June 17, 2009: From the Storm From Hell to the Sun on Angels Wing...
I awoke in a sweat early this morning from dreams of my Father. He had escaped the Psych ward by making a pair of skates out of chair rollers and broken wooden drawers fastened to his feet with duct tape. He skated up to the house with precise precision and proudly told us he had successfully escaped and was headed west. Another dream had the police wrestling him to the ground after hunting him down.
I immediately grabbed the phone and called the psych ward to check on Dad. I spoke with the Social Worker and she assured me he was getting excellent care and slept well during the night. She said the Chief Psychiatric Director gave Dad his psych evaluation this morning and adjusted his medications. She invited us to come see her when we came to visit at the noon visiting hours.
Some what relieved, I remembered the text message my sister sent me. She had called me while I was speeding to California yesterday and reminded me to read it and call this fantastic woman, who was my niece's best friend's Mother. I immediately picked up the phone and soon was listening to this sweet, calming, and caring voice. I learned she has been in Elder Care 42 years and was a psychiatric nurse. Once again, my sister's advice had come to my rescue. We talked for over an hour. She explained to me how Dad would benefit from being in the psych ward and getting stabilized on the medication would help his paranoia and delusions. She listened compassionately and patiently as I told her the life story of our Father. She generously offered to meet Mom and I up at the psychiatric unit.
Next, my youngest brother called, telling me how he was going to "play dumb" about the strict visiting hours and "work the room" to get in to see Dad. Due to work, he had not been to see Dad in a few days, and Dad was very concerned "something had happened to him". Dad was convinced it was his truck still in the nursing home parking lot.
Typical of my brother, he succeeded in charming his way in to see Dad. When he called me afterward I could hear the huge smile on his face. He was elated and went on and on how it was their best conversation in weeks! He could not believe the change in Dad! To him, our Dad was back!!
When Mom and I met our "newest Angel" at the Unit, we discovered she knew several of the doctors and nurses there. She greeted one male nurse with a hug and he told her he and a doctor had just been speaking of her. What a small world. Labeled with our "visitor" tags, we were buzzed in through the locked doors and escorted to the lunch room. We walked in to find Dad, dressed in someone elses clothes enjoying his lunch. When the nurse told him he had visitors, he looked up at us with a ready smile on his face, as his eyes glistened and lit him up like a Christmas tree.! I can't begin to express what his smiling face did for me, but suffice it to say... my heart soared!
We helped him take his lunch out on the patio and the three of us joined him. We introduced him to the wonderful, angelic woman in the beautiful blue dress. Dad complimented her on the dress being one of his favorite colors. He was busy telling us about the "awesome" music he enjoyed and impressively described all the various composers he heard. All this, while enthusiastically eating his lunch. We asked questions and he answered them calmly and happily. We actually carried on a stable, normal conversation. He shared that he was glad to not feel so confused.
It was like something out of that Jack Nicholson movie trying to visit and concentrate on Dad all the while various characters were inviting themselves to our conversation. Dad took it all in stride and was as gracious and kind as he always has been. He even mentioned it was "not our place to judge others, that was up to the Lord".
After lunch the Social Worker came to get us and explained Dad's treatment is still early, as they are still observing and monitoring him. She anticipated him to be there a few days to a week. She took my cell number as the doctor's contact and announced he would be calling me early (as in 6 am to 7 am EARLY!!) Hopefully, I will be awake and coherent enough to email the rest of the family. We told her how thrilled we were with Dad's alertness and ability to stay on task. Absolutely "night and day" difference, after the hellish day we had the day before. I told her Dad seemed twenty years younger.
When we discussed his plan after discharge, the Social Worker ironically suggested one of the skilled nursing facilities we were considering. One of the facilities my brother had already checked out. As if we didn't have enough miracles for one day, she received a phone call from the same kind woman I had spoken with two days earlier about Dad who was from this particular facility! When the Social Worker mentioned my name and Dads, I could hear her voice over the phone exclaiming my name in remembrance. She was on her way to the psych unit, so we had the pleasure of meeting her in person.
Where would we be without these "walking Angels"?? These extraordinary people who care for strangers like they are their own loved ones. I am humbled and in awe of their tenderness and concern.
Starving, we left for lunch. I called my patient brother who was still suffering the traumatizing affects of being with Dad during the transfer yesterday. We had planned to meet him and my two nephews for lunch but our meeting and visiting had gone way longer than planned. My brother had been up most of the night and had not slept much at all. The boys had planned to meet their Mom and were disappointed we were not able to get together, so we'll have to fix that tomorrow.
This might be a good time, to interject, for those who do not know, that Mom and Dad had seven children. 5 boys and 2 girls. I am the eldest and we lost one brother, after me, one week after he was born. Dad discussed that loss today with us, as well as all their grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
Nothing like an In-and-Out burger to soothe both hunger and jagged nerves. It was much needed therapy for my dear brother and us, as we encouraged him to go see Dad during the evening visiting. He called us later, exhausted, after a great visit with Dad, telling us how happy and thankful he was. I trust he will sleep tonight. I know I WILL!!!
Mom's head was spinning with all the information and I was as high as a kite, bursting with excitement! What a GREAT day!! THE SUN IS SHINING!!! We returned for the evening visitation and listened to Dad discuss various historic events he had enjoyed in his afternoon group session. We even watched him shave (along with the attendant of course) while Dad shaved with the steady hand of a professional barber.
Mom and I have another big day tomorrow taking the medi-cal papers to get filed and visiting this potential facility for Dad. Lord, please continue to walk with us, guide our path and continue placing all your Angels along our path...
June 18, 2009: Oh My God, Oh My Precious God...
I can barely write. I can barely think. Today started off so positive. We were so uplifted and so happy. I received a good report from Dad's doctor and he anticipates Dad to be discharged on Monday. We got the Medi-Cal papers finished and filed. Mom and I toured the homiest, cheeriest skilled nursing home for Dad. It is just wonderful. He will get physical therapy, spa treatments, hearing aid, glasses, podiatry, and dental work. All for free!! I just know Dad would love it. We had so much to be grateful for and were so happy Dad was doing better.
Guess it is not wise to allow ourselves to get too hopeful. Tonight when my sister and I went to see Dad in the psych ward, we could tell immediately how his demeanor had changed. Again he was in someone elses clothes. He had refused his heart and blood pressure medication. He seemed so stressed and soon it was apparent why...
Some deranged, woman, fellow-patient was pontificating her greatness and ordering the staff around. She stood beside us and demanded the nurse fire the two new women helping in the dining room. She announced she was the first female black woman President of the United States. Soon she was fixated on us and told us to leave thinking we were "floozies" waiting to steal her man, her doctor away from her. "He's mine, oh YES, he's mine, YOU CAN'T HAVE HIM!".
We tried to ignore her and took Dad into his room. She continued to stand in the door way of his room and glare at us. She warned us to leave in 15 minutes or she would "tear our hair out". I went to the nurses station and asked if they were aware of how she was acting. One male told us, "not to worry about her", another female nurse warned us to "keep an eye on her".
Our second oldest brother joined us just in time for this ranting, tormented, lunatic, obviously a paranoid schizophrenic, to come into Dad's room, naked! The hair on my neck stood on end as I prepared myself for battle. Just as she came toward me, the male nurse rushed in, getting between the lunatic and myself, just as she smashed him in the face and knocked him to the floor, sending his glasses in several pieces!
Her voice was loud and commanding. Clearly she was aggressive and she had fixated her delusion upon us. Despite a shot to "knock her out" she continued her parade of nudity. She pranced down the halls and into the lunch room. I asked Dad if he wanted to change rooms and he told us YES! I let the nurses know Dad wanted to move and we were concerned he might be harmed. They finally put her in a room and scotch taped paper over the glass so she could not see out. All she did was scream and yell at the top of her voice. A loud male patient down the hall was cursing "F-You, you rotten B-!!"
Both my sister and I were shaken. My brother stood guard at the door way to Dad's room. Dad's eyes were wild and wide eyed...
When we left, my brother went to his car, and my sister and I held onto one another as we walked to her car. My sister was sobbing. I offered to drive, but she told me "she had to". We were suppose to celebrate tonight. Everyone was coming over for spaghetti dinner... My sister dropped me off and drove home, she needed to get home and some how, calm herself down....
Oh my God what a slice of hell that place is! And our precious FATHER is in there!! I have called twice, once at 11:30 pm and once at 12:30 am. He just stands in the hall by his new room but refuses to go in. He won't return to his old room either. He is probably "standing guard" after the day he had!!!
Dad would not even come to the phone to talk with me. I could hear him repeating over and over, "NO, NO, NO". When I tried to talk to him over the phone he SCREAMED," NO!!!!, NO!!!!!!!" and the nurse told me he was too agitated. She said if anyone gets close to him he yells and gets very combative.
I know his legs will swell like balloons by the morning. His right leg was swollen when we were there today, just before that crazy woman barged in. We wanted to check to see how his leg ulcers were healing.
I wanted to call my brother to go down there but the nurse told me he would not be allowed in, due to the the strict visiting hours. I am telling his doctor we want him out of the psycho ward and transferred to the nice nursing home we picked out, ASAP!!!
I just can't stand it. It's like the Alzheimer's is eating Dad alive from within. Thin slivers one day and big chunks disappear another. The Alzheimer's is the damn enemy!!! Oh my God, oh my precious God, please help us....Please wake us from this horrendous nightmare!!!!