My Night (and Day) at the Hospital


My Night (and Day) at the Hospital

lunar-eclipse-767808_640As many of you know, I work other jobs to keep up and running; I babysit two children (a 5-year-old girl and a 7-year-old boy) on a part-time basis. I began my day last Wednesday at 5:15 a.m. as I needed to arrive at their house at 6:45 a.m.

The kids love Whole Foods and a new one opened in their community on Tuesday so Wednesday morning we road our bikes to the store's grand opening. My dad called as I chased the kids through the store (they ran from one free sample to the next) and left a message that my mom was bleeding again and would need another angiogram. My dad had an appointment in the afternoon with a plastic surgeon about his skin lesions on top of his bald head. Because I was babysitting, I had arranged for my brother, Keith, to pick my dad at the house and bring him to the appointment. My dad wanted  my brother to instead pick him up at the hospital as he wanted to stay with my mom. "Call me back on mom's iPhone," he said.

So, I called. And, called. And, called. My dad doesn't know how to operate my mom's iPhone so I assumed he just didn't know how to answer the phone. I called my brother, explained the change of plans and confirmed he would get my dad from my mom's room. Because I couldn't reach my dad to let him know that where my brother would meet him, I called my niece, Claire, a librarian at our local library. I explained the latest and asked her to stop at the hospital on her lunch break to update my dad.

By this time, the kids and I had arrived at the pool. We arrived early, before you could start swimming, so the kids lined up to be first on the water slides. I took advantage of the time to call the hospital, connect with my mom's nurse and then my dad. I then called Claire back to let her know she didn't have to make a trip to the hospital as I spoke with Grandpa. I sent a text message to all my siblings that Mom was bleeding and Keith was bringing Dad to his appointment with the plastic surgeon. My brother, Tim, texted he would be at the hospital to be with our mom as soon as he could leave work.

I arrived at the hospital at about 6 p.m. to find my brothers and dad sitting with my mom in her room. My dad had bandages on his head and the side of his neck. He had basically demanded that the surgeon not just biopsy his lesions but also remove them. The lesions covered more than a third of the top of my dad's bald head. I won't go into great detail about what they looked like but if you saw my dad, you would wince. He had something similar on the side of his neck, at the location where his surgery to remove his blood clot in his carotid artery in May took place. At that time, the vascular surgery said the lesion was basal cell. (My dad visits his dermotologist every month religiously so stays on top of his skin cancer.)

I asked my brother about the wounds (really, burns--they burned off the lesions) under the bandages. "Did they explain how I take care of them?" "He can shower tomorrow," my brother said, "and he refused pain meds." Oh, boy.

My dad left the hospital about 6:30 p.m. or so. I went home at about 7:40 p.m. I attended our evening chat, then worked, then headed to bed at about 10:15 p.m. I set my alarm clock for an early wake-up, worried I wouldn't get to the hospital early enough to catch my mom's doctors. Two hours later, my dad fell.

It seemed to take the ambulance so long to arrive at our house that I called a second time. During the second call, they arrived. After they loaded my dad into the ambulance, I packed a bag for him (including his medical binder) and my backpack with my iPad, iPhone, chargers and water bottle.

I got to the ER at about 12:50 a.m. but had to wait 30 minutes until I could back to see my dad. As I waited, I sent a text about what happened to my siblings, including my sisters who, as bad luck would have it, were out of town on vacation. I debated about waiting until I knew they were awake and decided to send updates throughout the night, which seemed easier on me.

When I went back, my dad was in pain from the procedure to remove the lesions on his head. I asked the resident to give him something. The resident assured me he would and then continued checking my dad for injuries. He began to unwrap the bandage on my dad's arm; he gashed his arm during the fall, taking off the top layers of skin from his elbow to his wrist. The EMT used gauze and tape, which of course stuck to the wound and my dad's arm. I watched for a minute, then had to go sit in a chair. I made myself go back and talk to my dad as the resident continued to battle with the gauze and the wound. "It's much worse for him than you," I told myself, "Get over there."

After he received morphine, he fell asleep. I decided it was a good time to blog and publish other blog posts. After blogging, I watched my dad's blood pressure on his monitor drop in half in one second. I blinked, Was that right? "I feel dizzy," my dad said. I stood in the middle of the ER and said, "Could someone help my dad? His blood pressure dropped." The resident and two nurses rushed in, stabilized him and explained that my dad had an adverse reaction to morphine.

After they stabilized my dad, the resident asked me, "Does your dad want to be resuscitated?" I walked over to my dad with the resident; we both stood on either side of my dad. The resident repeated the question. My dad looked to me. "What do you think, Dad?" I asked. He thought for a minute. "Yes." And, then he added, "There's that trick question again." We had a similar conversation about my mom the previous Saturday when she had been transferred back to ICU. The answer, we decided, is really, "It depends."

A few hours later, when my dad's pain returned and I asked for more pain meds, they gave him something other than morphine.

They came to take a chest x-ray and then my dad returned to sleep. At 3:15, I decided it would be a good time to update software on the website. I updated the software and promptly crashed the site. It took 30 minutes for me to realize the site crashed because of the software update and another 30 minutes to finally bring the site back up.

I also continued to follow up with the nurse about when my dad would go for his CT scan. "We're really backed up tonight," she explained. He finally went during Crashapooloza and returned within 20 minutes.

At 5:15 a.m., his doctor called. They wanted to keep my dad for observation so we began the wait for the room. At about 6 a.m., an aide arrived to bring my dad to his room. As we left the ER, I made sure to thank the nurses, the resident and the attending physician. I always feel guilty when I don't say "thanks" to anyone who helps so felt good when we left the ER.

Usually, they direct the family to the patient's room rather than have the family walk the back way with the patient. This morning, though, I followed the aide through the long, dark hallways of the hospital's old section. The dead quiet hallways looked creepy and haunted.

My dad's room, with its typed sign, "Hospital Observation Unit," hanging on the wall, looked like a broom closet. But, it only had one bed and that's all that mattered. Once the nurse admitted my dad, I headed to the cafeteria for a quick bite so I could head to my mom's room and hopefully catch her doctors.

I arrived at my mom's room at little after 7 a.m. "Oh, you just missed them," my mom said. "Which ones?" I asked. "Surgical," she said. "They're in a group, one tall, two women."

I ran down the hall, caught up the group and introduced myself. I wore shorts and a shirt to the hospital, but hadn't brushed my hair or my teeth and still wore a white glean from sunscreen on my hands and legs. I hadn't showered before bed, deciding I would have time in the morning. They didn't bat an eye at my appearance and gave an update. They didn't think my mom is bleeding even though she requires more blood and her hemoglobin drops. They think her body is simply adjusting to her loss of blood and is very slowly beginning to make her own.

I returned to my mom's room and shared the news about my dad. We both closed our eyes for a bit and then the surgeon arrived. His update was similar to the surgical residents. He also told my mom she would be on a liquid diet starting at lunch.

I decided to head back down to my dad's room. He liked his new nurse (he arrived just before shift change) but had accidentally emptied some of the urine from his ostomy bag onto his bed. I tracked down the nurse, who came to change his gown. She also suggested the ostomy nurse see my dad and that we order his breakfast. Once changed, his doctor arrived. My dad already looked better.

After his doctor left, his cardiology arrived who wanted to monitor my dad just to make sure his fall wasn't a cardiac event. We were 99% sure it wasn't but it seemed like a good idea to be certain.

We ordered his breakfast and my dad requested the phone to call my mom. My mom has been spotty about answering her iPhone and her room phone so I suggested that I go back to her room and call my dad. I placed the phone on his bed and walked back to my mom's room.

Once I reached my mom's room, I dialed my dad's room and my mom promptly placed the phone on her right ear. At some point before going to or on her way to the hospital, she lost her right hearing aid. I had not yet had a chance to get to Costco to reorder it. I moved the phone to her left ear, they yelled to each for a few minutes (my dad doesn't have his hearing aids in) and then my mom said, "I need a bed pan." This is always urgent as she passes blood and blood clots. I pushed the call button and also ran to get help. I returned to her room with the loud conversation continuing. As soon as she saw the nurse, she hung up on my dad.

As I left the room, I noticed a group of residents and a physician in the hallway--rounds! Because they seemed to having a break, I signaled to a resident who filled me in. They haven't done my mom yet but will soon. They will be giving her more blood.

I walked back over to my dad's room and arrived in his room just as he vomited his breakfast. I grabbed whatever container I could for him and ran to the nurse's station to ask for help. Once settled, we decided the morphine upset his stomach.

By this time, it was 9 a.m. or and my brother, Tim, texted me that he's on his way. He and my sister-in-law arrived at about 9:45 a.m. and I did my best to leave. My dad encouraged me to go in one breath and then in the next said, "You could do me one favor before you go...."

I said good-bye to my dad, promised to bring his hearing aids in the afternoon and walked back down to my mom's room to update her. "Stop at Costco on your way home," she said. "Nope," I answered, "I'm going home and then I'll go to Costco."

Another physician (radiology) arrived to see my mom and shared the same update. Immediately after he left, the rehab physician arrived to let my mom know that she'll be transferred to rehab once she's stable. Somehow, I had seen all of my mom's doctors and my dad's doctors.

As I walked to the elevator, I ran into my brother and sister-in-law, on their way to see my mom after settling my dad. "Denise, go home," my brother said. "You're going to be messed up for days because you haven't slept." Before I could reply, he said, "Denise, why isn't Dad sleeping? He needs to sleep! Why aren't they giving him anything to sleep. He should be sleeping right now."

Oh, his anxiety just wiped me out. I have no idea what I said, although I said something that made sense in a very polite voice, and then just continued to the elevator.

I slept for an hour or so, ate lunch, showered and headed to Coscto. I ordered my mom's hearing aid and bought a laptop as mine died its final death the day before. I returned to the hospital, with hearing aids for my dad and batteries for my mom, visited with each for a few moments and then headed back home.

At about 6 p.m., Tim called, obviously anxious and upset. I only heard two words: "Mom" and "dying." That did get me off the couch. "What did you say," I asked. "Mom's hearing aid battery is dying. Kate (my niece) is coming to get more batteries." And, then in a completely agitated state, he yelled, "How do you get Mom's hearing aid in her ear? How do you work that thing?"

"The wire has to come out of ear."

"Oh." We ended the conversation. Someone's been at the hospital too long today, I thought.

My niece came for more batteries at 7:30 p.m. and I hit the hay at 8 p.m., ready to begin again the next morning.

(I'd love to know about your night in the hospital. Feel free to share about it in our comments section, below, or publish a blog post if you're a member. Not a member? Join us to start blogging).

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Wow. It sounds like you're playing both sides of a tennis match. Happy that there are other family members to help out, but you're the person everyone turns to for answers and marching orders, which is exhausting. Your parents are being taken care of; you need to do the same for yourself. I've been in your situation, both parents in the hospital. I still don't know how I made it out alive.


Oh my goodness - what a horrible adventure! I am exhausted just reading this! I don't know how you do it! You amaze me! Try to get rest as you can and try to take care of you! Blessings! You and your folks are in my prayers!


Oh my goodness! Do you feel like superwoman... you should be wearing the superhero caregiving t-shrit! What a marathon. You know, if it weren't so serious a situation with your folks health, it would be a comedy too unbelievable that all that went down as it did. You must be drained. ONE of the things that amazed me about this was the fact that you managed to talk to all the doctors... and I can just see you in the halls enlisting help in a commanding way. Then after such a long day clueing your brother in on the \"how to's\". \n\nI certainly hope you have caught up on some rest. Hugs!


Whoa, how did you remember all that? No wonder you can juggle all of our needs. You are a force. I am so glad we have you, and your family must tremble at the thought of your not standing with them. I agree with everyone else here, YOU MATTER and I hope you get some rest.


Denise, I am so worried about YOU.. From the way your blogs are reading you're not able to get enough sleep or rest. I know it's hard to take a break but if you can you need to try. Hospital stays are awful. This is like a double experience of everything you experience in one hospital stay. I've had some critical ones with Dad several years back but thank God nothing in a long time. I may try to blog about one I'll always remember soon. Know you are in my prayers. Love you girl.

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