Category Archives: Health

It came to pass…

Well, what an eventful year thus far, and it is only early June. I enrolled in Uni this year to attain my Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology) and so far I’m doing really well. I have been receiving mostly High Distinctions and Distinctions, as well as being awarded a scholarship, so I need to keep my GPA above 4.0. I was so proud to receive academic recognition so early in the journey, but I really love the subjects I am doing and have met some incredible like-minded individuals who want to study as hard as I do and achieve as high results as possible. The MOTH is finally on board with me being a professional student, and I have had some feedback from friends of him telling them how proud he is of me and is so glad to see me back on track after nearly 10 years of being in a funk. It was seven years since my back injury before I returned to TAFE for 18 months, earning my Diploma in Community Service Work – Case Management. I took a year off at MOTH’s request, and it was a horrible year for all involved!

The workload of full-time study has been a bit much, so I’ll still be doing full-time, but only three units next semester, and I can catch up my sub-major (crime and Criminal Justice) online over summer. I have a friend who intends on doing the same, so at least I will have someone to talk over theory with outside of ‘class’. I have found one way to be smarter is to hang around with smart people, so I’m trying to do that with regard to Uni. One young dude, only 18, is super-smart and is in most of my study sessions. I push myself to keep up and answer as quickly as he does (and sometimes beat him! yay me!). It helps me feel like I’m keeping up with everyone and that I’m on the right path.

Now for some sadder news. Poor ol’ Dad came down with pneumonia late April, and the nursing home did all they could to help him fight it. However, on Friday, 25 May 2018, the doctors called to say treatment wasn’t working and it was time to place him on palliative care. My brother, sister-in-law and I visited him the next day, and you could tell he was pretty bad, he was on oxygen and the only thing we could get him to eat was oranges, picked by Allan from a certain tree that Dad loves the oranges from. It made him so happy to just sit there in the sun and enjoy something he loved so much. Allan and I arranged to see him again Tuesday, 29 May, so we could bring him some more of his favourite oranges. He was on his deathbed, and was so happy to see us be there for him in the end. We fed him some oranges, gave him lots of hugs and kisses and told him how much we loved him. When his breathing became quite distressed and the nursing team came running in, we took our leave. We could still hear him as we left the building.

I was expecting the phone call that night, and had an awful night just thinking about how hard it was for Dad to breathe, and that I was hoping he would let go soon as he was in a fair amount of distress. The nursing staff were fantastic and managed his end of life care magnificently. He passed away at around 10:15 on Wednesday, May 30 2018. He looked so peaceful, more at rest than I had ever seen him, and he was off to join his beloved Maggie, whose loss he never recovered from 22 years ago. I like to think their souls have been reunited and they are together again at last. This thinking gives me comfort, as I know how much they loved each other, even if they drove each other bat-shit crazy!

The funeral was held on Tuesday, 5 June at Rookwood, the same place we had Mum’s service all those years ago. It was a lovely and sweet ceremony, and I delivered the eulogy – I found it very cathartic to write, and I found some kind of inner strength to deliver it to a chapel full of people who loved him. It started to rain at the end of the service so it was a mad scurry to the vehicles to head off to a life celebration for Dad at Dooley’s Catholic Club in Lidcombe. It was a great celebration of family and friends, and many stories of Dad were shared. Even one of his half-sisters started to ask me what I knew about that family history given the subtle references I made during the eulogy. I told her we all need to get together, in the near future, and have an honest and open discussion about what we all know. From that we may be able to piece together what has really happened within the family and unravel some family secrets that shouldn’t have been kept this long.

I must say, I am so glad I had Uni to keep me busy throughout this (not that uni hasn’t been without hiccups!). I think I would have broken down and don’t know when I would have stopped. I have shed a few tears, but I have spent the best part of two years waiting for this to happen. I found Dad unconscious in his unit back in August 2016, and after much too-ing and fro-ing, plus an escape from one nursing home, he went into full-time residential care in December 2016. He became very ill in January 2017, and we nearly lost him then, it was only that Allan and I agreed to a feeding tube and him being physically restrained that saved him. We agreed that we would not go that far again, as he never fully recovered from this episode. He apparently had more strokes during this time, and had no clue who we were for about 2 months. He slowly regained his strength, but he could never stand or walk alone, and was forever having falls. We did have some fun visits with him, taking ‘picnics’ for him to pick at, while he listened to us all have conversations about out lives. Every now and then he would try to contribute, but he was suffering from expressive aphasia, so couldn’t get his words out. Mostly when he did talk, it was telling us his cousins were his brothers and sisters – these are the family secrets we all need to talk about. He would sometimes be able to tell us he went out on the bus for a trip and ice cream at Macca’s, but that was about it. When we heard that familiar rattle in his chest, we alerted the staff who commenced treatment that day. Unfortunately, the pneumonia was to claim him this time, but he put up such a fight, right to the very end.

We will miss Dad, he was a big part of our lives. We are going to scatter his cremains at the same place we scattered Mum, Cape Solander at Kurnell. It would be nice to have them available for 4 July, the day we scattered Mum, but we may need to wait until the following weekend for everyone to be available. A toast will be had, and we will again reminisce about the man we all loved.

I’ve got lots to do, just finishing a final essay for Crime and Criminal Justice on the Indigenous peoples relationship with the Criminal Justice System. It’s off being reviewed as we speak, then I’m off to the nursing home with Allan and Julie to say our final thank you’s, pick up anything we need (just a hat that he had, everything else we left for other residents) and then that’s the final part of that process. I’ve got study to do for Understanding Society, pick five questions out of 12 that I really like and write myself some answers. I have until Monday evening to get this done, but I will break this up with my other two subjects, The Individual in Society and Psychology – Human Behaviour.

Til next we meet

xoxoxo

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And this week presents…

Well, great news, I’ve got work as an electoral officer at the upcoming state election on the 9th September. It’s a long day so I will get the full pay plus meal allowance and training allowance, so I’m pretty happy to have some spare cash coming in soon.

I also got my roster for HSC Supervision at International Grammar School at Ultimo. That starts on the 16th October and goes ’til about the 4th November and I have quite a few shifts, so that will all help in the lead up to christmas. I have expensive taste in skincare so I don’t expect the family to provide that for me!

This visit with Dad was painful this week, he seems to have lost continence again, the poor lovely, just when he was getting better with it. It seems his meds are working too, as he was very quite, didn’t try to contribute to conversations. He just seemed to enjoy the sun as we had purchased him a new jacket to keep him warm when it’s windy.

As far as my cancer goes, we are still waiting for cells to grow back to confirm the diagnosis so I only have to wait around 6 weeks now, then we can go have another test and come up with a plan of action. I’ve come to accept it now and have stopped freaking out about it, as this will probably make it worse. As I said before, at least I’m not pregnant this time and we can sort it out straight away.

They boys are good, they have been loving me and supporting me through this (and many other things!). I couldn’t have asked for a better support crew. Love my boys very much xoxoxo

Phone Calls in the Night

So I had just gone to bed last night and took my phone with me as I needed the alarm for the morning (I don’t like taking my phone to the bedroom, and my alarm clock is stuffed so no choice). I get a phone call from a number I recognise but couldn’t place, so I answered. It was the nursing home calling to say that Dad is crying and wants to come home. I just said to her to ring my brother and hung up. My dear brother then had the awkward call with Dad.

The nursing home shouldn’t be calling me for a start, they have instructions to call my brother for anything and everything. And secondly, they shouldn’t be calling us to deal with him when they are there to do a job. They told me they were going to medicate him for this, so medicate him and deal with it. Neither my brother or I are in a position to do anything about his situation. He got himself into this mess because he refused to take better care of himself, and I don’t think he understands that he can’t look after himself. I think we are going to have that horrible conversation with him where he’s going to be “I want to go home!” and we have to say to him that where he is, is his home, he doesn’t have anywhere else to go and can’t take care of himself anyway.

This all might sound harsh, but I am really exhausted with him. At least he can’t “escape” from where he is like he did when he was in respite last year. He was in respite after a stint in hospital and wasn’t able to go home and take care of himself. I was trying to get care in place for him and he just packed up and left, trying to make his way to my place! I can’t take care of him here, and he can’t be left alone as he is unable to take his medication properly, even though they are in Webster Packs. He also can’t control his eating, so he will end up with diabetes again, and because he doesn’t take the medication properly, he will be back in hospital within a week.

He is in the nursing home for his own safety and care. I know he would be hard for them to manage, but they are supposed to be medicating him to help him get through this. We will have a good talk to them when my brother and I go on Saturday morning, and I think I will take my phone number out of his file.

What’s been happening?

Well, there is so much to say as it has been quite a long time since I’ve been here. I’ve often thought to myself that “I should do a blog update”, and of course, that is all it has been, a thought. Just had a lot happening this year and not had the “energy” to do this. Now is the time to turn that around.

I’ll start with Dad. He’s in the nursing home at Padstow, and has made improvements from where we were in January/February. He’s walking again, with the assistance of a walking frame, which he also needs to get up and down. You can have a chat with him, but you might not always understand what he is trying to say to you. He’s also recovered enough to want to “fight” with other residents, so this is not necessarily a great thing. Those who know him know how combative he can be, but in a dementia ward, other residents don’t know what’s going on with him and he can get aggressive. Hopefully this doesn’t get any worse, or the staff will really have problems with him.

He lost a lot of weight back at the start of the year when he was really sick and unable to eat. He has, however, put a fair bit of it back on now that he is eating again. His diabetes went away, but I am starting to become concerned that he will have it again soon if he keeps eating the way he does. They must be letting him have too many biscuits and cakes throughout the day, because he will eat as many as he can get away with, when he shouldn’t really be having any.

We’ve also discovered that Dad is having low iron issues. He’s not eating the meat that they serve (I’ve seen it and don’t think I’d be too keen on some of it!), which doesn’t help. They do believe that he may have some issue with his bowel, such as a polyp that is bleeding, but we have decided not to put him through further testing as it will be too rough on him. We’ve decided to treat the low iron and we’ll deal with anything else if and when it arises.

Now for my health….. I recently had my annual Pap smear and blood test and got the results today. Cholesterol and blood sugar are really good, thyroid is good, but unfortunately, my liver functions are still elevated and not coming down even though I have lost weight. I was a little surprised by that, and the doctor has decided to investigate this further to be sure it’s no more than fatty liver. Not great, but if that’s it, it will get better the more weight I lose. I’ve lost around 16Kg so far, another 9 to go.

Unfortunately, the Pap results weren’t great either. It looks like the cervical cancer that I have been clear of for 20 years is making it’s comeback. I have to wait for the cells to grow back so I can have another Pap smear in October and see what the results show. I’m not too concerned at this stage, as it is very early days and we’ve detected it early, so it shouldn’t be too much of an issue to get rid of it again. I’ll take every treatment they offer to get rid of this and it will all be good again.

Anyway, the MOTH and the boy have been great about this, and they are going along well. The three of us make such an amazing unit, and we all love and support each other with whatever we have to deal with. We face everything as a family, and we’ll get through all this together.

Gonna love you and leave you there. Other things have gone on, and I’m sure much more will, but I won’t leave it so long ’til next time

About Dad

I know it’s been a while since I last did this as I have been busy studying, but with all the developments regarding Dad over the last 6 months I felt that I must take the time and give you all an update.

In early August 2016 on a Sunday morning when we went to drop his paper off, we found him unconscious on the bedroom floor of his flat (MOTH was with me). We called an ambulance straight away and they arrived quickly. Initial assessment showed that he had a fever and a blood sugar level so high that their tester couldn’t read his levels. They took him to emergency at Bankstown Hospital, where he was admitted with pneumonia and delirium. They couldn’t determine if the high sugar triggered the pneumonia or the other way around. Either way, he was quite sick and was kept in hospital for about a week. He was discharged with antibiotics and insulin injections, which I had to give him each night as he wasn’t quite ready to learn to do it for himself at that point.

He was home for about a week and a half when we went there on the Sunday morning again with his paper. I noticed that he had all his clothes on backwards and he had a good chuckle when I pointed it out. He also said that the equal that he was using in his tea and coffee was terrible and made the cuppa’s milky. I looked in the cupboard and saw that he had been using cornflour instead of the equal, so I showed him the equal was in the sachets and he said he would be okay using them now – he just forgot they were in sachets. I had to leave and I asked if he would be alright until I got back that night around 8 to give him his insulin. He said he would be so I left and came home with all the shopping and stuff. He was on my mind all day, but I was going back that night so he wouldn’t be alone for too long.

When I got back to his place that night, the outside light wasn’t on so that was unusual, and as I got to the door, I noticed a note that his neighbour had left. She apparently found him wandering the street in the early afternoon and he was dazed and confused. She called an ambulance for him and he was taken to Bankstown emergency. We got down there and saw him, he knew who we were, but not much else and he wasn’t making much sense. As his blood test showed infection they tried to do a spinal tap to rule out meningitis and the like. They couldn’t get him into a good enough position to get the fluid. They tried again the next day but again couldn’t manipulate him into a suitable position for the procedure. They suspected sepsis, but this couldn’t be confirmed. They treated him for it anyway, better safe than sorry. He spent the next week in hospital and was having hallucinations – seeing a black snake under the bed, large flies flying around the room, etc.. He wasn’t well enough to go home on his own, so I arranged for him to go into respite at Yagoona Nursing Home until such times as we could arrange for home care services for him.

He continued to improve while in respite, and just as I was making appointments for  ACAT assessments for him, he absconded from the nursing home and was wondering around Bankstown looking for his way to our place. When I finally got hold of him on the phone, I sent him back to the nursing home, who called an ambulance for him and had him taken to the locked psych ward at Bankstown Hospital. He was there for about a week while they assessed his needs and made arrangements for home services. They had to be sure that he could take his medication properly and could complete basic tasks at home.

He went home and had the services coming around a few times a week to check on him and take him shopping. He started catching a cab to where we shopped every Sunday morning so he could “bump into” us and get us to give him a lift home. He also sent his laptop over to get “fixed” by our son, but there was absolutely nothing wrong with it, he was struggling to remember how to use it.

This went on for a couple of weeks, until a Monday late in October when I got a phone call from the Diabetes Clinic at the hospital, saying that Dad was more confused that usual and that he couldn’t remember how to use his BSL tester. She took him to emergency and he was admitted from there with confusion and high blood sugar. They did an MRI and could see the evidence from his old strokes, but other than that all was okay. They did another MRI five days later when his confusion worsened and found that he had had an “embolic shower”, showing that he had many clots throughout his brain. This showed that the clots are forming elsewhere (heart) and travelling to the brain. There was no other option but to put him into full time care once he stabilised.

He moved to Casa Mia Aged Care late November and has been in the locked dementia ward. He has been unable to communicate with us or staff, but has been co-operative. Unfortunately though, he has started to sleep all day and roam the halls at night. One night he fell asleep sitting in one of the chairs and then fell forward out of the chair. There was no apparent damage apart from a swollen nose and a small graze to the head. They changed his sleeping medication in the hopes that it would change his patterns, but he is still drowsy all day and awake all night.

He stopped eating his food last Thursday (12/01/17) and got more and more drowsy, not even responding when Allan and Julie went to visit and tried calling him and waking him. They expressed their concern to staff and staff were looking into it. On Monday 15/01 the nursing home called and said that he hadn’t eaten for 2 days and that they are concerned as he is more drowsy. They told us they had called the doctor for him and asked us if it was okay for him to be transferred to hospital. At about 11:30 Monday night, I got a call from the Registrar at Bankstown emergency letting me know that Dad was there and was being admitted and treated for pneumonia. MOTH and I went to see him Tuesday morning and he sounded quite chesty and we couldn’t rouse him at all. The staff told me he only had a pain response. When Allan and Julie saw him that afternoon, he was semi-conscious and moaning, still unresponsive to voice.

Today (Fri 20/01) we had a family conference with his treating doctor and registrar. They say they have changed his antibiotics and hope that this gets the infection under control as it has worsened slightly. He is also showing inflammation but this is probably gout as he seemed to be sore in the usual gout sites. They were putting in a Naso-gastric tube today to start giving him some nutrition as it has now been about a week since he has eaten and they feel that he might have a better chance at recovery with some nutrition. We’ll just have to see how that goes, but we did warn them about how he pulls tubes and every thing out when he has the chance so they are going to put him in special mittens in the hope that this prevents him pulling out the feeding tube.

It’s all wait and see at this stage. We just need to see if the nutrition aides in his recovery and helps him fight this infection. It’s not looking great at the moment, but we have said to them to take all necessary interventions to make him comfortable, but if things take a turn for the worse to not resuscitate him. They have said that if they did need to resuscitate him that he would be much worse off and we feel that this would be unfair to him. Fingers are crossed that things get better. I’ll keep you posted.

And now for something completely different

Wow, I’ve been so busy over this last week. I have gone back to TAFE… Certificate 3 in Community Services Work. It has been awesome. I have a great class, and there is a really good mix of cultures and interests. I think we will learn a lot from each other. We have had some good talks in small groups when we have done group activities; we are getting to know each other and that is really good. I have become close to a few people, which I like, but next week I am going to make a greater effort to sit with others in the class. I seem to have sat with the same people a few times over the three days, so I would like to make the effort of sitting with some of the others.

Gonna see if I can sit back and let others answer more. I feel like I am taking over some times, and while I feel I have a lot to offer, maybe others aren’t getting the chance for as much input. I’m looking forward to week two next week. I’m also looking forward to the boy getting the computer running properly for me again. I can’t open any of the files I’ve been emailed from my classes over the last week as the computer doesn’t have the software to support them. Anyhoo, I’m sure he’s going to fix it for me tomorrow.

And tomorrow is a huge day unto itself. Doing the Bankstown Bites Food Tour with Dad, the brother and sister-in-law. Hanging out for that, eating our way around town. Dad and I get to have drinks on our tours, as we are doing the RSL in the morning, and Oscars in the afternoon. Not sure what we are going to do for our lunch one at 12:30pm. I have two picked out, so I’ll just see what Dad seems to want to do. I’m just looking forward to trying new food; I know there is some Vietnamese and Lebanese, so yummy. Will give an update when I get a chance after we’ve stuffed ourselves!

A Very Busy Week

Wow, what a week! It started last Saturday when I went to visit Dad as I hadn’t been to see him that week due to the norovirus doing the rounds of the ward. I still had to mask up to see him, and I kept sanitising my hands and everything I came in contact with. I even had a contingency plan for when I came home so that I stripped off in the outside laundry and changed into a robe, throw all my clothes in the washing machine, come in the house and hot shower scrubbing head to toe. I sprayed my shoes and my coat with Glen20 to kill any germs that might have lingered on them and left them in the laundry overnight to be sure. Dad was just getting over the virus when I saw him, so he was still quite bedraggled. He got stuck into the cappuccino that I got him, and he tucked into his salad for lunch which I took as a really good sign. I could stay with him long, but he was really happy to have seen me.

On Sunday we did a roast chicken and salad lunch for our dear friend Bernie. It was her birthday this week, and we always like to do lunch for each others birthday. It was good to kick back with a few drinks and chat, because even though she was over just the week before, we still had so much to catch up on. She’s been in our lives for so long we’ve become family. I love her like a sister. I got pretty smashed so I just relaxed after she left and let the boys fend for themselves for dinner, I was still stuffed from lunch.

Monday morning I spoke with my brother and said that I’d googled a list of Nursing Homes for Dad and that I would start checking out all the ones with vacancies between Parramatta and Penrith. I spent the best part of the day on the internet and phone, but the only immediate vacancies were for women, so that was no good for us. I was hopeful with one particular organisation, however it turned out their places were not in suitable places for us… We really want to keep him in between us geographically, so when I found a place at West Ryde, I didn’t even bother, but that was the only male vacancy I found.

I took it easy on Tuesday, just did a few things around the house as Wednesday was the big travel day again. I actually don’t mind the travel, but it really knocks the stuffing out of me. It’s nice and relaxing to sit back and read a book during the journey instead of stressing out in the traffic on a 2 hour drive. I don’t have it in me to do that kind of driving, and my bus and train connections all line up so I get a good “run” both ways. Lisa came and had lunch with Dad and I in the Kiosk and we all had a really good meal and laugh. Dads memory is coming back to him, but you do need to help him fill in the blanks (if you can!). We went back to the reading room to watch the tv after lunch and just chatterbox in general. I gave his toenails and fingernails a trimming this week, they were getting really bad, and I had been meaning to do them for him anyway. Afterall, I have given him a haircut, and I was going to take my nail clippers that week, but I just forgot. Anyway, it’s done now and they’ll be fine for a while now.

While I was visiting Dad, the Social Worker (Ming) called me to tell me of a vacancy for Dad with UnitingCare Mayflower Village, Westmead. She gave me Diedre’s name and phone number and said to give her a call. I couldn’t do it there and then, and was going to do it when I got home, Diedre actually called me while I was sitting at Katoomba station waiting for the train to return home. We made arrangements for me to go and visit the premises on Friday at noon, as I knew Thursday was going to be no good for anything. It all sounded good over the phone, but I was really happy to get a call with a place for him now.

Thursday was a write-off. I got up, dealt with MOTH’s mate, and went back to bed. I was totally exhausted and really needed some good catch-up sleep. I even knocked Amanda back for coffee when she called, and she’s my sis! I felt really slack, but I just felt like shit and was just waiting for his mate to leave so I could go and relax. MOTH was the one who suggested I go back to bed, and I didn’t feel guilty as I had taken Jordy for her walk. I went to bed at about 10am and didn’t get up until 1:40pm. I was still buggered though, and was determined to try making Bolognese sauce. I quickly realised that wasn’t going to happen, so MOTH put everything away for me and he got pork steaks out for dinner and we had them with wedges and jewels. I’m really grateful that he took over, I didn’t think I was going to be able to do anything. Even after dinner he did the cleaning up and took care of everything. I’m blessed to have him.

Today, MOTH came with me to have a tour of Mayflower Village. It was only a half hour drive from our place, less than 20kms. I liked that he would get his own room that comes with a bed and bedside table, and a chair, hopefully. We would need to get the rest of the furnishings for him, but that won’t be too much of a problem. He will have to share the bathroom, but that’s being renovated at the moment, so he will have a nice, new bathroom to use. The dining facilities looked really nice, and the menu options were good. All the food is prepared on site, and will keep him healthy. There are plenty of other residents there, so he’ll never get lonely, and Dad makes friends easy enough, he just doesn’t always share well, which is why his own room is important. Now I’m just waiting on some paperwork from Centrelink, then I well be able to complete his application and have that all done and in in time to secure the room. I think he will be happy there, and I will be able to see him at least twice a week so that is something that I am really looking forward to. We really need to get him out of hospital as soon as possible and into this hostel kind of arrangement.

Anyhoo, that’s enough from me for now. I’m still buggered, and I’ve got more to do. I’m planning housework tomorrow, and a jewellery party later in the day. We’ll just have to see how it all goes. Until next time, tell your loved ones just how much you love them.