Tuesday, March 29, 2016

My Dad :(

We celebrated my Dad's 76th birthday 
on Monday, November 9th, 2015.
My sweet dad had been officially
diagnosed with early onset
dementia in the summer.  
We'd noticed off and on 
for actually about five years that
Dad had some issues,
but nothing major.  It sort of 
began when he was hospitalized
for pneumonia five years ago
(shortly before Trav's accident).
He did not like being hospitalized
AT ALL and suffered from what
is known as Sun Downer's.  
He hated being out of his element
and routine so much so that he
actually checked himself out
of the hospital.  Michelle walked
in one morning to find him 
waiting down stairs and he 
said, "I'd been waiting for one
of you to come get me!!!"
BUT, he recovered from that
and he continued in his retirement.
He and Mother traveled a little bit 
more and continued their support
of the Baylor Men and Lady
Bear's Basketball programs ~
even traveling to the National
Championship to support the
Lady Bears.  My dad did begin to 
have doubts of forgetfulness and
not wanting to do much.
He struggled with his feet swelling
(peripheral neuropathy which was 
horrible), odd sleeping habits which
he sorta kinda always had, and a few
other issues here and there.
But he functioned and actually hardly
anyone ever knew about most 
of these issues.  Looking back,
many of the things he had issues with
were probably huge warning signs,
but we just didn't have a clue. 
I think my mother put up with a lot
more than we should have ever
let her.  It was just one minute,
he was a little crazy and the very next, 
he was completely normal.  About two
years ago, my mother stopped letting him
drive and he also gave up handling
the checkbook and many, many 
other chores he had done
for their ENTIRE marriage.

This night on November 11th...
Dad was for the most part himself.
He was much more quiet
than he usually was ~ but we had been
noticing that for the last couple
of years, but he was functioning
and loving and happy to be with his 
family whom he adored.  
That was Monday.  
By Wednesday morning, 
he was a different person.
He had gone into what we now
know was delirium.  
Lynna and my mother took him to 
the ER that morning because he
was just not normal, not functioning.
The ER could tell something was
not right with him, but they could
not find anything WRONG 
with him physically;  therefore,
they could not admit him.  
They gave him a strong sedative
and he pretty much slept the next
24 hours other than to wake up
delirious a few times. 
Late that first night
after we had all left the house 
(although we begged Mom to let one 
of us stay with them that night).
My mother called my house to 
say that Dad had gotten up out of his 
chair and had fallen in the living
room, but was back asleep on the floor.
Troy rushed over to help her.
They got him back to the chair
and Troy slept on the couch the 
next two nights trying
to help control him.  
He had become incontinent
and very unpredictable.
He truly was in a state of delirium: 
a serious disturbance in 
mental abilities that results in confused 
thinking and reduced awareness of your environment. 
The start of delirium is usually 
rapid — within hours or a few days.

We could not have made it those two 
nights without my husband.  What 
he went through with my mom
and dad is something my sisters and I
will never forget.  I will forever be
grateful for my husband.  He was the only
one strong enough physically 
to endure those 48 hours.
He stepped in truly as a son.  
By Friday morning the 13th,
we had called his primary physician
who loves my dad and he told us
to bring him that he would 
find a way to get him admitted
into the hospital.  
We Troy somehow managed to get 
him to the clinic.  All six of us
went desperately seeking help
and answers for our beloved Dad :(
Fortunately Dad had some fever
and that was the ticket the doctor
used to get him admitted into
the hospital.  The next days
are still very much a blur.  
Hillcrest GRACIOUSLY provided a
"sitter" to be with him 24/7.  
Dad was such a fall risk and just 
pretty much out of control
that he and we needed this.
We were with him all day long
but the sitter allowed us not to 
have to have someone sleep in his room
all night although we stayed
until the wee hours.
We were so worried...
especially my poor, sweet mother:(
The staff was wonderful at
Hillcrest and it was of much 
comfort to read things like this 
in the hall way of his wing....
We had been given hard to get,
expensive tickets to an A&M game
on that Saturday.  After much 
deliberation, we decided to head on 
to the game ~ Mother and Michelle
were going to be with him all day
with Uncle Ron checking in on him, too.  
We took the kids to see Dad
on our way out of town that afternoon...
It was their first time since seeing 
him Wednesday night when he 
was completely out of it.  
Hadlee had made her PaPa this poster:
And Hudson had made this one:
(He chose green and yellow letters since
PaPa loves Baylor.  He also drew Papa
in a hospital bed with an IV pole 
and Hudson standing beside the bed 
visiting him.  I have no idea how he
even knew to draw an IV pole?!?)
At this point, Dad had mostly been sleeping, 
with short bouts of being awake.  
Mother was so exhausted
and so worried.  
The kids didn't quite know
what to think.  :(
I didn't either.  
We got home late that night 
and I was able to go back up and 
check on my dad and sit with him
while he slept.  I did that several
nights.  We were overcome with worry.
Basically the doctors searched 
for what was wrong.  It was apparent
that there was indeed an infection
and come to find out it was a
an enlarged prostrate.
Most likely this infection had 
caused him to go into delirium.
This is not uncommon with elderly 
people especially ones already 
dealing with dementia issues.
The doctors told us that Dad may 
come back to his baseline
or he may not.  There was just 
no way to know what was going
to happen.  The doctors all 
said they see these things
go both ways.  
These were horrible days.  
Dad was so out of it
and we were heart broken.  
He was also having moments
of aggression that were NOT 
in his character.  It was awful.  
We worried over the caregivers 
sitting with him at night 
and how they would handle him.
Several nights I would go up
very late and surprise the caregivers.
We wanted to make sure that 
Dad was being well taken care of...
we love him so much.  
I also constantly thought about 
how Dad has ALWAYS been 
there for me....no matter what.
He has always been the first
to stand up and make sure I was 
alright...no matter the circumstances.
Even a mere couple of years ago,
when my dad's feet were hurting
him so much and I was in the 
hospital with a staph infection,
he sat by me in my hospital room.
I begged him to leave, but 
he said he just couldn't leave
me alone in there.  :(
Several late night trips to Hillcrest.....
Looking back, the caregivers at Hillcrest were 
all wonderful.  We had no idea how
good we had it at the hospital
as far as the care Dad was receiving.    
The STORM was back at Hillcrest;)
I wish they had never been there
before and I wish that they'd 
never have to go back there.  
In a nut shell, the doctors
at Hillcrest decided Dad was full 
blown Stage 6 to 7 Alzheimer's.
We couldn't believe that this 
could happen as quickly as it did.
But it could.
And unfortunately it did.  :(
How in the world?!?
This was just us July 4th.
Much less we had all been at 
George's less than a week earlier
celebrating his birthday with him:(
Hillcrest worked with his meds
and worked to get him up.
It killed my soul when I asked
the therapist (who had also
worked with Travis before!!!) 
if & when his walking would come back.
He sadly informed me that his 
walking was not a physical 
issue.  It was an issue with him
not remembering or knowing
how to walk anymore. 
That was very tough to hear.   
He was off and on some EXTREMELY
potent medications to help control him.
He was in such good spirits this day
when they had him up.
You could see his fun and loving
personality and how funny he is.  
It gave us a glimpse of hope.
By a true miracle (through a wonderful connection),
we were able to get him a spot at the 
best place in Waco for Alzheimer's.
After one week at Hillcrest, 
Wesley Woods picked Dad up to transport
him to their nursing home
on Thursday, November 19th.  
We were so anxious and worried.
We fully expected Dad to start
begging for home, his chair, his car,
his life, his lotto tickets........but he never did.
I cried so hard as this van drove
off with Dad and as it arrived
at Wesley Woods with him.
Dad was so clueless.
We were all in such shock.  
Our first evening at Wesley Woods
There is no other way to put it.  
We were in shock at the place,
the other residents and what it 
was like...we were just in total
and complete SHOCK.  
I didn't know how we would make it
through this time.  My sisters, mother and I 
were all with him that first night.
This was our first glimpse into the
harsh and horrible reality of this disease.  
The only light:  Travis was with us, too:)
He's not a rainbow;), but he's a reminder
that God can and would see us through.
It was hard to have faith of that again though.
This was horrible.  
I ended up having to call our 
sweet neighbors, Trudi and Jeff,
late that night to come and be 
with the kids so Troy could come and help us.
We had to also call a local service
to send a night nurse to help us
during the night - Troy and the
night nurse stayed the night
in Dad's room.
It was another torturous night
for my husband.  None of us could believe
what was happening.
The man before us was NOT
my Dad.  We were crushed.  
I prayed my heart out that night.
It was so difficult not to be 
"consumed"...we felt so alone
and so in shock.  
Hadlee came home with this from 
her class.  Mrs. Cates knew what was going
on from Kelli and I thought this was
so very thoughtful and kind.
It truly meant so much.  
Dad was so "gone"...
it was just so sad.  Mother was
there early that first morning on his
first official day at Wesley Woods.
The fears we had going into 
the nursing home were not
the fears we faced.  He really never
asked for home or anything ~ in fact,
he had no rememberance of 
any of that or even of us :(
My heart was broken which made me
realize that Mother's heart must be
shattered.  She hardly left his side
at Hillcrest or Wesley Woods.  
In the days to come, we started
to kinda take "shifts".  We quickly
realized that if this nursing home 
is the best Waco has to offer for 
Alzheimer's patients then we 
were in real trouble.  
We did not yet feel comfortable
with their care and attentiveness 
to Dad.  There were so many needy
patients and not enough workers.  
We never left Dad alone.
We also hired people to stay in
his room all night long.  
He continued to be highly 
agitated, aggressive, 
and totally unpredictable.  
It was like he was moving in and 
out of moments of awareness.
It was so sad.  
Then at other times, he
was funny and pleasant and 
made us giggle!  
I continued to be amazed at THIS guy...
sitting by his PaPa's side and helping
in ways he could.  It definitely made me 
remember those months and months of
my mom and dad spending their weeks
in Austin to be by their grandson's
side at Texas Neuro Hospital while
Lynna had to work.  That was so 
hard on my parents, yet they did it.  
My mother and sisters and I tried to help
Dad adjust to this new world.
It was so hard and so sad.  
Uncle Ron and Mical brought 
a recliner from Mom and Dad's
house to have in his room.  
Mother was so loving.
She exhibited true love.  
She continues to do that today.  
Somehow we managed to survive
the first few days.  None of us had
a clue what the world of Alzheimer's
was like.  I can't believe that I've
known people that have gone through
this and I wasn't there more to help.
This is the cruelest disease.  
We kept most of this rather quiet
because, well, we were in shock still
and didn't quite know what would
happen from one minute to the next.
Plus for the sake of Dad's dignity.  
Once again in our lives,
we were so thankful for our family.  
One minute Dad was sorta, kinda
"with" us, and then next he was gone.  
I was excited to give him
this from Hadlee and her precious class...
A lot of the time he was 
so unresponsive:(
How did this happen? :(
Mother and I tried to decorate his
room.  We desperately wanted the 
staff to realize what a special man
they now had in their nursing home.
I think Dad felt our presence...
and I know he felt my mother's
presence.  Those first days are 
such a blur, such a nightmare.  

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