Monday, January 01, 2007

Bloody Mess

While he was being helped removing his coat after the drive on Thursday, my dad felt one of the metal snaps rub against his hand. And blood started to pour out. After years of prednisone and other drugs, he bruises easily and his skin tears instead of puncturing. Very easily. Various medications also cause significant blood thinning.

Bandages were applied but the bleeding continued apace. Finally, the handyman applied his own hands as a compress for quite some time, and the bleeding stopped. Then my dad went to lay down. When my sister arrived back after our Thursday session at the hospital with my mom, she went to wake my dad up, only to find him, and the bed, covered in a good deal of blood.

They finally stemmed the flow and rewrapped the wound in the early evening, and he went to bed, as he usually does, about 8PM. When he awoke to go to the bathroom about midnight, as he usually does, he was bleeding again. So, they filled up the portable oxygen tank and drove to the emergency room.

Unfortunately for them, on the way to the ER, the car started overheating. So they called AAA to have it towed. Unfortunately for my brother, that meant they would need a ride home. So they called him to come get them, figuring the time needed to get there would approximate the time needed to treat my dad. Unfortunately for them, the ER was short-staffed and already crowded when two heart attack victims arrived in short order.

With my brother by now in attendance, those that could convened in the frigid cold outside for a meeting with the driver of the AAA truck which had finally arrived. He took pity on them, and, despite instructions not to do so, nosed around under the hood long enough to verify that a hose had lost a clamp. Off to a 24-hour Wal-Mart they went to get the clamp and more anti-freeze, returning to finish the job.

About this time, someone accidentally speed-dialed me at home, so now I was awake and aware of the situation, although everyone agreed they would probably be leaving any minute and there was no point in me coming out as well. (Thursday being my theoretical "day off" anyway.)

An hour after that, my sister repeated the request for oxygen for my dad, this time with tears, because we already knew from prior experience that hospitals won't refill his travel cannister (and it only lasts between 3 and 4 hours at best). That didn't work at first, until she said "We'll have to go home now, Daddy, because there won't be enough left for the trip if we stay." A hospital oxygen cannister thereupon arrived post haste.

Finally, at about 5:30 AM, a physician arrived and decided that it would be ok to apply a topical coagulant. That worked and everyone there went home, and all of us went to bed. (Some of us think the long wait had something to do with the fervent hope that the bleeding would stop on its own accord given time and the nightmarish list of 17 different medications that my dad takes. But what do we know?)

My dad slept most of Friday and was rested enough to make the trip to see my mom on Saturday. They overstayed their planned time there, but oxygen was not a problem, because we use a semi-portable (if one is a weightlifter) 20 litre container for long trips. The real portable can be refilled on it, if needed. On the way home, once again fortune was not smiling down, and it took over 4 hours to travel home, more than twice the normal time needed.

Now thoroughly exhausted, my dad went to bed, but not before we discovered that his weight had gone up 3 pounds in a single day, an ominous sign of trouble for heart failure patients. Sunday morning, the swelling in his feet was still obvious, but he refused to go to the emergency room yet again. And, who can blame him? Not me. (They would drain fluid - we've done it before. It is a low priority item and takes some time anyway. The last time took about 4 hours in all.)

We watch his salt intake like hawks, reading every bottle of every thing used or added to any thing he eats. One of his problems is that COPD usually need lots of water for their condition but heart failure patients need something akin to the opposite. It is a delicate balancing act, at which my mom has excelled. No one could have managed the unique series of events that probably precipitated this situation, but that doesn't make any of use feel any better about it.

As it is, my dad is "resting comfortably," watching football with my brother. At least I sincerely hope he is. I was planning to visit my mom in her new digs, a large closet converted into a very small private room by all accounts, but she begged off this morning, claiming that it was far too foggy, and thus dangerous for me to drive out to see her, although she refused to say "No, don't come." when asked, which is unlike her.

(If you're wondering about the NexCare bandage pictured here, we highly recommend them. Every other bandage we've tried tears my dad's skin when removed, including almost all used by hospitals, which is why we are waiting until tomorrow to remove his hand bandage, although it can be removed today: if it tears, and he bleeds, we can see the doctor instead of sit all day in the emergency room.)


chuck b. said...

Bad day! COPD...ugh. My mother in law has severe COPD too.

I work in pharmaceuticals...the big new thing will be Novartis' ultra long-acting beta 2 agonist, indacaterol. I'm not sure when it's coming out or if the benefit of once-daily dosing is going to mean that much to your dad...but there is a lot of research going on in that area right now.

Goesh said...

Hang in there (somehow). It can get to be a real bit**. In Sept. a brother-in-law died of pancreatic cancer. In early Nov. another brother-in-law had a stroke and the rural hospital sent him home with some Zantac. Why not? Most elderly smokers with high blood pressure manifesting confusion and mobility problems and other stroke symptoms really only need something for their stomach. So he bleeds out and loses 20 years of memory and then a few weeks later his wife dies, so we burirf two and pre-paif for a 3rd funeral. Somehow you will make it through, I have no doubt you will.

Goesh said...

PS I hope you don't lose your spelling ability, like I have

Internet Ronin said...

Wow! Goesh, I am so sorry to hear about what you and your family have been through. "Condolences" seems such an inadequate expression in such a situation.

(It sounds like a nightmare from which waking up provides no respite, while our problems here are but a bad dream.)

Internet Ronin said...

That's interesting, Chuck. Thanks for the info! Any interesting names attached to the research? Biochem Pharma and Agouron were two stocks that did very well for me in years past.

Of course, it helped that I followed their development for personal reasons and was using their products early on ;-)