Monday, September 20, 2010

Hospital Summer Stay-Cation

Hi bloggers. Sorry to be absent for the entire summer. I do have a good excuse, though. Whoever crafted the phrase "All things happen for a reason" was right on target.

I was supposed to spend the first half of summer running my business as usual, taking a short (and much needed) vacation in L.A., then attending a first summer session class in NYC to try to finish my masters degree. Due to lack of students for the class, it was cancelled. Uh oh, I thought to myself. Is this some type of omen? Is there something else in store for me?

Yes, indeed. Just when I thought the rough year of caregiving for my dad could not get worse, it did. I was about to experience the ultimate summer "stay-cation".

As I was traveling one day to Bloomington, IN for work, my brother called. He was at my mom's apartment and said something was not right with her. To make a long story short, I turned my car around and headed back to town to meet them at the emergency room. Lucky for her my brother was there. This day turned into a month's hospital stay for various reasons, followed by several weeks in a skilled care facility. That turned into moving my mom out of her apartment and into assisted living down the hall from my dad (who has dementia beyond belief). Who would have thought? One day she is somewhat "independent", and the next day her life changed for good.

It gets even better. A couple weeks following after the dust settled, I get a call that my dad is being taken to the emergency room for an intestinal blockage, and that I need to go. A month later, there he still sits in the hospital, unable to eat food and bed-ridden with pneumonia.

I am careful what I hope for. Do I wish for someone who has lots of physical illness and late-stage dementia to get better? What does better really mean? Our healthcare system is so good at treating and keeping people alive, but what about their quality of life?

Someone recently told me that God gives us only what we can handle. Hello, God. Are you there? I am at my "handle" limit now. Please give me no more for awhile...

I think I am destined to work in health care. I feel as though I have become a "lay expert" -- at least in bugging the doctors. I only hope I can take what I've learned and help someone else along the way.