Paco update

Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday last week was to base the post around a word that contained -igh. My thought was to write a post beginning with “Sigh” about my father’s continuing health struggles, following up on two previous SoCS posts.

The day after I wrote the post linked above, Paco’s condition deteriorated and I made the decision to send him to the emergency room. After the initial check-in, I was allowed to be with him. The ER team was very thorough and found that he was dehydrated and had three new fractures in his lumbar vertebrae. After some IV fluids, he went back to the rehab facility by ambulance at 3 AM.

I caught a nap and was very grateful to learn that my older sister had moved up a planned visit and would arrive that afternoon. She spent a lot of time with Paco on compassionate care visits while I worked out a lot of logistics. It turned out that a rehab room opened up within his senior community; the place where he currently was in rehab was a sister facility in a nearby city. Paco was set to move back on Friday and I spent a lot of time packing up things in his assisted living unit, some to send up to his rehab room there and some to bring back to our house as we had decided to give up his place in assisted, as we know he won’t be well enough to return there any time soon – and may never recover to that point.

The plan on Friday had been that our family would finish clearing out his place in assisted and help Paco to get settled into rehab, but we arrived to find that someone in the assisted wing had tested positive for COVID, so it had to go into lockdown. Fortunately, this didn’t affect Paco’s move and he arrived safely via medivan. I signed yet another cache of documents and was allowed a short visit to help him get settled.

Unfortunately, our hard-won rights to expanded compassionate care visits got lost in the bureaucracy with the impending holiday weekend adding another layer of complications with so many staff away on vacation. I was able to get permission for some extra visiting time over the weekend but face another round of changing personnel, location, rules, etc. this coming week.

Meanwhile, Paco is confused and exhausted. The silver lining is that his pain level is generally low.

The big question mark remains how much recovery is possible in regards to daily living functions. I don’t know if the rehab team will be able to make a valid prediction or not.

It may be a situation of wait and watch and work and hope and pray and see where we end up.

One-Liner Wednesday: a helpful hint

Helpful Hint: A good, multi-layered cloth mask makes an excellent eye shield if you need to try to sleep under bright lights. (discovered during an emergency room visit with Paco Sunday night/Monday morning)
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Join us for Linda’s One-Liner Wednesdays! Find out more here: https://lindaghill.com/2021/06/30/one-liner-wednesday-laying-down-on-the-job/

April 8

I am going to preface this post with the statement that Nana is doing well, so as not to cause anyone undue stress.

On Friday, April 8th, my plan was to do a couple of things at Grandma’s cottage, which we were working on cleaning out, have lunch with a friend, and then head to Syracuse to bring daughter T home for the weekend, which would be her first time home since Grandma died on March 22nd.

A few minutes after I arrived at the senior community, my cell phone rang. It was my mom (Nana) calling from the emergency room. She had collapsed in the waiting room of a medical building across the street from the hospital. The rapid response team had done a couple of rounds of CPR on her and she was in the emergency room for monitoring and tests.

I used the speakerphone to tell B what was happening. He made arrangements to go to Syracuse to get T. I left messages for my friend not to expect me for lunch. Meanwhile, I drove to the hospital.

I was lucky to find a parking space in the visitors’ lot and rushed up the hill toward the emergency entrance, a cold wind blowing directly into my face, making it difficult to catch my breath. After an unusually mild winter, we had a couple of cold snowy weeks once spring had officially arrived.

Once I was able to get through the line and behind the locked doors of the ER, the wait was on. An EKG was done. The heart monitor was tracing green lines across a screen above Nana’s head. Blood was drawn for tests. They took Nana down for a chest X-ray. There was a line started in her arm, although she wasn’t hooked up to any intravenous fluids. She wasn’t allowed to eat or drink. We were talking to pass the time. The ER became increasingly busy and noisy.

Nana was having some pain in her back and chest. The nurse told us it was from the CPR. A small price to pay from having been brought back from death…

Several hours later, the physician assigned to her case came in. Nana was not dehydrated. Her electrolytes were fine. She hadn’t had a heart attack.

In fact, her heart had not stopped at all.

She had fainted, mostly likely from a combination of cold, wind, walking too quickly uphill in the morning when her medications tend to drop her blood pressure.

We were grateful that she was okay, although I admit that I have been struggling with the fact that a highly trained medical team missed her pulse and performed CPR when they should have been reaching for the smelling salts.

This was especially difficult as she has had to deal with a bruised chest and ribs over these following weeks. It was all unnecessary.

For me, it was also an extra measure of fear that pushed me within a hair’s breadth of melting down. I have been working hard at keeping myself functional during this stressful time. For a few hours, I felt as though I might not be able to cope with an added crisis.

Thank God that Nana and the rest of the family were spared what could have been so much worse.

 

 

 

Friday night fun? – part 2

In part one of this post, I wrote about reading at poetry open mic for the first time.  Here is a (somewhat condensed) continuation of the story.

While stopped at a traffic light on the way home, I turned the ringer of my phone back on and was surprised to see that there was a missed call from my husband B, who had stayed at home because he wasn’t feeling well.  He knew where I was and that I wouldn’t have the phone on during the reading, so I immediately became apprehensive and rushed home to find that my mom (Nana) had called for advice as to whether she should have my dad (Paco) take her to the walk-in or the emergency room when she had suddenly exhibited symptoms of a gastrointestinal bleed.

B advised the emergency room.

B had called my cell phone, hoping that I would put my ringer back on before leaving the bookstore so that I could get to the hospital more quickly, but, as it turned out, it was good that I had gone home first. They phoned again during the few minutes I was home to say that Nana was being put into a room in the ER. I grabbed a few magazines that I could leave with my mother for entertainment during the inevitable waiting times and headed out to the hospital.

The ER waiting room was filled to overflowing and there were so many patients back in the unit itself that some were in the hallway. My mom was in a room, though, because they needed to keep her hitched up to cardiac monitors, given that some of her symptoms could have been a second heart attack. Her heart was okay, but she needed to stay in the hospital to figure out where the bleeding was occurring. There were no rooms available in the hospital proper, so, about 2 AM, she was moved to another section of the ER that had beds rather than gurneys.

The next day, the gastroenterologist who was on weekend call, Dr. B., came in and we decided that it was best to do a colonoscopy on Sunday morning and Nana was admitted to the GI unit when space became available. The colonoscopy revealed that Nana had developed arteriovenous malformations (AVM) and was bleeding from several different sites, which Dr. B. cauterized. Dr. B. explained it to us as being similar to varicose veins that break through to the surface and bleed. Unfortunately, the meds that Nana needs to take due to her cardiac stents don’t help matters, as they act to prevent blood from clotting easily.

Although Nana had lost quite a bit of blood, the doctors decided not to transfuse but to let her try to build back her blood count on her own.  This didn’t turn out so well, as Nana had to spend several days in the hospital about a month later when her low iron levels started to affect her blood pressure. They finally gave her a couple of units of blood and, while her iron level isn’t quite up to what is considered normal, she is slowly gaining strength and getting back to some parts of her old routine – with, we hope, more progress to come as spring continues to unfold and we celebrate Mother’s Day and her birthday.

There is no way to tell when the AVMs may recur, so, for now, there are weekly blood tests so that, if she becomes more anemic, the gastroenterologist can intervene before she loses too much blood.

Vigilance is our friend, as is following through on recommended treatment, medication, and lifestyle choices. It’s what has kept Nana and Paco as active as they are as they age.

But fingers crossed that we don’t have any more medical adventures in the coming months.

We all need a rest.