Friday was the appointment for Dad’s partial toe amputation. I had explained it in a way that did not terrify him. They are going to “work” on your toe. They have to take the dead black part of. Nonthreatening language that I was careful to word myself in a way that would not send Dad into a tailspin. Thursday night I went to bed early knowing that Friday was going to be a long day. At 430AM my cell phone goes off. When I was a young parent (and the kids were toddlers), I slept light because I was on constant vigil of making sure they were ok. The slightest noise sent me checking on them in their beds at all hours. That slightest noise has been traded for a shrill cell phone ring (shrill to make sure it wakes me up). I shot out of bed, fumble with the on switch and answer… The night nurse said that Dad was in a panic about the procedure for the day. He was terribly upset and he wanted me. Blue jeans, sweatshirt, shoes, ponytail and out the door I go.
I arrived twenty minutes later. Seems when Dad asked the night nurse for something to drink she told him that she could not give it to him because he had “surgery” in the morning. Now, because this was an outpatient procedure, I opted to tell him “toe needs worked on”. Surgery was the first bell and whistle for my Dad. He asked that she explain what was going to happen. When the word “amputation” was used, he went insane. So, this is what I walked into before 500AM on the day of his procedure.
“No, they are not taking your WHOLE toe off.” “Yes, I know Louis lost his legs but that was from DIABETES, this is from a blood clot associated with your surgery.” “No, I promise you I will not let them take your whole toe off.” “Don’t cry Daddy, you have not lost everything.”
I want to scream at the well-intentioned nurse. I really do. But, she was doing what she thought was ok and nothing more. But really… Sigh. It took me about an hour to calm him down. And I headed back home to rest up a bit, grab a shower and then head back to meet him as they loaded him in the ambulance. Two beautiful girls were loading him in the ambulance when he tells them, “Wellllll Ladies. Just so you know, thoughts enter the right side of my brain but get lost before they make their way to the left side. So I might say anything. Sorry if I offend.” ((shake head)) My Dad is flirting with young pretty EMTs even through the confusion. Go Pops Go.
At Holzer in Gallipolis, Dad explains to Dr Clark that his apprehension over the unexpected was what had him nervous. I get that. Because the surgery was not occurring until noon, I was terrified that his blood sugar was going to plummet (he was not allowed to eat or drink after midnight and his levels have finally balanced and occasionally run low vs. always high like before). But he made it back into surgery with a blood sugar level of 127.
Post-surgery, Dad’s sundowning kicked in and between the confusion and the fear, he was (for lack of a nicer word) an asshole. Brutal asshole. He had no idea what part of the world he was in. Was mad at me for making him go to so many facilities. He was loud and verbal and not fun at all. I was thankful to see the ambulance crew come down the aisle to load him up.
I picked up his favorite Bob Evans’ dish (salmon in butter garlic sauce) on the way back to Overbrook. While eating it, he told me it was ok but I didn’t know how to make it like Bob Evans. Sigh. I didn’t even try to correct him. He looked at me and told me “I am sorry if I was an ass to you. I was scared.” “Don’t apologize Daddy, you would do it for me.”
Saturday he was ok but “tired”. I fed him some chili for lunch and took to reading the last of the Hunger Games while he slept. He would wake ever so often and ask me a question, seemed like he felt safe because I was there and then would drift back off. He “answered” his pillow, handed it to me and told me Donna wanted to talk to me. I took the pillow and “told Donna” I would call her back.
Donna and Chris were able to visit today (Sunday) and Daddy was wanting to nap. We got him up and into his wheelchair and then took him into the TV/activities room. He drank Root Beer and was good about staying awake. I had to head to the airpark with Bobby so I cut my visit at 1130 and left him in the very capable hands of my sister and bro-in-law. Donna told me that Daddy didn’t want them to leave. That is the sign of a good visit. He misses people in his life. Asks for a handful of people (some alive, some not-so-much) on a regular basis.
My long-term hope is that he gets strong enough for trips out of the nursing home, even if only to dinner or down to the river. I remain hopeful. Now that the necrotic tissue on the toe is gone (and the smell is SO much better), I am hoping that it leads us in an overall positive direction. I know that his mental status “is what it is” and do not claim to wear rose colored glasses about it getting better. But, keep your fingers crossed for us. I like to think that I see light at the end of this crooked tunnel…
Categories: Personal History / My Own Words