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Catching Up

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JeriB

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First Entry - Getting the background in

 

January 4th - Dad complained of feeling clumsy. Foot not moving where he wanted it to go. Hand not moving right either.

 

January 6th - Mentioned the issues to a co-worker and she suggested TIAs. I called my doctor's office, nurse line triage and she said get him in asap. Called my sister and she agreed. Get Dad in asap. Her boyfriend also agreed. He saw this with his mom. TIAs are a "warning shot across the bow".

 

Convinced Dad to go to hospital, I chose Abbott Northwestern due to the Heart Hospital they have and his own history. (Quintuple bypass in August 2011, and stent in August 2012.)

 

MRIs definentely showed stroke on the left side. CT scans showed blocked left carotid artery. 50% Dad's right side was affected, hand drifted and leg step sideways when walking.

 

MRIs also showed evidence of right stroke, not as severe, right carotid not blocked.

 

Plans were made for home eval with PT/OT to ensure I had the house as safe as possible.

 

Had a carousel of doctors, neurologists and vampires (blood draws) doing a round robin of testing. We had constant questions of does Dad have A-fib? Not as far as we know.

 

Dad ended up having a tube down his throat to see how his heart was working from the inside. Considering he is a 75 year old man, it's working really well. No issues to be seen outside the heart.

 

Got told that he would have to be on Coumadin/Warfarin. Which caused a certain amout of hissy cat for our family. (Family legend/rumour has it that his mom had two docs that did not communicate about her dosage. She took too much and started bleeding internally. It caused enough brain damage that she was placed in a nursing home and she died there about 6-9 months later.)

 

Dad was discharged on January 9th with a heart monitor to see if it could catch whether he was going into A-fib and a plan for nurses to come by and check on him. His driving was put on hold.

 

January 16th - Dad and I with a friend of mine were having dinner. I called Dad to the table to get dinner. Next thing I know he's taking a header for the table. Tried to catch himself with his right hand and that was not working again either. He's pitching towards the left and my friend caught him. We eventually switched places and got a chair under Dad. 911 is called and Dad is being taken to the hospital again.

 

More MRIs are done and now it's revealed that his carotid is more like 80% blocked. His left was out of whack, but recovered nicely. His right was set back a bit, but still workable. His heart is conveinentely in A-fib which nicely proves that theory. We have a date set for a carotid endarterectomy (roto rooter) for January 29th. The nuerologist would rather have it done sooner rather than later, but the thought is to let Dad's brain recover a bit and then go in.

 

The following week Dad and I go walking at a local mall, to get exercise and get out of the house a bit. He's not supposed to leave the house without someone with him, falling risk and plus it's too bloody cold a times. He tries to walk through the storefront. (Some of the mall storefronts have supports, like pillars, just outside and you can walk between them and the door of store.) He missed the fact that there is a window there and clocks his knee on the window. The next day I call the neurologist and ask if this is normal and I'm told that it is, the strokes may have affected his perception and it's something that will be relearned.

 

January 24th - Dad and I drive to MKE to spend time with my sister and her kids. Dad keeps a promise to his grand-daughter to go to a science lecture. He's confused a bit with directions and we end up relying on Ehlixz to get us to the U of WI. We take the kids back to their Dad and head back to the rental apt. Dad and I stop to get dinner and then go home to meet up with Auntie Mari (Mom's sister). Dad starts unpacking the meds and then I realize that he's trying to open the sharps container. I ask him what he's doing and he tells me that he's unpacking dinner. The next day we spend some time with my sister. We have lunch out and he asks us constantly where his coat is. We go back to the rental apt and watch a movie or at least, Dad listens and my sister and I go and talk about what's happening. I take Brenda home, come back and get Dad to bed. The next morning, I watch Dad get lost and not able to find the bathroom. We get things sorted out and we head to lunch for Brenda's birthday. Dad's is not firing on all cylinders. He tries to eat the paper from the muffin. Dad and I head out for MSP. He unlocks the seatbelt multiple times and I have to grab it and put it back in place. He acts as if he's going to open the door. (Thank heavens I was driving a rental car and not his or mine.) Finally he's able to tell me that he needs to use the restroom. I stop at a truck stop and get him towards the mens room. I glance in and realize that he has not made it to a stall and is about to drop trou and take a leak against the bricks. I move in quickly to push him into a stall. He eventually comes out but is trying to button his jeans with his coat snaps. We get home and I call the nurse line of the home care that has been coming in. The nurse tells me that I need to get Dad to the hospital asap. I then spend about 45 mins getting him back into jeans and to the hospital. In the mean time he's talking about sifters and not making sense. The docs get him settled and admitted. They are just going to keep him until his surgery on the 29th. I ask if this is something I should have recognized and seen to do something about it sooner. I'm told that I can't take responsibilty for this. Even if he had needed to go to the hospital in MKE, there would not have been anything to be done. I was giving him Lovenox shots to thin his blood to bridge to the surgery. He would not have been eligble for the emergency shot.

 

January 29th - Dad has his surgery. He had glitch coming out of of the procedure. His right side was not working. We waited a little longer and then we had good news. The surgeon, commented that he was much happier with this situation, but reserved the right to get unhappy if something changed. I was challenged by the fact that he did not know which daughter I was. He was asked what my birthday was, and he gave my sisters. Eventually that got solved out and my identity was established.

 

February 4th - Dad gets moved to Sister Kenny Rehab. A very intense rehab attached to his hospital. He consistently thinks he's in MKE. He is convinced that he's right by the apt where he lived for 10+ years with my mom. He has 6 days of rehab with ~6 hours a day of therapy.

 

Dad is discharged to home on February 16th. He needs someone to be with him for 24 hours a day 7 days a week for the next 30 days. I apply for FMLA and it gets approved, I also yell for help and I get a couple volunteers.

 

Over the next/past 30 days, we've had some ups and downs. He still gets confused with where he is, especially when we're leaving rehab. Otherwise he seems to be doing well. I need to be with him if he's taking a shower. (Thank heavens I'm not body shy.) He can zap something in the microwave, he can make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. He can go to the bathroom on his own. He can get dressed on his own, there are occaisional moment where clothing get's turned around. Head through the sleeve or twisting a coat around as it's being put on.

 

We're still challenged by his vision. The plan at one point was to get his eyes checked and see if he could get a cataract surgery. He's got amblyopia on the left. He asked about Lasik and they would not do it because he did not have a "back-up eye". His left quadrant seems to be not functioning well. But we'll have to let the neuro-opthalmalogist look at it. He can read some. He made a obvious connection today when we when grocery shopping. He likes the Suddenly Salads. He wanted to go down the pasta aisle since they are pastas. It was a good thought, but those are found in the box dinner aisle. But I was happy he made the connection and tried it.

 

One of the challenges is Dad's perfectionist streak. He gets very frustrated when he does something wrong. That is part of his upbringing. His dad was not a nice man. I'm sure part of it is struggle from the stroke, but part of it is his upbringing. If he drops the remote on the floor as he was aiming to put it down on the table, I hear a "d*mn stup*d" or "clumsy idi*t".

 

That's the skinny up until today. We'll see what the next few days bring. Next time I'll talk about the Adult Day Services.

 

Jeri B.

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blogging it all feels good and keeps a perspective -- i can look back on my blogs and see we have had progress- a little - but still progress... at least i am not in a adrenaline mode from dans behaviors..thank god for him and me... or i think i would be in the nut hut now... your doing great...

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Welcome to the Blog Community Jeri. There is a lot of experience here and both survivors and caregivers will comment on what you post and offer advice so you will know it comes from first hand knowledge and a loving heart as we are all in this together.

 

I looked after my parents and my husband Ray (who suffered multiple strokes) and my mother (who suffered from Alzheimer's and mixed dementias) both died in 2012 two months apart. I am a widow now and still a volunteer here and anything I advise comes from many years of experience as a caregiver and with a lot of love for you as one caring person to another.

 

(((hugs))) from Sue.

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Hi Jeri, I know it feels good after blogging, get it out of your system. You are doing a great job looking after your dad God bless you. Like Sue said, here you have caregivers with so much experience and love in their heart.

 

Love and hugs

 

Yvonne

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Jeri: Thank you so much for updating us on Dad's recovery progress. Been thinking about both of you. Yes, you all have had quite a journey. That month until he got to Rehab must have been a nightmare.

 

But in seeing his progress in just a few short months is remarkable. I do hope you are feeling a little less anxious about his safety. Sounds like you have things set up where he can manage the things he wants to do safely.

 

And I do have to applaud you, you are giving him his space and that is so important in recovery. It is OK he reprimands himself - it is reinforcing short term memory. And that just might be his way of reminding himself that things are no longer reflex - he has to work on remembering and double-checking himself. That will only make him safer and you to be able to set up your game plan when you go back to work.

 

Please do keep us updated. Hugs and prayers to all of you. Try to figure out how to get some time off for you - not work, something special for you - even if it is just going for a walk, hairdresser, window-shopping. I was happy to hear you had some volunteers on board - use that time as you need to, certainly. But do try to fit in a hour or so just for you. Best, Debbie

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Hi, Jeri. It is a confusing path we caretakers follow. I am glad your Dad has you to help him thru this. I wonder how they came upon the idea of 30 days, it would seem that they would need to take that little by little to see how he does, memory and function wise before assigning a time like that. Could be deceiving, so here's your heads-up. Bob also has vision problems, which makes it easy for him to run into things.

 

I would like to hear more about the difference before and after his surgery in his actions and thought processes. My hubby couldn't have the surgery because he was 100% blocked, but still am interested in how it worked for your Dad.

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Thanks for blogging Jeri. You have documented it well. I was in such a fog when my spouse stroked, 2/5/10, I don't think I could remember everything that went on. As you said, so many doctors, tests, etc.

 

Your dad is lucky to have you. I wish him the best in his recovery.

 

Julie

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Jeri,

So great to see you blogging! Lots of us have difficulty with letting go of our perfectionism after stroke. We'll be happy to share with what worked for us so you can help dad adjust too. In time he will learn to establish what is perfect for him based on his abilities now by accepting and seeing himself through his own eyes now and who he was and the eyes of others. It will be a process getting him there, but we're here to help you along the way.

 

Maria

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