I can remember the first time we saw Dad have a seizure. We had gone to the movie theater to watch an Alvin & the Chipmunks movie with the kids. It was around Christmas/his birthday. Before the movie got through the advertisements, he made a noise, that my sis and I thought was a chuckle…. but we soon realized that he was having a seizure.
My sis stayed with him, and folks nearby helped get him down to the ground to await help. I ran to the lobby and they called 911. It was scary, and we had our kids with us… we weren’t sure what to do.
He lived on his own, so I don’t know if we ever knew the extent of his health issues. I have no clue how often he had a seizure and didn’t seek medical attention. Thankfully we knew paramedics in his town, and we would often hear that he was being taken in. Or someone from the recovery center would find him and call for an ambulance – when he would let them.
It was an endless cycle of the same nightmare.
Dad being confused & disoriented – often not knowing who we are or why we are taking him to the hospital (or sitting in the ER with him).
They do a CT scan. It comes back clear.
They put in an IV – we tell them “he is a hard stick” and 4 or 5 tries later, they finally get it in.
They ask for a history. Every time. Even if we were in the same hospital a week ago.
They ask for a list of his meds (the list is long – and we had finally had him keep it typed up so we can have it with us).
They run tests.
They don’t know what triggered it.
They maybe adjust his meds.
Can he stay with you when he is released? Does he have anyone who can give him day to day care?
They let him go at some point – when they feel that he can take care of himself.
Copy & paste.
Again & again…. for YEARS.
We laughed a lot through our tears, worries and fears. There were times he was so out of it, that he told my brother & I to look outside at the starfish, before they disappear… he thought he was under water. We honestly never knew how he would react to the trauma his body was going through.
There was another time that he was fully convinced that the nurse (who was trying to run some neuro tests on him) was trying to kill him. He told me that he saw it on the news, and he was sure that she killed her husband! He told me that she killed him twice “once in English, and once in Spanish”….. Of course, she was the only one available to run these tests, and she was terrified of him.
Sometimes he would take out his IV and catheter & just walk on out. I cannot describe what it feels like to have the hospital call and ask if we know where he is.
All through this, my dad lived on his own. He was told by doctors that he can take care of himself. But when you saw how he lived – meds all over the place, not taking the right things at the right times… all his pain meds would be gone, but some of the other meds he would have in excess. We tried the pill sorters – but he often didn’t know what day it was. We even tried one that had a timing device – nothing worked, and he would just get angry that he needed our help… which wasn’t easy from another town. We were never sure how many meals he was eating, if he was drinking enough water…. just life basics.
Dad had a particularly bad medical incident – that I wrote about at the time… The consensus is that he hit his head on a rock during a seizure he had while he was outside smoking. It resulted in a traumatic brain injury (TBI). He was in the hospital for more than 6 months this time around… surgeries, rehab. I may have passed out in the ICU. He may have punched a male nurse. It was a lot.
He went to a skilled nursing facility for a bit once released – but no one wanted him as a resident long term. He can be very difficult. And he can get very angry. He has always been one to hold grudges, but the anger only really came after the TBI.
The rehab center where he was still currently living/working asked us to find him somewhere else – they weren’t equipped to deal with the challenges my dad was facing, and we could not blame them for wanting to wash their hands of it. He refused to consider living in an assisted living home (and at this point he had a reputation) – and the damn doctors still insisted that he can take care of himself.
It was time to find him a room closer to the town we lived in, so that we can help a little more…. Easier said than done.