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I’ve Fallen And I Can’t Get Up

How many of us remember the TV Commercial above. What we used to mock, now makes us worry. Ah, the ironies of life.

Dad Keeps Falling.

Last night, at 4:38 a.m. the nurse’s station at the skilled nursing facility where he’s undergoing rehab left me a message. (It happened much earlier, he informed me, in an effort to make me feel better or worse I’m unsure).

He keeps promising me he will call for help and not detach the alarm on him before he attempts a restroom run. “Tomorrow,” he assures me. Poor guy just doesn’t remember and is just responding to his bodily urges, I suppose.

But like a parent who hopes the Pavlovian recital of “Don’t Touch A Hot Stove” to a child, I hope against hope that he will listen this time. I’m thankful they call me (I actually didn’t have my phone near me last night and awoke to a message. If something HAD happened, I couldn’t do anything until the morning anyway–progress I suppose!). I’m thankful he’s off Coumadin and won’t bleed to death should he injure himself, and of course, I’m thankful he’s not hurt.

The unreasonable part of me is angry. Angry that he won’t listen–even though he can no longer comprehend. Angry that he won’t ask for help. Angry that THIS is my life, and angry that I am SO ready for their journey to be over so I can have my life back. SO angry at my sister for her minute contributions to the process.

Angry….and conflicted.

“Are you OK Dad? You really need to ask for help. Remember, we talked about this. Are you hurt?”

“Just my pride,” is his standard answer.

Next Monday, during our visit, I’ve arranged for mom’s neurosurgeon to see Dad immediately following her follow up surgical visit. She’s doing great–walking too much in fact. I’m so proud of her fortitude and resilience.

That pride quickly becomes worry when it comes to my dad.

“It’s always something,” to quote the late, great Gilda Radner in the character of Emily Litella on Saturday Night Live.

They suspect Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus, which occurs when there is an increase in intracranial pressure (ICP) due to an abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the ventricles of the brain. Sufferers may exhibit a triad of clinical findings:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normal_pressure_hydrocephalus

Gait Disturbance: Check
Dementia: Check
Urinary incontinence Check

It often goes undiagnosed in dementia patients like my dad, but nurse practitioner who suspected my mom might need spinal surgery has offered this up and I trust her immensely. She’s like our own Gregory House.

It’s treatable with a shunt that will drain excess cerebrospinal fluid to the abdomen where it is absorbed.

Add this to the list of things I wish I didn’t have to know.

In the meantime, he’s undergoing PT twice a daily on a very intense basis.

He has also learned how to fall. When they call me about a fall, it’s more that they find him sitting down, which he’s been instructed to do when he finds himself losing balance.

I’ve been on jury duty this week and out of the city; working from home when I can. I have no idea how I hold a full-time job and handle all of this. It really makes me think of going into elder care consulting to help other families in similar positions navigate these twisting, turning roads.

Would I get sick of it? Would I get frustrated? Would I be good at it?

It’s truly where my passion lies these days.

On that note, see below for an educational video on how to fall. I hope it helps.

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~ by Butch on June 12, 2012.

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