Wednesday, January 17, 2018

NRA and ICE

I am very disappointed in the NRA. Years ago I was a Libertarian, and was a firm believer in the Second Amendment. I knew it was not about citizen rights for hunting, or target practice. It was about defending ourselves from a government that became tyrannical, and no longer followed the will of the majority of its citizens. The Second Amendment was the one that guaranteed all the others, like a free press, or the right to assemble, or the right to print the news without censorship.

Well, where are you, NRA? Our government is attacking the free press, and touting “news” that is totally pro-government propaganda. They are shooting street protesters, beating them with clubs, arresting them just for standing there, and smashing cameras of reporters who are trying to cover the protest.

Worst of all, they are instituting the same ugly policies against “undesirables” that Nazi Germany did eighty years ago. They are shooting unarmed people with impunity, just as the SS did. They are deporting thousands of people every day, without a whimper from our NRA “patriots.” 

“Law and order” you say? When Hitler did it he did it legally also. He also got laws passed to prevent a path to citizenship for Jews in Germany. But we’re not sending them to death camps, are we? Neither did Hitler, at least not so you’d notice. He told the Germans that they were just deporting them “to the East”. He didn’t tell anybody about the death camps in Poland. We are not being told of the people who are being killed in Mexico, Honduras, San Salvador and Nicaragua, either.

So if you think that Americans would never allow something to happen in the United States like happened in Germany back then, don’t kid yourselves. The Nazis are back, waving their flags, spewing their hate, and American citizens, NRA “patriots”, good Christians all, just like the Germans, are doing the same thing the German population did. They are either cowering in the woods with their weapons, or helping the government by turning in their neighbors.

You do remember that Anne Frank was turned in by a neighbor just doing her patriotic duty, don’t you? We have to uphold the law, we can’t provide cover and sanctuary to those the government wants to deport, can we? 

We are no worse and no better than the Germans eighty years ago. We are the same.


 “ We have met the enemy, and it is us!”

Monday, January 15, 2018

Happiness

What is happiness? For me today, the answer has become much simpler.

Happiness is is watching my wife sleep comfortably, her heart rate and respiration normal, no seizures, and hearing from the nurse that she ate breakfast this morning, able to bite and swallow her food again.

Whatever went on Saturday seems to have passed for now. I don’t know how long now lasts, but I am treasuring every moment.

Her drug regimen consists of Haldol and Tramadol twice a day, and everything else only as needed. Those are Ativan, and Respertal, to reduce restlessness and insomnia.

She is not experiencing nearly as much pain when we have to move her, so maybe the pelvic fracture is healing. 

I didn’t sleep well last night. I couldn’t put her out of my mind. But now I have an opportunity to relax and maybe get a morning nap in her room this morning.


Did I say how happy I am today?

Saturday, January 13, 2018

It's Not Funny Anymore

On Thursday, Carolyn’s drug regimen was changed to take away the restlessness and keep her in bed until her pelvis could knit together and heal. 

She was given Haldol, and Tramadol together to make her sleepy and keep her off her feet at about 8:00 AM. It did the job well. She slept soundly until nearly 2:00 PM, missing lunch. I fed her some yogurt and Ensure to tide her over until 5:00 PM, when she ate dinner. She ate about half, maybe. She wasn’t too hungry.

She was given the drugs again at 8:00 PM and when she fell asleep, I went  home to my own bed and slept soundly through the night, having spent most of Thursday with Carolyn.

They repeated the dosage at 8:00 the next morning after a big breakfast, and she went to sleep again. Assuming that she would sleep until about 2:00 PM and wake up again, I went back home and ran a load of clothes through the washer and dryer.

When I came back to her room in the after noon, she was still sleeping soundly. Her shirt was wet on the back, and I was afraid she had wet herself in her sleep, but her underwear was dry and clean. We had left her covered all day, and she was sweating. I changed her shirt to a dry tee shirt, and moved her to the couch and left the bed open so the sheets could air out and dry.

I stayed with her until 5:00 PM, and she was still sleeping, so she missed dinner . She looked really drunk. I made a joke to the nurse about never having seen anybody that drunk since I was a soldier on Okinawa.

I went home and ran the dryer again because the clothes didn’t get dry enough, and got a bite to eat for myself. I went back to be with Carolyn, and her condition was unchanged. At about 9:00 PM we all decided to skip any more drugs—she could not have swallowed them anyway. I went home and slept again.

Friday morning came, and she was still out. The nurse told me that there had been a miscommunication on the drug changes. When they added the Tramadol to the twice day day regimen, they were supposed to have removed the Risperdol, but it didn’t get on the aide’s chart, so Carolyn got all three drugs. The combination gave her a big overdose, and that is why she didn’t wake up. (Not true—corrected later in this narrative) She could not focus her eyes, and her head lolled to one side, and she couldn’t turn it back. I sat her up on the couch, and held her up and tried to put a little water in her mouth for her to swallow, but it just dribbled down her chin.

Today, Saturday, she smiled when I told her who I was, and was focusing on me. and lifting her head. Her shirt was wet on the back again, even though we only covered her with a sheet last night. I lifted her into the wheelchair, and took her to the bathroom, and got her clothes down and her sitting on the toilet. Her diaper was a little wet, and she had made a small mess in the diaper, but it was all contained and easy to clean up.

After a clean dry shirt and underwear, I put her back on the couch.

Her level of consciousness varies minute to minute. At about 10:30 I thought she was trying to cough, and then as it got stronger, it looked like she was going to vomit. I picked her up to a sitting position, and realized that she was having seizures. The convulsions lasted for about 30 seconds and then subsided. 

Soon thereafter, she started breathing fast and heavy. I checked her with the pulse oximeter and her heart rate was dropping down to about 40 bpm and oxygen saturation was down to 88-89. I called the aide and she took a blood pressure reading at 96/56. 

It’s not funny any more. I’m worried.

Her respiration has increased to 37 a minute, as her body tries to compensate for the heart slowdown, I think. 

I turned her oxygen concentrator up to four liters, and her oxygen level is back up to 95%, but her heart rate is still down at 44 bpm, and she is still panting at 35 breaths per minute. 

Could this be a repeat of the sudden seizures that have making her pass out and fall for all these weeks? Or is this part of the recovery from the drug overdose?

It’s a weekend, many of the nursing staff are dealing with their own sicknesses, but we have a nurse on the way. 

It’s now 12:30 PM on Saturday, the nurse has arrived, and reassured me that it is not a drug OD, that they did not give her Risperdol—that was discontinued before this happened. The miscommunication was not about Risperdol, but about another drug Restoril, a sleeping pill. 

In any case, that is not what is causing this problem. She hasn’t had any drugs at all for over 30 hours. Something else is going on, maybe related to the seizures that she was taking Mysoline for until the doctor took her off to determine if that was causing her memory problems. She has not taken that drug since May of 2012.

The doctor has been contacted by the nurse, and he is concerned about the rapid breathing and, with a pelvic fracture, maybe a blood clot in the lung. He has ordered x-rays of her chest to see if pulmonary emboli might be present. We’ve been here before. She still has less than full lung function from an earlier pulmonary emboli event. 

It’s now 3:00 PM, they got the x-rays, and they will have the results later. Nothing obvious showing up on the monitor.

Carolyn is waking up slowly. She wanted to go outside, I think. She kept pointing at the wheelchair. So after I checked her oxygen (96%) I put her in the wheelchair and took her around the building. She started with her head held up, but halfway around she got tired, and her head fell back, so I held her head up for the last part of the ride.

I am so relieved she is coming alive again. I hope it is a continuous process. She was able to drink a few sips of cold Dr. Pepper a minute ago, and she is laying on the couch snoring now. 

For the moment, her color looks good, she is breathing normally again, and she’s snoring peacefully. 


And I’m breathing normally, too, now. These days are getting harder and harder.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Dementia and racism

I’m glad I’m not the administrator of this assisted care living facility. It has to be one of the toughest jobs in the world. We’re talking trying to keep harmony and peace with a very diverse set of patients who come from many different beliefs and cultures, and are not functioning on a sane or rational level.

Several months ago one of the female residents got into a personal tiff with the manager. The resident is extremely thin and loud and quite deeply into dementia. She finished her argument by following the manager down the hallway as she tried to leave, calling her disparaging names like “fat pig” and oinking loudly behind her. Like many of us, the manager is dealing with some weight problems (hers due to medications she is taking) but she is not obese by any means.

She brushed it off with humor, but I know that kind of thing has to hurt, even if you don’t show it.

Last night as I was taking Carolyn to dinner, I heard loud shouting from the dining room, so I turned around and wheeled Carolyn back to the room for a minute. I came back to the dining area, and I see one male resident verbally attacking one of the female employees and threatening her. She was having trouble getting away from his abuse, and eventually some other employees told him to leave. I didn’t see that, but I was told later. 

I took Carolyn into the dining room after he left. As he went back to his room he was accusing the employee of blocking the hallway with her drug dispensing cart (she wasn’t—it was against the wall) and it was obvious he was trying to find some pretext to getting her fired.

The the other obvious thing was that he was Republican and she was Democrat. How did I know this? Just a lucky guess. He is an old, white, well-to-do southern man who likes to play with small white children, and she was black, with black children who were helping serve last night. 

He objects to her serving him at the table or dispensing his drugs, so she has tried to avoid being the one to do that. But sometimes when the staff on duty is pretty thin, there is no choice. 

Not only that, but when she is on the other side of the building, he will follow her and berate her job performance, trying to make a scene and get her fired. 

I’ve never quite understood what some of these people want. They object to hiring blacks, they want to get them fired from their jobs, they hate when they get welfare assistance. I suppose they just want them all to die of starvation? Maybe they want to be nicer than that, and just ship them all to nice painless gas chambers?

I stood in the hallway after I got Carolyn seated and watched for him to come back. Sure enough, he soon came by me, and I told him to keep the noise down, that he was scaring the other residents. He came over and took my hand for a handshake, and said there wouldn’t be any problems. I took his hand and squeezed it a little firmer than he liked, and told him I was glad for that. He went on down the hall, did not turn into the dining area, and went all the way around the building to keep from coming past me again.

I stayed in the hallway until I took Carolyn back to her room. He appeared a couple of times, but went back to his room when he saw me.

I should mention that he is very slight and short, and I am much bigger and taller than he is. I’m a lover, not a fighter, but when you are big enough it doesn’t matter.

Solving such issues would be hard enough with everybody in good mental health, but how you deal with non rational cultural biases and overt hostility from people with dementia issues has got to be nearly impossible. 


I don’t know the answer. 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

New drug schedule

This morning they changed Carolyn’s medical regimen again. She had gotten tolerant of the Haldol, and was awake and alert in the mornings and afternoons. But she was still having pain from that broken pelvis, and her persistent attempts to get up and walk were preventing the break from healing, I think.

She has been getting Tramadol on an as needed basis, and since she seldom complains, she wasn’t getting it very often.

Today they decided to give her Tramadol on the same morning and evening basis as the Haldol. The combination has really wiped her out. She has been deeply sleeping all morning, and she didn’t look capable of sitting up for lunch, so she is going to continue her sleep, and when she comes awake later, I’ll give her some Ensure, or yogurt, or what ever else I have in the fridge.

The really good part is she is not moving around, and not in any pain, and possibly the pelvis will have a chance to heal before she adapts to the new drug combination and becomes more active again.

Her heart rate and oxygen levels are normal (I’m checking them obsessively) and she looks very comfortable for the first time in days. I’ll leave it up to the hospice nurses if they want to try to give her a bath this afternoon. I think one of them may have to hold her up on the shower chair for the bath.

For the first time in a while, my morning has been relaxing and restful, without having to guard her from trying to get up and go someplace, a place she doesn’t know and can’t tell me, but wants to go there anyway. I usually wheel her around the hallways several times a day just to let her get out of the room. But not today.

If she continues to sleep this deep, there won’t be any wine this afternoon. She has plenty enough medicine reactions with what she is taking now. 

I may get a chance to slip out and goto the store and buy some things, and maybe get back to the house and move my washing to the dryer. Just about ran out of socks and underwear. I’ve been spending most of every day with Carolyn for the last week and a half. Never realized how tiring it is to just sit and guard somebody. Of course, my emotional attachment doesn’t help. It’s hard to be dispassionate when it’s the person you’ve lived with and loved for forty nine years.

Our son Wes and his family are coming to visit at the end of the month, and I’m hoping she is back to alert and awake and with her pelvis healed back to one piece by then. 

It’s 12:30 and she just opened her eyes and said something, but I didn’t catch what it was. I'd better go see to her.


That’s all for now. More later.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Can't keep a Good Woman Down

Things are happening so fast that this report on Carolyn’s condition is becoming a daily log. 

This morning when I came in to see her, she was sleeping soundly in bed. It looked like there wasn’t much of a story to tell today. I went out in the hall to talk to the nurse on duty. She is working a sixteen hour shift this Sunday. That ugly sore throat and cough crud is going around. The staff is spread pretty thin this weekend. 

When I asked about Carolyn’s morning, the nurse gave me kind of a wry smile and said, “I got her up for breakfast, and she ate it like she was hungry. I put her back to bed and took care of some other residents, and when I went back in her room in a few minutes to check on her, she was gone.”

“Her wheelchair was still there, so I checked the bathroom and hall, and she was nowhere to be seen. I called the other staff on duty, and when I told them I couldn’t find Carolyn, they told me she was sitting up front in the lobby!”

Last week she fell and broke her pelvis. This week she is hobbling, limping, shuffling her way halfway around the building to sit out front.

I know that has to hurt, but I don’t know how much. I just know that when she makes up her mind to do it, she does it. No complaining, no whining, no crying—she just gets up and does it. I’m the one who is crying. See why I love her?

I stayed with her the rest of the morning, to make sure she doesn’t get up again and hurt herself. I notice she has a new bruise near her right eye. I suspect she fell somewhere on her journey this morning, but she isn’t admitting to anything.

I am going to stay here with her for a few days to increase the surveillance coverage. She needs constant supervision, I think.

I am also going to try to teach her the art of traveling in a wheelchair. If I can get her to stay in the wheelchair and move herself around that way, she will reduce her chances of falling, and surely cut down on the pain.

I wish there was some way to restrain her in the wheelchair. But that is illegal. The reason is that they are not prisoners, so they don’t deserve being confined or restrained. I am baffled. Are these the same liberal thinkers that decided to levy fines on everybody for not buckling up when driving? I’m more liberal than most Democrats I know—way more liberal than any Clinton—but this is effete liberal irrationality at its worst. Sure they don’t deserve to be restrained, so we will just allow them to fall and freely break their hip and die. Let’s just let old feeble people fall and kill themselves, but for sure let’s punish young healthy people in cars for not buckling up.

Rant over, until the next one.

I put her in the wheelchair and took her to the dining room for lunch. I wheeled her to a place at the table, and then I went back to her room to relax for a few minutes. In just a couple of minutes I hear, “Carolyn, what are you doing?”

I jumped up to see what’s happening, and I see Carolyn standing near the kitchen entrance, two tables away from where I left her sitting. She decided to get something to drink, so she just rolled back, stood up and started walking over to get a drink. I caught her and took both hands in mine, and walked backwards, leading her back to her table. I got her seated again, and pulled up a chair next to her, to keep an eye on her. There was only one server for all the people in the dining room, and they can’t sit guard on Carolyn and serve the others, too.

 After lunch she slept for an hour or so, and then she tried to get up out of bed again. I put her in the wheelchair and asked where she wanted to go. She didn’t know. That makes it hard on me. I think this may be karma for all those times she asked me, “What do you want for supper?” and I said, “I don’t know. Whatever.” Now I understand how unsatisfactory that answer is.

So I took her out in the hall and showed her how to put her hands on the wheels rather than the armrests and push the wheels around to move the chair. She was doing pretty good for about 15 minutes. But an hour later she forgot. This lesson is going to take a lot of reinforcement. 

I’m going to stay with her for the night and try to keep her from walking anywhere. She is not accepting the oversight with grace. She is snapping at me with hostility in her voice when I tell her to sit back down. All the explanations about trying to keep her from hurting herself are completely lost somewhere. I am trying hard to convince her that the pain she suffers when she walks is telling her she shouldn’t be walking. Reasoning doesn’t work at all anymore, though.

She is sleeping now, I think. In a couple of hours she gets her medications, which should keep her sleeping for the night.

I’m guarding the door. Almost afraid to close my eyes.


Saturday, January 6, 2018

Healing time

This morning I feel as Evel Knievel’s mother must have felt. So proud of my wife and yet so afraid of what is to come. 

When I got to her room this morning, music was coming through her open door loudly. It was “Amazing Grace” by Elvis Presley, one of her favorite CDs. I found her sitting in her chair in her nightgown, and she smiled and kissed me when I came in and told her who I was. She always loves to see me.

I sat down in the wheelchair beside her, with a coffee mug in my hand, and started talking with her. Then I noticed a soggy diaper on the floor next to the bed. I picked it up and put it in the trash, and assumed the nurse had forgotten to pick it up after changing her.

Carolyn was getting sleepy, so I put her to bed, and after she closed her eyes to sleep, I went out to talk to the nurse about Carolyn’s morning. I told her about finding the diaper on the floor, and she said she had not changed her, and wondered if Carolyn had done it herself. I didn’t think so, since I didn’t think Carolyn was walking yet due to the pain.

When I went back to the room, Carolyn was getting out of bed. I asked her if she needed to use the restroom, and she said yes. So I moved her into the wheelchair and trundled her into the bathroom. I lifted her nightgown and was surprised to see she had no underwear on at all. That could have been bad, but her nightgown was dry, as was her bed and chair where she had been sitting.

I put clean diapers on her, after washing her front and back with the bidet, and wheeled her back to bed. She wanted to lay down and sleep some more. When I stood her up beside the bed, she shuffled herself forward and turned and sat down on the bed. This is one week after she fell and broke her pelvis. I have never met a tougher woman. She has always healed fast, but this is amazing!

I went back out in the hall and told the nurse she was right, that Carolyn had taken her diapers off herself. Either she took them off or they fell off as she got out of bed. 

I don’t know at this time whether she got across the room, put on the CD of Elvis, and then came back and sat down all by herself, or someone else helped her. The nurse on duty said it wasn’t her.

If she is actually up and about again, I guess the respite from worry about her falling is over. She is still sleeping more than she did, and maybe she is replacing pacing the halls with relaxing to music. I can always hope.


As they say, Hope Forever Springs Eternal. Not much choice at this point.