Last Wednesday, Dad called me to help him out of bed. Same routine since he came home from the hospital. I place the walker in front of him and his wheelchair nearby. He places his hands on the walker, counts 1, 2 and 3, lifts himself up and I help him walk a few steps turn around and sit him down on his chair.
But this morning, he couldn’t stand up all the way. We tried several times but he was short of breath and not steady on his feet. He tried one last time and I stood in front of him and grabbed him in a bear hug as he attempted to turn toward the chair.
Suddenly he started sitting down.
“Dad we aren’t near the chair yet, don’t sit down yet,” I said with urgency and panic setting in. I’m pretty strong but he was slowly going down and I didn’t want him to fall. I called my Mom and she tried to place the wheelchair underneath him. But she couldn’t.
I mustered every ounce of strength I had to gently sit him on the floor.
“Oh boy he said,” What do we do now?”
I propped a pillow behind his head, “You are going to sit there and I am going to call my brother.”
I wasn’t about to let him fall and my arms were shaking from holding him up and gently placing him down. He was seated and comfy. I called my brother, he left work, came home and helped me get dad in the chair.
“Something’s not right,” I told my brother. “He seems to be getting weaker since yesterday.”
Later that day the Physical Therapist confirmed that his oxygen level was low, as was his blood pressure. So in the middle of the worst rain and flooding, off we went to the ER.
Dad’s white blood cell count was elevated, meaning he was fighting an infection. He had fluid in his lungs, issues with the kidneys and they wanted to check his heart since he has Atrial Fibrillation.
They took several vials of blood, chest X-rays and the nurse came in and said they needed a urine sample.
“We need that sample in five minutes or we will have to catheterize him to get it,” she said.
Dad and I looked at each other.
“They have to do what?” Dad asked.
“Dad you have 5 minutes to pee or they going to place a tube in to get their sample,” I replied.
“OH HECK NO,” he said. “Hurry up get my shoes and pants off and get that pee cup.”
Mind you, Dad had tubes and sticky things all over him by now. His IV was set and he was hooked up to every machine imaginable. Yet we were both determined to figure out how to get this done.
“Okay Dad, grab that side of the bed and roll over to your left enough so I can slide your pants down on that side…little higher….little higher…got it! Okay now the other side….come on lift…..more…more… got it.
I lifted each leg and managed to slide his pants off.
“Okay Dad, pee, you got three minutes left.”
“Oh my goodness,” he said feeling the pressure.
“I don’t see anything in the cup,” I said. “Keep trying.
“Shhhhh,” he said. “I’m trying.”
“Okay here it comes,” I said. “I can see it filling the cup now. Keep going. Did the nurse say how much we needed?”
“I don’t know…quit talking…I’m trying to pee,” he said.
Turns out he was able to provide a sufficient sample and avoided the catheter, much to his relief as well as mine.
“Dad, if there is a camera in this room those nurses just got a good laugh at us,” I said. “I bet we looked like the Keystone Cops or two Stooges.”
Sometimes you have to find the funny things in difficult times.
As of today Dad is still in the hospital. Seems like his life-long career in construction, in a time where wearing safety masks was not considered, his current heart condition, older kidneys, his age and other factors caused his body to give in to the infections. His kidneys have improved a lot since last week. But he still requires oxygen, has spotty lungs, and is currently undergoing a swallow test.
Doctor said he might have something wrong with his pharyngeal sphincter, which is why he’s had trouble eating, drinking and swallowing for weeks now.
The journey continues.