My Dad is Home, Now for the Hard Part

For those who don’t follow me on Twitter (@davidbenj) or Facebook (facebook.com/davidbenj) you might not know what I’ve been up to the last few weeks. You may also be wondering why I haven’t updated my blog since Father’s Day. Here’s the story, and like my previous blog post it has to do with my dad.

On 30 June my dad fell and broke the fourth cervical vertebrae. He also sustained some wicked cuts on his forehead and the bridge of his nose. The doctors also thought he had a concussion. For the first 12 days, he was in the hospital, then he moved to a skilled nursing facility so he could do physical therapy. It has been difficult on all of us. Eliz, my mom, and I have spent many hours at the hospital and skilled nursing facility. At least one of us was with him from around 10.00am until 8.00pm. Some days a little more and a couple days a little less. Eliz has spent more time in the car, ferrying my mom to the hospital in the morning and taking her home at the end of the day. We’ve put about 1300 miles on the car since my dad entered the hospital, which is about 35% above what we normally average for a time period.

For the first week, my dad had a very restricting cervical collar and was unable to eat or drink. Even swallowing was extremely difficult. Once he received his current collar, he began eating and drinking again. Anything he eats has to be soft or pureed. Let me tell you, pureed lasagna is not pretty. Liquids have to be thickened. At the hospital and skilled nursing facility, this, of course, was all prepared for him.

My dad was discharged from the skilled nursing facility yesterday and all of us were happy, though my dad was a bit worried. “Who’s going to do all of the things the nurses did for me?” he asked. My mom told him she would. Eliz and I lend a hand too.

The toughest part is the food. Everything has to be pureed. Unfortunately, the normal food isn’t that great at Maris Grove, so my parents didn’t want to pay extra to have “special” food brought in for my dad. So my mom gives Eliz and I a list and we go to the market for her. I’m pretty sure I’d be living on fruit smoothies and protein drinks, because things like pureed chicken just aren’t appetizing to me. We also help my dad walk around the apartment, though with each passing day he is relying on us a little less. Today, he walked from the den to the kitchen, rinsed out a glass and then walked into the bedroom. He never called for my mom to help him. The physical therapist said he shouldn’t walk without having someone close by.

We only spent a couple of hours with my parents today after running to Fresh Market and Acme for them. My dad was in good shape today and seems to be getting stronger everyday. My mom is happy that he is home and doesn’t mind blending everything. Now I’m looking for a Super Bass-O-Matic 76…

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My Eye, My Dad and Our Day

I’d been looking forward to today for the past dozen days. Back on 10 Dec, I went to my retina doc, who, as previously mentioned, noticed three things that he thought were causing my vision to be worse than it had been. Two of three “issues” were cornea related, while one was retina related (and not correctable.) Today, I had an appointment with my cornea doc, Dr. Ayres.

As I was getting out of the shower, I heard the phone ring. Jacob answered it downstairs. Since he didn’t come up to mention the call, I figured it wasn’t for me. Minutes later, after taking my morning eye drop, Jake came in and told me my mom called. He went on to tell me that my mom said my dad was having shortness of breath and chest discomfort and they were going to the hospital. I sat back on the bed and thought about canceling my appointment. Since my mom didn’t ask to get me on the phone, I assumed it was a precautionary trip to the hospital (I later found out my dad didn’t want to go to the hospital, but since he mentioned chest pain, the Maris Grove staff wouldn’t take no for an answer.) I tried to reach my mom on her mobile, but didn’t get an answer. I felt selfish, but I decided I’d keep my doctor’s appointment.

We arrived early for my 9.45 appointment (seven minutes is early for us…) After we checked in, Eliz tried to call my mom. She got the voicemail (and knowing my mom can barely make and receive calls, didn’t leave a message. A minute or two later, Eliz’s phone rang and she handed the phone to me since she needed some insurance info for the receptionist. It was my mom. I spoke to her and then my dad. My mom told me what was going on. My dad told me, “Don’t count the money yet.” At that point, I felt I made the right decision to go to my appointment.

A few minutes later, I went back into (Eye) Pod 1. I was able to read the L (but not the S) on the SL line (which is the 20/200 line.) Dr. Ayres came in a few minutes later. He asked how things were going and I told him about my appointment 12 days earlier with Dr. Garg. He seemed to get defensive when I told him what Dr. Garg said. Dr. Ayres then had a look at both eyes. He started on the right one and quickly moved on to the left after saying, “That one is trash.” This I already knew. I haven’t seen anything but light with that eye since the last century… After he looked at the left eye he told me that it looked pretty similar as previous visits.

He said the transplant looked good, though was less than perfect. (It’s from a 69 year old donor and I’ve had it for two years.) He didn’t see signs of rejection. He said he could do another transplant if I wanted, but he didn’t think it could be too much better. The downside was too steep for me, so we’ll revisit that at a later date. Dr. Ayres also noticed a bit of haze behind the lens implanted in the cataract extraction in April of this year. It’s called posterior capsule opacity. It can be dealt with doing a procedure called YAG laser capsulotomy. He said there is very little downside to this, so I am scheduled to have this done on 20 January. I’m not sure if this counts as my 16th surgery or not…

Once we finished up with my appointment, we headed down Route 1 to Riddle Hospital to see my dad. We spent about three hours with him. The cardiologist met with all of us and said he didn’t think the problem was a heart issue. After running Jane to a friends for a birthday party and a trip to Newark DE to pick up a small order, we returned to Riddle at 5.15. We visited with my dad for about 45 minutes and then took my mom home, stopping for dinner on the way (she treated us to Ruby’s Diner.) My dad was tired and seemed to want us to go. Hopefully he gets some rest and is able to go home tomorrow.

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