Tuesday, September 6, 2016
Six Foot Four, On the Floor
It was an extra long weekend, as the whole city was preparing for Hurricane Hermine, who thankfully did not arrive in our beach community as expected. My clinic announced it would be closed for the day on Friday. Melanoma Man called as I was on my way home. He was proud that he could remember how to make a phone call. He and Ishamel had moved some things in preparation for the hurricane. As a result the cable tv was out and he was a bit frantic. When I arrived home I found that there were a few missing elements to our backyard hurricane readiness. Sandbags were in place, the pump was set up without any outlet hose. Since our yard and house flood when it rains for 24-48 hours, a functioning pump was critical. A quick trip to Ace hardware, then home to complete the pump set up and work on tv. My evening attempts to get the cable up and running were unsuccessful. Friday morning we awoke to wind, but no rain. Hermine was headed farther north. The days are long for MM and I so when 8:30 pm hits we usually seize the opportunity to get in bed. I don't remember much of Friday or Saturday. Sunday we went to church. MM wanted to walk the last 2 blocks of the journey home, so I let Melanoma Man and iMac out of the car two blocks short of home. A few minutes later imac came racing through the back yard and in through the sliding glass door to the kitchen. "Dad fell. There's a lady waiting with him." The lady just happened to be writer, fighter, mother. iMac and I raced through the backyard and a neighbor's backyard to MM. Rescue was on the way. They assessed MM, no breaks, offered transport to the hospital, which MM declined. They helped me get him in the car and made him promise to use his walker from the car to the house. Monday morning MM told me he knew he was having seizures during the night, he felt that he was deteriorating quickly, wanted me to call Bob, one of the priests from our church and our hospice nurse K. Bob was in Vermont as it turns out. By afternoon MM had lost the ability to put together sentences, and I had caught his falls 3 times. He couldn't remember to tell me he was getting up from the sofa. So I stayed in hearing distance. K came at 3:30, but was not hearing my message which was I need to be set up in the house NOW with a wheelchair, hospital bed. I told her this was moving fast, as in a brain bleed or edema. She told me to do a google search for safety tips for a person with brain tumors.She told me to read the pamphlet. Read the pamphlet? Are you kidding me? This was not a pamphlet situation. She told me I could go to Target to get a side rail for a toddler bed. This was "off the record" advice because she said it would be considered a restraint and legally she couldn't recommend that. I told her I can't go to Target. MM is too wobbly. She told me she couldn't give me any advice regarding whether MM needed a CNA rather than Ishmael, his companion. She left me with a bag of disposable briefs and a leveraging belt. An hour later MM got up from the sofa. I ran to help him. I was right behind him. As he fell I caught him under his arms to soften and guide his landing. I called iMac. iMac helped me lift him onto the toilet, and pull off his boots and wet clothes. By this point MM was an unconscious six foot four inch long, 195# bag of horse feed stuck in a tiny bathroom. iMac and I could not move him. I remembered that Writer/Fighter/Mother had told me that both she and her firefighter husband were freakishly strong. I called. She sent her husband over. iMac, Firefighter and I carried MM out of the tiny bathroom to the bed. I told him hospice had just been here. He said call again. Nurse David arrived this time and noted the mental status changes, loss of consciousness, incontinence and inability to follow commands. "Would you be ok with admitting MM to one of our inpatient centers for symptom management?" David asked. Of course, since the only tools I had to manage him with were the leveraging belt and disposable briefs that K had left for us, me sitting on the edge of the bed to keep him from falling out and a bunch of seizure medications that he certainly couldn't swallow in his current state.