Thursday, September 1, 2011

Sigh....More "fun" on the aging parents front

 It's not good. It's just not good.

 My mom and dad have officially become stress cases since they were informed that bypass surgery was needed-and are trying to drag me along for the ride. They're slightly succeeding, but not completely.

 The battery in Mom's car died at the hospital, and AAA had to come and help her out. Of course the AAA guy had to suggest that someone tampered with their car at the hospital when they valet parked the car. (Can I roll my eyes now? Can't their battery just die?) She tried to start it up the next day and it didn't start, so she asked me to take them to the heart surgeon's appointment. No problem, just let me clean out my back seat. Oh no, my mom said, don't worry about cleaning out your back seat. Just take him yourself. Oh yeah, and your dad is refusing to have the surgery. Yeah, I'm having fun.......

 "I can't handle it," she said to me. "I just can't handle it!"

 So, I take him to the appointment (to which he tries to not go....yeah, fun stuff) and he tells the doctor within the first few minutes that he is adamant from the beginning that he wants no surgery. The doctor said okay, I guess that's that. I looked at the doctor with a shocked look, and he said that your dad says he's adamant that he wants no surgery. He told me that the family should not convince him to have it and said that patients who are convinced to have it very often end up psychologically doing more harm than good to themselves and develop complications as a result that will kill them. He gave an example that was appropriate to Dad-he had a patient once who refused the surgery initially, but her family and cardiologist convinced her to go through with it. She comes through the surgery fine, but has to go on dialysis temporarily, to which she refuses. She died of renal failure as a result. (I guess that Dad's kidneys are not so hot, according to the nuclear stress test done. I can see this happening with him.)

 I asked the doctor what other options there may be. Stents are a possibility, but it won't solve the problem, he said. I also asked how long he had to live without bypass surgery, which he doesn't know. He said though that if one more artery gets clogged, he'll drop dead from a heart attack. Dad will need several bypasses, I guess. The doctor told me that his heart is in lousy shape. Lousy. (I personally think this was the best way for him to get out of telling us that he probably couldn't handle the surgery anyway. I wondered if he could even survive something like that.)

 It was the quickest doctor's visit ever and when I got up from the chair in the doctor's office, I looked like I wanted to cry. I caught a glimpse of the doctor as I turned around to walk out, and he looked at me with compassion. I think the doctor was right to end things because of my dad's refusal and also see his point that if there are other complications, he would probably refuse treatment.

 However, now that we head into today, the fear is coming out. Why couldn't someone have sat down with my dad and explained things to him to help ease his mind? The hospital that he'll potentially have surgery at has a nurse navigator program for cancer treatments where they will sit and discuss everything with you. Why couldn't someone have done that with Dad? There are no options now. It's pretty bad from what I've been told, but can a human face be put on this from the medical community and compassion be exercised?

 Dad is making excuses right now of everything under the sun to not have this surgery, and I also learned that he hasn't been taking his Lipitor. (I wanted to scream when I heard that.) Mom isn't helping matters much either. Oh did I yell at her for not going to the doctor's appointment. I told her that it was her responsibility to go to these things and to not pass off the stress onto me. I help them out a lot and felt taken advantage of in a way because of this. I couldn't believe it when she asked me after my hissy fit to take my dad someplace else at that moment. Oh did I refuse right then. They have two cars, by the way.

 I can tell that I'm nervous as heck as a result now. I've been talking to friends about this, and one said to me that she's concerned for my mom if my dad does have bypass surgery, because the recovery is horrible. Imagine how stressed out she'll be then. A neighbor also said that he thinks I'll have to help and miss some work. That got to me. 

 I emailed my sister after talking to my neighbor and asked her to call me to discuss our dad. We haven't spoken for almost five months now, but I need to tell her that she will help out if indeed he does have this done. There will be no excuse. I know she lives a few hours away and hasn't seen my parents in months also and talks to them infrequently. I would rather not see her, but considering that I have taken both parents now to doctor's appointments and even took a day off work once five years ago when my dad was very sick to go with them to a doctor's visit because no doctor was listening to them, I figure the least she can do is take vacation time and come help for something this serious. I've had this discussion before with her over something else less serious with them that she needed to help out with and oh did I hear it from her. There is no arguing this time though. None.

 So, all we can do is pray and hope for the best. God moves in mysterious ways, and I pray that He will do so here also and help me not scream every five seconds.

 Or I can prepare for the inevitable. It's all a choice.

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