Tuesday, May 30, 2017

And this is how the story ends...

Monday morning the doctor calls.  They took He-Who to x-ray to check again for pneumonia and he went into cardiac arrest.  They resusitated him and he is in ICU on a ventilator.  Chris is there, Keith and Sue are there and I'm home throwing up.  I don't see how I can get there.  The doc tells Sue to come and get me sick or no and she did.
At the hospital now are Karen, Nancy, Taylor and her boyfriend, Lance, Chris, Keith and Sue.  They got me a wheel chair and into ICU I go.  It is clear He-Who is unresponsive.  His eyes are closed and he doesn't respond when I squeeze his hand.  I am in shock...how can this be?  It is all wrong!  I tell him I love him close to his ear and pray he can hear me.  No deep breaths even with the ventilator.  We say our goodbyes and I leave the room.  The nurse brings me the papers to sign to take him off the ventilator.  It is clear that his quality of life will never be good and it is the right thing to do but so hard.  I lay down for a while in the waiting room, then go back in to say goodbye again.  The daughters say goodbye, Karen adding "Geez, Dad, if you didn't want to move, you coulda just said so."  Chris will stay until the end but sobbing I head out the door.  Keith and Sue take me home.
I don't know how to do this!  I've never been a widow!  What am supposed to do?  I think I am too sick to stay but it is so hard to leave, so hard to say goodbye.  I love you!  I love you!

He-Who not improving! February 25 and 26

I returned to the hospital Saturday morning and find He-Who quite listless.  His color isn't good and he still has the terrible cough.  He doesn't want to converse and I let him rest.  It is obvious he isn't eating much.  I call our son and give him the update and tell him I think he should come.  I am really worried!!!
At noon I try again to get him to eat.  There is shrimp on the menu, a favorite of his but I can only get him to eat a couple.  He seems to have difficulty getting anything down, even swallowing is a challenge.
I decide to go home in the late afternoon and make a brief appearance at the party.  The hospital has my number if needed.
Polly had a lovely good-bye cake for us and friends were most gracious and understanding in their goodbyes.  I am feeling worse and worse physically and crash into bed after another round of medicine.

Today is Karen's birthday.  Chris arrives and takes over for a while as by now I am really sick.  I am just too sick to get to the hospital today and if I have a different bug than He-Who's, I am afraid to expose him.  He doesn't seem any better.  The doc calls and is moving him into ICU to keep a closer eye on him.  I am so worried!  Do the new nurses know he has Alzheimer's and can't respond normally?  That he is hard of hearing and can't see without his glasses?
Pray everyone, pray!

Thursday, February 23 and Friday, February 24

He-Who is no better...has terrible cough and feels warm.  Yep--he has a temp of 101.  So off we go to Park Plaza Hospital's ER  as I feel we may get better service.  This time the ER doc seems concerned.  The decision is made to keep him overnight and get another chest x-ray.  I'm not feeling well but I stayed until he got into a room and made sure he ate some supper.  His appetite seems okay and I am glad he felt well enough to eat something.
Exhausted I headed for home and sleep.

He-Who's brother and wife came to check on He-Who.  Tests came back negative for pneumonia so the doc thinks it's just a severe bronchial infection and put him on antibiotics.
How can sitting in the hospital room all day be so exhausting?  I'm downing Vitamin C and Mucinex but am feeling worse and worse.  Polly is planning a going-away party for us tomorrow night at her house.  We just have to feel better!

Wednesday, February 22

Daughter Karen came to help with packing, etc. but Ken woke up with a terrible cough.  He was dragging yesterday but today very congested.  It is clear he is not well so off to St. Luke's ER we went.  I thing we both have some kind of bug!  Hopefully not the awful one that has been going around Brookdale.  With Alzheimer's it is so hard to tell just how one feels as they lack the sensitivity to their own bodies and are unable to describe what is going on.
The ER doc ordered x-rays and said his lungs looked okay and sent him home with the precaution that if he develops a fever, bring him back.  I fixed him some soup and put him to bed.  Karen cleaned the refrigerator and left hoping she doesn't catch whatever we have.

Thank God for help!

Thank God our daughters came to help go through the kitchen and clean out the pantry.  Anything open, we pitched.  I'm just not sure how much room I will have in the new kitchen.  At least I will have a washer and dryer and a full size refrigerator.
He-Who is beginning to be anxious and asks over and over again when we are leaving.  I'm trying to keep things as normal as possible but not feeling up to snuff...still achy and congested.

In the meantime our daughter-in-law and son are going full steam ahead with birthday party plans at their house.  The invitations are out and lots of friends and family have said they plan to come.  The grandkids are planning to be there...first day of spring break.  The last time we had all the Cox family together was for the twins 85th birthday last year.
I just have to get well...not sleeping well and just can't seem to get my snap back.

February 15 and 16

I'm still not up to speed and only driving to Walgreen's around the corner and the Post Office.  Frequently I wake up at night with hip pain and just can't seem to get my energy back.  And damn!  We are preparing to move!!  I have contacted Comfort Moves and Marylynne.  She and her wonderful crew came and packed up my studio and all the art work.  The dining room is full of boxes.  Nephew Greg came for the coffee table and the big mirror in the bedroom.  That pretty much leaves our clothes and the kitchen.  He-Who has long since given up using his computer and desk so I will use his desk in our new place and give mine to granddaughter Kate.
He-Who seems to be handling it all pretty well and getting a little excited about the move.  As long as he has TV and the newspaper keeps comming and he can get to the dining room table, he's a happy camper.
Comfort Moves will come back on Monday and Tuesday of next week to finish packing.  We will go stay at Keith and Sue's and the movers are scheduled to load on Wednesday, March 1.  Yikes!  Looks like we are finally going to get to San Antonio.  I gave the Post Office our new address so it feels official.

We spent the day getting rid of more stuff and running some pre-move errands.  I played Mexican train dominoes at Polly Clark's as I will not have another opportunity.  He-Who was asleep when I got home.  I'm not feeling well--achy and have some congestion.  Ellen Orsburn wasn't feeling well either and we hops we aren't coming down the the crud that is going around Brookdale.  A couple of people have been hospitalized with it.
It's kinda weird walking around the apartment with all the boxes but it won't be long now.

Just stuff and more stuff

We have downsized once but it is amazing how much stuff one can accumulate in 2 1/2 years...along with stuff we should have left behind in the first move.  He-Who had boxes of papers from his days at NASA.  God love the man!  He caught on the the need to get rid of some of these boxes and has started going through them.  And he loves doing it!  It gives him something to accomplish.  They bring forth the memories of all his days at JSC, the books he has written, etc.  So for 2 or 3 times a week he is spending a couple of hours sorting through his boxes.  Who woulda thunk this possible!  And I am so grateful!.
It looks like I will be strong enough to move the first week of March.  I've cleared the date with Watercrest and our son.  I saw the hip doctor this week and she declared me free of PT.  Yay!  Though I will miss the sweet therapists!  He-Who will, too.  He enjoyed walking there with me.

Poster child? Ha!

It's clear I'm no poster child for recovery.  The hip is taking longer than I expected and I'm still not driving which is frustrating for us both.  At least I am able to go to more activities here at Brookdale that include He-Who.  He loves the Life Story class on Monday mornings and though he doesn't contribute anymore, I like to think that maybe hearing the stories of others he can recall some of his own.
Our plans to move to San Antonio are becoming more solid.  Our designated apartment at Watercrest at the Dominion is still not finished.  Now they are saying the end of April.  I complained loudly:  "No, no, no.  This won't work for us.  My sister-in-law and I have a big joint 80th birthday party planned for March 11 at our son's house in San Antonio.  We have been planning this for months.  Family members have plane tickets, hotel reservations, etc.  We have to be moved!"
Watercrest's Brandy Davis, the resident counselor who sold us the apartment, called and offered us a temporary apartment until ours is ready...same floor plan.  Whew!  I've been concerned that the longer the move is delayed, the harder it will be for He-Who to get oriented.  I am afraid if we wait much longer, he will need the memory care unit and I will have to go into a much smaller apartment.  At least with the same floor plan as our future apartment, I am hopeful it won't be so confusing for him.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Hard earned lessons as a caregiver....

AT this point this proud independent now dependent woman learned to ask for help and accept help when offered.  I am just too ill to do it all .  By now He-Who needs help to turn the TV on and change channels.  I had already put labels on the TV remote and the telephone to distinguish them apart.  On the table under the TV was taped a list of TV channels and their numbers but he has a hard time manipulating the remote.
Thank goodness our Brookdale independent retirement community offers the kind of support I need.  For a price, grant you, but worth it and available.  I hired someone to do our laundry....$11 a load and worth every penny.  He-Who has a laundry basket in his closet but never remembers to put his dirty clothes in it.  When taking off his clothes, he just hangs them back up so I have to go through every few days and try to figure out what he has worn.  He would wear the same thing every day if I don't suggest something different.  But with this help I just have to get the dirty clothes and sheets together..no more limping to laundry room down the hall.
     Amazon Prime is my new best friend.  Since I can't drive, I order lots of stuff online and it is here in a couple of days.  I can order laundry detergent as well as books.  I ordered some new underwear for He-Who as he is beginning to occasionally soil his underwear.  I don't know if it is the medication he is on or he just isn't sensitive to the signs he needs to go or just isn't able to wipe well.  Guess I better check with the doc on this.
     The best help I have discovered from my friend, Rowan, is an apt called Shipt which delivers groceries from HEB, our local store, for a small charge.  The website shows pictures of everything the store offers and details of size and price.  Click on the picture, name the quantity and the time you want your delivery.  My first delivery was by a delightful young woman who called as she was shopping to let me the store didn't have an item and asked if I would like a substitute.  They don't deliver alcohol, darn it, but her pick of the produce was perfect.  I will definitely use this service again and tipped her well.
The only drawback is that He-Who and I miss trolling the aisles of HEB.  With short-term memory and problems with naming and word recall, it is pointless to ask him what he wants ahead of time but he always enjoys picking out cookies, crackers and beer.  Alcohol isn't supposed to be good for Alzheimers patients but he so enjoys a bottle in the evening.  I say "What the hell? He's 85 years old and has so few pleasures."

The tapestry begins to shred

Well, it certainly has been a while, hasn't it!  So I must start back in January when life's tapestry began to shred with threads flying everywhere and as hard as I tried, I couldn't weave them back into the lovely pattern they had been.
Threads began flying back in September when my right hip became so sore and painful that I could no longer drive or walk very far.  No longer could I take He-Who-Sleeps-Alot by the hand for a walk around the community or a trip back to Clear Lake.  My children didn't want me to drive for fear I wouldn't be able to lift my right foot quickly enough.  So there went our mobility.
I went through a series of doctor appointments and shots in my back and hip and a couple of trips to the ER with sinus tachycardia and still the hip hurt and I continued to tell docs it is my HIP, not my back, that has a problem.
Meanwhile He-Who monitored the election with MSNBC going 24-7 and copies of the NY Times and the Wall St. Journal.  But with time I noticed that less and less of the newspaper was being highlighted or even read.
Finally I got a referral to a hip doctor in late December and scheduled a total replacement January 12. Of course with this plan, a plan for He-Who's care had to be put in place.  Our son came from San Antonio and took over his dad while my sister-in-law and my daughter took care of me in the hospital.  I went into a rehab hospital for a couple of weeks determined to be the poster child of hip replacement while He-Who went to his brother's home under their care.  I did the best I could to micromanage it all by phone and they were very good to bring He-Who to see me and to talk to me on the phone.
When the caregiver goes down, life becomes chaotic and disorienting for the Alzheimer's patient which presents a bigger challenge for those in charge of their care.
I was determined to go home after two weeks in rehab instead of the recommended three as I felt I needed to get home and try to get our lives as back to normal as possible whatever that had been.
AND we were still hoping to move to San Antonio SOON.