Dad

Oct. 13th, 2008 10:30 pm
arguchik: (Default)
Fuck. I just got home from knitting and there was a new email from my sister Jan. She gave the rundown on the psych nurse's evaluation of my dad. The nurse has officially designated him as being in late-stage Alzheimer's disease. I didn't realize this, but last Monday's evaluation was just the very first part of a 6-week long evaluation, so there are 5 more weeks to go. I have no idea what other tests she's going to do. I have to remember to ask. The nurse said that we should not plan to have Dad attend holiday/family gatherings, nor should we expect him to ever leave the Alzheimer's ward for any reason, except for emergencies or appointments. She has further recommended that we taper off our mom's visits to fewer times per day because it upsets him too much--she's very bossy, demanding, and chatty with him, and he can't process it so it upsets him. Today he was so agitated after she left that he took a swing at a staff member (he missed). She also said that he does not know who any of us are anymore, including our mom.

It is really hard to hear this. I just can't believe that I'll never be able to call him for advice again, or hear him tell one of his stories, or see him in his workshop.

Speaking of which, I had a dream about his workshop last night (actually early this morning). It woke me up, it was so upsetting, though the dream itself was mostly quiet and calm. I was in my parents' basement getting ready to do a load of laundry, and I looked to my left (Dad's workshop is next to the laundry room, so if you were loading one of the machines it would be to your left), and the wall was partially removed, down to the studs, so that I could see through it into the shop. It was completely empty and cleaned out, except for my dad's tall black workbench chair, which was standing in the middle of the room. I lost all of my breath, as if I had been punched really hard in the stomach, and tried to scream and get someone's attention, but I couldn't catch my breath. I woke up then. It was 4am.

Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck. I miss him.
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monday monday

Feb. 5th, 2008 12:26 am
arguchik: (Default)
i owe people replies on their 36 things! yikes! i sorta didn't realize i was spozed to go and post stuff for everyone who posted a comment here. oops! will do that soon. most of my answers won't change from person to person, except the personalized ones. (like...what was my first impression of you, or would i give you a ride if i saw you walking down the street...)

today has been...OK, overall. my dad was released from the way-up-north (in newago, MI) psych ward. they sent him home with prescriptions for ambien, atavan, and--here's the kicker--haldol. jeeeeeez. my dad's on haldol. talk about hard core, old skool. it apparently worked where another, newer antipsychotic drug (can't remember which one) didn't. my sister was there yesterday when they administered his afternoon dose. she said he was becoming quite agitated, and was spouting some truly insane stuff (i don't want to post specifics--it was pretty crazy), and within half an hour of taking the haldol he had settled down and was chatting happily about childhood memories.

so the trick now is to make sure he doesn't miss a. single. dose. with his paranoia being what it is, he might suddenly decide that it's poison and refuse to take it, unless someone is there to make sure.

yesterday (sunday), he had one of his "spells" while trying to talk the nurses into sending him home. his legs apparently gave out, and they rushed him down to the ER, where he received a CT scan. they could see an infarct on the scan, but no evidence of bleeding. this is the first time anyone has ever done a CT scan while he's in the middle of an episode, so it's the first time we've had hard confirmation that his "spells" are actually TIA's.
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dad

Jan. 31st, 2008 08:09 am
arguchik: (classroom)
my dad was taken to the ER in an ambulance yesterday--my mom called 911, but now she won't tell my sister what made her call. it must have been bad, because my mom has been sternly warned to call the ambulance whenever my dad has one of his "spells" or "bad days," but she never does. she and my dad are all about hiding things from us kids and from their doctors. anyway, the ER doc couldn't find anything medically wrong with my dad, but he was apparently raving psychotically about how he and my mom are definitely going to die in 3 days, that he had the information straight from god, etc. the doc submitted involuntary commitment papers, so my dad went to a psychiatric hospital an hour or so north of grand rapids. he'll be there at least 72 hours.

i hate being so far away. i hate imagining him in a strange place surrounded by strangers with tranquilizers. admittedly, my image of psych wards is straight out of one flew over the cuckoo's nest. and terminator 2: judgment day.

i'm not sure they'll let him go home from there. this isn't all that much worse than some of the other crazy shit i've heard my dad say and do over the last couple of years.

can alzheimer's give a person symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia? because that's what my dad sounds like to me sometimes...

i'm still absorbing and digesting this information. it doesn't seem real to me yet.
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correction

Nov. 25th, 2007 10:07 pm
arguchik: (gossamer)
apparently my father didn't actually buy another new lawn tractor. my brother visited my parents for thanksgiving, and has corrected the misinformation. my father did buy a new machine, but it was a leaf vacuum/shredder, not a lawn tractor as originally reported here. that bit of inaccurate reportage originated with the neighbor whom my father asked to help fuel his new machine. the neighbor, well aware of my father's declining memory and cognitive function, called one of my sisters to say, "he bought a new tractor and is asking me to help put fuel in it. is this OK? should i help him?" to which my sister said "yes, go ahead. if he really wanted the tractor, he should have it and enjoy it." now that i think about it, the neighbor called my sister before he ever saw the "tractor," so it's possible...probable...that my father called it a tractor when he asked for help (having forgotten its actual name).

in other news, my dad gave my brother his only remaining gun. here is what my brother said about it (quoting his email):

Another development over the weekend- After I finished working on their
grandmother clock and was returning tools to his workshop, dad was sitting with
the cat and asked if he could ask a "funny question." Then he asked if I liked
guns, to which I replied that I did, in fact I have several. Then he asked if I
wanted his gun and went off on some story about how he got it after World War II
when he left the ship, officers were allowed to take their sidearms with them.
Then he said that it was almost illegal because it was such a powerful gun. I'm
thinking to myself, "I know you bought it 10 years ago and it's a .357 magnum
and there's nothing remotely illegal about it." Of course, I've learned not to
challenge him. It's best to just let him believe whatever he wants to believe.

Anyway, the bottom line is that he gave me his gun, so it's out of the house.
I'm going to go to the Dearborn police tomorrow to see what I need to do to
transfer ownership.


my interpretation: dad doesn't remember what he did 10 years ago, but he remembers being discharged from the navy. perhaps he was allowed to take his sidearm with him, though i kind of doubt it. in any case, he doesn't remember buying the .357 magnum, and it probably reminds him of his old service revolver, so he has concocted this story to explain why he has it. had it. i guess my brother has it now.

the brain is a funny thing, isn't it? that and our propensity to construct seamless narratives (i'm choosing not to problematize the "our" for now...).

:::::sigh::::: this weekend i have been missing my family and feeling homesick. i think i'm just generally missing everyone i've ever lost touch with, or just plain lost from my life altogether. deep interpersonal connections are one casualty of a semi-nomadic life...and every now and then i am acutely aware of that loss. with my ex-husband, after we broke up it hit me when i started to tell a story to a friend and realized that the story wouldn't make sense to her, that it would never make sense again because it was a story i had shared with him, and suddenly his half of it was just...out of reach and gone from my life.

poof.

makes me wonder how much sense, or what kind of sense, my journal entries make to people who don't actually share my life, who don't know me in "real life" and thus have never shared any lived, material experiences with me. makes me wonder how much i'm missing when i read other peoples' journals--the people i do and don't know in "real life."
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tractoritis

Nov. 14th, 2007 04:00 pm
arguchik: (classroom)
my father bought a new lawn tractor today. my brother pat says this is the fourth such tractor he has purchased in 4 years. (my sister jan thought it was the fifth.)

ahhhh, dementia.

i suppose each person who suffers from dementia comes up with their own brand of crazy, but i wonder why my dad has fixated on lawn tractors? oh, to be a fly on the wall inside of his brain.

in case you're wondering, no...he does not have a garage full of lawn tractors. every time he buys a new one, he gives the old one away to someone. i think the last one, or the one before that, went to the son-in-law of a neighbor. why that guy, i have no idea. but then, why not him? i'm still back in the previous square, trying to explain the initial proliferation of tractors. (it is hard not to wish that he would just send me or one of my siblings the couple thousand bucks he drops on each tractor. i don't want to steal money or joy from my father or anything, but jeez...the neighbor's son-in-law???)

:::sigh:::
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dad again

Oct. 14th, 2007 07:23 pm
arguchik: (Default)
my brother told me one other odd thing about my dad's trip to the hospital. apparently saturday morning when my dad woke up he found his clothes but couldn't find either his shoes or his pants (my brother wasn't sure which). a male nurse told my brother that my dad walked down to the nurses' station with his pocket knife drawn, demanding that they give him back all of his clothes so that he could go home. the nurse had to take the knife away from my dad (i'm not sure how that was accomplished) before he could go and help my dad get dressed. the nurse gave my brother the knife when he picked my dad up.

jeeeeez. now that'sc combative, eh? for some reason i find this story amusing, even as it saddens me in its illustration of how impaired my dad has become.

when/if my dad needs to go to the hospital again, i guess we'll have to be careful to take away his knife first.

ok, back to work...
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dad

Oct. 13th, 2007 12:15 pm
arguchik: (Default)
they released my dad this morning (i guess it was afternoon in michigan). they still don't know what's wrong, and his white count is still high but lower than it was. they're doing a blood culture.

late last night my brother remembered that my dad had 2 vaccine shots yesterday--a flu vaccine and a pneumonia vaccine.

he told me that when he called me earlier. he also told me that my dad had a seizure yesterday--that's why my brother called the ambulance. after my dad lay down in his recliner (not on the couch like i thought yesterday--this only matters to me, really, because i can visualize the scene) the second time, when my brother tried to wake him my dad woke up but couldn't move. he was trying to move but couldn't, and then he started having a seizure. by the time the paramedics got there, my dad still couldn't move, and they had to lift him out of his chair onto the gurney. the paramedic told my brother that he was pretty sure my dad was having a stroke.

i guess they can't really rule out a stroke altogether, just because a CT scan didn't show active or recent bleeding in the brain. strokes are often caused by clots or other kinds of blockage.

so i'm wondering if the elevated white cell count could have been caused by the vaccine, but then in turn could have triggered something like a stroke. white cells are bigger than red cells, and we already know that my dad has vascular disease and reduced blood flow to his brain, so perhaps the excess white cells caused a clog somewhere.

the hospital visit triggered a new delusion in my father, too, and my brother said he was completely fixated on this all night--told every doctor, every nurse he came in contact with. i think it started in the waiting room. apparently my dad has a secret device implanted in his body. he works for the navy--he's not in the navy, he just works for them--on a secret project, and he can't tell anyone what it is or what he does, but they have to be careful taking images of his body because if they see the device on one of their scans, they will be in big trouble with the navy, and the navy will come after them.

uh..............wow. (dad was actually in the navy when he was younger, and was a reserve officer when i was a kid, until he retired from that. the only experimental thing the navy did to or near him was to test the first hydrogen bomb at enewetak when my dad was on the deck of a destroyer like....35 miles away.)
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my friday

Oct. 12th, 2007 10:30 pm
arguchik: (Default)
my weekly RWP feature has been on hiatus for a couple of weeks--i just haven't felt like it.

dad went to the hospital today. my brother thought he might be having a stroke--he was asleep and my brother and mom couldn't wake him. when they finally woke him, he was glassy eyed and kind of incoherent, and after a few minutes he went back to the couch and fell asleep again. so my brother called an ambulance; my mom rode in the ambulance with my dad, and my brother went to the hospital in his own car.

i just heard from my brother (finally). the doctors don't think my dad had a stroke--they couldn't find evidence of recent/active bleeding in his brain, but they admitted him because his white count was extremely high. they don't know what's causing that yet--they'll be doing more tests in the morning. my brother said dad became very combative when he realized he was going to be admitted. he's afraid of hospitals--always has been (who isn't?). i think he's afraid of being held somewhere against his will and not being able to go home; he probably sees the hospital as a slippery slope leading straight to a nursing home, for someone his age. he really wants to die at home.

i haven't posted yet about the results of the MRI and visit to the memory disorders center that my dad had on october 5th. i'm still kind of processing it. the MRI showed substantial brain tissue loss and damage from multiple "mini-strokes" and vascular disease. he showed significant impairment in the cognitive exam they did at the memory disorders clinic, too--at one point the doctor gave him a quarter, dime, nickel, and penny, and asked him to add it up and tell him how much money was there. dad couldn't do it. (he used to be a mortgage underwriter--when he was younger he could practically do amortizations in his head. seriously.) so...the diagnosis from that doc--who explained the MRI results too--is that my dad has both vascular dementia and alzheimer's.

double whammy.

i've been going out of my mind worrying today, and i feel relieved but still tense after talking to my brother. we still don't know what's going on. an elevated white count--and his was very high--could mean anything from an infection to leukemia.

i'll know more tomorrow.

meanwhile, [livejournal.com profile] glaucon played some covers to cheer me up, including two covers of pink floyd's "comfortably numb." here's one of them, for your listening enjoyment. think of my dad while you listen, ok? (imagine him yelling at you to turn down that noise.)



and here's the one i'd have been listening to when he used to yell that at me for real:

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