The Journey Home
The Journey Home
My dad will be home today.
An upset stomach has plagued him which make his discharge uncertain. He began scheming yesterday about what he could promise his surgeon if only the surgeon would release him. Yesterday, we thought the discharge would happen on Wednesday, a day later than my dad wanted.
My dad loved being in ICU because he had his own room, an attentive staff and a quiet corner of the hospital. His transfer to a regular room last Friday felt hectic and chaotic. He moved into the semi-private room with a bed by the door, which he hated.
On Friday afternoon, we heard rumblings from behind the room's curtain and the word "discharge." That's all my dad needed to hear. "Find out if he's going home," he directed to me. When I confirmed that his roommate would be leaving, he began asking any one in scrubs or a white coat who entered the room, "Can I move over there?" He pointed, nodded his head. He wanted that window.
As you know, a discharge process begins and then stalls over and over. And, so it was with the roommate. My dad continued to instruct--I went to the nurse's station with his request, then my mom. After asking what seemed like the entire hospital staff, my dad finally got the word he would get the window.
My parents hovered and watched, ready to pounce as soon as the roommate left. My mom asked me, "Is he (the unfortunate roommate) still sitting in that chair?" Then, she proceeded to get up and poke her head around the curtain. "What's going on over there?" my dad asked me over and over.
When that eternity ended and the roommate left, my dad waited another ten hours or so to move to the window. Apparently, the best time to move a patient recovering from major surgery is 3 a.m.
Yesterday during our visit, my mom and I watched as the ostomy nurse changed my dad's bag. She tried to make it sound easy but it didn't look very easy to me. I recorded her on my iPad so we could refer to the tape if we needed help. It was tough to see the wound, which did make my stomach jump a bit. My mom had to sit down. I later asked my mom if the wound made her queasy. "Oh, yes," she said and then grimaced.
While my dad napped yesterday afternoon, my mom and I ate lunch in the hospital cafeteria. (We had sufficiently recovered from our training session to eat.) I asked if she felt nervous about having my dad come home. "Yes," she said. When I asked what made her nervous, she responded that she's nervous because I won't be home. As luck would have it, I'm out of town tomorrow and Thursday for a caregiving and technology roundtable discussion at Georgetown University. My sisters will step in to help while I'm gone, which will be good for all us. We'll all have experience with my dad's care needs and we'll better understand how to best help his recovery.
Because my dad also has to give himself daily injections of a blood thinner, we'll have a visiting nurse daily until he's comfortable with the injections and changing his bag. He has so much to adjust to--he's starting to show the toll. The toll will lessen when he sleeps in his own bed.
I have a work commitment today so my sisters will be with my parents and help settle my dad at home. Before we left the hospital yesterday, my dad started to say that he wouldn't see me for a few days. "Oh, no," I said, "you'll see me tomorrow evening. You'll be home tomorrow." It's always a relief when positive thinking becomes the reality.
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