Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hospital Mode

Once again, I find myself with a loved one in very bad shape in a hospital ICU unit. This time it's my dad. He suffered an aortic aneurysm, something not many people survive, on July 1. My brother and I have pieced together what happened that got him to the hospital, and it appears he was at his primary care provider's office, someone there realized he was in bad shape, and they called an ambulance to rush him to a nearby hospital where he had emergency surgery. He's been heavily sedated since then and we haven't been able to talk with him. We've talked TO him and he's been able to nod yes and no every once in a while, but he's pretty much out of it. He's been in a lot of pain even with the medication. He's had complications from the blood clots and the surgery that include acute renal failure, liver problems, and fluid around his lungs. His feet have also been affected by compromised blood flow to the point that they were talking about amputation. His feet at least seem to be somewhat better at this point so I don't think they will want to amputate anything after all, thank goodness. Now the rest of him needs to recover!

Dealing with all of this is so stressful. My uncle came down for a week but had to fly back home so it's basically my brother and I dealing with everything. My brother is closer to the hospital so he's borne the brunt of it all, but I'm doing what I can. I've been to the hospital (a 45 minute drive each way) every day except for the day of The Wild Child's birthday party. I've had loved ones in ICU before but there was always another generation ahead of me and lots of other adult relatives to help with all that needs to be done. I learned a lot from going through those situations though, even if I wasn't the primary decision maker. This time it's just the two of us. My brother is young (I am 17 years older than he is) and hasn't been through anything like this before (to my knowledge) but he grew up with my dad so I told him he has the ulitimate say in what happens. I didn't start spending time with my dad until I was 18. Of course I want to be consulted and have input, he's still my dad too, but I will defer to my brother if we disagree. That led to some problems for me- I wasn't strong enough in insisting on keeping informed and letting the doctors know that they do need to talk to me as well as my brother. The ultimate decision may be his but I do want a say and I absolutely have to be informed of all that is going on. I expressed that to the nurse and the nursing supervisor today and I think they heard me, so we'll see.

Aside from that, I'm in hospital mode. That means keeping a hospital bag ready to go every day that holds my Kindle and other reading material, my "to do" notepad, a cushion for those hard hospital chairs, some water, a snack or two, and my charger. (Works for both the phone and the Kindle.) Sometimes I'll take a light jacket but this hospital isn't chilly so I don't need it this time around. I also take my cane seat thingy since they are a little stingy with the chairs in the ICU. (Although I asked and the nurse got me a recliner today- a joyous thing since I was able to nap for a few minutes, and boy, did I need it!) If there is a regular chair available I can use the cane seat thingy as a foot rest. When you've got fibromyalgia it's kind of essential to find a way to get comfortable. The other days I've stayed for long periods of time have been really difficult when I only had a regular chair, or no chair. Plus the driving itself is hard; for some reason a lot of driving really makes me ache.

But I'm coping. DH is helping out by taking over everything at home. He also walks with me to keep up my exercise routine. (A 30 minute walk most days.) It's super important that I keep walking; it helps with stress relief. My stomach is starting to act up from the stress so I know I need those walks! (It's the IBS, which tends to go along with fibromyalgia for many, many fibro patients.) When I realize I'm feeling stressed out I try to remember to breathe deeply and relax. I think I need yoga or something, or maybe I should go back to the acupuncturist. (Oh, if only I had time!) Right now though, I'm going to bed. Sleep is the best stress relief of all.

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