Friday, August 11, 2017

The Light at the End of the Tunnel might not be an oncoming train?

So August 1st, I went to the doctor for my semi annual and got lost and walked way too much.  Of course, I didn't take my cane.  ** sigh ** All seemed ok except that morning I'd "walked" on the glider machine - way too much walking for this old lady.  The next day, I did the Healthrider for 40 minutes and was on the floor for a cooldown stretch and getting up, the hamstring on my weaker leg went pop and oh-the pain.  I of course, didn't have my brace on - this leg has been weaker since 2008 when I had a TIA that took out some of the muscle of my left leg and since I love walking, this isn't the first time this injury has happened.  Wow, I was off my feet because even standing up, was horribly painful.  And I was so not impressed with the Lord allowing this since I am a caregiver for my husband who had 5 surgeries last year and osteomyelitis and septicemia and an incredible hatred of therapy. What could be His Plan in this, other than making me miserable, I wondered?

Well, first of all, I found I was doing everything for DH because I fell into the old trap of caregiver - rather than making the disabled person do it, it's just easier to do it myself.  That really wasn't that good for DH's brain re-development.

Then, my bringing everything to DH, limited his "walks" to 4 times a day to the bathroom and he was getting weaker and weaker which was sad because he came home from the hospital, totally ambulatory.  He was also getting more and more confused.

So, I stole his "hemi walker" and put him on a regular walker which gives him much more stability.  And because I have this injury, I've been getting him to fetch and carry for me so yesterday in addition to his 4 walks to the bathroom, he did about 8 or 9 walks getting me things and even today, I've noticed he's walking better and gaining some strength!

Also DS, a medical provider, told DH to get up and sit down several times a day which of course he has not been doing, regardless of my reminding him.  But since I am sidelined by this injury, I need him to fetch and carry stuff which means he's getting up and sitting down several times a day.

Finally his having to get me things in the fridge etc, is sort of waking his brain up. 

So "at the end of the day" (sorry but couldn't resist this overused expression!), I can see the good of my injury, painful as it is.

That is "God works good out of all, for those who love Him".  But sure took me a while to find the good in this because such a painful injury.

Finally, because I am fit and mobile, it's usually easy for me to do things but suddenly everything is difficult - a walk to the bathroom with a walker is hard.

Makes me appreciate being fit and I will greatly appreciate it again when I heal.  In difficult times, we tend to forget our blessings and sometimes God has to nudge us to remind us.  Unfortunately, God's "nudges" can get uh...painful.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Update 2017

Going out these days - G on his mobility scooter and me on my recumbent bicycle

Well, This year, 2017, has been different from last year but hard to tell if better. When  DH came home, I had to jump into the role of caregiver, where I get to do all the work.  DH still has anesthesia delirium so seemed to be mostly sitting, didn't talk much to me, and getting weaker and weaker to the point where he can hardly walk at all.  And depressed on top of that. His days are mostly spent, sitting in his chair, starring straight ahead. He watches the pictures on TV but doesn't seem to be able to follow the story very well. As the time wears on, I see small improvements - at least more alert.  A friend at church told me that anesthesia (and he had 14 hours of it with his 5 surgeries in 2016 plus 8 months in the hospital) takes a while to get out of the lungs, especially in the elderly (he's 72) as they don't move as much.  The friend suggested taking deep breaths every hour or so, might help.  DH gave me real heck about getting on the stationary bicycle which not only would help his legs regain muscle but also effect deeper breathing which is likely why he was a bit more lively after even 20 minutes on the stationary bicycle.  He seems to be more amenable to the deep breathing when he remembers.  Mostly I had to realize that the guy who left on Jan 5, 2016, may never be back and I need to adjust.

DH on an outing with our son - he loves it when son takes us out for pizza. Still likes to eat the food which clogged his arteries.  

He went from being a sort of fun, cheerful guy with very mild vascular dementia in the beginning of 2016, to a sullen, quiet, non responsive and immobile guy (after 5 surgeries, osteomyelitis, septicemia and lying on his back for 8 months in the hospital).  

Gerry and me on scooter ride just before he went into the hospital in Jan 2016

A hard pill to swallow, especially in our 51st year of marriage.  We never envision "growing old together" like this. Especially as I, also in my 72nd year, am still mobile, probably somewhat due to my embracing the Dean Ornish program of a low fat diet, mild calorie restriction (no fast food or junk food) and aggressive 40 minute full body daily exercise / cardio program in 1994.  Ornish is a cardiologist who had heart disease running in his family - he did a lot of research and came up with the fact that folks on this type of program, evidenced virtually no heart disease and greatly lowered rates of cancer, thrombosis and stroke. I tried to get DH on that same program (I read 19 books on health and exercise physiology - we don't hear this stuff from our medical providers.. ** sigh **) but he would have no part of it. Hated exercise and could never eat like I was eating, he told me. So he stayed on the American diet of fast and junk food and very little exercise. But I digress - just to say that I suddenly found myself married to a sort of stranger who was immobile, resistant to therapy.  I felt I had no life left even though I felt pretty well.

After his fall, they transported him to a hospital but only damage was a hairline fraction of his finger.

There was some excitement but not of the right kind.  Like when DH decided he was initiating a "walking program" but he went out without his walker and lost his balance and fell.  I had to call the Fire Dept to get him up and they transported him to a nearby hospital to get checked out.  I found myself thinking if they kept him overnight, it was be a nice break but he only had a hairline fracture on his finger. Had to take him to the hand doctor who
x-rayed the hand and made a sort of a brace which he found more uncomfortable and cutting into his arm. They also cat scanned his head to make sure no bleeding.  The result showed extensive brain damage of the occipital and temporal lobes, a bit discouraging to look at. The insurance was the only winner on that one.

I finally, just adjusted and looked for ways to cope.  One important thing seems to be taking small "me time" breaks of 40 minutes to an hour - If I have him pottied and fed, I can leave him alone for small periods of time - I leave his phone close to him in case he needs to call.

me with Michael John Poirier, musician and singer supreme and nice person, at church

For longer breaks, I can sometimes arrange a babysitter.  For example, for Good Friday when church wanted me to play violin, our son came over and sat with DH, bought him pizza and I got a 2 hour break. DH had a good time (eating he still enjoys) too.  I hope to be able to attend my granddaughter's graduation from paramedic school - that's going to take a bit more creativity to find a babysitter since family probably won't be available but never can tell.

A few of those breaks during week make for a fresher me.

Finally, we tried to get him walking with the walker but by this time, he was in such poor condition, that it challenged his immune system and he came down with a cold which he gave me to me.  I put him on antibiotics but I had to tough it out and still have remnants of my cold.

Bottom line, learning situation - being a caregiver with a cold is harder than being a well caregiver.  Nothing like things getting worse, to put things in prospective.

Monday, October 3, 2016

2016 has been a YEAR!

This year started out, normally enough.  We toasted to the New Year (non alcoholic of course) and fully expected it to be a "normal year" with up's and down's but no biggies.  Then on Jan 5, took hubby to the foot doctor for his routine visit and found the "great toe" had turned a purplish and another toe had what seemed a necrotic area on it.

So, we were told to take it to another doctor.  A vascular specialist.  He took one look at it and said, DH needed a surgery in his groin.  That was getting scary.  Finally, we went to the emergency room at the local hospital, they admitted DH and said before they would do any other surgery, they were going to do a Cath test on his heart. Later I found out that clogged arteries in the groin, usually meant, clogged arteries in the heart also.  No one told me anything and while I waited in the waiting room, I was told they might have to put a stent in his coronary arteries, not a real invasive surgery.  I took this photo of myself, in blissful ignorance of what lay ahead.  It was supposed to be an arty photo, in front of a large photograph in the waiting room.

It was the last time I would smile for several months.  They came down and said DH needed a coronary bypass.  I sat down in horror and the doctor told me that now, the risk rate was 5% - things had come a long way since I'd studied them in 1999.  Never-the-less, DH didn't look too good when he came back from surgery.  Tubes in every aperture and later I found out he'd had a quadruple coronary bypass graft because 4 out of 5 coronary arteries were totally clogged (including the so called "widow maker").  Again the info flow wasn't very forthcoming. Our son asked the OR nurse what type of bypass DH had had, and she said she thought it was a triple bypass.  ** sigh **  He had his CABG-4 on January 21, 2016.

But that was only the beginning. Soon after on Jan 28, he had a femoral to popliteal bypass in the left groin and finally, on Feb 2,  they amputated the great toe and the other toe on the left foot.  3 major surgeries.  They sent him to rehab on February 5 and he was still ambulatory at this point even sans toes but he received no wound care.  He walked 150 feet in rehab and things looked hopeful. Came home on Feb 19, but was again, neither assigned home nursing or wound care.  That lasted a few days and he started running a fever of 104.  Back to the ER on Feb 26 to find out to find out that the lack of wound care had caused him to develop septicemia and osteomyelitis..  Actually as a 71 year old, it's a miracle he survived that but he had to go on antibiotics for 6 weeks (Intravenous powerful antibiotics).  On March 1, he had a coronary stress test (chemical) which he passed with flying colors - the bypass was doing well - but while he was down in the basement of the hospital for the 5 hour test, his iPhone was stolen from his room.  Oops, they forgot to tell us that iPhones are among the most steal-able items. :(  This is the last photo he took with his iPhone, a "selfie".  (he now has a flip phone which he can merely dial a number on - it has a camera but it's a complex process to send the photo someplace.)

He was released to a "SNF" and we picked Kindred, which turned out to be a great choice because they not only had one of the best wound care nurses, but also were, in all ways, a wonderful facility.  I have no doubts that they saved his life!

After the long time on antibiotics, and a long stay at the therapy hospital after the septicemia was cleared, he was discharged on May 27, this time with wound care and therapy, provided by Kindred's home health care group.  He was home until we visited the foot doc on July 12 and he was just getting more ambulatory.  The foot doc pointed out that now the great toe on the right foot had turned purple plus another toe with necrotic tissue.  "Take him to the ER," counseled the foot doctor.  Both DH's and my eyes filled with tears when we heard that message.  

This time we took him to the Kindred ER, a better choice than the other hospital ER.  He was admitted to another close-by hospital and on July 16, they did a femoral to popliteal bypass on the right side and July 18, they amputated the great toe and another toe on the right foot. He was shipped back to Kindred which took good care of him and on July 27, was cleared for therapy.  By this time he had been transferred to the Kindred rehab hospital where he got good therapy and wound care, also.  July 28, they discovered a hairline fracture of his shoulder from when he'd fallen at home in June so addressed that. Just another thing.  ** sigh **

Kindred put wound vacs on his amputation wounds (those things are the greatest invention EVER!) to help heal it and prevent infection.  The amputation wounds on the right foot healed before the femoral to popliteal bypass wound on the right side which at this writing, is still open a bit although the visiting nurse says it's doing well!   Yes, DH is diabetic which makes his wound healing difficult.

In August he was sent to the Kindred rehab hospital which offered great therapy as well as great wound care.

  The following photo was taken in therapy at Kindred. He's trying to make rabbit ears on me which gave the therapists a laugh.

I visited him daily, usually coming at lunchtime and leaving in the evening around 4 PM.  I found, although the food was to die from at the Kindred cafeteria, I'd better abstain from it - not easy as it was great food.

Finally Sept 22, 2016, he was discharged to home but from being flat on his back for so long and 5 major surgeries, he was no longer ambulatory despite his walking his wheelchair up and down the halls.

What a trip.  He's in therapy now - and although he has forgotten himself and walked a few steps without a walker, he seems frightened of walking now.  Only time will tell.  And after being apart for almost 9 months, he and I have to get used to (1.) his new physical status and (2.) just living together again.  It's reminiscent of our first year of marriage and not in a real positive way.  This was our 50th year of marriage.  What did we do for our 50th anniversary.  NOTHING.  Absolutely nothing.  

Now he's home and in therapy again.  Sort of ambulatory with a walker and as I mentioned, when he occasionally forgets, he takes a few steps without the walker. Therapists are hopeful he will be more ambulatory in time and I got him to walk out to the car for a drive yesterday with his walker.  

Needless to say, he's got a rather bad case of PTSD as he had never in his life had any surgery previously and even got away with being pretty non compliant on a diabetic diet.  I kicked his butt to exercise which he did 20 minutes daily, with a lot of complaining.  That cardio probably saved his life though.  Now we have to get him to realize saving his life was a good thing. There are times, he says, he's not sure.  He hates not being independent.

And me, you ask?  Living on the corner of Depression and Weary-ness. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A new Sunday treat!

Those of you who know me for a long time, know that Sundays I've saved up WAP's so I can have a DQ sundae.  I've done this for a long time... like years.  But lately they apparently are putting some additives in the soft serve that, according to the 'net' are supposed to make it melt slower - whatever they've been putting in it, it and my guts do not get along so after two weeks of er... repercussions the next day - you can imagine without my going into detail, I decided to quit DQ "cold turkey" as it were.  So my hubby had what sounded like a doable idea - why not get some fat free ice cream and fudge and cool whip free and make our own.  At first the idea didn't really appeal to me but I do love cool whip free so after he broke the ice (pun intended) .. sorry... grin... I carefully measured 1/2 cup of the fat free ice cream (2 pp's) and 2 tablespoons of cool whip - they say 0 but I counted 1 pp.  Well, to my surprise, it tasted a whole lot better than the DQ has been tasting - I think all the chemicals in the DQ are beginning to affect the taste but also, instead of the 8 pp's I spend on a DQ every Sunday, this only cost me 3 PP's!  Yay.  Thanks to hubby and yes, maybe to DQ because frankly the homemade concoction tasted a whole lot better and for less Points Plus .... win win in my book.  Hope everyone had a great week!  (The photo is hubby eating a DQ in the old days before additive chemicals!) :)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Adventures in Injury

Sometimes I forget I'm in my 70th year.  After a particularly busy week and lots of exercise - sometimes 2 sessions a day - well hubby is trying to get his bicycle legs back and the weather has been gorgeous for biking.  OK, I admit it - I totally love bicycling and sometimes don't know when to stop!  So last Saturday like the 8th of Feb, I just did 40 minutes or so, half on the healthrider and half on the gazelle freestyle.  Then got off and sat down for a minute to rest and remembered I forgot to stretch so decided to just do the floor stretches, went to get down on the floor and felt this horrible pain in my left knee... I needed help to get to a chair because couldn't put any weight on it.  At first I thought it was just a bad cramp but it just didn't go away.  Found out (when I consulted the medical provider) that it was a strained ligament.  Very painful and suddenly the short walk to the bathroom and things like sitting down to toilet etc became complex.  I don't think I've ever been that disabled and it was an education in itself.  Slowly it got better - could put a bit of weight on it then walk with a walker etc.  It's still sore as I write this on Feb 17th (almost Feb 18) but I did take my first steps yesterday.  Luckily we do have a scooter and it really came in handy and there are things I will never take for granted again - even walking.  I realize I need to start limiting my workouts to 30 minutes or so - no one wants to admit they are aging but let's face it, I AM aging.  Well, the happy news is I AM better and I am walking again, albeit on a limited basis and I was really glad to have the scooter available!  Hope your week went well! XOXO