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So, do you remember that game called, maybe, “I spy,” that we used to play as kids, where the trick was to remember an ever-growing list of random items? “I spy a car.” “I spy a car and a tree.” “I spy a car and a tree and a log.” “I spy a car and a tree and a log and a pair of scissors.” Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera…

Well, every time Dad comes home from rehab, I feel like I’ve moved onto the next round of “I spy.” Last time, it was the need to check his blood pressure before his regular morning and nighttime meds, to make sure it was high enough to warrant his Metroprolol. During his discharge today, I learned that, while he may no longer need oxygen, he does now require a nebulizer treatment three times a day (suggested at 8:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., but Dad’s life outside of rehab generally doesn’t proceed according to nursing shift changes). So, we now have a new piece of electrical equipment – the little air-compressor doohickey that we pour the nebulizer medicine into – taking up residence in the living room. Also, because there’s a good chance the Plavix he has to take to keep his new stent from clotting up could also be ripping up his stomach (he’s showing signs of anemia and there was blood in his stool at the rehab center), he has to take a new stomach med 30 minutes before eating.

So, this means we have to start paying even more attention to his morning medications (already, we have to do his blood pressure before the meds, to see if the BP is high enough to warrant his Metoprolol, and then do another BP an hour later for the visiting nurses’ telemedicine department, to see what effect the Metoprolol has had). And we have to remember to give him the stomach med, again, a half hour before he eats lunch, and, yet again, a half hour before he has his evening cocktail and chips. Oh, and we’re supposed to cut out anything, like alcohol and coffee and fats, that might aggravate the stomach further. The latter is not so likely to happen.

And a new blood pressure check has been thrown into the schedule at 2:30 p.m., on top of the two checks in the morning and the last one before bedtime. Again, I doubt I’ll be driving over to the senior center during the middle of his twice-weekly poker games with the blood pressure cuff.

With all these new steps added to what seems like a childhood memory game, it’s hard not to throw myself down onto the floor to engage in a childish tantrum in reaction to these mind-numbing complications. If he’s not ready to leave care, then the powers that be shouldn’t assume that I’m ready and able to pick up all these loose ends. However, the reaction I get from nurses when I state that I work at home seems to indicate a thought that none of this should be any problem. Because, really, how much of an imposition can it be to run down from my upstairs office five times a day to ensure all meds and procedures are taken (or undertaken) on schedule, on top of the two or three visiting nurse/visiting occupational therapist/visiting home health aide appointments. Which, themselves, are on top of the two or three doctors appointments or tests I have to get Dad to every week.

At any given month of the year, week of the month, day of the week, I have between three and five outstanding work deadlines, which, up until the last few months, were enough to keep me on my toes. Now, I’m still trying to make sure each of those clients feels they are my one true love, while also keeping up with the memory game that is helping my father stay alive. Which suggests another age-telling metaphor: do any of you remember that guy spinning all the plates on the Ed Sullivan show? He’d start spinning one plate on a stick that he’d then position into a plate-spinning stick holder, then another and another, until he’d have 15 or 20 of those plates whirling at once. And then the trick became, not so simply, keeping all that centrifugal motion in motion – running madly between the poles to ensure none of the plates came crashing down.

That guy is me, right now, dodging the spinning poles in an attempt to keep the plates holding Dad’s health – and my mortgage – spinning and not crashing. Sadly, Topo Gigio, won’t be along to make everyone laugh if my plate trick fails.

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