Category Archives: Wellbeing

Feelin’ Groovy

I gotta say, a change in medication, although hard, can be for the best. It’s been almost two weeks since we put my dosage up slightly, and I’m just now starting to feel okay about it. Right from the get-go I felt really high and was having trouble sleeping, but that seems to have settled, and I don’t have so much of the racing thoughts. The first week was really hard and I was starting to regret agreeing to the adjustment, but it did help me get through some hectic times and now my brain is starting to feel “normal”. If you have ever used amphetamines or ice, you know that feeling when you’ve been awake for too long and you really need to shut down and sleep but it’s not gonna happen? That’s what it was like for the first seven to eight days. I feel like I’m getting good sleep now, and I have the energy to do things throughout the day and evening. I’ve even been sitting up with the moth watching television some nights, which I haven’t done in the longest of times.

Last Saturday (09/09) I worked as an election official for the local government elections at Bankstown Senior College. It was the first time I had worked at an election that didn’t have a sausage sizzle going on – wasn’t I disappointed! At least I got a good coffee at the hospital cafe for morning tea and the little takeaway out the front was open for lunch. We had some problems in the morning when we opened for polling, but I was just lucky that I chose the right seat to sit in and didn’t have any issues. We had 3 wards at our polling place, but nobody informed the Polling Place Manager, nor did they supply him with the correct ballot papers for the other 2 wards. So, for about 2 hours, there were some very cranky people. I can’t say that I blame them, but their anger was so misdirected. I felt sorry for the two officials who sat at those rolls. Once the problem was worked out and then sorted out, the day was mostly smooth. Counting votes after we shut was a piece of cake too. We only had one ballot paper per elector, and no massive senate/upper house tablecloths to sort. We only had to sort them into the 3 wards and that was easy as they were different colours. We finished at about 8pm, but had to stay until 9pm while the manager finalises and phones through the results. It was a labour victory all ’round, not to anyone’s surprise.

I was pretty stuffed after such a big day, so didn’t get up when the Moth asked me if I was going shopping with him. I got up before he left though, and just sat in front of the morning news with a hot tea, not doing much. I was aching in places that surprised me, but I managed to work out how I got the worst ones and have made a note to sit certain ways and be aware of things I do sub-consciously that will cause aches and pains later. I had a really hot bath and put three handfuls of rock salt in the tub while I was filling it. When I stepped into the water, my aching ankle throbbed really hard for about 30 seconds and then settled. i couldn’t believe how much better I felt after a good, long soak. There is a lot to be said for the healing properties of good ol’ salt.

Yes, Sunday night was when I started to get some good sleep again, and I was really grateful for that. When I saw the doctor on Thursday, I was able to tell him that even though it was pretty shitty for the first week, I had got a handle on it and was starting to feel better about everything. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend therapy this past week, but will be rescheduling on Monday for some time this coming week.

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Making Progress….

Did the big trek again on Wednesday to see Dad at Katoomba Hospital. He is getting so much better, something they were saying we might not see. He was in physiotherapy when I got there and he was doing really well. He’s still quite weak, and you can see he has a bit of a struggle when it comes to steps, but he’s actually walking now instead of shuffling, albeit slow. He also appears to be losing weight still, which is a good thing. He doesn’t have the huge appetite he used to have, so that is really good. It’s still hard to get him away from sugar, especially soft drinks, as he hates those “diet” soft drinks. He doesn’t drink enough water though, so they are giving him small bottles of diet lemonade with each meal to try to encourage him to drink a bit more.

The food in rehab looks and smells lovely, and he has been enjoying it. I think he also likes going to the dining room to eat, it’s a bit social even if it’s a bit degrading putting a huge bib on to eat. I suppose that’s better than being grubby, or having to change after each meal. The portions are quite generous, and everything is balanced to keep his sugar levels under control, which they seem to have done.

The wound on his neck is much better, finally healing. It looks a bit rough, but that’s not surprising given how much he picked at it from the start. They couldn’t tie his hands down forever, but now that he has more of his faculties, he seems to be leaving it alone. He’s been enjoying watching the Commonwealth Games over the past week, so that has been keeping him occupied, along with the books I have taken to him. I don’t know how much he’s reading, but talking to him about the story line he knows what is going on in what he has read, which is awesome.

My dear friend Lisa came and visited while I was there, and Dad got a little teary on seeing her. I think he was just feeling a little overwhelmed, but that soon passed. They had a good catch-up, and she will be popping into the hospital when she can to keep him company. I am so blessed to have a friend like her (as I am with my other friends), she has been awesome. I will be staying at her place in Katoomba next Wednesday, so I’ll get to see Dad twice. She has her own surgery to deal with next Thursday, but at the same hospital that Dad is in. I can’t thank her enough for all she is doing for us.

It’s a long trip to do in one day, so I will be grateful for the stop over next week. I can’t believe how exhausting 3 hours travel each way is. It totally wiped me out. I spent yesterday doing almost nothing, just had no energy or motivation to do anything, but did manage to cook a nice dinner for us so the day wasn’t completely wasted. I’m not happy about only going once a week, but I really can’t manage more than that. Dad is happy that I come each week, I just wish I could do more. Next week will be 2 visits, so that’ll be good. I’m also going to cut his hair for him next week, so I must remember to take the clippers with me.

An Epic Adventure…

It was such a huge day on Wednesday, it has taken me until Friday evening to write about it! It started with leaving the house at 8:25am to catch the bus to Lidcombe, jump on a train to Parramatta and change there for Katoomba. After a nice little walk, I got to the hospital at 11:40am to see Dad. They have moved him there for rehabilitation, as it goes at a slower pace and he may be able to handle it much better.

He was asleep when I got there, but soon woke up when I put the coffee on his table. He was kicking the mat away that the nurses told me was alarmed so he couldn’t sneak around of a night. He tried going out the other side of the bed so the nurses put that rail up to slow him down. We sat and talked for a bit, and the Occupational Therapist, Tara, introduced herself and asked us a series of questions about Dad’s living arrangements and what he did with himself before the stroke happened. I say “us”, as Dad couldn’t answer all the questions by himself so I had to answer quite a few for him. Dad was also more interested in the medication trolley as it made its way around the room with the lovely nurses, he has the attention span of a gnat.

Tara finished with us, and Dad had some panadol, then it was time for lunch. He didn’t want the food the hospital was serving, so I made sure he was allowed to go and took him to the kiosk for lunch. We both had plain hamburgers, and they were quite yummy. Dad was happy to have a bite of real food – something to sink his teeth into. He’d been complaining of no bread, so I’m sure the bun helped. I know Allan and Julie have taken him some lovely food, but I don’t know if it’s been the minced food he’s been having in the hospital diet, or something he can chew on. I got him a Pepsi Max too, and encouraged him to drink up, as he needs the fluids and he’s not drinking water. They do threaten him with the drip though, so he’ll take a sip of water while they are watching. That’s no-where near enough

While we were having lunch, he wanted the newspaper so I got that for him. He’s been keeping up with current affairs and all the happenings in the world. I take that as a good sign. He’s able to discuss what is going on and give his point of view. When he discusses past events, however, he tends to get them somewhat confused. In both instances, he still struggles for words, but you can get the gist of what he is saying and help him with the blanks.

He has tape on his wound, as they told me it had become infected in a small part of the cut. I’m not surprised, the amount he has worried at it. He’s constantly picked at it, ever since they removed his restraints in intensive care. He opened it back up when I went for coffee for him during one of my visits to Nepean. I’m sure it will eventually heal, and now that he is in rehab, he may be more occupied by external factors and not pick at himself.

I didn’t want to leave him, as I felt I hadn’t been there very long, but it was nearly two hours, and I wanted to make sure I got back to Katoomba station for the train home. They only depart hourly, so I didn’t want miss it. It was a beautiful day and I enjoyed the walk back, and it’s not too far anyway, about 15 minutes. I had to change trains at Parramatta, and again at Lidcombe to get back to Bankstown for the bus back to Condell Park. MOTH came and met me at the bus stop, as he needed to get supplies for the household and thought he would pick me up whilst at the shops.

I was so relieved to finally be home though, and that was at about 4:50pm. I was totally exhaustipated…. and I had to cook dinner! It was a simple steak and chips, and everyone was happy with that – lucky for them, as there was going to be nothing else. It took me a long time and a valium to wind down, but I eventually fell asleep in my chair in front of the television. I can’t even remember what was on. All in all though, it was a really good day, as I really relaxed on the trains and read my book and I found this preferable to driving there and feeling stressed. It takes an hour each way longer, but for me, I think it’s worth it.

Another visit…

Went out to see Dad again today, and it was lovely to take the boy with me finally. It seemed to take forever to get there as there was an accident on the M4 just past Wallgrove Road. Traffic crawled for about 3kms then we all took off, couldn’t see any evidence of the smash, hopefully it wasn’t too bad.

Dad didn’t know who we were when we got there, which was a bit sad as he remembered me last time. I was expecting him not to know who the boy was, but was really hopeful he would remember me. When the nurse told him I was his daughter, he just laughed, I think at himself for not knowing. I told him the boy was his grandson, and he laughed again, kind of surprised. I think as he doesn’t remember us, it must be a shock to him each time he is told who a relative is. His speech is still a bit slurry, and he rambles off about strange things so I have no idea what he’s talking about, but I do try to talk to him about me and my family and how we are all connected and different things we have shared together in the past. He seems happy enough when we do talk, but he really doesn’t remember much.

I fed him his lunch today (haven’t done that for 19 years!) and it was good to see him eat it all, even the yoghurt, which I thought he didn’t like. I thought when I saw him on Wednesday that he needed help with feeding, but then he was determined to try to do it for himself. When I walked in the nurse asked me if I would be feeding him. I jumped straight in there, even did the “open up for the Red Baron…” It made him have a good chuckle, so he seems to still have some sense of humour. All of his food is pureed, and he has nectar instead of juice, as he is having difficulty swallowing and not chewing well so he’s at risk of choking. The last time I fed him was when he had his heart bypasses. He’s good about it, but I suppose he has no choice. He looked exhausted after that, so we just hung for a little while and then left so that he might have a sleep. Sleeping through this might just be the best possible thing for him. Our bodies do all their recovery work while we are asleep, so I’m sure it will help with his brain injury.

It does sadden me to see Dad like this, but I’m trying really hard not to dwell on it. I’ve been keeping myself busy as much as I can, doing lots of housework and yard work, reading whenever I’m sitting for a while. I just find that if I don’t keep occupied, I start worrying about things like “what if he doesn’t get any better?” and all the rest. Of course, this doesn’t do anyone any good, but we all know how the brain gets. Being the person that I am, my mind can get pretty dark sometimes, and can stay there for a long time if I don’t keep it all in check. I do have a good psychologist, and I will go back and see him if I feel I need a brain tune-up to cope with all of this. So far, I’ve been travelling okay. I nearly had a good cry about a week and a half ago, but I snapped myself out of it, because I just kept telling myself he’s just sick, he’s not gone so there is no need to cry over it. I know I probably will at some point, I would just like to be in private when it does happen. MOTH is amazing support, but some tears need to be shed alone.

On the mend

Went and saw Dad today, and he is finally out of ICU! He looks much better, but he’s still terribly confused. He told me he was waiting for the wardsmen to come and take him somewhere, but when he asked the nurse when are they coming, the nurse told him he’d already been for his ultrasound this morning. They did an ultrasound on his kidneys as he has apparently lost some kidney function so they just want to see where that is at. His catheter bag didn’t look too good in ICU, but I thought maybe that was because of what he had just been through. Maybe, because he hasn’t taken care of his diabetes well (type 2), he may be having kidney issues from that. As Allan said, it’s wait-and-see again (he usually takes the tablets for his diabetes, but today they gave him an insulin injection to get his sugar back down).

He recognised me, but didn’t know my name. I’m quite happy with that, at least he knows I’m his daughter, and that he has a grandson. Couldn’t take the boy with me today, he woke up with a rash from head to toe. Probably just allergies from this cold that he has been suffering. I gave him two phenergan and sent him back to bed. He was asleep until after I got home at about 3.30 this afternoon. That’s very unlike him to sleep like that, but he really needed it as he is having trouble shaking off this cold. He’s still a bit chesty too, so it was good that he didn’t come today. I’ll give him another two phenergan tonight, and he should breathe easier in his sleep and be totally rash free by the morning.

They won’t let Dad get out of bed yet, he’s too weak. He really wanted to get up and go to the bathroom, but they got the pan for him – oh the indignity of it all! He’s talking quite well, but I don’t know what he’s talking about most of the time. He has no clue of the date, even though I had told him before the neurologist came in and asked him. He read the date on “Ellen”, but that was March 2012. He’s got his television back on, so at least he can watch State of Origin tonight. He knows he goes for the Blues, so that should make him happy. He can lay back and yell at the referees!

I’m really glad he is getting better, but it’s going to be a long road ahead. Again, I don’t know if he’ll make a full recovery, but he’s so much better than when he went in for surgery. At least he can talk now (slightly slurred) and manage to feed himself. He’s not eating much, but that’s okay as he still does have some weight to lose. It’s good to see him not hooked up to the machines anymore. He’s plenty battered and bruised though, and he’s not tied down anymore as he has no tubes to pull out. I’m sure he’s been difficult for some of the staff (not intentionally), but they have been completely patient and supportive throughout this whole process. I made a point of thanking all the staff on his ward today, telling them that they are doing a wonderful job. They were so appreciative, as most family contact is abuse for them. Everyone who has had anything to do with Dad has been amazing.

The continuing story….

I haven’t gone to see Dad today, but did speak to my brother, who was there earlier today. Not much has changed, he is still unable to communicate and apparently he became quite agitated and it took 4 nursing staff to hold him down and settle him. He must be so frightened by what is happening to him and around him. Before yesterday’s episode, he was packed and ready to come home, not that that was happening. Now, he is unable to feed himself or toilet himself, so things are quite rough for him. I only hope they can get him into surgery quickly before any more damage is done. I’m hoping that he’ll make a full recovery after surgery, but I really think that is unlikely. He’ll be turning 69 in December, and I would like to see him be able to enjoy it.

I really feel so useless, as there is nothing I can do to help him. I know he appreciates the visits and such, but seeing him as an empty shell is hard to take. He’s always been really loud and vibrant, someone you couldn’t miss. Now, he just looks at us with a blank stare. He sometimes tries to smile when he seems to see you, but you can see that is really hard for him. I can only imagine how he is feeling. There is no dignity is what he is going through and I plan on taking measures now so that I’m not in this position in another 25 years. I walk everyday, but I really need to watch my diet. I’m going to have a blood test soon to check cholesterol and the like, so I can see where I’m at.

The good that has come of this is that my floors are scrubbed and sparkling, and different jobs I’ve put off around the house are finally getting done. I’ve got to do something so that I don’t dwell on what is happening around me!

Dear Old Dad….

Well, I slept in until about 8am this morning, and it was wonderful. MOTH came for a walk with Jordy and I, and that was lovely too. MOTH was taking the boy to some motorbike parts suppliers this morning, so I thought it would be perfect to scrub the kitchen floor. Got that finished – it looks awesome – and was making a cup of tea when the boys called me. They had taken my phone with them so they could use navigator as the boys’ phone has no credit, and MOTH has no internet access on his phone. Lucky they did as they went into Liverpool, which they hadn’t planned to do.

My uncle Bruce called my mobile while they were out and the boys called me. My dad had gone completely unconscious and the nursing staff were working on him when I called him straight back. I rang my sister-in-law straight away from the home phone, as her’s was the only mobile number I could think of. I spoke to her and my brother and let them know what was happening and said that I couldn’t contact the hospital as the number Allan had given me was on my mobile, which I didn’t have. They were already on their way to Penrith, so they went straight to the hospital. Just before the boys got home, Bruce had called me back on my mobile and left a message to let me know they had Dad conscious and on a drip, so he was okay for now. Not too long after, about 11.30am, the boys got home and I checked that I had 5 missed calls and 2 text messages, but the boy had spoken to Bruce and was told everything was alright.

Poor Bruce was beside himself, I was really worried about him when I spoke to him. He was really taken aback that this happened while he was there. I had tried to explain to him over the phone that it was really bad and that this might happen, but he freaked when Dad “keeled over and didn’t move”. I did explain the blockages to him and that they may shed, causing stroke, but he wasn’t really expecting it to happen right before his eyes.

I decided, as soon as I found out about Dad when the boys called to tell me Bruce rang, that I was going out to see him today, not wait until tomorrow, as was the original plan. Bruce told me that he was going today, so I thought I would stretch the visiting out and go Sunday, but I was really concerned as to how Dad might be. When I got there, I was really shocked. He can’t communicate, he just looks at you. I was glad to see my brother there when I walked in, his wife and Bruce had gone looking for the kiosk. Dad was just sitting on the side of his bed, his feet on the floor and kind of leaning sideways against the back of the bed with the pillows on it – it had been wound up. He was just vacant. Every now and again he would try to smile at me, but it was a real struggle for him. I tried to get him to turn around and rest back on the bed, maybe get some sleep but I couldn’t seem to get through to him. I even tried to move his legs for him, but being the big bugger that he is, I had no chance.

He spent the entire two hours that I was there sitting like that on the edge of the bed. He had his clothes on over his pyjamas, which I think was going to make his life awkward later on. He is still getting frustrated with himself, apparently trying to get a hanky out of his pocket and only coming out with the lining (which must have felt just like a hanky) and getting really cranky in the process. He wasn’t able to say what he was after, which is really bad. At least his face didn’t seem to be frozen, but he was struggling to show any understanding. As I said before, sometimes he would look at me and smile, but it was hard for him.

I’m really concerned about him, but Allan is going to talk to the vascular surgeon on Monday and get this carotid endarterectomy done as soon as possible. If he’s having strokes like this while he’s in hospital, he needs to be prioritised. Hopefully early in next week, fingers crossed on that one. Dad doesn’t seem to have too much understanding of what is happening to him at the moment, so my brother is making all the decisions that need to be made. I am glad and forever grateful that he has taken charge during this crisis. Hopefully these strokes haven’t done too much permanent damage, and that he will improve once the procedure is done, the sooner the better. I felt awful leaving him there, but I can’t stay all evening, I need to look after my boys and see that they’re fed and loved.

I would love to thank my dear sis Amanda, for all the love and support she is showing through this. She has always been amazing to me, and her love and understanding at this time, while she faces her own problems, has been truly and deeply appreciated. I love you sis, and always will. I thank all of you who have expressed kind thoughts, deepest wishes and prayers for my Dad and my family. All of this is greatly appreciated, and it’s wonderful to see how many of you truly care. I love you all and thank you for being a part of my life.

I don’t plan on going back to the hospital until Tuesday, but if he manages to have surgery on Monday, I may be able to head out there before the traffic gets too bad. I am looking after little man on Monday, and I’m really looking forward to that, as he’s an awesome little dude to spend some time with, and he really enjoys hanging out here. MOTH is taking the boy to the paediatrician on Monday, so I’m really hoping that I don’t need to go to the hospital before Tuesday. Anyhoo, will be thinking as positive as I can, and I know that he is in the best place possible for the time being and is being well cared for, better than anything Allan or I could have done for him.

Thanks for showing an interest and taking the time to read this.