We had breakfast at the IHOP at a window table facing Western Boulevard, which gave us a decent view as the Jacksonville Christmas Parade unfolded before us. It was a much longer parade than I would have anticipated it being. [Total editorial aside: It's interesting that my parents and I each live close to a "Western Boulevard" in our respective cities.]
Our next stop was at the PX, where mom picked up refills of two of her prescriptions and one refill of my dad's Zoladex prescription, which is for his prostate cancer, specifically to control his PSA count. He gets it once every three months.
While my mom was using the restroom off the food court, I checked in with Vivian to give her an update on dad.
Before leaving the PX, my mom purchased a refill of some lotion that she uses, and my mouth dropped at the register when the cashier said, "That'll be $28.10," to which I said to my mom, "That lotion costs twenty-eight dollars?"
"Well it's also my perfume," she justified, reminding me that she is allergic to most liquid perfumes.
A twisted potential bumper sticker popped into my mind: "I'm spending my grandchildren's inheritance on lotion."
After pressing "the red button," we were admitted into the ICU by a nurse whose face I didn't like. Not her physical face, but the face she was "making." Let's just say that it looked very grave to me.
When we got in sight of my dad's bed, he was shaking violently like he had some palsy and there was a breathing mask over his mouth and nose. As it turned out, they were doing a breathing treatment. He looked terrible.
"Last night, he had the worst night so far, probably," the one corpsman said to us. "What happened to him?" he asked. "He looked so good when I left on Wednesday." That was the day my sister was there and he had had such a good day, clearly lucid, talking ECU sports and such with my sister.
Of course, I wanted to say, "Surely that's a rhetorical question! I know you're not asking us what happened to him." [Don't call me Shirley!]
While they finished the breathing treatment, including turning him over on his side for a little and trying to get him to cough up stuff, my mom and I chatted with one his doctors. She was not one of the doctor's on "his team," but she had seen him before, on one his previous short stays in the hospital within the last three or four weeks.
She was very nice, but I was a little disconcerted by the way she casually said stuff. It's hard to explain, but she said stuff as if maybe she had been thinking them, but they hadn't been discussed or agreed upon by his team, or maybe they had and she assumed we'd already heard it. I don't know.
One of the most informative things she said was that, "We're thinking now that he has pneumonia. We found bacteria in his sputum and we did a sputum culture on him to confirm that that's what it is. That will also narrow down the treatment we should give him depending on what kind of bacteria is actually identified."
"How long will the culture take?" I asked.
"We'll have the results in 48 hours."
"And, then, once it's confirmed, how long will the treatment last?"
"Possibly one, but probably more like two weeks until he's completely clear," she said.
My mom mentioned the psychosis again, and said something like, "It'll be good when we get him home, so he'll stop being so confused like he gets."
It was at this point that I didn't like the way she was causally talking. She mentioned something to the effect of, "Well, it's not like—even at home—that he might not get confused. As we get older, we tend to get more confused anyway. And then things like Alzheimer's and dementia begin to complicate things. He still might get confused at home, especially at night. He's going to return to some baseline, but might not ever be at 100% again."
It was something like that, but said in a way that you couldn't really tell if she was saying it as "this happens to all of us," or if there might have been a prognosis that she knew about that we didn't. She then made this comment as we watched dad struggling to both breathe and fall asleep, "If I were to have to say right now, I'd say that he has sleep apnea."
Okay, and why wouldn't anyone else (such as his "medical team") have diagnosed or treated this if it's the case?
We stayed there from 11ish until about 2:00PM, in which my dad went in and out of sleep, and his blood pressure fluctuated from 224/201 to about 184/165, at least until they gave him some medicine to control it. The lowest I saw it was 156/94. By 2:00PM, it was obvious that he wasn't going to know if we were there or not, so we left.
At home, mom and I both nodded off for about an hour, and then at around 5:00, we went to Red Lobster for dinner before heading back to the hospital.
We had driven separately as the plan was for her to stay at the hospital until at least 2AM, which seemed to be the average time by which, if he got past, he didn't have a psychotic episode when awakening alone in the middle of the night.
I had to stop at the main gate to the base to get a visitor's pass. It was cold, and there were about 12 people ahead of me waiting in a line that extended out of the little office building and into the cold.
Dad drifted in and out of sleep the entire time I was there, so I really didn't get a chance to talk with him. I spent about an hour showing my mom my China pictures on my laptop, so that passed some of the time.
One of the corpsman, a female who did his mouth treatment (rinsing, massaging, brushing, and so on) was very nice, and she asked us if we wanted a little snack of Saltine crackers or Graham crackers and some water. We accepted and enjoyed those. She also said to my mom, "Let me know when you want to lie down. I'll open that chair there into the bed for you." She was very sweet.
"I'd like some blankets," my mom said, "It was freezing in here the other night when I stayed."
"I'll put a couple of them into the oven for you," she replied. "That way, they'll be nice and warm when you're ready for them."
I left at just before 10:00PM, and was torn between wanting to say goodnight to my dad and waking him up.
"Don't worry about it," my mom said. "He won't even remember you saying goodnight, so just go, and I'll tell him you said goodnight." My mom's good about that kind of stuff. Very pragmatic.
Back at their house, I was sharply reminded that it's been over 6.5 years since I've owned a television when I couldn't get my parents' to work. I used the remote to turn it on, which was fine. However, it came on to some main screen with a bunch of different options on it like "Grid," "Schedule," "Settings," and so on—a screen from which I couldn't get off pushing the channel up and channel down buttons.
I knew it was the right remote, because the power had come on and the volume worked. I looked around the room, and saw another remote by my "mom's chair." I'd gotten the one I was using from my "dad's chair." Seeing that remote made me laugh for two reasons:
- They have been arguing over that remote for years, and I was glad to see they'd finally just bought an extra one.
- All of the textual indicators ("Power," "Volume," "Channel," and so on) on my dad's remote were almost totally warn off. The ones on my mom's remote were all in perfect condition.
At any rate, after all that, I went up and down 76 channels three times and found nothing that engaged me at all, stopping briefly on a Beverly Hillbillies episode in which Mrs. Drysdale was acting her snooty, fool self, and after which about a minute-and-a-half I nixed.
I was in the bed by 11:30.