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!