Friday, October 16, 2020

Lord, Help GG's Heart Owies or GG is HOME!

 In the last post Dad was heading to surgery. If you aren't a Facebook friend it must have seemed like we dropped off the face of the earth.  I won't copy all the FB updates....but here's a summary and I will be backdating posts through the winter... LOL  Summer and Fall are just too busy to keep up. 

Benny came over to visit with GG one last time before we headed to Anchorage for surgery. He prayed a sweet prayer that GG kept in his heart, and shared with doctors and nurses for the next months..."Lord, Help GG's heart owies." 

On the 4th of August we prayed together, then Stacia, Michael and I moved into the RV and up to Anchorage with Dad. Krista was training that week on base so it was nice for her to have an affordable place to stay as well. 

We checked Dad into the hospital on Aug. 5th. I stayed with him until he was being wheeled into surgery. 

We were told he'd be in the ICU for 2 - 4 days and the hospital for 9 - 14. Due to his age they suspected the later.  The medical staff at Alaska Regional are wonderful. They knew I am Dad's POA and they communicated well with us as Dad wasn't able to do so.  Walking out of the hospital and knowing we'd not be able to visit until he was released  was HARD. 
Mom gave me this sweat shirt. It's too big now, but it feels like a warm hug. I've been thinking about Mom a lot. Her last coherent thoughts had been for Dad's care. I'd assured her we would take care of Dad. I know she may not be able to "hear" me, but I found myself telling her we were doing the best we could to take care of dad. It helped to remember this was Dad's decision. 

Dad did not "wake up" for 9 days. One doc was ready to implement Dad's medical directive and take him off life support. His heart surgeon and our family agreed if he showed no improvement in a week we would implement his medical directive. This was made more difficult as we couldn't visit the hospital due to Covid-19. 

People around the world were praying for dad (and still are). We knew God saw Dad,  and we believe the Holy Spirit was able to speak to Dad even in his state. We believed he knew he was never alone. We  prayed before surgery and declared God is good, and THIS was the day the Lord had made. We chose to rejoice. 

In the end, Dad did not leave the hospital until Sept 1st. When he left he was still not able to sit up, walk, stand, or take care of any of his needs. He WAS off the feeding tube. They talked us into admitting him to a skilled nursing center. The goal was for him to continue to improve, have daily PT, OT, and such and come home fit and strong. We were told we could not touch or see Dad,  he would go directly from the ambulance to the nursing center. I talked to the ambulance company and they let me know when they would be showing up. We met the ambulance outside the center so Dad would know we were still close by. This proved to be good as he was very confused. He didn't know where he was being taken and for days thought he was at our house in the basement. 

 In addition to Michael, Stacia and I, Arielle and Benny, and Yadira and her girls joined us. 

When the doors opened we cheered, and barked. Dad was excited to see Millie (and us). Chaplain Michael may have broken the rules and TOUCHED Dad - and prayed with him. 
I LOVE this photo

The next day we began our window visits. Note, if family has more photos they'd like added - send them to me, these are the ones I have available. At the first visit, I joked to Dad he had always known it would come to visiting through a glass window. LOL Window visits can be frustrating, but we were excited to have this connection. We began drawing and writing on his window. He looked forward to the visits. We were surprised more folks did not have visitors. We always had lots of eyes watching our visits. 


Even Millie made window visits

Annie, Gideon and Bella Visit

Bennie is surprised he is allowed to draw on the window

The falls began the week he arrived. No one was able to tell us what happened. They would hear a thud and discover him.  The first fall resulted in an ER visit. The ER doc called and asked if Mike and I would like to see Dad and bring him back to the center. Dad was telling everyone he had "busted out of jail." He also told them it would take a long time for me to get there as his daughter was a "very slow driver." He thought he was in OR, knew he lived in AK, but thought our van was his van and we were coming to get him from Alaska. We picked him up and transported him back to the center. It was NOT easy. It was here we learned that he was still a mechanical lift and was unable to assist with moving himself. We realized we needed to make some adaptations to our house in order to bring him home.  It was also during this ride we were able to reach my brother Will so he and Dad could talk. Dad had been unable to connect via phone. I joked with Will that he got an "I love you." When we pulled up at the facility dad said, "Humph, so you're putting me back in jail," and wouldn't look or talk to me. He got over it by the next window visit. 

The nurses were mad we were called and said we could all have been injured. He fell 7 times in the month he was in the center. He was taken to the ER twice in a month. At one point we were asked not to visit as he got excited and fell when we visited. We deemed this to be a CYT move as we were THERE when we visited and knew only one of the falls had happened during a window visit. 

The "problem" is they are a no restraint facility. They couldn't put up a bed rail or a seat belt on the wheel chair. They assumed he was falling out of bed or reaching too far for things and falling out of his chair.  They continued to tell us he needed at least another 4 weeks in the facility. We determined to bring him home when the ramp we are having built on our house is finished. 

Sunday, the 4th,  I got a call as we left church. Dad was being taken to the ER again.  They weren't sure how he'd fallen. Michael and I decided we would figure out how to get him into the house and move him ASAP. 

Monday, the 5th were full of several conversations - the upshot being we removed him from the facility on the 7th of October with it documented that his cranky daughter was "removing him from treatment at least a month early." I felt confident in this move. His nurses agreed it was the right move. The official stance is still that Dad would be "safer" in a facility as we can't provide 24/7 supervision.  But, he wasn't safe in the facility. I keep a far closer eye on ONE person than they could with a floor of patients. 

Dad came home 2 months and 2 days post surgery....what an adventure he has had. 
He has 24 hour oxygen

We were able to guide the chair down the slope in the back of the house and these 3 lifted him over the step and into the house. 

The stair lift made it possible to bring dad home. 

Here's an odd 4 generation photo....GG, Papa, Daddy, and Benny 

Papa allowed Benny one ride....

Luke and Reno dropped by to say, "Welcome Home," and share dinner. In the craziness of the past months I'm not sure I introduced Luke to the blog. Luke is a man from church whom Krista is dating. Reno is an English Mastiff who Millie claims as her play buddy. 

Stacia made some yummy chicken pot pies. We've not had tuna or salmon since Dad came home - but Salmon will be on the menu again starting this week. We still are not sure WHY they were feeding Dad tuna every lunch and dinner for 3 weeks. They confirmed they were - Dad was not making that up. 

Stacia also made this cute cake! 

GG and Benny were thrilled to be together again. LOL 

 I began to catch a glimmer of how my life was changing - maybe I'll write more about that later. 

Dad is home and happy. Some have asked if he's "better than surgery," or "back to pre-surgery health." No, not really.  His heart is better, but he is very weak. He is not able to stand, sit, do anything without assistance. He HAS stood by himself when grandkids are around. He was released with the understanding he needs 24 hour supervision. He IS getting better. He is MUCH LESS confused now that he is home, and we hope to see him progress in this area. 

Our 11 days have been full of establishing home health care...we've had 3 nurses, a Speech Therapist (swallowing/choking is a problem), an Occupational Therapist, and a Physical Therapist in the house.  The intake appointment felt intrusive and a bit aggressive. Since I've met the others and they've read a few notes to me - I get it. They were told we removed dad from a safe environment against the advice of the professionals.  All who come regularly have commented we made the best decision, they are impressed with how we've changed our home (ADA toilets, grab bars, stair lift, ramp in the planning stages) to get dad home. They are encouraged by the love and level of care he is receiving at home.  I've been advised to get ahead of the dementia curve and put door alarms on the house - other than that we are good. 

I think we could become an elder "day care" with all the modifications to the house.