Monday, July 14, 2008

My dad is old

Yeah, I know, how original.

I just got word, like half an hour ago, that my dad started bleeding profusely and ... well, long story short, he's hospitalized in Lake Tahoe. Or was, overnight, they're driving home right now.

I cannot begin to say how much I hate the way my father takes care of his health. He doesn't. He goes off to the dentist, keeps it secret from my mother as to when he goes and what they do, he takes Advil even though he takes a blood thinner (news to me!)... aaaaagh!

According to my sister my mom awoke to Dad out of bed and a huge pool of blood on the bed, he's in the bathroom because he doesn't want to wake her - WAKE her? He's spouting blood like a turnip! They go to the hospital and he gets a transfusion and a blood thickener and it still doesn't stop and they're wondering whether to give him more would make clogs or give him a heart attack -

My dad is only 67!

Yes, I suppose that's old, but not these days! He's not supposed to have a club foot and arthritis and diabetes and he's supposed to TAKE CARE of them, not eat Jack in the Box milkshakes and chocolate cake! JEEZ!

He was bleeding like crazy Wednesday, so Thursday they go to TAHOE? HEL-LOOOOO!

I'm... so flustered I can't think straight. I am so mad! DAMN, he's getting worse - LOTS worse - and there doesn't seem to be anything we can do to get him to take it seriously! My brother's a DOCTOR, for crissakes!

And now they're saying there might be Alheimer's, because that's the only explanation? No, he's stubborn. Stupidly stubborn, just like his father. I just find it damn ironic that a man who could probably afford the best doctors around



Martin said...

KC, you don't have the market cornered on father's who don't listen to what their body tells them. Seven years ago my father had quadruple by-pass surgery. He survived and the doctors told him he needed to make changes. That includes diet and quitting smoking. He quit smoking for a couple years, but he's back to doing it again. Hello? I ride him about it but he doesn't pay me any heed. When I had my heart fixed a few years back, I decided to work on my diet, my exercise level and to cut back drinking entirely. I want to grow old with my wife.

Michael O'Connell said...

Yeah, I've done my share of dumb, but have most of it under control. Blood thinners and Advil BAD. Listen to Coumadin boy on this. Did I mention that a couple of months ago my doctor gave me Crestor samples, so I took it for a couple of months, then took the actual prescription to the pharmacy, and they refused to fill it? Because you're NOT supposed to take it with Coumadin? My doctor's office was all attitudinal about it. "Oh, the pharmacy's just trying to play doctor (said the nurse on the phone with me)". And then I went in for a blood test the following day, and the same nurse called me the day after that in a panic, saying my Coumadin levels were through the roof, asking if I'd started having nosebleeds or excessive bruising. "Did you make any dietary changes lately? Any heavy drinking?" Uh, no, but there was that whole CRESTOR thing... She didn't have much to say about that. But I am off Crestor, now.

That kind of bleeding sounds like major issues with the blood thinner (not that I'm a doctor...or a know-it-all-nurse). Could be the Advil. Could be diet. I'm pretty restricted to what I can eat (ever had a doctor tell you you can't have green vegetables?). It's hard to say. But I know I'm monitored very closely because of that stuff, and just for reasons like this.

Some people are very private about their medical stuff. I am. Hey, I once tried to go into surgery without letting anyone know, and only had to call Russ because I didn't realize they weren't going to let me take a cab home (you have to have someone you know take you). I just like to keep it to myself and deal with it myself. But the thing is, I do at least TRY to deal with "it" (whatever the latest "it" happens to be). My stepfather pulled some stuff like this. Had all kinds of abdominal pain, never let anyone know until things got really bad and potentially REALLY bad. In fact, it was me thinking about my talk to him about that that made me get out of bed the night my heart was trying to stop - when I was just going to go to sleep and hope it got better so I wouldn't "worry" anyone. Had a pacemaker 48 hours later.

I don't know if it's a guy thing or a generational thing. A man wants to take care of his own business and doesn't want people doting all over him and constantly asking "Are you sure you're okay?" and telling him "Don't you dare rake the yard! Not in your condition!" I get it. But again, I try (mostly) to take care of myself. Like Martin, I have plans to be around for a few more Olympics. It's when that stubborn guy in your family who doesn't seem to care too much about making appropriate lifestyle changes won't accept the help where the real frustration sets in. My grandfather was that way. One particular uncle of mine (who's no longer with us), who would have rather anything happened to him than his kids have to worry about him. What do you do? That's the big, frustrating question.

Maybe this'll be a wake-up call for him. Sometimes those work nicely. That why I finally quit the cigarettes last year, when I was suddenly having breathing problems (I wonder why?). Sometimes those are just the signal we need. If we heed them. I wish I knew what to tell you. I'm just really sorry to hear it. Maybe this'll be what it takes to turn things around. Now that things are more out in the open with his health, and the secret stuff doesn't work as well anymore. Let's hope. I've seen really, really set-in-their-ways relatives of mine turn it all around after a scare. It does happen.

I hope he's well, K.C. And has a few things to think about now.

KC Ryan said...

First, thanks for your comments, guys. VERY appreciated.


Dad survived the night, not without more bleeding, but evidently it wasn't quite as bad as in Tahoe.

As is, the hotel wants to bill them for destroying the room. Their term. Carpet, tub, sinks, bed, sheets, blankets - all soaked in blood. I'm surprised no one called the cops.

I mean, blood? Hel-lloooo?

I keep hearing more and more details and suffice it to say, it was BAD.


Yesterday he goes first to the dentist (why? just... aaagh.) Anyway, Mom goes with. The dentist can't understand what happened, because he didn't do jack - tooth cleaning! But then he found out Dad was on Coumadin, even though the office specifically asked and would not have done anything if they had known!

Dad claims they never asked, but we think it's more like he never heard.

Then he goes to the doctor, who reads him the riot act. For not carrying his prescriptions and medical information all written out. For carrying all (waitaminute, all?) his prescriptions in the same bottle. For stupidly not waking Mom immediately and going into the bathroom to die.

Then he reads MOM the riot act for not carrying prescription info, for putzing around for hours (!!!) not calling 911 immediately, and for stopping to check out of the hotel instead of getting Dad to a hospital!

And that's just what Mom would admit to. I have no doubt it was even more idiotic than that, because Mom just isn't very good at handling stuff even though she thinks she is. Trust me, not good.

And Dad is totally in denial. I called him during the All-Star game and just got, everything's fine, everything's fine.

Everything is NOT fine.

The doctor FILLED OUT the form for a medic-alert bracelet and sent it in, no doubt because he knew my dad would never do it.

He told my father that he had to report for testing of his Coumadin levels every month for the rest of his life.

He told my father that he has to be extrememly careful even shaving, for the amount of Coumadin he's got he practically has hemophillia (same effect - blood flows like crazy).

I didn't even KNOW my Dad was on Coumadin, let alone at that level. And the other three meds (WHICH he should keep separate!)??? I know one's for diabetes, but what are the other two?

I know this may sound silly to some of you, since you just follow the directions the doctor gives you and you do fine.

My problem is that Dad DOESN'T follow directions. Doesn't even hear them, evidently. And that makes us wonder if he's keeping a bigger secret from us. What if he's been diagnosed with something and he refuses to deal with it, even tell us?

My sister says that my brother (the doc) has expressed concerns for two years that Dad has Parkinson's. If that's true, don't you think you'd want to be tested for it??

And the most idiotic thing of all is that he can afford the time and money to take care of these things. If he had been taking care of himself chances are things would not have gotten so serious.

He can do it.

He won't.

He is not a stupid man. In most things, really.


I don't know if it's a guy thing or a generational thing, either. My sister's father-in-law pulled the smokes-thing so often he had three major heart operations... and eventually died. Didn't stop smoking, though.

It's just... sad, and frustrating, to see your father make so many dumbass decisions and upset his family so and frighten his wife half-to-death and...

It kind of makes you see him as... I dunno, human? He can make mistakes - big ones. How much of his advice was on target, then, as you grew? How much was crap?

I had all four grandparents watch me graduate college - I know that's a rarity.

The Ryans were always old, even when they really weren't. They just looked old and tired and were real hardworking Irish immigrants and they lived in the same old house all those years and then they died.

The Doughertys were always young, both young-looking and fun. They bowled, they golfed, they boated. Even now, with my last remaining grandmother at 96, she still looks pretty good.

I thought my parents were the Doughertys.

I am afraid that my Dad, at least, is the Ryans.

That after the considerable advances in lifestyle (my grandpa was a milkman his entire life - a good one), all the advances in medicine available, all the move-to-California-it's-healthier BS, my dad is in big, big trouble at 67???

I just don't know what to think anymore...

Michael O'Connell said...

One of the first things they told me with Coumadin is do NOT go to the dentist without talking to the doctor first, because they have take you off Coumadin for about five days in advance of any dental work. This, by the way, is why I'm, like, two years overdue seeing a dentist - because I really don't want to be off the stuff for five days...

Which reminds me...I need to get in and get my blood tested before taking off for San Diego. I got too busy last week. I'm going in about once a month (or two) currently. When I first started they had me coming in weekly just to make sure the found the right dosage level for me.

You know what? I think I'd better look into a med alert bracelet. It's just a good idea. I've thought about that in the past, but this is a good reminder. If I'm in a car wreck and end up in the hospital, it's probably a good idea that the hospital know I'm in the stuff. Did you know they make med alert watches? I found that on Google looking it up. What a cool idea.

I'm finding much of the same stuff with my folks. I think we've finally hit that age of reversal, when we suddenly start looking out for/taking care of them. Strange, isn't it? I'm still not used to the idea. I find myself stunned at the stuff that they do that they SHOULD know better than to do after so many years of accumulated knowledge. Does our common sense (along with our driving skill) just start to disappear at a certain age? Hard to say. But yes, I agree, it's still tough dealing the humanizing of those we always thought infallible. Got to wonder it's that's almost a relief for parents, having spent our entire lives trying to live up to our unrealistic expectations? Maybe they can finally relax.

Anyway...if your dad doesn't go for the bracelet, maybe suggest the watch. Might make it easier.