Friday, September 24, 2004

No Karaoke Tonight
I'm just not in the mood. Today took a sudden turn. Sudden, but sudden turns are beginning to seem familiar to me.

Dad's nursing home called about 3:30 to say they were sending my dad to the hospital in an ambulance. He's been falling more than usual this week and today he turned white just before he fell. His nurse tried to take his pulse, but couldn't get more than 30 beats a minute, so she called the ambulance.

I met him at the Oklahoma Heart Hospital emergency room. He was pale and weak. Barely audible. Scared. The nurses were a little frantic because they couldn't figure out why he had two bumps on his head and two bigger bumps on his chest. I explained the deep brain stimulators and they were able to continue on with their work except they couldn't get an EKG because the stimulator's batteries were causing interference. I gave them the Medtronic phone number and they got a rep on the phone who told them to hold him down when they turned the batteries off since he might convulse off the bed!! I've seen doctors turn the things off many times and he has never convulsed, so it was a bit comical to see 5 nurses holding him down while they turned it off! Of course he didn't even flinch.

Anyway, they took x-rays and ran a bunch of tests, finally determining he'll need a pacemaker. Because he already has two battery packs in his chest, they'll have to use an extra-long catheter and place the pacemaker low. They don't have an extra-long catheter (at a heart hospital!!), so we have to wait for one. Maybe tomorrow afternoon. Maybe Sunday.

All this seems fairly routine, but with a heart rate of 20/min and a DNR order, I feel as if we're teetering at the edge. The nurse grilled us on the DNR order to make sure we understood what it meant. It was pure torture to sit there next to my dad while life hangs in the balance and discuss exactly when we give up. Its hard enough to discuss when you're healthy. But when you're looking down the barrell, its painful as hell. He decided to stick with the DNR. Life in a nursing home at age 64 will probably do that to you.

And...just a side dad's room is across the hall from the waiting room. Last year I walked into that waiting room to be with my friend Bob while he waited on his dad. I walked in 2 minutes after his dad had died and witnessed the full effect the news had on his family. The memory was too much for me tonight.



Blogger M.Stonecipher said...

Jan, Call me if you need anything or if I can help you somehow.

11:11 PM, September 24, 2004  
Blogger Babs said...

So sorry to hear about your pain. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

9:09 PM, September 26, 2004  

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