Thursday, June 19, 2014


Since my last post, June 9, the month got even MORE exciting.

I tried to convince dad to hang around for a few extra days (or a week) but he wasn't having it.  He can be pretty stubborn.  "I WANT TO GO HOME!!!!"

When he was released from the hospital that Monday (June 9), there were no restrictions.  The only change at that point was he was now on Coumadin.  He wasn't happy about that - had to change his lifestyle a little bit.  Okay - quite a bit.  But after talking to multiple doctors and nurses, he consented.  So he had his first dose that Sunday night - and a pill a day Monday and Tuesday.  I didn't know this, but Coumadin is a medication that has to be watched very closely.  He had to get his blood checked on Wednesday (which was the day he was flying out).  The hospital wrote a prescription and said he could go to any Compunet and get it taken care of.  He would get the results that day.

So I took him Wednesday morning to Lincoln Park.  They said they could not take a prescription from the hospital - only a family physician.  Sounded crazy to me, but what do I know?  So I called his the family physician who took care of him and mom, explained the urgency of the situation (we were flying out that afternoon) - and they called in a prescription.  Got that taken care of.  Didn't hear anything that afternoon, so I assumed (NEVER assume) that everything was ok.

I had ordered a wheelchair for dad, he (and I) were the first on the plane in Dayton and Atlanta.  He did fine on the flight.

The next morning, I got up early and went to the VA in Viera to take care of getting his medical records transferred from Miami Valley. No problems (I had already talked to MVH and they gave me the phone #, fax#, names)  All good.  As I was walking out the door, my phone rang - it was the doctors office from Dayton calling with the results of the blood work.  Not good…"get him to his doctor today - ASAP".  So as soon as I got back to his house, I called the doctor, got him scheduled for 3 p.m.  Went to lunch and headed to the doctor.  Beautiful day - blue sky, hot!

When he got called back to the room and the doctor finally came in - he brought the records that were transferred from MVH to look at them.  I was watching dad and his face started drooping again…the doctor was watching too.  Said "I need to call the squad".

So off to the hospital AGAIN.  (By the time the paramedics got there, the sky was black, the wind was blowing and it was pouring down rain - they had to take dad out to the ambulance in the pouring rain - he got soaked!)  He had forgotten his phone and wanted it - so after getting directions to the hospital - I ran home to get his phone then to the hospital.

This is one of his nurses (I think - I can't remember) but I do remember when he asked dad his name and birthdate - he said "that's my birthday too!"

He took dad up to his room - a private room to start.  A room with a beautiful view AND towel art. (I thought you only got that on cruises!)

Out in the distance is the Indian River, then the Atlantic Ocean.  Didn't get THAT at Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton! (had a great view of downtown Dayton though!)

The staff was attentive and caring.  And he had some pretty nurses too!  This is Tricia (she came in to take his blood.  Hard to complain when they smile at you like this!)

This is another of dad's nurses…and I am sorry to say I forget her name…she was wonderful too.
(If you are reading the blog - remind me - I want to put your name here!)

A Physical Therapist came in to take him for a walk, but he was headed to the bathroom - so she sat and talked to me for half an hour…thank goodness. I had a mini meltdown (a little overwhelmed) and she listened and talked to me.  Gave her the reader's digest version of my life and what was going on with dad - and she said "I'll talk to the Case Manager about getting Home Health Care set up".  Five minutes later, the Case Manager was in the room talking to me.  When she walked out the door, my phone rang and it was the VA calling about the same thing.  She gave me a number for the Case Manager to call so they could coordinate it together.  I was feeling better already.

That was Thursday.  Headed home that day very overwhelmed.  Got to dad's place and saw this…

a little sign from Melissa.  I needed that.

I think it was Saturday he was moved to a semi-private room.  His roommate was Bill.  His daughter Caroline was there, so it was nice for ME to have someone to talk to. His wife, Joan, came in later that day, and was there the next morning when I came in.  Later, after we had talked for awhile she told me when I first came in she thought I was dad's WIFE.  A very YOUNG wife (for dad anyway!) We laughed about that!  Good to laugh too.  Joan reminded me a LOT of my mom.  Very slender build, little, same hair color and style as mom.  She was standing at the window talking on the phone one day and from the back she looked JUST LIKE my mom.  So I took a picture.

That was a little comforting too.

Sunday, Father's Day, I had asked dad what he wanted for breakfast (he wasn't eating the hospital food any more).  He said Frosted Flakes, bacon and something sweet.  So I brought him the cereal, stopped at Bob Evans for the bacon and something sweet - he loved it.  Got there around 8 a.m. Stayed til about 6 pm - Left a little early because a storm was coming, didn't want to get caught in it going home.  Told him I'd be there in the morning.

Finally eating - Father's Day breakfast!

Had a bad night Sunday night.  Couldn't sleep, cried…very emotional.  I had a lot to do in just a few days.  Finally got to sleep around 4 a.m.  At 7:15, my phone was ringing.  It was dad.     "WHERE ARE YOU?  The skinny lady is here already".  He didn't know here name, and he couldn't understand why she was there and I wasn't'. (he was talking about Joan, his roommates wife. He also didn't understand that she had two other people coming in later in the day!) So I got up, got dressed and got to the hospital around 8.  He looked up, smiled and said "Good. You're here".  And promptly fell back to sleep.

That was Monday morning.  The day he was scheduled to be released. (Kind of sounds like prison?) He was just SO ready to go home.  Got up, washed up, dressed and sat in his bed asking when the nurse was coming in to let him go.  He is not a very patient patient.  (Not like Melissa at all)

Finally around 3, it was time to go.  He was so happy.  Got him back to his house to get settled in and his friend Steve stopped by to visit.  This is his friend that will be taking him to all of his doctor's appointments, for blood work, and probably to the grocery whenever he needs to go.  Great guy.  He and his wife are in a band that plays at the VFW.  When dad left to come to Dayton to visit, he told him he needed to be back by Father's Day-he wanted to spend Father's Day with him!  I feel so much better knowing he has someone looking after him.    

Tuesday morning, it was back to the VA to see his primary care doctor.  I had talked to the nurse multiple times in the last week, and recognized her voice when she called dad back.  The doctor wasn't seeing patients, but Angela (the nurse) asked him to come in to meet dad - when he walked in my first thought was "Doogie Houser".  He is very young.  But very kind and patient with dad.  He stayed and talked to him for about 20 min.  I was impressed.  And happy.  Went to get his bloodwork done again (for the coumadin) - his phlebotomist this time happened to be from Vandalia, Oh!  Got the results about half an hour later - everything was GREAT.  Also decided to get all his meds from the VA and they will be mailed to him.  

Got home, and the Home Health Care nurse came to visit.  She's back today, and will be in three days a week, along with a home health aide.  OT and PT will assess him (today) and if he needs it, they will be back.  

Got all his meds set up for him, all his appointments made, and transportation to and from.  So I could go home.  On schedule.  

And I did.  It was really hard to leave him, but I know I left him in good hands (although he would prefer I took care of him.  When he was in the hospital over the weekend, I told him to "look forward to Wednesday.  You will be home and looking back and saying, that wasn't so bad.  And I will be heading home!"  And he said "You don't have to go if you don't want to".)

Wow.  I guess I never thought about what it would be like taking care of one of my parents.  I knew it would happen eventually, but I had no idea how much is involved in taking care of an elderly parent.  I have so much respect for my friends and relatives who have been where I am now.  I am not the only one that has had to do this, and I will not be the last.  It's not an easy job, but, like taking care of my daughter, Melissa, it just something that I can't imagine NOT doing.  It's easy when you love someone so much.

He was looking pretty good when we were getting ready to go

(had to take this one for my cousin Sharon - she bought him this shirt for his birthday- He loves it Sharon!)  He's looking a little thin - lost around 20 lbs.  If you've never met my dad, his calves, from his knees to his ankles, have looked like tree trunks for the last ten years.  Since he's been in the hospital, they are half the size.  So most of that 20 lbs. is probably water weight!) And, notice he is wearing his breast cancer pin.  ALWAYS.  First thing he does before he puts his shirt on is take the pin off the shirt he wore the day before and put it on the shirt he is putting on.  He misses Melissa every day too.  And the pin is a conversation starter.  Whenever anyone asks about the pin, he tells the about Melissa.   
I love that too.

This is his Brett.  He met him at City Limits (the bowling alley bar he goes to). Brett is now not only his handyman, but his friend too.  Brett picked us up at the airport - gave dad a big hug and said "Im so glad you're home Irv!"  He took me to the airport to come home too.  Good guy.  Dad is in good hands.

I had a lot to think about coming home.  Did I get everything done that needed to be done? Did I do his meds right?  Will he be okay when no one is there with him?

And then I looked out the window and saw this…

Melissa sends me hearts too - she loves me and she is right there with me. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

…the day after...

The party.  The day after the party…

It's been a CRAZY week and a half.  My dad comes to visit, specifically for Donny's 60th birthday, but for HIS birthday too.  We had two weeks worth of fun planned for him.  Lots of parties (birthday, graduation, retirement).  Not to be.

He ended up being in the hospital from Sunday to Wednesday.  They did multiple tests - CT scan, chest x-ray, blood work…pretty much everything but an MRI.  He REFUSED an MRI.  Claustrophobic. There was nothing anyone could say or do to convince him to agree to one.  So by Wednesday, his vitals had stabilized, so they sent him home.  Added a BP med, and recommended he cut down on his salt intake.

Waiting for dinner...

Playing dress-up…with his physical therapist. 

On the way home, he mentioned that he would like to go to the Polish Club for the drawing (the one that he signed up for on Sunday, right before I took him to the ER.  He seemed in pretty good spirits, said he felt good.  So we agreed.  It's always pretty crowded on Wednesdays because of the drawing, and that night was no exception.  Once again, it was like Norm on Cheers…except it was "IRV!"
I think I got his picture with every woman in the place.  They all love him.  (He always says that, and I have seen it first hand!)

He has some pretty good friends at the Polish Club.  Feeling good that night.  That was Wednesday.

Thursday, we didn't have big plans (since he just got out of the hospital after four days!), but he wanted to go the the VFW.  So Donny went to his softball game, and dad & I headed to the VFW.  Had a couple beers, made some new friends, and went home.   All was good.

Friday.  He got up early, didn't feel well. Went to the bathroom and said he was going to lay back down.  I got a lot done in a couple of hours - some laundry, cut the grass, picked up a little.  When I got back in, he wasn't up yet.  Finally got up around 12:30.  Said he was feeling better.  Came downstairs and we watched our soap together (yes, we watch the same soap opera- we can…we're both retired!) Then I asked him if he had brushed his teeth.  Nope - gotta do that.  So he got up, kind of wobbly, so I followed him up the stairs to the bathroom, stood in the doorway and watched him.  He was kind of stooped over on the left side and was moving pretty slow.  Went into the bedroom to put his shoes on, then back down the stairs to the living room.  Not looking good.  He sat on the couch and was changing right before my eyes…I was starting to tell him that maybe he should think about staying a couple extra days until he felt better.  He, of course, was saying, "NO".  Donny walked in the door from work about this time.  His face on the left side was droopy.  He was having a hard time talking, he was out of breath and he was having a hard time keeping his eyes open.  He tried to get up off the couch and he couldn't.  Too weak.  I told Donny something was wrong - went outside to call a couple of friends who are nurses. Couldn't get an answer from them, so I called his family doctor here. The nurse said "those are all symptoms of a stroke.  Call the squad".  So I came in, and said "Dad, I think you are having a stroke.  I need to call 911."  He just said "you're the boss".  So I did.  Went back to Miami Valley Hospital-ER.  Some of the same nurses were working and recognized him.  Multiple doctors were checking him, more tests…and another request for an MRI.  The nurse actually asked me the page full of questions they have to ask before the MRI just in case.  They would be ready if he agreed.  I finally told him that if he wanted to go back to Florida, he would have to have the MRI.
Reluctantly he agreed.  (I could be more descriptive here, but it would take a lot of foul language-so I won't go there).  This was Friday night around 7.

They got him into a waiting area - waiting for a room to stay.  Made friends with all the nurses - he was singing to them.  His nurse was Brooke.  He got some of the nicest (and cutest) nurses. He loved that. She told us about her kids (six of them - she's 32!) and we told her about our kids. And grandkids. And of course gave her a card with Melissa's blog.  I love talking about my kids.  Both of them…

Didn't have to wait too long - got him up to a room and realized that the MRI wasn't going to happen that night.  So we went home and let him sleep.  Kind of.

Got back early Saturday morning, hoping the MRI would happen early so we could get some results and get him home.  It would be a long Saturday.  My sister Donna and her daughter visited for a few hours.  By 9 p.m. I sent Donny home.  Dad hadn't gone for the MRI yet, and I wanted to be there when they took him.  He was still pretty nervous about it.  FINALLY at 11:30 they came to get him. His nurse Carrie gave him a "push" (as Melissa would call it) of Atavan and by the time he got there, he was in lala land.  There was a waiting room - and his transport nurse got ME some warm blankets and a pillow.  After about ten minutes, I knew that he wasn't backing out.  The atavan worked.  When she brought him out, she said "He rocked it.  He was a trooper!"  And he was singing to the nurses.  Again. Didn't stop talking all the way back to the room.  And he said "It was just like City Limits.  Loud!" (City Limits is the Bowling Alley that he goes to - has a bar and some nice waitresses - and loud music, I guess).  I was feeling pretty good at this point.  Happy that he did it, and happy that he seemed ok.

Then we got back to his room.  I thought to sleep.  So Carrie, his nurse, takes his BP - 247/107.  She took multiple readings that were all high - but that was the highest.  They don't give BP meds if you've had a stroke - but if it goes over 220 - they do.  So he gets some meds, comes down under 220 and the beeping stops on the monitor. Then he rolls over and his heart rate goes up. And the beeping starts again (it's 2 a.m. now).  I laid there having flashbacks - it was just like when Melissa was in the hospital…I laid there looking at the monitor all night.  (Only difference - I had a somewhat comfortable bed when I stayed with Melissa.  Here - my bed was like right out of the Flintstones - made of ROCK.)
Next thing I know, it's 4 a.m. - time for vitals.  BP was up again - more meds.  Then back to sleep til the doctor came in at 8.  Results hadn't been read yet, but he looked up the pictures to show me - and what do you know…FORT sent me a butterfly…

This is (one of) dad's pictures from the MRI.  Can't see it on this one, but another picture shows a small white dot - said that is where the stroke occurred.  It was a minor stroke - and recovered pretty quickly. No paralysis-no speech problems.  His strength came back pretty rapidly too.    So we had the answer that we needed - and they recommended Coumadin.  He wasn't excited about that (again, I could be more descriptive here, but it would take a lot of foul language, so I won't go there again)…but his priority was to go home.  Not just to my house - but HIS house.  He wants his routine back.  He misses his friends. (And I'm pretty sure they miss him too - I've talked to a couple of them and so has he). 
So he's going home.  Right on schedule.  And I'm going with him - for a week or so. Got to get him settled in and make sure he takes it easy for awhile.  He'll do whatever he wants after I go - but I'm working on getting him a Home Health Care Nurse/Aide, if just for a little while.  (Says he doesn't need or want anyone at his house- but I think he'll appreciate it when I'm not there). It will give ME some peace of mind.  And on that note - I want to thank my friends Rodney and Kelley for giving me the information for the VA Caregiver Support.  They were very helpful and I feel better already about getting help for dad.  


Dad DID have a little fun while he was here…besides the Polish Club and VFW, he got to see his Great Grandsons play t-ball.  I had to remind him several times that they are ONLY 5 and 6. (He couldn't understand why they didn't know where to throw the ball…or that they didn't KNOW HOW to throw the ball)…

Max came over for a little love from Grandpa Irv…

Thursday morning, the day after dad came home from the hospital, Nick dropped Max off for the morning. We picked up Andrew from the busstop - his last day of Kindergarten (only for him - they were leaving for vacation that day)

Andrew's last day as a Kindergartener…can't believe he's a first grader!

They both said they wanted to see Grandpa Irv before they left.  This is the BEST picture I've ever gotten of the two of them together (and pretty good of dad too)-usually one is looking away, one is smiling, one is not - NEVER have both of them looking at the camera and smiling at the same time! This will be one of my all time favorites!

Back to their house - a shower and a change of clothes and ready to get the show on the road! Their first family vacation!  Two happy boys.


It's dad's second day home from the hospital.  He's realizing that a hospital stay takes a lot out of you. He's tired, and a little down I think. He wants to go HOME.  This isn't home anymore. Florida is.
He wanted to go out and get something to eat, so we did.  Then we took him to Fairmont to see Melissa's bench.  And I wanted a picture of him on her bench.  Grandpa and Melissa. I like that.

Tomorrow we'll have a few visitors before he goes home.  He's ready to start packing.  I'm anxious to get him home and get him stronger so he can keep on doing what he loves to do.  See his friends at the VFW and City Limits, sing Karaoke and go to Sam's Club.  If Grandpa is happy, I'm happy.

 Hug your grandpa (your grandma, your dad, mom, brother, sister, friend…)and make them smile.  It'll make you feel pretty good too…it does me!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Happy 60th Birthday Donny!

…and happy 84th to my dad (Fort's Grandpa).

Sitting in the hospital with dad, so I thought this would be a good time to update.  Reminds me of when Melissa sat with the laptop and updated when SHE was in the hospital.  Hard to believe that was five years ago…

I told Donny I was stepping out of my comfort zone having this party - but I wanted to do it because he deserved it.  He has been so good to me, especially in the last five years.  He has missed a lot of events because I couldn't go, and he never complained.  He is a lot more social than I am nowadays, but even he said he was a little anxious about this party.  Neither of us are good in crowds anymore.  Makes us both anxious.  But it was ok.  The party was at The Tropics by the Fraze.  The room was free, and I took care of the appetizers -everyone was on their own for drinks.  The food was great (or so I heard, I got a couple of pieces of pizza, but none of the other yummy looking food!) Most of Donny's siblings were there, some of my cousins, my sister and Nick, Mere and the boys.  Lots of the Franz's and a couple of Melissa's friends showed up - Angie and Stacy with her her three kids. (Two, Emma and Luke, Melissa was there "first friend".  Mia Marie, I got to be her "first friend"!) Tim Storm, a friend of Donny's from NCR came in from Columbus (that was a surprise to Donny), and our friend Curt Clifford (Mange) who we've gone on cruises with the last two summers (and this summer) came in from Portsmouth.  I think it went well.

The birthday boys…Donny & Dad

Donny & his mom

Donny & Rick Kayser, his roommate at Wilmington

Donny & Deb Ryan (friend from grade school)…she turned 60 the day before!

Donny & Tim Storm (friend from NCR days!)

Dad and his girls

Dad and his childhood friend, Jim Walker.  They are the only two left of all his childhood buddies.

Donny and his Wilmington buddies - all Janizaries (local fraternity at Wilmington - all football players. And all coaches.(Mange retired from Portsmouth-head football coach for 30 years; Jay Niswonger retired from Valley View, head football coach for 30 years; Rick Kayser coached Basketball at Stivers; Donny coached at Fairmont; Tim Gabbard just retired from Waynesville, head football coach and girls basketball coach)
And they still get together.  It's been 38 years since they left Wilmington.

Neighbors - Carol Slivinski and Bruce Snedden.  Bruce is 91.  His wife Ruth was a good friend of mine.  She died of breast cancer 3 years ago.  Donny is getting real close to Bruce - we visit him a couple of times a week. Great guy, great stories from WWII…he was a pilot.

Donny & friend Shelly.

Donny, me with our friends from Compassionate Friends - Randy and Carolyn.  (Their son was killed in Baghdad in 2007.)  Besides having that in common,  we have a lot of other things in common. They'll be joining us in Chicago for the Compassionate Friends Conference along with Bobby and Penny - longtime friends who lost their son to suicide.  

Dad with his nieces, Patty (who was his flower girl in his wedding) and Sharon. This was after church on Sunday morning at Holy Trinity.  Long family history at Holy Trinity.  It's where Dad's parent's were married, he went to school, Sharon and Jim, Leanne and Tony, Nick & Meredith were married there.  Grandparents, mom and Melissa's funeral were there. It is a beautiful older church. If I were a church goer, it's where I would go…maybe someday…

Jim, Sharon, Dad, Patty, Hugh & me

This photo was taken right after mass.  Sharon, Jim, Patty & Hugh took dad to Marion's afterward. I went home to get a few things done.  When he got home, he was ready to go to the Polish Club. He has lots of friends there, and we hadn't been there yet.  Right before we got ready to go, he said he was feeling a little dizzy.  But he brushed it off and still wanted to go. So we did.

When we got there, several of his friends were there - they all said "IRV…we were wondering if you would come back to see us!"  (He's like Norm on Cheers…so was Melissa when she walked into a bar at OU…only it was "FORT"!)  then  he made a beeline for the bathroom, where he proceed to get sick…came back sat at the bar and ordered a beer.  Took a sip, and ran to the bathroom (kind of-) and got sick again.  He came back to the bar took a sip, then look at me and said "I think I should go home and lay down."  He left two beers sitting at the bar.  Not good.  I had to help him to the car and he got sick again.  So decided to take him to ER.  Got him in, nurse put him in a wheelchair and he got sick again.  Got him in triage and his BP was 197/97.  Went up to 227/100, so they decided to keep him overnight.  After they got him situated, I went home.

Back in the morning and he was sleeping, BP was down to 172/72.  He just wants to go home. (sleep in his bed at our house!)

Some other issues, but he needs to talk to his family doctor about that later.  Not sure if he'll be going home in a week…I suspect that he will DEMAND it.  He is only here for a visit.  Home is Florida.  Hopefully it all works out the way he wants it to!

One more interesting thing…I had a dream about my mom last night. She passed away seven years ago, and it is the first dream I've had about her.  I was taking dad home to her - she opened the door and she looked great and we hugged and said I love you and we were all so happy.  Another visit…the first from my mom.  Made me happy.

So there we have it.  A lot going on in a very short time.  Hopefully I can update from home later today.  (Just order dad's lunch and he asked "do I have to eat it here?"  I think he's ready to go home.
I have to say he's not as good a patient as Melissa was…but they had something in common..they wanted to go home.  

I'll be back.


Have to end with Andrew & Max.
Fort would expect it.

Flowers for Pamma

…and not to be outdone

Max finds a bigger flower for Pamma!

Have a good one.