I find myself on yet another plane heading back to Arizona from a business trip to Washington, DC with trepidation and a tight feeling in my heart; very concerned about in what condition I'll find my parents. They have both been ill with gastro-intestinal issues for months; my mom has been in acute distress for over six weeks now. That's 6 weeks and:
- 4 doctor appointments
- numerous phone calls to doctors (I find myself begging and pleading for test results, medicine that will help, office appointments)
- 2 boxes of disposable gloves
- 1 large container of bleach cleaner
- 2 trips to Costco for Depends (whoever invented them should be canonized in my opinion)
- many loads of laundry
- 2 visits from carpet cleaners
- several cartons of coconut water (packed with electrolytes!)
- lots of bananas, rice, applesauce and toast (`gotta love the BRAT diet)
- 4 different medications (none have worked)
- many hours of lost sleep for both of my parents (as well as my sister and me)
- 1 hospital visit for Dad (possible TIA)
- twice a day pep talks in person and on phone to boost Mom and Dad's spirits as they are increasingly exhausted and discouraged
- 2 rounds of stool samples and lab tests that yielded absolutely no new information and were, well, not the most pleasant experience for any of us!
- 3 business trips in 3 different cities and time zones
- 3 corresponding complicated schedules I've created for caregivers, friends and family to check in on Mom and Dad - helping them with daily tasks, getting them medicine, pushing the coconut water and all those bananas
- many moments of frustration and despair for all of us
We all dread the worst diseases - cancer, heart attacks and the like. But sometimes it's these so-called "minor" illnesses that chip away at older adults' health and well-being a little at a time like Chinese water torture. I know that, as their primary caregiver, if I am not able to solve this problem - get answers, find the right treatment or cure - this could be a downhill slide. I have already seen other aspects of their health worsening and suspect this is the reason. Cognitive functioning, strength, coordination, vitals are all off kilter - one problem leads to another and another...
I have felt for so long now that they are being dragged away just out of my reach and I'm desperately trying to think of the right course of action to be able to grasp their hands and pull them to safety.