16 May 2015

Raising Parents

I have stopped and started this post over the past three weeks.  If there are continuity issues, that's why. Also, the topic keeps moving under my feet.

Kevin's mom was in the hospital, or two actually, for three weeks. She has been home for a week and has already taken an ambulance ride to the hospital. To add to her already long list of health problems, she has added Diverticulitis.  She had been struggling to breathe from the COPD and subsequent bronchitis and now this. She's been in poor health forever and been increasingly frail but now we are starting to look at the end.

Unfortunately, beyond any reason that any of us can understand, they initially went to the hospital where the Nephew nearly died, after the family agreed not to go there anymore. What I didn't realize was that she was in the exact same room as the Nephew.  Thanks for that kick in the shins, universe.  When she did not progress as they thought she would, they transferred her to a larger hospital further south.

We have had ongoing conversations about not taking her to that hospital anymore.  In the moment, they agree.  With the ambulance sitting in the driveway, there was debate.  Talk about making me want to kick bunnies.  The boys were super frustrated, as well.

One of the major hurdles we have is that my father-in-law is functionally illiterate.  So often, he doesn't fully understand the information that is being given to him.  Imparting the information that he does understand is the second challenge. This has resulted in a few "The SKY IS FALLING" phone calls that we had to put a stop to.  We have a phone tree in place and instructions that unless the nurse/doctor says "Come right now", not to panic everyone.  (this also explains to me where the brother learned this behavior)

As I've read happens, f-i-l also gets defensive if someone implies that something was done wrong or could be done differently.  While I understand this is normal, this has also made us a little nuts.

The other problem is whatever she says, he does; even though we've talked about it extensively.  She has vascular dementia and strokes so she isn't able to make rational decisions. "But she wants to water her plants/she wants to have steak/she can walk be herself"    He's getting better about it now, even he can't ignore how far gone she is, but he still will acquiesce to her at any given moment.

AND, because that's not enough, she doesn't understand how sick she is.  She *just* posted on her facebook that she wants to go visit a friend an hour away "When I kick this thing."  Umm, you're not kicking COPD, Peripherial Arterial and Vascular Disease, Brittle Vein Disease, Vascular Dementia, and Strokes.
Yet another topic Kevin and I discussed was how much to push her to eat right, etc. when she's clearly on her way out.  It's kind of like chastising a terminal cancer patient for smoking.  Yet, it affects her blood pressure and gives her tummy aches.

The hospital had them do an advanced directive and we had a long conversation before, after, and during.  My fear is that someone is going to panic and ask for it to be ignored.  My brother, an EMT, said this happens.  To add to the difficulty level, when the paramedics were there, the DNR was filed away and not visible to the paramedics.

I have also joked that I am going to have her health issues tattooed across her chest.  While the parents are able to state her vitals and provide a medicine list, (which is excellent) they are not able to list all her illnesses.  Luckily, most of the time the ambulance has been here, I am able to list off all the illnesses.  I am making a list to be posted next to the DNR for everyone's sanity.

There is finally a home health nurse coming out to help make sure she is taking her meds correctly, etc.  I was hoping for a caretaker as well but maybe in the future.  At least there is another set of eyes on her who actually knows what they are looking for/at.

The ever-so-lovely Swistle recommended Being Mortal and I ordered it because: perfect timing.  I've just started it and already feel soothed.  It offers a good perspective about aging and how people view it and what gets lost in the shuffle of life.  (like the aforementioned why are we worried about what she's eating, at this point)  It has provided a good reminder to stop focusing on what's wrong and focus on the person who is sick/aging.

Now, after all of this, the moral of the story for y'all is that parents lie to you. They fib, either because they don't fully understand and don't want to admit it, or because they're afraid to lose their independence, or don't want people to worry.  It is most certainly payback for all those late nights we've given them over the years.

No comments: