Tag: TIA

Back from hiatus…

I’ve been on hiatus for a while. I found that I needed to take a break and thus withdrew for a while… dad seemed to have settled into the new care facility well and for the first time in the last couple of years, I felt less guilt in wanting to step away from it. It’s more to do with his physical health degenerating now, which I’ve found in some ways harder to process and deal with.

With dad having issues associated with congestive heart failure, it has been a bit easier for the nursing staff to understand and empathize with his difficulties in feeling well, and thus having great mood swings. His heart is getting weaker bit by bit… Hands and feet get colder often, he struggles with anything more than a short stroll, water retention is an issue for extremities as well. Due to these, he is weaker overall and less stable, and often has him just wanting to sit on the ground as his strength gives out…

Its been a week since Dad was put into a wheelchair for most parts of a day. No more phone calls to report an ‘unwitnessed fall’.

It feels odd, at times I feel a slight guilt, though I know it was the necessary step to take. Its not easy having the reaponsibility to sign away a parent’s right to be, the seemingly one last bit of their freedom. But he is safe and my moments of worries for his well being have been drastically reduced. It was upto 3-4 times a week. Never knowing when it would be the call that he’s hurt himself badly from a fall.

Thank you allowing me to share with you. It’s always cathartic for me to write here, once I can reach into my writing frame of mind… it’s an ebb and flow sort of thing. For those of you that follow along because you have chosen to take on the challenge of being there physically and mentally for your loved one, I hope all has been well, and that you are getting the support you need in this journey. Kai xo

Bittersweet

Just had the annual care conference for my father’s care and condition. It is bittersweet. He’s more stabalized now, compared to last year, but his condition has changed quite a bit. Last year he had onset delusional dementia and minor alzheimers. Now both are strong, with Alzheimers taking over, and he also has T.I.A., a bothersome lower back (after his injury), and Atrial Fibrilation. He can no longer hold a conversation much, tho he can still express his unhappiness and tell others that he waits for my visits (he chooses not to interact with anyone else much, so unlike the dad I know). I have also been advised to lessen the degree of intervention from 4 to 3, request for DNR, since if they did so, it would likely break a lot of his porous bones and not help at all 🙁 It is hard to make the judgement calls for another person’s life, even though knowing it is what is best for him.

I visited dad yesterday, and for the first time in my life, of what I can remember, he held my hand, like that of a child, uncertain of their own steps, or direction, just wanting to be guided. I felt overwhelmed a bit with this change, it means yet another new chapter.

I still struggle with whether or not to move him into another care facility, esp. with him wanting to see me more often, with nurses telling me he often waits by the elevator, and how much basic enjoyment he gets out of eating Chinese food, familiar comfort food, in my opinion. He eats it with more gusto when compared to regular Western fare, so that’s the only way I can tell. The downside is the unknown amount of stress it may affect him in the short term, ore would it be long term? One of the nurses (the most caring and competant one) at the current facilitly recommended to me another facilitly that her mother just got into. It sounds better than all the options I had known prior, it’s a mixed population 50/50 Chinese/Caucasian, which means workers that speak both languages and 3 days a week they get Chinese meals. They have a double door system so even the Dementia/Alzheimer patients gets to go downstairs to the communal garden on their own, so more place to wander, less cooped up. The bonus is that it’s within Vancouver, nearer, so I can visit more often at any time, as well as other family members that he would enjoy seeing.  I think I’ll make the appointment for a tour at the least and get the motions started. There are usually very long waiting lists, so I will have time to decide…

The clock ticks slower

Well, it’s been about 1.5 months since father was diagnosed with T.I.A. and Atrial Fibrilations, and since then he’s had a few attacks at least. He’s now on blood thinners as a precaution to avoid a large stroke attack. As time goes by, I notice that my dad’s brain and ability is slowing down. Conversations started by him with a few words soon lag into silence, putting on clothes or shoes can take a long time.  Learning to be patient and letting him gather his thoughts or try on his own in his own time have been the new challenge, and also needing to explain it to those who may visit him. It’s hard to watch and not wan tto help immediately, but realizing that letting him try and do it is good for him, until he asks or responds to my offer of help, or that he actually gives up on trying.

Last week he went through a couple of days of semi clarity where the delusional dementia kicked in; I received quite a few calls from him with random requests that made no sense. His thoughts are less and less linear when it comes to the dementia part. That fades off through phases, where it’s less prominent, and he’s back to having the Alzheimers being more prominent. He is more like a child now where he doesn’t know when to stop with eating something he enjoys in the moment, or logically figure something out, such as putting his shoes on, and using a shoe horn for his beloved dress shoes.

Personally, I’ve been going through a self development period with wanting to shift my career, so this calmer period is a blessing in disguise. It’s afforded me some much needed mental and emotional breathing space to process the last year of chaos and emotional upheaval. 

Remember, if you are going through this, find youself the support and love in friends/family, as well as within yourself… to take good care of yourself mentally and emotionally. So important.

shared lunch

Weekly shared lunch with Dad on Flickr.

I received some news or updates finally after noticing what I consider to be huge changes in his behavior. For the last 3 weeks, I’ve noticed slower movements, dazed appearance, strangle walking gait/shuffling, labored breathing and that he choked while swallowing twice in my company. The nurse manager for my dad’s ward finally had returned and was able to go through his charts and push for more answers. The diagnosis: Transient Ischemic Attacks, it’s like a mini stroke, and teamed with a weakened heart, the future is very certain with dad having either major heart failure and/or stroke. The news upset me greatly, mostly emotional sadness, left me crying for half an hour or so. I realized during my outburst that it was really that I was feeling some sense of finality, his condition finally diagnosed after so many months or even years. It is a bit of relief in knowing what we are dealing with, but also sadness in knowing what’s to come, that he could have the big stroke or heart failure, and that it could happen any day now, as I have been advised. I always knew that realistically my dad will pass away, but it was always an infinite unknown thing, but now, knowing that it could randomly happen soon, makes it harder.

Via Flickr:
at the care home’s downstairs lounge room