Tag Archives: aging

1st of 3 Dr. appts. this week…

“Well, there’s good news and there’s bad news.”  That’s what the ER Dr. said last week as she reviewed my CT scan results.  And that’s summation of my G.I. doctor’s appointment today.

Do you want the good news first?  … I thought you might.  Well, the pain I’ve been experiencing has nothing at all to do with the diverticulosis or fatty liver that I have.  A proper diet of high fiber, lots of fruits and veggies should help both conditions.  She really didn’t seemed phased by either of those diagnoses.  I was deeply relieved on many counts, namely that I’m holding tightly onto the years I have left before turning half a century, thus receiving this magical card for an honorary colonoscopy.  No thanks.  Delay.  Delay, please.

The bad news is … The pain I’m having may be due to my gall bladder.  Sigh.

So, she’s sending me for a Hida (Hepatobilary) Scan to test the functionality of my gall bladder.  They inject a dye via i.v. and you lay on the table for an hour while a camera takes pictures.  Oh joy.  Do I sound excited?  I thought my excitement might shine through.  😉

I am glad to undergo further testing and hopefully get to the bottom of my pain; however, I do not relish the thought of laying on a table for an hour.  She’s also sending me for more lab work.

All in all, I thought it was a very thorough visit and plan on resting until my next appointment.

Earlier I Googled gall bladder symptoms, etc. and came across this hilariously insulting but possibly true statement by Jordan Knowlton on Livescience.com:

“Those prone to gallbladder disease usually fall into the five F’s:

Fair, Fat, 40, Female & Flatulent.”

Nice.

I’ve just been summed up in one sentence.  😉

 

 

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Cause and Effect

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Ever since dad came over to our house for lunch last Sunday, I’ve been very concerned about his gait and equilibrium.  So many factors come into play with this issue.  Is he overmedicated?  Is the UTI that caused the recent sepsis returning?  Is his fractured foot not healing properly?  He’s also on a blood thinner, which means a fall could prove fatal.  And if not fatal, could mean months in a rehab facility.  The other thought I had was he’s been at home for three months recovering whereas normally he’d be busy with his volunteer work at the church.  So, he has severely lacked extensive mobility in recent months.

So, off to the Dr. we went yesterday.  I guess there’s a reason I’m not a doctor.  Actually, there are many!  First of all, I can’t stand the sight of blood or yucky bodily fluids!  They’d have to pick me up off the floor.  Haha.  I wouldn’t be of much use.  That said, my “honorary” nursing skills were put to the test yesterday at the doctor’s office.  Apparently, when my dad showed the Dr. what he thought was a mole on his back, the usually stoic Dr. was duly impressed by the infected cyst.  *Ewww*

I stood beside dad on the one side of the examination table while the Dr. was on the other during this procedure.  The Dr. excitedly motioned for me to take a look at the area when I explained that I might wind up on the floor if I did.  A few minutes later, I thought I was hearing things when the Dr. asked me to put on a pair of gloves and apply pressure to the area until the nurse came in to dress the wound.  (He graciously covered the area so I didn’t have to see anything. ) Excuse me?  They don’t pay me around here.  Is this the new norm?  Fewer staff.  Trained professionals have even less time to spend with the patient.  *Sigh*  I really didn’t mind (too much) helping out, but I must admit, I was taken aback.  The nurse finally made it into the room about ten to fifteen minutes later, much to my dad’s joy.  His left arm had fallen asleep as they had him turned almost on his stomach in an awkward position.  Poor fella.  The examination table is fairly narrow and my dad’s a big guy.  He’s over six feet tall and a healthy weight.  I don’t know how the Dr. got him over on his side, but I was of little to no help with my injured elbow.  The Dr. said the infection could be a cause of his weakness, but that physical therapy would be helpful to regain strength in his legs.  He said dad’s at the “use it or lose it” stage with walking.  As one ages, it’s incredible how quickly muscle tone can be lost when no demand is placed on it.  Well, that’s all dad had to hear and he is totally on board with the physical therapy!

The question is, is there life outside of physical therapy??  We’re all still doing physical therapy from our car accident three days a week.  Next week, we’ll be re-evaluated and go from there.  I guess on our “off” days, I’ll take dad to his therapy.  The chiropractor showed me some neck stretches to do to help ease the intense trapezoid muscle knots I have, particularly after driving so much.  Those will definitely be needed.  And this is the time I wish I had a twin.

Dad has so many needs.  He needs to see the podiatrist, urologist, now the physical therapist and the lab for routine blood work every 1-2 weeks lately.  My three siblings all live many miles away and this caregiver is feeling a little stretched.  Okay, a lot.  I’ve been down this path before with him.  This is when I remind myself to take things one day at a time.  Don’t get too far ahead of myself thinking about all that needs attending to.  One day.  One step.  God’s grace will be there to meet me every inch of the journey.  He’s never failed me yet.  Nor will He ever.  It’s not in His character, nor in His realm.  Ever faithful is He.

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”

The other take-away from all of this is … Always, always, ever always … Drink lots of water!

What?  What does H2O have to do with this topic?  Well, you see, my dad’s primary source of fluids prior to his hospitalization was Pepsi.  To him, water was something you drink to take medicine with and that’s it.  I honestly don’t know how his system has endured all of the neglect.  Oh, and he drank iced tea too.  Both of which contain caffeine, which are diuretics.  Not good.  This is the cause of his urinary tract infection that resulted in sepsis, which is fatal in many cases.  This is when bacteria gets into the blood stream and your body is in shock and nearly begins to shut down.  Fortunately, the hospital has a very aggressive approach to responding to sepsis and he was able to recover.

He fractured his foot because he was so weak from the sepsis.  And now, here we are with his walking issues because of poor hydration.  It’s a life lesson.  Always drink lots of water!!  Learn from another’s mistake, please.  Our bodies are not as invincible as we tend to believe, and particularly as we age.  They’re far less forgiving.  Good nutrition and hydration habits when you’re young will greatly help you in every stage of your life.  Afterall, our bodies consist of more than sixty percent water!

I think I’m going to get a tall glass of water …

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When Dad Sang

So, I picked dad up this overcast, spring morning to visit the urologist.  Fortunately, this was just an in/out thing and then we were on our way.  He seemed stronger today compared to last week, which was very encouraging.  Last week it seemed that he was regressing when he’d come so far since his hospitalization last month.  I was glad to see him rebounding today, despite depending on the walker for stability.  He was definitely stronger getting in and out of the car.  What a blessing to see!

My son came along and, as always, was a great help unfolding the walker for his grandpa and opening doors, etc.  We all enjoyed a nice breakfast at Bob Evans and had a fantastic waitress.  Afterwards, my son helped pump gas on the way to take my dad home.  It’s so nice that he’s old enough to help out with that now.  I wore the elbow ace bandage today as a support for my sprained elbow that is still recovering.  (Soaking in the epsom salt has made all the difference in the world, thankfully!)

We set the trash out for my dad just in time before the trash truck rounded the corner this morning.  So, he appreciated getting that taken care of.  I know he’ll be glad when he is back to his normal self.

On the way back to his house, I decided to play the David Phelps’ album on my iPod again.  (It seems to be a favorite at the moment!)  I knew my dad would appreciate hearing How Great Thou Art as it is his all-time favorite hymn.  (He has selected this hymn to be sung at his funeral.) Traffic was fairly heavy, but my spirits were lightened when I heard dad sing along to this hymn!  My dad doesn’t usually sing, folks.  He’s a pretty serious fella when he’s not cracking a joke.  Does that make any sense?  Haha! … Ah, dad has been through so much over the past six weeks beginning with fracturing his right foot followed by contracting a serious case of sepsis the next day!  When he was in the hospital, even basic functions were nearly impossible.  His recovery over the last few weeks has been miraculous, and to hear him singing praises to our heavenly Father today… well, it melted my heart!  It surely made God smile.

Here, his body is weak and his mind gets confused at times, but his spirit remains connected to his Lord and Savior!  What a testimony of God’s grace!

The album continued playing and after dad got out of the SUV at his house, he said how much he enjoyed listening to the music.  I was glad to hear that.  Normally I don’t play the radio or listen to my iPod when he’s in the car because he’s usually talking so much.  He must’ve been a little tired today as he didn’t talk much on the way home.

Today was the last batch of doctor appointments for several weeks, thankfully!  We’ve seen so many specialists over the last month and we both can stand a reprieve.

So very thankful for the mercy and grace God extends to my dad and to me also as I strive to be God’s hands extended.  Most days I rely heavily on God’s strength and He never fails me.  I always consider the fact that one day I, too, will need assistance with things and can only hope and pray that my children will be patient and loving with me as well.  I learned very early on just how fragile life really is.  I was a mere 23 when I watched my mother’s life ebb away as her body was wracked with cancer.  So, I’ve lived my entire adult life with the understanding that we are not as invincible as we tend to believe when we’re young.  Tomorrow is not promised.  We must make today count!  Witnessing my dad’s recent health struggles and near death experience with sepsis has prompted me to prepare myself for his eventual passing, but I don’t know that one can ever be truly prepared to lose a parent, no matter the age.  We never willingly let go.  Death is so foreign, so intangible.  It separates us from the ones we love.

I know that when the day arrives that he crosses into Glory, it will be the best day of his life.  No more pain, no more struggles.  Heaven will be far more perfect and full of pure bliss than we could ever consider or imagine with our finite minds!  Until then … I am doing my best to honor and respect my dad and help him navigate his golden years with grace and dignity.

Today, my reward was when dad sang…

 

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Magnesium: A Many Splendored Mineral

I’m not a scientist nor an explorer, but I’ve recently discovered the huge benefits of magnesium!  Allow me to explain…

At the ripe age of 44, uninterrupted sleep has become a distant memory for the last couple of years.  It would seem I’m in the phase of life called “perimenopause”, a fancy word for “Your body is changing and life as you now know it will never be the same.  Hang on, ’cause it’s gonna be a bumpy ride!”  Such is life.  Yes, it’s the stage right before the big change commonly known as menopause.  I can tell you, sometimes your body betrays you and does things that defy all logic.

I used to be able to sleep with no problem whatsoever.  Then, shortly before I had neck surgery in 2012, I began having trouble staying asleep.  I can go to sleep with no problem generally.  But, it seems that hormonal changes affect the ability to remain asleep.  I’m so jealous of my husband’s ability to snore through the night!  😉  He does so with such ease! 🙂

I’ve never been one to take a lot of medicine and I opt for the all natural route whenever possible.  A few months back, I discovered magnesium in gel cap form and decided to give it a whirl as a sleep aid.  Magnesium is a natural sedative.  I’m very sensitive to all medication, so the 125 mg. dosage works like a charm.  I don’t take it every night but when I do, it helps to regulate my sleep pattern for several days.  I’m so sensitive to medicine that one Advil (200 mg.) puts me to sleep.  That never used to happen!  See what I mean about your body changing?

 

http://www.amazon.com/Now-Foods-Magnesium-Citrate-Tablets/dp/B000BV1O26/ref=sr_1_2?s=hpc&ie=UTF8&qid=1398452218&sr=1-2&keywords=magnesium+citrate+capsules

 

Another thing that didn’t used to bother me was indigestion.  I usually steer clear of tomato sauces (i.e. spaghetti, lasagna, etc.) and spicy food late at night.  I have an all natural remedy for that too…Papaya tablets with mint.  I like the NOW brand.  They’re chewable and work great!  Actually, they’re good for many stomach and digestion issues.

http://www.amazon.com/Now-Foods-Papaya-Chewable-Lozenges/dp/B0014UABCW/ref=sr_1_6?s=hpc&ie=UTF8&qid=1398451059&sr=1-6&keywords=papaya+enzyme

 

{Disclaimer:  I’m not a medical professional (obviously!) so please consult your physician for advice.}

The other awesome form of magnesium is in Epsom salt!!!  I do a lot of work around the house, not to mention, caring for my father.  No grass ever grows under my feet.  I’m always in motion.  As such, from time to time, I have muscle aches.  Plus, I’m recovering from a sprained arm from scraping ice and snow off the SUV.  This injury has droned on way too long.  So, I’ve been soaking in Epsom salt regularly and have noticed such a difference!!

I’m the new poster child for Epsom salt.  Just saying that makes me feel like an old fogie, but if it works, I don’t mind that label!

Lastly, the third benefit of magnesium is it helps with regularity.  No disappointments there.  ‘Nuff said.

I love to pass along information on things that have helped me.  And, if you have any of the above challenges, it might be worth an investigation.  Some of the best things in life are natural.  And, I am so thankful that God gave us magnesium!  They say that most people have a deficiency in magnesium, so there’s little risk you can over do it.  Magnesium is an all natural muscle relaxer and I can attest to feeling very relaxed and ready for sleep after soaking in Epsom salt.  It’s one of my new favorite things!  Who knew?

 

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Life is Fragile

Yesterday was my dad’s fourth Dr. appointment post-hospitalization.  It was an all day event as usual.  I drove the 45 minute trek listening to praise music on my iPod and praying while fighting the normal, congested traffic that is our area’s trademark.  Before I had the opportunity to suggest that my dad take the walker, he mentioned that he thought it was a good idea.  I definitely agreed.  He’s still in an ankle brace from his recent fractured foot and his equilibrium is not what she used to be.

Our first stop was the lab so he could get his routine blood work done since he’s on a blood thinner.  He has to have it checked every 3-4 weeks, sometimes more often depending on the previous results.  If he’s put on antibiotics (like now), we have to check it more often as it interferes with the Coumadin.  He’s been on it for almost two years and my life has become increasingly busy.  We were in and out of the lab in no time flat, which was a blessing.

We enjoyed a nice brunch at our favorite French cafe afterwards.  We both really enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and great service there.  I suggested that he get a hair cut as it’s been a while and he was unsure about climbing the three steps that lead into the barber shop.  I assured him that I’d go with him and help him, so he agreed.  As he held onto the railing, I turned the walker sideways (like the physical therapist showed me) so he could use it as a railing of sorts to navigate each step.  So, he climbed one step, and I put the walker on the next step up.  This sounds like an easy process, except for the fact that each step was challenging.  Normally, when I take him to get a hair cut, I wait in the car, so this was the first time I went inside.  They are fast and always do a superb job.  I know he wanted to look nice for next week when my sisters visit.  (He usually fights me on hair cuts…unless it’s his idea…)

We still had time to kill before his cardiologist appointment, so I ran into Walmart for a few things he needed while he waited in the car.  God gave us a beautiful, sunny day and he was happy to sit in the car with the windows partially down and enjoy the breeze.  After we got gas, we headed for his follow up appointment with the cardiologist.  They did an EKG and everything looks fine, so that was good news!  His blood pressure is good too.  All in all, a great report…next appointment in six months!  (I can’t even think about six months from now, but it’s on the calendar…)

I was on a mission to get him out of that ankle brace contraption as I knew it was too tight for him, which made walking painful.  His feet and legs swell, which is why he’s on a diuretic.  Apparently, this brace was the largest that the orthopedic office had in stock.  I popped into the medical supply store on the way home and they only had small and medium ankle braces, which didn’t help at all.  Then I needed to get a half gallon of milk for him, so I popped into Target.  They had one that I thought would work, so I got that, as well as an ace bandage type ankle brace for when it heals further.  I figured between the two, one should work.

When we got back to his house, I took that contraption off (which is great for athletes, but not for 77 year old men whose feet and legs swell!!) and changed his socks.  He’s in the fifth week of healing post-fractured foot and he’s improving all the time, but it’s still tender.  So, I was trying hard not to further inflict pain as I got his foot into the new ankle brace.  I barely got the criss cross velcro straps to adhere to the other side, but it worked!  I had him do a little walking so I could make sure it’d stay in place and it did!  Yay for success!  When I removed the old contraption, I saw the reason why I know the Lord was nudging me to get him into a different brace.  His leg surrounding where the brace had been was incredibly swollen and it was not good for his circulation, I know.  He said the new brace was so much better and he wasn’t in pain like before.  So, that’s what we were shooting for!  Good deal.  He did have to take some Tylenol when he got home from all the exertion of the day.  I’m sure he slept good last night!

My dad definitely seemed weaker yesterday and I was surprised at how much he was relying on the walker, considering how much he detests the thing usually.  He did mention that he didn’t want to fall into me like last time and I do appreciate that.  I don’t want him to fall into me either!  He’s still battling the urinary tract infection and has one more day to finish that round up.  We’ll go to the urologist early next week and they’ll reassess.

Aging is really stinky sometimes, isn’t it?!  Somehow God gives both dad and I the grace and strength to face each new health challenge.  I know he’s ready to return to his volunteer work at the church and misses the interaction with the church and school staff very much.  Due to his hospitalization and subsequent recovery, he’s been away from the church for five weeks now, which is a long time for him!  Volunteering is what keeps him going and his mind active, so it’s a good thing.  His primary care doctor warned him not to return too soon, which he agreed with.  If he continues progessing as well as he currently is, perhaps he’ll return to the church in another month or so.  He has to regain full mobility and be able to navigate the eighteen concrete steps that lead to his area at the church.

One blessing I noted yesterday was the fact that, although his body was a little weak, his mind was very sharp.  It was one of his good days, which is always a blessing!  God is so faithful.

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Flashbacks of Caring for my Grandmother

My maternal grandmother was born before the turn of the century on a hundred acre farm.  She was the oldest with six boys following her, and, finally, another baby girl.  She loved to recall this: “I’m not bragging, but I did as hard work as those boys did.  I put my arms around many a barrels of potatoes and we’d roll them up onto the truck.”  🙂  She was a sweetheart.

She came to live with us a few years after my grandfather died.  I don’t have very many memories of her when she was still mobile, however from age 11 until I was 23, I would assist in caring for her as an invalid.  She had hip replacement surgery in 1981 and never regained strength enough to walk.  We did everything for her.  Our mom was a registered nurse by trade, and my younger sister and I were her little assistants, who really did too much at such an early age.

She read her Bible every day and I am convinced she thrived as long as she did because she drew strength from the Scriptures.  For many years, she enjoyed exchanging letters with her sister until she got to where she repeated herself many times over and couldn’t formulate a comprehensive letter.  As time wore on, her dementia worsened.  She didn’t recognize our mother, her daughter.  She would say, “I know you’re someone in the family, but I can’t place who you are.”  I know that deeply saddened our mother.  Usually, she knew who my sister and I were because we were always close by.  We would fix her hair and even polished her nails on occasion.  We loved her dearly.

We were never told, “Listen, we need to love grandmother and respect and care for her, okay, girls?”  We were shown by mere example.  We had such a loving and nurturing mother who displayed day in and day out what love looks like.  She showed us how to care for our grandmother and the value of family.  She demonstrated the deep love and regard she held for her mother by her care and compassion.  We could do no less.

My grandmother would tell us she saw a horse on the rooftop of the house across the street or a little boy playing the piano at her bedside.  How she got these visions in her head, I will never know.  The aging mind can be a scary place.  I can recall her reading little preschool books to my oldest and at some point, he drifted into another room mid-story.  She’d continue reading the story and enjoying looking at the bright pictures until the book was completed, just as a preschooler might.  That saddened me.  Although it illustrates how in many respects the elderly become as babies once again.  I wish I knew why.

(It’s so important for the mind to remain engaged in life.  Once mobility challenges arrive, it seems the mind is susceptible to rapid decay.)

Despite all the countless hours and days spent caring for my grandmother during those years, she will forever hold a special place in my heart.  She was tough, tenacious, but, most of all, she was a godly woman after God’s own heart.  She grew up in the Methodist church and attended the same little, country church her entire life until she moved in with us.  Her ancestor’s names are inscribed on a few stained glass windows.  It was where she worshipped with her parents and seven siblings as a young child, and, in due course, with her late husband and children.  It was a special place to her.  And, now, it is where we laid her earthly body to rest twenty-one years ago.  She was ninety-eight.

My grandmother saw a lot of changes in her lifetime, for sure.  She was fond of saying, “Times bring changes, honey.”  Haha.  The house my mother grew up in had no indoor plumbing until she was sixteen.  There was no central A/C or heating.  They had fireplaces and, I suppose, kerosene heaters.  My grandmother saw the advent of the automobile and aircraft, vast advances in modern medicine; not to mention, the computer revolution.  I am only two generations removed from the cusp of innovation my grandmother witnessed during her lifetime.  Pretty interesting to ponder.

Change.  They say, “The only constant in life is change.”  The irony of it all.  Yes, change is all around us.  Now, my role as daughter is often “Caregiver” or “Advisor” to my father, who is fond of calling me his business manager or letting everyone know that I hold all of his medical records.  🙂  Yes, times do bring changes, honey.

 

 

 

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Dad Has Sepsis

Two trips to the ER in as many days!  He’s been weak the last two days, but developed a fever this afternoon.  It’s been quite a day so this will be my shortest post ever.  For those who enjoy brevity, bask in this post.  🙂

I just got in from the hospital and dad should sleep very well tonight in good hands at the hospital.  He’ll likely be there for at least five days, maybe more.  Upon instant infusion of i.v. fluids and antibiotics, he began to look a lot better.  He’s got a long row to hoe, but with God’s help, he’ll recover just like he always does.  The fractured foot is so secondary to all the other symptoms.

I’m thankful for praying family and friends and thankful for the grace and mercy of the Lord!  Tomorrow night my sister is coming into town and I’m ever grateful for the moral support.  This daughter is tired.

If you could, please say a prayer for my dad that the Lord will continue to touch his body and restore his health.  I’m grateful for those who will lift him up.

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