The Last 48

The last 48 hours have been nothing short of a horror fueled Hell.  My father started shaking, pacing, and begging me to make him feel better on Monday night.  I could do nothing, but go through all the years of nursing training to see that he would be alright.

It all failed me. Every bit of healthcare knowledge that I’ve amassed, was for naught.  He was only getting worse.  For every step he took, I paced as well, either in my mind, or from the kitchen to the living room, unable to make him feel better.

His pulse was fine, his oxygen just a bit low, but most places wouldn’t consider adding oxygen at this point.  He just wasn’t him.  I turned to the not-so-ancient art of Google-Fu, and saw my worst fear.  It was an awful hateful word, glaring at me from the screen of my laptop.

Alzheimers 

I did not choose to believe it.  I forbade that from being the case, my father is the most in-genius, intelligent, and amazing man I’ve ever known, he could not have THAT.  But the more I watched him dip into this dysphoria, the more I feared that google-fu knew more than I did.

I asked him 20 nay 40 times if he wanted to go to the emergency room, I begged him to let me take him to my Aunt’s and Uncle’s.  They are an RN and an MD, and would know better how to treat this.  He kept saying, “i don’t know.”

“Are you feeling any better?” I would ask, hoping to keep the rising panic from my voice.
“I don’t know.”  I’d wait a bit, and ask another question.
“Are you hungry?”
“I don’t know.”

Every question is met with the same pronoun contraction and verb.  And with each “I don’t know,” my stomach turned and flopped, my anxiety levels reaching critical point.

At two hours of this, I decide that he’s not going to want to go to the emergency room, and finally go to change into pajamas, as soon as I walk out wearing different clothes, a tank top and a pair of pajama shorts, he looks at me as if seeing me for the first time.  “Can you take me to my sister’s?”

One word reply, curt, and without hesitation.  “Yes.”  The internal answer was long and drawn out.  “Thank all that is right with the world, you finally decided to go.  I have to get dressed, and get him there now.”  I probably, in hindsight, should have told him at least a little of that, because as I turned to leave the living room, he looked confused.

“Where are you going?”
“I’m putting on some pants, and I’ll be ready to go in about 3 seconds.”  That was only a marginal exaggeration.  In fact, as I grabbed him a pair of pajama pants– per his request, I was dressed and ready to go in about 10 seconds.  I now waited on him.

The 15 minutes to my Aunt’s was the most exhausting terrifying thing I’ve ever been through, to that point.  “I’m cold.”  So I’d turn the heat on, and warm the car to toaster level.  Within 120 seconds he’d be too hot, so I’d turn the heat off, and as soon as it was comfortable, he’d tell me he was boiling hot.  I’d turn on the air.

This was the entire ride.

When we got to my Aunt’s the whole gang was assembled.  My uncle the MD, my aunt the RN, my grandmother the retired LPN, and I, too an LPN.  Dad is also a retired nurse, but he was too sick to say much.

We sat for about 30 minutes, conversing on possible reasons for his condition:

General feeling of dread and unwell, almost anxiety-like in it’s origin.
Tremors to his extremities,
Hot flashes/Cold Flashes,
Overall Fatigue,
Nausea,
Vomiting,
Constipation.

The anxiety-like aspect seemed to come on after sleeping deep, so I postulated that it might be apneic in origin, it was well received in the Think Tank of medical knowledge, but ruled out nearly as quickly.  Mainly because, not all of these episodes had started at rest, so the inability breathe effectively at sleep, probably wasn’t the culprit.

Maybe it was the flu?  But without at least a swab to test it, we couldn’t be certain, and Dad didn’t have a fever.

Most disconcerting was his inability to articulately answer questions, he actually felt so bad he was back to the 3 words.  “I don’t know.”  And the tremors in his hands.

I don’t know which of the three of us, thought it might be his somewhat new heart medication, but both my aunt and I were looking up adverse reactions/ side effects.

I’m strong with google-fu so I pulled the list first from Drugs.Com. If you look at the list above, you will see exactly what they are.  Every symptom my dad was enduring, is a side-effect of the drug Amiodarone (Pacerone).

But the even scarier aspect is that it can do long term damage to nearly every organ. I, at this point, went home to care for my father’s dog, Rocko.  By the time I got to the big house at the edge of my tiny town, the house with the bright RED front door, my phone was ringing.

My aunt’s voice met me through the receiver.  “Doc and I are taking your daddy to the hospital, he’s being put in a 24 hour monitor bed, they are going to change him from the Amiodarone.  I’ll keep you up to date.”  I stammered that I’d just meet them at the hospital, but my father was adamant that I go to work the next day.

I did not sleep, hardly at all, I did not go to work, and I went to take care of my father in the hospital.  He was not better.  The hospital released him, and he was NOT better.  In fact, on the way home from the hospital he had to have me stop the car, and lost EVERYTHING he’d eaten.

Forcefully.

His glasses fell from his face, and landed on the shoulder of the highway.

He climbs back into the car, and is feeling far worse.

This does not please me.

We go to the uncle’s clinic, and he sits in the big overstuffed recliner, my uncle has in one of the offices.  I go pick up his new medication, and his normal meds from my aunts.  It takes an hour, (And the award for being the slowest pharmacy in the entire state goes to  Wal-Mart ) and by the time I get back to the clinic, it’s been around about 9 hours since Rocko has been outside.

I can tell that my father feels even worse now than he did the night before, and when I ask if he wants to go home, he replies again with “I don’t know.”  We put him on oxygen as his pulse ox was dropping, and my aunt informs me that she will bring him home if he wants to go home, and she’d keep me apprised.

So I went home, I put the dog out, I started something for supper, (It was Voila! Teriyaki, it was edible).  Then the phone rang.

“Madison, I’m taking your dad back to the hospital, he’s spiked a fever over 103.  Doc and a couple other docs thinks he’s likely septic, but we don’t know from what.”

Immediately, I jump up and grab my keys.  “I’ll meet you there.”

She waits not a tic, and says “you can just ride with us.” and I hear my dad from the backseat.

“She has to work tomorrow. I don’t want her here.”

Pang.  The pain was sharp and like an ice pick shoved at maximum velocity into my already overworked heart.  “Oh.. okay.”

Over the course of the next 6 hours I would sit on the couch, and alternate between crying, and talking to whomever was available.  I would call in 30 minute increments to check on my father, and my aunt would always say “I’ll call you when I know something.”

I was also the operator of information for my siblings.  I went to bed at around 1230am, for work at 8 am.  They released him from the emergency room around 130, and I was too asleep to hear the text.

I called him this morning, and he says that he is feeling some better, I hope so, as I’m at work, and unable to take care of him today.  But I know that help is within a few minutes.

The panic has yet to subside fully, I’ll let you know.

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