Sunday, June 27, 2021

Bill Falls And Can't Get Up


Bill sitting out back under our shade tree late this afternoon, recovering from last night.

Last night, just as I was falling asleep at my normal time of 12:30 AM to 1 AM, Bill's medical alarm rang. He was having an emergency.

I rushed downstairs to his basement bedroom and sure enough, he was shaking all over. He didn't know how to stop and I didn't know what to do either. 

I called the 24/7 hospice nurse line which is what I was told to do if Bill had a medical emergency. No more calling 911 and a trip to the Emergency Room which just results in generating more bills and no resolution to Bill's medical problem which is just old age and he's wearing out. 

"Debbie", the sainted person on the other side of the line (who takes jobs like this anyway? I can't imagine) asked the routine questions which I won't go into here except "is he in pain?" (he wasn't). Then Bill had to go to the bathroom, immediately! We didn't quite make it, his pee was going down his leg then I heard the poop. Yep, he was pooping (shitting) his pants. What a mess.

I managed to get him to the bathroom and on the toilet, just. He had the biggest dump I've ever seen. Of course part of it was on the floor, toilet seat, down the right leg of his pants but most of it was in the toilet. I took a picture of it just to prove to his hospice nurse. Apparently Bill was constipated. We didn't know that. Maybe that's why he had the uncontrollable shakes. 

As I was getting him up off the toilet and into the nearby shower to wash him off (after pulling off his pants and underwear, couldn't get his shirt or T-shirt off so that went into the shower), Bill fell. He just missed the seat in the shower/tub enclosure. No pictures here but this is one of those cheap, one piece plastic builder grade showers. Thank goodness no tiles to clean after the poop mess. My brother was faced with that problem when he was taking care of our mother at the end of her life. It was messy too.

Bill fell in a crumpled corner on the floor of the shower. I couldn't get him up as much as I tried. When I thought I got him part way up (he was very weak) he slipped and fell again and this time part of him was wedged in between the base of the shower and his toilet with the metal grab bars. He hit is head (the bruise shows). I couldn't get him up. Tried for at least forty-five minutes. Then I called his hospice nurse again. I told her of the problem. She told me to call 911 and have some EMT's come out and pick him up and put him in his chair where he sleeps at night.

They were at our house within ten minutes (seemed less). Two burly guys who had no trouble extracting Bill from being wedged in between the base of his toilet and the shower base. They held him up while I washed off the now dried encrusted feces (shit) from his right leg and his butt. Then they took him into his bedroom. They were very gentle and spoke soothing words to him, which greatly impressed me. Two big burly guys so gentle. They held him while I put on a Depends underwear, which is what Bill is going to wear from now on. I also put on his jogging pants that I bought initially for him when he returned home from the rehab after his hospital stay in January. No more regular underwear for Bill nor his usual Levi jeans, too much trouble to clean. They settled him in his chair while I gathered up all the soiled garments. I rinsed out his underwear in the toilet (something I quickly learned to do from previous "accidents"). One thing that I learned is true what my friend Glenn told me (he was his partner/husband's longtime caregiver), you quickly get over the "shit" part of caregiving. Not so squeamish anymore, just do what you have to do.

After rinsing off his underwear, I put all into the washing machine and turned on the extra rinse cycle. Been there, done this before too. 

By  the time the EMT guys left, daylight was dawning. I had been up all night as was Bill. That's right, no sleep all night. Last time I did that was when I was a night auditor at the Hampton Inn in Exton, Pennsylvania in t he year 2000. I was alert but felt out of body at time. I've been running on fumes all day.

My big fear was that Bill wouldn't be able to walk. What would I do now? His hospice care worker was coming over today at 8:00 AM to check on him, special trip after last night's call. I had about an hour to sleep. I also had a weekly Zoom call scheduled at 10:00 AM with my friends Stuart, Lar, Pat and myself. Today was Lar's birthday so we didn't want to miss that. Lar is my friend who has ALS (diagnosed four years ago). And yes, he has his bathroom issues too and his fall down issues (his family has had to call the EMT's to get him up off the floor on occasion). 

I laid down on my bed and quickly fell asleep. I had asked Alexa to wake me up at fifteen minutes to eight. When she did I heard movement in the kitchen. I rounded the corner from my bedroom (which is right next to our kitchen) and there was Bill, walking albeit slowly and unsteady. He refuses to use a cane for walker (which the EMT guys told me he should use). Thank goodness he was walking! I can't tell you how relieved I was.

"Abby", the hospice care worker arrived about 8:30 AM. She took Bill's blood pressure and it was normal. I told her what happened and she surmised that Bill suffered an anxiety attack, which makes sense. Bill is so worried about leaving me (dying) but he is tired and because he can no longer read or do his projects because of his eyesight and his other problems, he's in a quandary. I told him so often that I can take care of myself but after fifty-seven years it's hard for him to leave his responsibility to "take care of me." She advised him to try and think of nice things and not dwell on the negative, which Bill tends to do. 

Abby left after about an hour's visit. 

The rest of the day here was surreal, as it is when one doesn't sleep the previous night. And today was the day I had my landscaper Ferdinand trim my nineteen holly trees (at $700), which I don't know house much longer I'll have that job done. I'm tempted to just let those holly trees grown out. If I'm left here by myself I have to cut out expenses like this. Let our backyard go natural. 

After I finish this post I'm going to bed. Bill is sleeping peacefully now in his Archie Bunker chair. Hopefully we can both get through the night without any more emergencies. Neither one of us can endure many more nights like we had last night.


Raybeard said...

Jeez, what a hell of a nightmare to go live through! - and an extended one too, without the consolation of waking up to find it was just a really nasty dream! It can't get much worse than this - or so I want to think. I'm quite lost for any more words, except to offer my most profound sympathies, for what they're worth. Do keep us informed of any further developments. Very best wishes to you and Bill.

Geo. said...

You're a good and durable man, Ron. I'm astonished at your presence of mind in an emergency. When a loved one is in need, it's time to reach deep for strength and composure. Bill is fortunate, very fortunate.

lexie said...

What a great job you are doing. Bill is blessed that he has you. You are doing a fantastic job.

VRCooper said...

Ron...Glad to see that Bill is recovering as well...I am happy to see that you are carrying out Bill's wishes of staying at home as long as you can...I glanced at an article on how the pandemic in the long-term health care setting exposed a flaw...Meaning the way the structure of things does not allow-expense-older folks to live out their last days at home-as many want to do...The support structure is not there...Long-term care facilities were not top of the list when it came to stopping the spread of COVID...Jails/prisons as well...The pandemic and the aftermath have exposed many holes in the way we are doing things...From employment, daycare, living wage, long-term care...I always say that your bowels are the seat of your emotions...When I worked in nursing homes years ago, in my younger days-we kept track of every residents' bowel movements...I believe it was three days and then we would go in and take care of things...You wouldn't believe the amount of crap some of the folks could hold/store...Yes, the rinsing in the toilet thing was a common occurrence...And yes, sometimes it would be best to place the resident on a shower chair, wrap them up, and wheel them down to essentially an oversized tiled closet and hose/shower them down...Sort of like a self carwash...If you think about it, many older folks don't drink enough fluids, eat the right foods to regulate their bowels...It's imperative that one pays attention to this important function...Now my questions are obvious...Did you get the names and phone numbers of the burley fireman...They may need some comfort after all they have been through during these trying times...Have a great week Ron...

Ron said...

You are something! "Did I get the names and phone umbers of the burley fireman (EMT's?)" I have to say, they were very kind, especially after seeing Bill, make and smeared with excrement, crumpled in the corder wedge between the base of his stall shower and the metal leg of his toilet support and the base of the toilet. I don't know if they knew what the situation was between me and Bill, we have been mistaken for father and son but whatever, they were very gentle and patient with him and me. I so appreciate their kindness. Now this morning I discovered we may be billed for that service because he didn't go to the Emergency Room. Oh well, just another medical hurdle to overcome. The important thing is that Bill is here at home being cared for and for that I am so appreciative!

Ron said...

Always good to hear from you! Unfortunately these days I don't do much blog reading. Only some of those that I set up long ago to automatically notify me of new postings through my e-mail and even those I don't get to because I'm so far behind my e-mails. I hope to resume soon my regular blog reading especially yours which I always enjoyed.
Having said that (my apology for neglecting your blog), these are very trying times for me and Bill but I always remind myself "At least he's not in pain and he knows who I am." Also, he can get around, albeit very slowly and shakily. My 54 year old cousin was diagnosed with ALS a couple years ago. She has lost total control of her body, can't speak and can only move her eyeballs. Wheneer I feel overwhelmed with caring for Bill think of her and what her family is going through. She is a wonderful person and has seven children and many grandchildren (one granddaughter has been designated to take care of her). I often wonder who will take care of me if I reach that stage as you have probably wonderer for yourself. But in the meantime let's treasure each day and try to find happiness and comfort. By the way I just saw a good film with Dustin Hoffman (who I don't particularly are for. It was called "Last Chance Harvey." Takes place in London. A small film but thoroughly enjoyable. Seeing a nice movie always helps my spirits.
Have a great day Ray and always nice to hear from you!

Ron said...

I am so thankful I am here for Bill. I can't imagine what his life would be like if he wasn't at home at this time of his life. I've seen friends of mine in similar situations who had no one at home to go to and they ended up institutionalized and of course died in short order. Two different friends who I visited during their hospital stays, the hospital asked me if I could sign them out. I couldn't because of my own responsibilities to me and Bill but I've always felt guilty that I couldn't. Some of that guilt is going away now that I am taking care of Bill. My brother and his wife went through the same thing with my Mother during her final days. I wonder who will take care of us should we someday reach that stage.
Take care George and as always, your comments are appreciated.

Ron said...

Thank you lexie, thank you. Somedays I wonder if I can make it but then a new days dawns and I am renewed. Bill is doing fine now. Thanks for your kind and generous comment.

Woody in Ohio said...

Ron, you are doing good. Poop happens and many times they can't control it. As the caregiver for the one we love we find the strength and we do what we must no matter how unpleasant. I know all too well because I went through it with my late husband Henry. Hospice was so helpful. The nurses said time after time that I would find the strength when it was necessary. The lack of sleep was the hardest to handle. When I have met other survivor caregivers I found that our stories were all the same and we did because we loved them. Ron, what you write when reporting on Bill's condition tells me that you truly love him. You are also correct when you say that he is holding on because he doesn't want to leave you alone. Once my Henry accepted the fact that he was going to die and that I could take care of myself when he was gone he passed on quickly and peacefully. Ron, you are doing great. Keep on giving updates when you can because it is good for you to vent when you need to. Most important is to lean on your friends and doing so you find the comfort and love they have to give and that you need. Hang in there and remember to take care of yourself. We all love you!

Ron said...

Good to hear from you again Woody. I appreciate you sharing your personal experience with your Henry. These situations with our older loved ones seem to run in a similar pattern don't they? Bill is torn between wanting to go but he is fearful of leaving me alone and "unprotected." I think I finally have him convinced that I will be just fine after he has gone. When I tell him of the alternative, me dying before him, he just cannot contemplate that. He definitely doesn't want to be alive without me. Of course he has mentioned that it would be ideal if we both died at the same time but that's highly unlikely.
Yes, I do care and love for Bill a great deal. That's why I am caring for him now. I am concerned though that if his condition got worse would I be able to care for him here at home. I might not be able to and that is a scary thing to think of. Knowing he was in some facility, away from me and my care would be a slow torture for both him and me.
Bill has lived a good and long life. The best we can hope for now is a few more months of relative peace and comfort here at home and perhaps one morning when I go down to his bedroom to wake him up, I have found he passed away peacefully in his sleep. That is the ideal and I realize most people who die aren't that fortunate but we're hoping.
Thanks again Woody for your kind and thoughtful comments.

Caregiver Update

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