I haven’t written much lately because, these days, it’s just seeming like so much more of the same. Dad’s been back for three weeks now – about the same length of time between the last two rehab stays – and his primary care doctor is scrambling a bit to keep his system in balance. In the process, though, I’m beginning to see signs that Dad might be working toward an acceptance that it’s more likely he’ll be getting worse in the near future than getting better.
The primary problem continues to be managing the dance between heart and kidneys. Dad’s blood pressure continues to trend low, with the systolic (“top”) number sometimes dropping into the high 70s, while his heart rate is running high – possibly in a futile effort to build the blood pressure back up. And he’s starting to feel it more – previously not a problem – with periodic waves of lightheadedness when he stands (or, when he bends over – exactly how he fell in the bathroom last week). The doctor has taken him off the water pill he’d been taking to help keep water from accumulating in his lungs and ankles, leaving it to us to observe whether problem conditions develop over the next two weeks before the next appointment. If the ankles swell or breathing problems return, Dad’s supposed to take one of the pills and call the doctor’s office. The reason: his kidney numbers had gotten worse, and having to process less water could help them recover some.
In the meantime, his energy level is declining along with his appetite. And this afternoon he complained of a “belly ache.” He says it feels like he’s constipated. My brain instantly turned to questions of whether it might be some sort of ulcer, or if his new stomach med might be the cause. This led to a 20-minute consultation with Dr. Internet, which indicated that the med can, in fact, cause stomach pain in some users. We’ll see how he does overnight, and start the phone game with the doc’s office tomorrow, if need be.
My sister arrives tomorrow night for a week-long visit that both Dad and I have been looking forward to. I don’t think I’m being over-dramatic, though, when I wonder if this might be a last visit for the two of them – and if he might be wondering the same thing. We went out to lunch yesterday, and twice he mentioned how he really couldn’t complain about his current aging condition, because of all the wonderful memories he had been able to accumulate throughout his 88 years. It was a summing-up kind of statement that made me think he’s been thinking more about his current state than I might have thought, otherwise. But it also made me glad to see how, even in his extremely wobbly, cane-dependent state, he remains the same glass-half-full kind of guy that, for better or worse, he’s always been.