When I arrived, Dad was still in the neurological unit of the hospital. He had a left hip replacement after he fell and broke his hip. At some point, he also suffered a stroke that took away the use of his left arm. I had just driven my 2 cockapoos and my cat 800 miles to get to town.
For the next month and a half, Dad was taken back and forth between hospitals and rehab/nursing care for a variety of reasons. Once, because they thought he had aspirated, once because the incision on his hip had gotten infected, once because of an UTI (urinary tract infection), which appeared to be an on-going battle because of the catheter, once because he fell out of bed.
In a span of one and a half months, my dad was transferred 10 times. With every move, came changes in staff, in buildings, in protocol. Even small changes such as the remote. For someone who has just had a fall, a stroke and surgery, these changes brought much confusion.
It was important for us to be there during mealtimes, because his meals were separately packaged and the cellophane had to be pulled off, or the straw had to be taken out; all things that my dad or anyone with the use of only one arm could not do.
After a month, my dad had entered nursing care of a care community, where it appeared he would be staying. My mom and I were there daily. The lack of staff was appalling and sometimes my dad would have to wait 4-5 hours to get changed after soiling his briefs. It was so bad that I began changing my dad myself. And I noticed that my dad was out of it. I even spoke to the doctor on staff about his medications. Something wasn’t right. The doctor assured me everything would be fine. I also had a conversation with a nurse, who urged me to take him home. She reminded me that I was caring for him anyway. (I think this nurse was an angel with a message. Thank God I listened.) And two days later, we took him home. Upon his release, I was given all of his medications. That’s when I learned that he had been prescribed three different kinds of antipsychotic medications. I had no idea that they had him on so much medication.
That was over three and a half years ago. My dad still can’t walk and is bed bound. He still can’t use his left hand either, despite several attempts at therapy. He is still living in his home, with his wife, who had two previous strokes that affected her memory and cognitive thinking. But, even if I would have left dad in a nursing home, mom could not have lived by herself. By me moving in with my parents as their caretaker, my parents could stay together in their own home, where they are familiar with the surroundings. It was a win-win for everyone. Some days are harder than others, but I do not question or regret my decision at all.
And I would do it again? In a heartbeat.
By Cathy Wise