Sunday, October 30, 2011

caregiving and having a life

What I find hard is becoming a little clearer to me as I recover from the stress of Friday's trip to the emergency room.  I don't have the energy or attention to do much this weekend and I feel low.  Part of it is that I'm now worried about my plans to go to a professional conference next weekend.  But looking at my feelings more closely, I realize that nothing seems important to me.  And yet this isn't a short-term emergency where I can put other things aside, this may be the next 10 years of my life.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Emergency room visit

Friday morning a few minutes before I headed into class I got a phone call from John.  He was crying so that I couldn't understand what he said, beyond that he had fallen.  I grabbed a film for my teaching assistants to show and headed home.  Luckily I had gone in very early so my car was right in front of the building.

I found John sitting on the bench in the bathroom, with a mess on the floor and in his clothes.  Trying to take his clothes off he fell and hit the side of his face against magazine table.  He had a lump and a small scrape, but he wasn't in pain any more. I helped him get the rest of his clothes off and get in the shower and I cleaned up the floor.  I left the clothes to deal with later and went back and taught the second half of my class.

When I got home again I ate my own lunch and then cleaned up the floor and helped him get dressed.  I made him some lunch and then he discovered he couldn't eat it because it hurt so much to chew even something soft.  We decided that had better be looked at, particularly since it was Friday afternoon, so we went to the local urgent care center.  The wait there is usually very long--this wasn't too bad in comparison.  The nurse-practitioner said he needed an xray.

I explained that he couldn't lay flat on the table because his neck is bent forward too much.  It turned out they planned to do the xray sitting up and the problem was he couldn't turn his head to the side very far.  Eventually the technician had him sit on a stool and put his head forward on the table.  He wasn't very stable that way.  I suggested I could robe and hold his shoulders and to my surprise the technician went for that.  The technician said the xrays didn't show anything obvious.

We waited a while for the xrays to be read at the hospital.  The nurse-practitioner came in and said John would need to go to the hospital for a cat scan but it looked like his jawbone was shattered and he would need surgery.  We were surprised given what the technician had said and John's lack of pain, but we headed for the hospital, with a brief stop to get me some food and John a milkshake.

They took John back right away, though then we waited a while for the doctor.  The nurse said the radiologist hadn't seen much, and we began to realize that the nurse-practitioner might have misunderstood the report.  But they did want to do the cat scan.  After another wait they took us back and again they included me in the process of positioning John.  This time he was stable by himself and the technicians just asked me to go to the booth with them each time they took an exposure.

Eventually the doctor came and reported they didn't see any break at all, it must be just a bruise that made it hurt so much.  He gave John a  prescription for pain medicine and we got home about 8 pm.

I have had the principle "avoid the emergency room at all costs," but this was actually a good experience.  We weren't there much over two hours, and that on a Friday evening.  They were much more willing to let me accompany John for everything than I had expected.  I don't know if it was just because they saw he was on Aricept.

When we got home I made him some carrot soup, but told him he would have to ask Paul to help him get in his pyjamas.  Today he has not dared try eating anything that requries chewing.  I'm discouraged by the strain.  Can I really go away next weekend?