Friday, August 2, 2013

Emotions Run High

The past few weeks, I find that I am either on the verge of tears when I think of Dad or just feeling depressed about him.  I actually went an entire week without crying, but then last night after mexican food and some tequila, the tears came again.  Note to self... tequila may not be the best medicine.  Anyway....

Dad's still in the Geriatric Psych Ward.  It's been three weeks.  And he still isn't walking. 

When I visited him the first week he was there, I finally felt optimistic that he could be diluted of some of those heavy medications and return to a more regular state.  He already seemed so focused and his personality was still there.  But, with every visit since then, he just seems to be declining... but not in an Alzheimer's way of declining, in a medicated way.  Yesterday he was twitching, mumbling and grunting, barely able to focus on me, and extremely drowsy. 

When I tell the staff that just three weeks ago Dad was walking and talking (or at least forming words if not sentences), dancing to music, and was able to hold a fork and feed himself... I feel like they don't believe me.  Since they didn't know my Dad before he was admitted in the psych ward, how would they know what his normal state is?  Of course they wouldn't believe that the man confined to a chair that I visited yesterday would be capable of all those actions.

On the other hand, I understand that we are trying to curb his aggression and I am so thankful that I am not the sole person in charge of his care.  (The VA accepted him as their responsibility ever since he moved into the VA home.)  But, let's say that my Dad lives another year, should he be condemned to this quality of life?  I mean, he really has no quality of life right now, but I think it's because of the meds not the disease at the moment.  Trust me, I know the reality of this disease.  I know that Dad will eventually forget how to walk, how to swallow, and he will lose his reflexes making the probability of choking on food a very real one.  He will eventually stop eating.  Many people believe that you can't die of Alzheimer's, you just die with Alzheimer's.  But my Dad is dying of Alzheimer's.  And it's a pretty shitty way of leaving this earth.  So, adding the medications to this already horrible disease frustrates me. 

(The doctor did inform us that she is trying to wean him off of the Depakote over the next few days to see if he will be able to walk again.)

We were also told that if Dad cannot regain the power to walk again, he will not be accepted back into the home.  They only want ambulatory patients.  So, the VA would help find him a skilled nursing facility that accepts MediCal near Long Beach where I live.  Most of these places (especially in Long Beach) are utterly depressing with four beds to a room and dark, dirty corridors.  Can things get any better for us and Dad?  Ugh.

The only positive thing to share right now is that we are going to start Dad on a Palliative Care plan.  We found his Advanced Directive where he stated he didn't want any life saving measures, and a Palliative Care Plan will help us achieve his wishes.  It focuses on providing relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress for patients with serious illnesses but will not prolong his life in any way.  A good example would be if he was to contract Pneumonia, we would then treat the pain and symptoms, but not the infection.  The Doctor thinks he is in some of the last stages of Alzheimer's.  She is giving us a very loose timeline of about a year.

So, with all this information swirling around in my head, I'm sure you can understand why emotions are running high. 

Also, in the past few weeks, we have been receiving so much support from readers and family and friends who relate to our story and are battling the same type of situations with their loved ones.  We so appreciate you reaching out.  It's very comforting to know we're not the only ones.