm whupped and just can't do it. I'll see what I can get out tonight.

The news is that Joe will not be coming home again. He needs more care than one nearly 60-year-old daughter can give him, much less split between him and his wife. He will go straight from the hospital to a facility. It had been hinted at but not really confirmed until today. I have to admit that when they finally confirmed it today, I cried in pure relief. Sorry that it wasn't sadness at the time, just a flood of relief. I was terrified they would have to send him home again, and I absolutely knew I could not care for him.

When I was at the hospital today, he was actually calm and unrestrained. He had his supper in front of him, but the brilliant person who delivered the meal didn't care to check that the patient had dentures in. He couldn't chew it. Doh. Admittedly, since they didn't give him any salt, he likely wouldn't have eaten much of it anyway. Squash, potato casserole of some kind, and pork. Applesauce as a side and a sickly sweet pink drink, tea without sugar. This will have to change or he will starve. They have him on restricted salt, and for a salt person like him, that makes food inedible. He's become so picky he won't eat healthy, which they'll insist on. When they have to resort to Enfamil or something, perhaps they'll ponder their ways, or just shrug and condemn him a diet of liquid pap.

He got up once today for the toilet, but required two men to keep him upright. The doctor wants him to start getting up tomorrow, scheduled for 4 times. However, the nurse said she figured they'd actually go for 2 times.

He has a confirmed diagnosis of Alzheimer's. Plague is showing on the CT scan of his brain. The nurse explained the progression varies between individuals, nothing new there. There are periods of good times interspersed with bad times -good mobility and thinking between bad mobility and confusion. The level of good gradually decreases as each bout of bad comes along.

His blood pressure isn't too high now, but his heart rate is too low. They're trying dropping the BP med that slows heart rate tonight and will see how it goes. He's still on a catheter but has controlled his bowels enough to request going to the bathroom. They have his bed alarmed to alert when he tries to get up, because he doesn't have enough sense right now to ask for aid. He can't even figure out how to raise or lower his bed or turn the TV on much less find the button to call a nurse.

At least they've given him a bath, for which I heartily thank them. He stunk. They're keeping mouthwash by him because his breath is terrible. That's due in part because your breath goes to pot in a medical crises and in part because he let his teeth rot. Hygiene was one area of his care I was totally incompetent. He wouldn't let me. He wouldn't do it himself, but he absolutely would not let me do it.

Once they've got him a little more stable, if they can, they will have representatives from various facilities come by to evaluate him and give me a list of three to choose from in which to place him. I am absolutely NOT going to inform him of this. If anything would stick in his wandering mind, that likely would. We will place him where he can get the best care. He will likely be terribly unhappy if or when he regains enough sense to realize it. As of right now, he can't remember where he is. He asked me 3 times in one hour where he was. He can't realize he's even in a hospital, much less remember it's in Paducah.

Through all of this Lola has remained remarkably calm. I've wondered just how much she is processing of what is happening. She has never asked me question one about him. However, tonight Aunt Agnes let me know that Mom realizes that he's in the hospital and needs to be placed in a nursing home. Whenever I learn something new about him, I let Mom know the news. After that she never says a word; nor has she asked to visit him. Frankly, it makes me wonder if I never mentioned him again whether or not she would realize it.

I'm in totally unchartered territory here and flying by the seat of my pants. I can only hope that the decisions I make are ultimately the best ones. Ya never know until it's too late whether or not you've done well.

Let me please thank my Aunt Agnes for her help in staying with Lola. She has made things so much easier the last 3 days by sitting with my mother. Mom can be left alone for 30 minutes or so, but after that, she doesn't need to be alone. I cannot thank Aunt Agnes enough for helping me.

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