Diary of a Caregiver: Back to the ICU

This is the 3rd entry in a series that chronicles my grandfather’s journey with bladder cancer. The following are actual emails or messages in our family’s closed Facebook group where we communicated his progress to his children, grandchildren and significant others.

5 days post-surgery

October 22, 2016- From me
Dear Fam,
Grandpa is in a swanky private room in the ICU with very skilled, dedicated nurses. When he was transferred, he was asked if he knew where he was, why he was here and did he know who the president was? Because of the upcoming election, the nurse asked who he thought was going to be president? He answered, “I think Michelle Obama would be a great president.” I agree!

Infectious disease came by as a precaution since they are not sure yet where the infection came from. They were not concerned that it was coming from an outside source and his symptoms are likely related to the surgery and his body adjusting.

His late-night CT Scan showed no sign of stroke, no sign of pneumonia. Good news!

The CT did show he had some fluid build-up in his belly. Previously he had a drainage bag, but that was taken out yesterday. If the fluid doesn’t reduce on its own, they may put the drainage bag back in.

I asked for his surgeon to come by to discuss the challenges we faced yesterday with miscommunication and to get his opinion on his current state. He assured me that the different departments overseeing Grandpa are now on the same page and he was hopeful that he would improve.

Grandpa’s blood pressure continues to spike. At one point today it spiked to 205/ 90. IV meds have been successful in managing this. When I left it was down to a reasonable 158/ 70.

I’ve been here for over 36 hours with little sleep. Aunt Cindy will be here soon and is staying tonight. Mom will relieve her tomorrow.

Later the same day

From Aunt Cindy, Oct 22, 2016
I’m not as good writer as Katie but here’s what’s up. Grandpa said he was hungry for lunch. He ate but it came back up. Was not feeling the best. Then he started having diarrhea on and off the rest of the afternoon. They are going to do a CAT scan on his gallbladder and lower abdomen tonight or tomorrow. He doesn’t have a fever or any other symptoms. He was not able to get up and walk today. We will try tomorrow. He is resting now. I hope he has a quiet night.

6 days post-surgery

From Aunt Cindy, Oct 23, 2016
Grandpa had an ok night. He was up and down for no reason. They are having much trouble in finding a vein to get some blood work done. He needs more fluids to get those veins pumped up. He is getting grumpy at the nurses. They did a sonogram this morning of his abdomen and gallbladder. They hope to have those results later today.

He is still getting breathing treatments 3-4 times a day. His blood pressure is a little high 187/89 so they are giving him medication to help bring it down. It seems to be working. Still waiting on the results from the blood work they took a couple of days ago. We are going to try sitting up on the edge of the bed today.

Karen [my mom] will be here later today to spend the night with him. It’s hard getting much sleep because you have to sleep with one eye open as Grandpa makes many noises and tries to get up in his sleep. Hoping today is a good one.

7 days post-surgery

From me, October 24, 2016
Just a quick update as I’m pretty sure everyone knows today was a good day. Grandpa is scheduled to be discharged on Tuesday. He will go directly to a rehab facility in Charles Town, WV about five minutes from Mom & Dad. I’m staying with him tonight so Aunt Laurie can get some rest.

I didn’t get here until about 7pm and he didn’t have any moments of confusion, which seem to occur at night. This issue may return when transitioning to rehab and then home.

He’s a little restless in his sleep tonight and they just gave him something to help.

He told me he was very happy that so many people had come to visit him. And I know he can’t wait until many more can see him in rehab. Aunt Laurie and I will be here tomorrow to make sure he arrives safely to the next place. I’ll let you know how tomorrow goes!

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