Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Sandwich Lady

Shortly after I married a friend started to refer to me as "the Sandwich Lady" as a play on my new-very-long-Italian-sounding-last name.  Lately I have been living up to the name as I am now "sandwiched in" between raising my kids on one side and helping my parents out on the other side.

While I know some hate this point in life, I wouldn't have it any other way.  This is just another stage in life and I feel very blessed to be close enough to help my parents out.

Tuesday was such a sandwiched day - well, most of the week, really.   As I was helping the kids get ready for school I received a phone call from my brother, Ricky, saying that dad had fallen while getting the paper and was being taken to the hospital.  I finished up the kids' lunches then jumped in the shower to get ready.  After the big kids were off to school, Drew took over Benjamin and so I got on the road for the ninety minute drive.

It seems that at some point after five in the morning Dad got out of bed. Mom thought he was in the den watching TV, but we have since figured out that he missed up the TV setting and could not fix them, so he went to get the paper instead.  Some how he fell - we don't know why - but he landed on the upper left side of his face - hard! And based on the cuts and bruises he all over his body, he rolled after falling. (He looked so bad - so swollen....bruised up all over!)

A neighbor found him in the street and brought  him inside the house sometime just before six.  My mom woke up to a man in the hallway calling her name asking her to wake-up. (Now that's enough to give any women a nightmare!)  The neighbor stayed and made sure she called for an ambulance as well as my brother (whom he is friends with).

Shortly after I arrived the doctor came in to say that the scan showed a 5cm bleed and that could possibly cause the brain to swell and if so, would need a hole drilled in the skull to relieve the swelling - if not it could cause death.

Nothing like having your stomach drop out from underneath you.

Because there were no neuron-surgeon available in the local area, he would need to be heli-ported to the trauma center at LSU Medical Center in Shreveport (close to my house).  Within an hour of being told this, he was on a helicopter.  Drew was able to re-arrange his work schedule and met Daddy at the trauma unit.

Late in the afternoon the trauma doctor gave us a report from the scan they did - the bleed was only 5mm - not cm as the first ER said.  The trauma doctor said he if had known that, he would not have air-vac-ed dad over. Oh, such deep relief!!  This was not as serious as we were first told.  Nor would he require any holes drilled into his head.

But this doctor wanted to be on the safe side and keep dad in ICU over night.  So, within another few hours, dad was taken upstairs to the ICU, but we were not allowed to see him for a few hours.  We did warn the nurse that dad is not a good patient and he would pull out his IVs.

And he tried.  By the time we saw him again the next morning his hands were tied down and he was still sleeping. It seems that he was given benadryl at some point.  (I personally think the nurses gave him benadryl to calm him down and to make him sleep so he would quit pulling at his IVs as well as quit calling for my mother every two minutes!!)

We were able to speak to the doctor  - asking what type of time-line did we have for being released.  He assured us that the bleed was not a real concern, but then he said, "But we have more serious issues that this bleed."

Yikes! "What does that mean?"  I asked.

"For a man of sixty years his brain has a lot of vascular atrophy and he is very disoriented. He can not answer simple questions nor follow simple directions."

"First off he is seventy not sixty, and secondly, since his stroke three years ago he is not able to answer a lot of questions nor follow a lot of directions- this is normal for him."

"Oh, that case he's good to go - he should be released to the upper floor soon."

We were a little frustrated! Did any of these doctors read the chart??!!

Late that day (Wednesday) he was released to the floor. While my mother was able to stay with him, neither got much sleep. I think dad was just excited to have mom with him again.  And of course, sleeping in a hospital is never fun - too many people coming in and out of your room.

In order for Dad to be released he had to be cleared by just about every department in the hospital.  It seemed like a never ending process!! I lost track of the number of doctors, nurses, and therapist that come in. And of course, we had to repeat his whole history every. single. time.

Do any of these doctors read a chart??!!!

And to top it off, the first doctor would be a student and quickly realized that this was a complicated case with chronic issues not acute issues, and so they would call for their supervisor. Which is nice. Until we had to repeat everything again.

Several times I told mom we should just sign him out and take him home and end all of this!

But at seven Thursday night all the paperwork and approvals were done and we were able to walk out.

We gave serious thought to taking him home to my house for the night, but in the end we all knew he would be so much happier at his house, so my brother meet us half-way.  It was an exhausting few days, but I'm glad I was able to help.

All of his injuries should heal in a few weeks.  He broke his cheekbone and some sinus bones in several places. He is very sore  and stiff -  has a hard time moving around.  His left eye was swollen shut at first and when the swelling went down and he could open it a little it was totally red  - not great at all to look at. His whole left side of his face was so bruised as well as his knees, elbows, toes name it - it was either bruised or scraped. Dad kept saying, (in joking) "See what she did to me?" 

At least he still has a sense of humor.

We were also told that something else appeared on the scan - a "mass" on one of his kidneys...and we were told that it could very well be cancer.  Mom was able to make an appointment with his doctor after the holidays to get this checked out. 

But for now he's taking one day at at time....just focusing on healing from this fall...and enjoying being together.

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