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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

History! Dad's first mobile email!

I got dad a Kindle Fire for Christmas. I spent quite a bit of time setting it up as best I could. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

Slow week

No news to report this week: dad continues to do well, we walk daily, keep up on his fridge, meds and doctors appointments.

Thanks for your support, all!

Friday, November 13, 2015

All goes well!

We had a good week up here. Joycelyn has gotten in the habit of brining dad cooked meals. This week he has gotten mushroom marinara sauce for pasta, stroganoff and two types of casserole.

Despite this, he has kept his weight down. Dad has dropped about fifty pants vs a year ago and it isn't going back up. Eating real, cooked food seems to be better for you than 2,000 calories a day of ethanol. It's gotten to the point we need to look at taking in his shirts, pants and sport coats. His waist is down an easy ten inches.

The new heart medicine that dad's cardiologist prescribed has done wonderful. His arythmia is gone and his blood pressure has dropped about 50 points! 145/90 is his new norm, and this makes me very happy. I was very concerned about vascular issues and stroke when he hovered around 200/150. I would still like his pressure to get down to around 120/70, but it's not terrifying me anymore.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Dinner plans

Today day has dinner scheduled with his friend Catherine. She is working at an opera, and they are going out to eat after the show. Dad's not going to the show; he is meeting up with her afterwords.

We've gone to the store a few times this week and dad had a visit with his cardiologist Monday. We had made this appointment because dad's heart medicine has gotten incredibly expensive. For a medicine where the patent ran out over twenty years ago to cost $400 a month is ridiculous. The doctor put him on another drug and this pill has the side effect of lowering blood pressure! We are quite happy about that.

Dad's blood pressure is still hovering around 170/110, so we are taking steps. His salt has been switched from sodium to potassium. We found potato chips that only have 40mgs of salt and TV Dinners under 300mgs. Tabasco and his preferred salsa are both very low in salt, so that's a plus. If his BP doesn't get better soon, we are heading back to his main doctor and new meds will be incoming!

Love to you all!

Peter

PS. Day counts: Robert 166, Peter 145

Friday, October 30, 2015

Back from the Symphony


Dad went to the Philharmonic today. It was a Mozart piano concerto and Beethoven's 9th Symphony. He had a good time.

Tomorrow we have a shopping trip and we are planning on cooking dinner.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Coming up on Five months

Dad and I continue to do well.

We have a visit with his cardiologist next month, and we need to talk to him about his heart medicine and his BP meds. We have stopped his heart meds as his ekg is clear and it's gotten over $400 a month. Problem is, one of his BP meds has some heart side effects (it lowers his heart rate), so we need to reexamine his drug situation.

His strength is returning, but slowly. Around the block twice is doable now, but that has taken ages to achieve. We are about to start training without his cane. I hope this does well. He will only be going out without the cane if I am there, so don't worry.

His blood pressure has gotten very high recently. The new recommendations (http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Document/RecommendationStatementFinal/high-blood-pressure-in-adults-screening#Pod2)  of aiming for under 140mg systolic (?? Top number) means dad is between 19 and 59 points high constantly. He has never dropped below 159mgs. We have already reduced his sodium intake and are starting a second round of cuts. Table salt is already a thing of the past, but more drastic measures are needed. We want a multifaceted approach, so I'm hoping better meds ate put there.

I hope all is well with everyone.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Day counts, heart pills

Dad is at 109 days and I have reached 88.

At the hospital, they took dad off his heart medicine. He has had an arythmia his entire life, but when they were testing his heart at NYP, they wanted baseline results and never saw a reason to put him back on the meds. After his release, he went back on them because he worried.

We have a cardiologist appointment soon, so we are taking a 24-hour ekg with no meds for his doctor to examine.

Day counts, heart pills

Dad is at 109 days and I have reached 88.

At the hospital, they took dad off his heart medicine. He has had an arythmia his entire life, but when they were testing his heart at NYP, they wanted baseline results and never saw a reason to put him back on the meds. After his release, he went back on them because he worried.

We have a cardiologist appointment soon, so we are taking a 24-hour ekg with no meds for his doctor to examine.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

OCD Kicks in

I've been cooking dinner for dad for almost a year now, and my OCD hasn't taken hold....

....until now!

Is it extra bad that I printed it on this?


Rock, I mean Walk around the clock, wait... Block

Today dad and I went on our usual exersize walk. We went further than normal: once around the block and 3/4 of a second rotation. He continues to strengthen and his memory is doing well. We have an ENT test scheduled for friday to check his hearing.

71 days sober for Robert, 50 for Peter.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Bad Pun

What would you call fish, once under a fatwā, who wants to quickly get breast implants for his wife?

Salmon Rush Ds.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

42

My mom emailed me, after I posted about my dad's status, asking about my day count. Just an update, if anyone else was wonder.

Two Month

As of today, it has been 61 days (2 months) since dad had his last drink. He has visited his bar, having a club soda, to meet his friends. Joycelyn and I visit almost every day. We make sure his fridge is stocked, his meds are set up for the week and he has a nice meal for dinner.

I usually cook him dinner every day. His favorite entry has turned out to be a teriyaki-sauteed chicken breast. I make a salad and some mashed potatoes as side items to go with the chicken.

The photo is from last week when we walked over to Riverside Park. It's no where near the size of Central Park, but it is a very nice park. There is a large lawn and a plenty of benches. We sat in the sun for about an hour, just chatting and absorbing the UV radiation.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Just two sober guys...

...enjoying some Japanese food. Dad had sushi and I enjoyed teriyaki chicken.

Day 39 for Peter, day 58 for Robert.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Another Day, Another Meeting

Today dad had a visit from the son and daughter-in-law! We came by in the afternoon in time for his podiatrist appointment. Dad's nails need pro-trimming skills, so he has an appointment every other month. His extended medical vacation meant he had to skip a visit.

Yesterday, I filled dad's pill containers and he is doing well on remembering to take them. He wasn't very hungry today, and we are all concerned about that.

He didn't have breakfast or lunch, though he did eat a moderate dinner. I will bring this up with his GP next week.

After dinner we went to A.A. All in all, a good day!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Second Day Home

Today was dad's second day back at the Schwab House. I picked up all of his prescriptions and filled his pill day planners. We went to Fairway to get some groceries. The walk home was testing Robert, but he powered through.

Today was also our second A.A. Meeting together. Dad enjoyed the meeting and picked up some literature. He has stayed sober since coming home and I'm very proud of him.

Day by day! Today is day 18 for me and day 37 for Robert.

Contact info update: call dad's cell phone. 917-975-8151. Feel free to email dad,  even though he hasn't been using his computer. I have been checking his email and will print out any correspondence for him to read.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Robert Update

Dad is doing well. His health and strength continue to improve. A daily exercise regimen continues to push his endurance and improve his muscle tone.

There has been a release date set: Tuesday, June 30th. We are much happier with this coming date as they have pushed him much further in the last ten days. He can walk quite a distance. His balance is much better.

His memory has improved noticeably, but it is not what it was before. Something has definitely been lost compared to a year ago. It was hard to gauge his cognition before he went in to the hospital because of how much he was drinking. How is one to tell if he is struggling to find a word because of memory issues or gin?

Before anyone worries, Robert doesn't have serious trouble in this area. If you have spoken to or interacted with him in the last year, he will show a marked improvement. I just don't want anyone to think this stay in the hospital and Rehab have turned him into his fourty-year-old self.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

They Aren't Kidding Around Anymore!



Ever since we raised a ruckus about dad's care, they have been much more aggressive in his therapy. 

He now takes long walks (sometimes carrying simulated groceries), walks on uneven surfaces (sidewalks, crosswalks and curbs), has lifting and stretching exercises almost daily and sometimes has two sessions a day. Often they out weights on his ankles to push him harder. 

Catherine would suggest, that by bitching and moaning, we removed the "sub" from "sub-acute"!

Robert is well on his way to recovering well more than he had when he came in.

Friday, June 19, 2015

My 1am A.A. Meeting

He's a member of Allergenics Anonymous, a group of like minded people trying to stop themselves from making others have to take Benadryl when they visit my house. All the cats are members too. They all slip constantly!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

(insert metaphor about six in a row here)

Today was my sixth A.A. This makes six days sober. This was a different type of meeting I had not been to before: an Anniversary Meeting. This meeting allows those celebrating a milestone period of time sober a time to speak and they are alloted more time than in regular meetings.

All meetings that I have attended, besides this one, have a nearly identical format. The meeting starts by describing the purpose of A.A. (helping people stay sober), the fees due (none), the requirements to join (a desire to stop drinking) and a speaker is introduced. This speaker tells of some of his experiences, troubles, and how A.A. has helped him.

The floor is then opened up to short, usually two to five minute, times for any member to speak. No topics are off-limits as long as it relates to drinking, desire to drink, or stopping drinking. People talk about family, friends, A.A., food, vacations, depression, suicidal thoughts, and any other topic imaginable. The members are either chosen by raising ones hand, or a round-robin starts at some point in the circle. If round-robin is the method, the last fifteen to twenty minutes are held aside for someone who wants to speak but was missed.

The meeting ends with words from a founder of A.A. being read and the whole group holding hands and saying "Live and let Live" together.

It may sound hokey. People who have done 12-step may say "where is your highest power," "when do you study the steps," "who is your sponsor," "where is your chip," or a half dozen other questions. My answer is "This is working for me. This is helping me."

I didn't slip yesterday. I haven't slipped yet today. I'll worry about tomorrow tomorrow.

New Release Date

Dad did a bunch of exercises yesterday and today more aimed at day-to-day living. They had him doing stairs and walking with a grocery bag full of books, to name two.

He got a visit today from one of the hospital higher-ups, and his new release date is set for the 30th. This should give him plenty of workout time. I expect him to be able to go home send live significantly more independently than he did before.

Ill still be around to help him out, but I might be able to go job hunting or develop the two mobile apps I've been bouncing around in my head.

He just needs to keep off the booze, or all this work will be for nothing. He will quickly regress once he starts drinking again. His health and independence will quickly fade back to worse than before. I plan on going to A.A. with him, or just bring him to meetings if he doesn't feel comfortable with me there.

His substance abuse counselor wants him to go to an outpatient rehab program. Dad has expressed little interest in going due to the distance involved. It's on 34th street. Since dad lives on 72nd street, that's a distance of two miles. In any other city, that would be about a 5 minute trip. In Manhattan, it's about a half hour. I'm trying to convince him to go.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Subscription Service Change Reminder

As I said in a previous post, there is a new subscription service and the feedburner-based one will shut down later tonight. Don't forget to sign up for the new one to continue getting updates. The new site sends hourly updates, if and only if a new post was created. I think this is much better than the previous 12:02AM email.

Contact Form Added

As many people don't have Google+, (because it us a steaming pile of horse manure) I have added a form to allow readers to email me if they wish. This will let you discuss things without resorting to public comments, if needed.

New Subscription Service & Mobile Site Update

I have changed the subscription service being used. The previous one didn't give control over when the updates were sent, and I find 12:04AM EST to be a silly time. The new one sends an email every hour if there has been an update to the blog.

I have re-subscribed everyone who joined the old subscription service. You should get an email from busybee@blogtrottr.com. Click the link inside the email to confirm. I'll delete the old subscription list later on today so everyone doesn't get duplicate emails.

If you didn't get the email, check your spam folder, click the link and add busybee@blogtrottr.com to your whitelist or address book to avoid future issues. If the email isn't in your spam folder, I must have missed you. I apologize; you just need re-subscribe using the new form on the top right (bottom for mobile users. More on that to follow.)

You may have noticed I have also updated the layout of the blog's mobile version. The statistics bar should now show at the top, and the subscription gadget should be at the bottom.

Hopefully this will enable the many mobile OS users (more than 50% of the hits come from Android and it's and one strange should using a BlackBerry) to subscribe much easier than before. Using the full version of the site is troublesome on a small screen. Guess that's why they made a mobile version, huh?

Like Carl Lewis at the Long Jump

I have a four-peat!

Today was my fourth consecutive AA meeting and my fourth or fifth day of sobriety. It depends on how you count: do I start on Saturday, the first day beginning at 12:00am where I didn't have a drink, or Friday, when I didn't have a drink after I woke up (my last drink was at somewhere around 3AM. Understandably I am a little fuzzy on the exact time)? For ease of counting, I may just call it four AA meetings and four days of sobriety.

My days are not the hard part. I spend them with my dad or my wife. I help Robert at the Jewish Home, walk with him, keep him company in a strange environment and run whatever errands he may need. Joycelyn and I watch TV, cook dinner (that's more her than me. You would understand if you ate a meal made by both of us as to why), and enjoy married life in a city as wonderful as New York. I attend my AA meeting in the evening. I watched the NBA Finals and enjoyed the game quite a lot.

I, generally, wasn't a daytime drinker. That was one of my innumerable excuses as to why I couldn't be an alcoholic. It is very hard to explain to someone without an addiction problem the rationalization process that goes on in your mind to convince yourself everything is OK, but the following may give you some insight.

I didn't get my first drink until the evening, so I didn't have a problem.
I didn't get "really" drunk every single day, so I didn't have a problem.
I didn't get hangovers all the time, so I didn't have a problem.
I didn't get as drunk as "real" alcoholics, so I didn't have a problem.
I didn't get blackout drunk all the time, so I didn't have a problem.
I didn't get into legal trouble, so I didn't have a problem.

I didn't get it.

Habits are hard to break and habits involving drugs are very hard to break. In New York City, a drink is never more than $1 and a couple of feet away. I'm very proud of what I have done and indescribably thankful to all that have helped me, but doesn't mean there won't be some times that are hard. I am an adult, and if I decide to drink, I can.

I must make the choice not to have a drink every minute of every day. Some days are harder than others and some minutes are harder than others. The last few hours, after the game ended, has been very hard for me. I even watched the post-game bullshit just to keep busy. This is because the hardest time for me is after Joycelyn has gone to sleep when I'm still home and not ready to go to sleep. I'd usually be three-quarters loaded by the time the NBA Championship was won. It's because I'm just here, essentially by myself, and wandering minds are dangerous. No one can watch over my shoulder 24-hours-a-day.

This is why every AA meeting I attend adds to my collection of phone numbers associated with first names and last initials. I get handed business cards with the personal cell phone numbers 60 minutes after being met by essentially a stranger. Some business cards have the person's name and the business they work for. I've had a card or two where the person's name is part of the business name like Meyers from Jacoby & Meyers. (This is alcoholics Anonymous, so NO I didn't meet Jacoby or Meyers! I would never out someone like that, but it's an example most can understand.)

I get a phone number and a name. And then I am told to call anytime. If I need to talk, if I am thinking about a drink, if I'm just lonely. It's for the dark times. I've been told some AAs spend as much of the day in meetings as they can for they feel safest there. It sounds strange to need to feel safe in this fashion, but AAs generally fear alcohol and what it will do to them if they slip. I face my fear every day when I visit Dad, but sometime those consequences seem distant and some booze would make the problems seem that much further away. Things seem so much easier when I'm drunk, despite how much harder they really are. All your cares are washed away as you make that horrible decision that, in reality, adds to those problems.

This post may have seemed to start out upbeat, and get progressively worse as I continued to write, but that is the furthest thing from the truth. When I started writing this post I really wanted a drink. I know I could have woken Joycelyn to keep me company, but I didn't need to. There is a reason this post actually got happier as it continued, despite sounding darker and darker:

Instead of fixing everything with a bottle, I made the choice to write about it.
Every word you have just read represents me choosing to type and not drink.

I don't want a drink anymore and that makes me happy. I think I'm going to go to bed now.

I didn't slip today, and I'll worry about tomorrow tomorrow.

OK, Maybe Things are not Quite as bad as Denmark

I woke up late today with a call from dad. I was half-awake when I spoke with him, so I do not remember what we discussed. I jumped out of bed, walked the dog, and was off. When I arrived at the Jewish Home, Robert told me today he went on an Adventure! Using his walker, the occupational therapist and he went all the way outside of the facility (a significant walk), across the street, into a grocery store (for New Yorkers: bodega) and pretended to shop for milk and eggs. Now, using his cane, after his simulated shopping seminar (alliteration aggressively asserted? affirmative!), the OT and Robert walked across the street, into the Jewish Home and back to his room. This is a milestone event. I can not remember, before his fall, the last time dad was outside of his apartment, let alone shopping. I'm very glad this type of simulated real-life therapy is occurring. Due to the following, I expect much more to come!

I then met with the Administrator of the Jewish Home (not an assistant for once). I told him I needed a social worker to go over my Dad's release plans and explained why the person currently in charge, the Assistant Director of Social work, was not acceptable. He called the director of the Physical Therapy department but she was not in. He then personally walked me back to Robert's building and went to meet with her. Her office is on the third floor of my dad's building, so I went back to dad's room.
Sidebar: I am amazed and delighted at the level of access concerned family members are given, up to the highest level. I just walked to security, told them I had a concern and they put me on the phone with the head of the entire operation. I was invited up to his office within 30 seconds. They truly want issues resolved and have bent over backwards to regain my trust.

Shortly afterwords, our actual social worker came by and talked to us about the situation. I explained the issues we were having and she told us everything would be taken care of. Dad's substance abuse worker also dropped in for a chat. He, very reasonably, explained the meeting may have gone differently if I had not just quit drinking, resulting in a short temper. I agreed, but stuck to my guns about the form signing duplicity. He did not disagree on that front.

After he left, the head of the facility came by and introduced us to the Assistant Director of the Physical Therapy department, as the head was unavailable. I inwardly cried "Higher Power, protect me from Assistants!" Fortunately my cry was unneeded, as she sat with us and went over the goals originally set and worked out what was missing from our expectations. Taking notes the whole time, she agreed to add work on going to a store for groceries and sundry items, walking on uneven surfaces, practicing stair climbing, stair descending and kitchen safety.

She was a very pleasant woman, fulling informed about dad's care to date and was able to describe how we could reach our goals together.

Barring one interaction with the Assistant Director of Social Work, our time with the Jewish Home has been top-notch, and the Administrator and Assistant Administrator of the entire facility have promised to change the training to ensure this never happens again. I don't blame the social worker at the discharge meeting for the mess-up. This is a training issue. I believe there was no intent to deceive, just improper instruction to staff that is being address as I type.

While it is much better never to have a customer (even in health care, people are customers to some degree) satisfaction issue, the way you handle the problem can make someone never come back and curse your name to everyone they meet. On the other hand, if you handle an issue with true remorse, resolve the concern, and do so in such a way that is above and beyond what is expected, even those you have wronged (actually or imagined) will sing your praises from the mountaintops!

Inquiring Minds Want to Know!


1. Why are so many people still using Internet Exploder? 
2. What is CriOS and Silk? I could Google it, but I would like to be suprised!
3. BlackBerry? Deanna, did your iPhone die?
4. Linux represent... or something
5. Just "Mobile". It's like being a French automaker and calling your car "Le Car".

Sorry for being silly, I can't sleep tonight and needed a distraction until 4:00am or my mind stops racing and I can get to bed. I'll post a Robert and Peter update soon.

Monday, June 15, 2015

There is Something Rotten in the Borough of Bronx

Despite the positive news today, one event has put a definite damper on an otherwise beautiful set of progress reports.

Today Robert and I had a meeting with a social worker, physical therapist, occupational therapist and his substance abuse counselor. They are planning on discharging him this Thursday. Both Dad and I disagree with him being ready to go home, wanting more strength, balance and endurance training. I admit I got a little testy with the people in the room. Adding to my distress was the team assembled was full of temps. Dad's main physical therapist and main social worker were both off today, and the physical therapist substituting showed up late, without reading, or even HAVING Dad's file. I believe I got snarky, saying something along the lines of "Is the person who schedules these meeting on vacation too?"

It was then explained to me the decision to release is not in the hands of the hospital, but MediCare. MediCare has reports on my dad's progress physically and made the choice to not pay for anymore therapy in the Jewish Home after Thursday. I apologized once I understood this. I believe my exact words were "I'm sorry I directed my ire at you people in this room. I didn't understand where the decisions were being made."

We conversed for a while longer about dad's condition and issues. The meeting was winding down and the social worker asked for Robert to sign a form indicating he attended and understood the discussion. The form was in a large binder full of pages, conveniently opened to the proper one. This led to a HUGE explosion on my part, as this was the form they wanted us to sign is the following:


The social worker said the form was acknowledging attendance. What the form actually said was by signing, Robert was accepting the plan of care we had been arguing against the whole meeting. I took the social worker out to the wood shed, and was stunned with the lack of concern. She said of course we had the right to disagree with the course of care. I told her my issue wasn't my right to disagree, but her misrepresenting the contents of the form.

You have to trust the care facility one entrusts a loved one to. There are horror stories the world over about bad aides, rotten nurses, missing items, lackluster care and not meeting patient needs. I never expected a social worker to attempt to trick my father into signing his right to disagree away. When called on it, we were told that wasn't what occurred and this was a common practice. I got Dad and myself out of there before I blew my top.

I walked my dad back to his room. Joycelyn had just arrived and was waiting for us. I explained the situation and she shared my disgust. We planned on going to meet the head of the social work department, but stopped to fully explain what we were about to do to my dad. How did we know the laundry department hadn't gotten Dad to sign a form agreeing to a $100/day new sheet fee? Once our trust had been breached in this fashion, I was very concerned. Dad understood and fully supported us. After Robert promised not to sign so much as a post-it note during our absence, we went hunting.

The head of the social work department was off for the day, so we got the Assistant to the Director of Social Work. This meeting was fifteen minutes of running headfirst into a brick wall. At no point did she understand that our trust had been breached. She said she wasn't even familiar enough with the form to know what it said and claimed she had no access to the form in her office. This form is competed by every single patient being discharged, so unless they DIE at the facility, this form passed in front of every single resident. I asked her to sign a form I wrote out at the time. I told her it was for her to acknowledged we had a meeting. What I wrote on the page was "I agree with Peter Berbec. x                             " She refused to sign. I demanded a copy of every single page signed by myself or my father post haste, because of my lack of trust. Joycelyn and I then left.

Upon explaining to dad what had happened, I told him I was going on the warpath.

Shortly after that, the assistant head of social work arrived at my dad's floor. She went straight to an office on the same floor, where she was holed up for 10 minutes. She returned with the form in hand. She acknowledged the form and what was told to me had no relation. Scarier, she said this was the standard policy of the department. Form now in my hand, she left.

The main entrance's security guard had gotten me to Social Work, so I went there to track down every single department head: physical therapy, occupational therapy, admissions, finance, substance abuse, everyone. The guard said I seemed to have a problem with someone and told me he was getting the head of security to help assist with my needs. Mr. Penn arrived not five minutes later and listened to my issues. He then led me directly to the Jewish Home's Administrator's office. Just my luck, the Administrator wasn't there, leaving me with a deputy.

Things finally started to look up. She listened to me, said she understood, and would take steps to resolve the problem. I told her I wanted to have copies of all forms signed by Robert or myself. She called the head of the records department directly and said she would be waiting for me by the time I made it downstairs. I thanked her for her time and effort, but reiterated my, honestly, disgust involving the social work department. She promised to handle the staffing issue and get back to me.

I'm in a holding pattern now. Thoughts? Opinions? Advice?

Have Cane, Will Travel. Wire AA, San Francisco

Today's physical therapy had a new twist: new in that Robert was allowed to use a cane during the session. He has been pushing for this and complaining about only being trained with the walker. His walking is improving daily. One of his main concerns is walking in environments outside of the Jewish Home. The floors are perfectly flat, no ups or down and no carpets. He often walks with his feet very close to the ground; basically shuffling. This leads him to trip going up curbs or when he walks between overlapping carpets. The are going to take him outside and have him walk up steps and deal with carpets. This new training will aid him greatly in his home life.

There a breakthrough today, but not in the physical recovery arena. Possibly influenced by my joining AA, Robert has agreed to not drink when he gets out of the Jewish home and join AA. He is starting to realize how important not drinking is for his health and future. We are so proud of him and will be with him every step of the way, as I know all of our readers will be!

AA Meeting the Third

Today was my third AA meeting so far. Joycelyn joined this meeting, as support. It again was a wonderful experience. The AAs loved my wife coming to have my back. It was quite a good meeting and we went out for Chinese afterwards. It even got us a free ride 66% of the way home from a kind AA!

I didn't slip today, and I'll worry about tomorrow tomorrow.

Comments - Let's Get Some!

There, as of yet, been zero comments on any of the posts. It is much easier for all of us to discuss things if we can read each others comments.

If you have google, its easy.

Now as myself:

1. Typed in a comment.
2. Pulled down to Google.
3. Clicked publish
4. It brought me to a Google login page. I logged in

Livejournal, Wordpress, Typepad and Aim are just as simple as google.

OpenID is the last option and a little stranger.

Check http://openid.net/get-an-openid/ to see if you already have one, or google your email address. Dad's email is @prodigy.net so he would get the following result:

Let's google "where are prodigy's email accounts now run"

Scrolling down we see Yahoo now owns prodigy

Let's have "Robert" make a comment

1. I clicked to add a comment.
2. I used the pulldown to select OpenID.
3. I put the address of "YAHOO.COM" which is who controls Dad's email server.
4. I hit publish.
5. It brought me to a page to verify i was dad.

You can click the "Notify me" check box to be told when someone replies to a discussion you have been involved in.

Google, Livejournal, Typepad, OpenID, Wordpress and AIM are best.

OpenID includes: Yahoo, Hyves, Blogger, Flickr, Orange, Mixi, myspace Verisign and Aol

Next would be name/url. Use your real name, but any url will work. see the comments below! :)

Worst is anonymous. If you chose anonymous, identify yourself with full name at the in your post. It is safe to put your email address in an anonymous post as no one looks at this blog in the "outside of dad's friends world". And spam filters are really good now.

Mom you could comment by picking OpenID and putting in sbcglobal.net

I also get an instantaneous email about any comments, so if by some fluke spam bots start showing up suggesting the can "mighty my penis", I can delete the very easily.

Post Now Labeled and Searchable by Catagories

To aid in people knowing which posts are about what, I have added labels to describe the content.

Currently we have:


This should allow readers to concentrate on what they want to read about. You can select posts via the list on the top-right, above the subscription area.

Dad's Release to Go Home Meeting (wtf?!)

There is a powwow scheduled with Robert's entire team today, Monday, at 11:45am. I will update when I have news. Dad and I are in agreement: it is too early for him to go home. Hopefully Robert, I did his Substance Abuse Counselor can talk sense into the overly optimistic physical therapy crowd.

http://www.berbec.com

I have updated the Berbec main website.

The True Stairmaster and Guilt Worthy of the Best Yenta

Dad had a double physical therapy session today. (more likely physical and occupational, but meh) There was walking, standing, sitting and stairs!

This was incredible tiring and difficult for dad, but made it up and down a full flight. I reminded him how stairs are just like walking, but more stressful on the muscles and balance. I'm quite proud of the work he is putting in, not to end a sentence with a prepositional phrase, which I won't, Mom!

I informed dad I went to AA yesterday, how it went, what went on and that I thought it was helping me. I also told him I would be leaving from my visit early to make my Sunday meeting. I went over how important not drinking was to me and my loved ones. My reasons were: I didn't want to develop health issues, get memory loss or shorten my lifespan; reducing the time I get to spend on this Earth with those who care so much about me.

I can be a bastard sometimes, can't I?

Blog Name Change

I have changed the name of the blog to more reflect it's dual nature. I may create a second blog just for me later, but I'm not sweating the small stuff right now. Also, there is likely to be serious overlap between the two.

The new name comes from a story told in my first meeting. The AA said:

"A Native-American chieftain was conversing with his son. The child was asking about how to be a good man.

"The father said 'Everyone has two wolves inside of them, battling to control our actions: one good, one evil.'

"Worried, the son asked 'How do I make sure to stay on the right path.' 

"Showing his wisdom, the elder man said 'Feed the right wolf' "

AA LGBT Alphabet soup!

I went to another AA meeting today. There was just as much acceptance and support as the first one. I was a little worried about not being welcomed, I will admit, as this was a LGBT meeting. Breeders are encouraged to join, but there was some trepidation.

This proved to be totally unfounded. They were as caring, accepting and supportive as one could ask for.

I didn't slip today, and I'll worry about tomorrow tomorrow.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

My First AA Meeting

Yesterday I went to my first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. It was a small group, around ten or so, in the Art room of a community center. As Robert is, I am not much for religion and, this being something much featured in AA, I searched for a group that would better meet my father and my needs.

Enter Agnostic Alcoholics Anonymous of New York City. They are a collection of AA groups who put the emphasis on the twelve steps, downplaying the God part therein. They like to say the G.O.D. they have for a higher power, guiding light, spirit animal etc are the meetings themselves: Groups Of Drunks.

I found acceptance, trust, and a true willingness to help others. Like Planet Fitness spouts in their advertisements, this was truly a "Judgement Free Zone©". They listened to me tell some of my problems, my concern for my dad and my decision to join. It warms ones heart and provides a sense of self-belief when people who have been sober so long applaud my statement "Hi, my name is Peter. I am an alcoholic. I have been sober one day." I got the same applause as the person celebrating three years.

I would like to thank all who read this blog for the support and belief in Robert and I. Make no doubt: this is hard. But with the people around us: some I barely know, some people we love and some I haven't met yet, we have a chance!

I don't know if this is my magic bullet. I know myself and have no illusions: I might slip.

I didn't slip today, and I'll worry about tomorrow tomorrow.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Someone is Going to Hell

The still stole dad's newspaper. And the note I wrote.

Paper Thief

I printed and taped this to where the delivery man put my copy of the New York Times, the one day I was able to get it.


Bargaining. Which One of the 12-Steps is That?

Robert has as a perfect plan: a compromise between sobriety and drunkenness. This will allow his liver to heal and him to continue to drink. He has it all worked out to a 'T', and is holding fast to his perfect arrangement; he will buy a bottle of Gin Joycelyn and I will hold. We will measure out two Martinis worth of booze a day and he will stick to this arraignment, drinking nothing more. He promises: pinky swear!
Ignoring the fact he tried this six months ago, and ended up in the hospital after who knows how many falls.
Ignoring the delivering liquor store that has his credit card on file.
Ignoring what will happen when Joycelyn and I can't make it for a day.
Ignoring the dozen bars within walking distance of his apartment, no matter how feeble one is.
Ignoring the countless counselors, friends, family members and loved ones who *know* this will not work.
Hope springs eternal;
Unfortunately so does disappointment.
And in this instance, disappointment means no more dad. There is no way of knowing which drink will kill Robert. The only thing we know is there is a drink that will kill him. It may be his next Martini. He may have five, or fifty, or five hundred. The number is unclear, but the result is the same.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Hard Admissions About Alcohol

Today we had an incredible breakthrough: Robert admitted he could not be trusted to control his intake of alcohol. This is a huge step, one I have just made myself.

It is very hard to say "I can't trust myself" and this admission is personally hurtful, to me, and I cannot imagine how this feels to my dad.

His admission came with a "compromise", something every addiction counselor or patient knows all to well. "I know I can't handle this, but if we just do _________, all will be OK". This works about as well as the snake oil we all see on late night TV or the next "Weight loss without diet change or exercise" fad. He would let Joycelyn and I to have the bottle, and pour him his two regulated drinks a day.

Two problems:

1. This won't work. Ask any AA, NA, or real addiction counselor and they will tell you this has an equal chance of success as winning PowerBall. It doesn't happen.

2. He WILL cheat. Eventually, some day, at some time he will want a drink when it is not scheduled. And in NYC with a credit card, you don't even need to get off your couch for a bottle of gin, vodka, rum, tequila, wine, champagne or porte to be delivered.

The point one should take from this is:

Robert admits he had a problem.

This is so epic, I cannot describe my job. Ever day he is in the Jewish Home is a day closer to what he needs: a life without alcohol, a life that will soonishly include grandchildren and a life of Opera, plays, musicals and happy 5-Star meals with family -- the reasons he moved to NYC.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Physical Therapy & 12 Steps

Dad had his physical and occupational therapy today. He is complaining they are being too soft on him! I like the fact he is taking his physical recovery so well. I am planning on being there early AM tomorrow and converse with his recovery team. Maybe we can convince them to push dad a little harder.

On the other hand, Dad's substance abuse counseling is not going so well. According to his MD, has cardiac team and the physicians at New York Presbyterian, the musculature degeneration, his badly damaged liver and his dangerously weak heart is a direct result of how much he drinks.

As one can imagine, it is very hard to admit there is an aspect of your life you have no control over. Things would be OK  if dad could limit drastically what he drinks, but that just won't work.

When I moved down here, dad's GP, Dr. Hollenberg, told us Robert was in real danger of liver failure. All the test results showed a liver in distress. Dad cut back, a lot. He limited himself to two drinks a day for the next two months. We went for another battery of tests and the news was good! Robert's liver was healing. That ended the two drinks a day limit and the downward slide was swift. Hence New York Presbyterian.

Joycelyn, Robert and I had a tough conversation about this tonight and we think we made some traction. We can only hope Dad can see there is a problem and admit there is only one possible solution.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Working on his Tan

Today dad had physical therapy and it tired him out quite a bit.


Joycelyn and I visited in the afternoon. We took a walk to the nice outdoor part of the Jewish Home and sat in the sun for a while. Dad enjoyed soaking up some rays.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Long Walk

Dad and I went the entire length of the ward just now. His balance is getting better as is his endurance. Things are going well.

The Times!



I am putting on to my daily to do list "buy Robert a New York Times". I did so today and he is currently reading the sports section. 

This is the most mentally involved activity since his hospitalization. Previous to today, he would sit and watch CNN, talk to people who visited or answer phone calls, but no activities that engage his mind.

This is a very good sign. Visitors are encouraged to bring dad reading materials. Magazines and the like.

BlogBooker

I ran across a website, BlogBooker last night. It takes a blog and saves it, in its entirety, to a PDF or Word file. I have done so for this blog, and am planning on bringing a printout for dad to read tomorrow. I think knowing the whole story would be nice. He was very fuzzy the first few days he was in the hospital. Robert remain a little of, mentally. He finds it hard to remember things and words don't come as easily as the used to.

Calls!

Vicki and Deanna called to check in with dad today. He was very pleased to have new people to talk to. I get boring after a while. I strongly encourage people to call dad. Robert is much happier after talking on the phone. It reminds him there are people caring about him and gives extra incentive to work on his recovery.

If you can visit, that would also be a blessing. There are no set visiting hours here; it is an open facility twenty four hours a day, seven days s week. When Catherine and Kristi visited it noticeably brightened up his day. The goal is for him to get better and get out of here and  support and the knowledge he has loved ones waiting for him will push him.

I know he wants to get better: knowing others do as well can only help.

His Home, For Now


Be it ever so humble... 

Friday, June 5, 2015

Contact Info

My dad is staying at:

Jewish Home Lifecare
100 W Kingsbridge Rd
Room G405P
Bronx, NY 10468

The phone number will be his cellular. That number is 917-975-8151. I ordered a landlines type phone that connect to his cell phone via Bluetooth. He is uncomfortable using his cell phone, so this should help. This is the device.

There and Back Again

They are about to serve dinner. I decided to wake dad up and we walked to the nurses station and back. He did great. He didn't get tired or winded. I'm probably going to do this once or twice a day. I think it will help speed his recovery.

Blood Pressure

Dad's blood pressure has been getting better every day. At home he was on blood pressure meds and hung around 140/100.

I wish it would stop going down. 90/50 is low, isn't it? It's holding steady so I'm not too worried. The MD team is aware and will adjust things as needed. They are good people here.

Memory Issues

Robert is still having noticeable trouble with his memory. His cognition is worst when he first wakes up from a nap or in the morning. I initially thought it was a result of the fall and subsequent alcohol detoxification, but as Sunday makes 14 days since he had a drink, it has become increasingly clear to me this may he around to stay.

Today he was quite lucid when dealing with the substance abuse councilor, the occupational and the physical therapists. After those visits, he took a nap and was less clear when he woke up. He forgets where he is ofttimes and recent event involving his health are very hazy to him.

It is my hope that, as he proceeds with physical, occupational and substance abuse therapy, his faculties will return. I'm almost certain he will improve from his current state, but he may never be 100% again. I just worry he may not regain enough to be truly independent.

New Patient Orientation

It is just after noon and we have had visits from the psychological, occupational therapy and physical therapy department. While these visits were going on nutrition and social work come by and said they would return later.

They definitely have all the people we need to help dad and everyone has been very nice & obviously good at their jobs.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Room G405P

Dad, Joycelyn and I have made it up to his room. We unpacked and set everything up. We are now waiting for the initial doctor visits to get an idea about what the plan will be.

Joycelyn put it best when she said she was "underwhelmed". The Manhattan Jewish home is much nicer than this one in the Bronx. The facility we are in now is still better than Riverside, on par with Amsterdam, but noticeably less nice than the Manhattan campus. Also, Amsterdam, Riverside and the Manhattan Jewish Home didn't accept my dad for admittance.

I plan on arranging for Robert to be transfered to the Manhattan rehab center as soon as he completes the therapy only offered in the Bronx.

I don't have a phone number yet, but I will post it as soon as I have it.

Bronx, NY

Joycelyn and I have just arrived at the Jewish Home in the Bronx, dad's new home and Rehab facility for the coming weeks. Robert is still en route. We brought him a suitcase full of supplies, cloths, cd, books and sundries.

We await his arrival. Once he gets here and settles in, there will be meetings with his doctors, therapists and nutritional specialists.

The trip here is an enormous improvement for me. It took 14 minutes to get here in a cab. Google says the bus takes a half hour. That is such an amazing improvement compared to the New York Presbyterian trip!

Pictures and updates to follow.

All Packed Up...

...with somewhere to go!

I just finished getting dad's travel bag ready. Toiletries cloths books CDs (had to buy a cd player. Took me so hour to find one!) etc. The hospital is ready to discharge him and the Jewish Home is ready to receive.

They say he will leave New York Presbyterian at 1pm. I will be meeting him in the Bronx with his things.

It had been a long journey, but it is not over yet! Physical therapy is the new name of the game.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Discharging Thursday

The Jewish Home in the Bronx doesn't gave a bed available for my dad until tomorrow. He will be getting a private room with a direct phone number. I will post the number when I have it.

Tomorrow morning I will head to dad's apartment and pack him cloths, toiletries, his beard razor etc. for his stay. I will then head to the Bronx and meet him when he arrives.

Getting to the facility in the Bronx is going to be much easier for me. 10 minute subway ride and a 15 minute bus and I'm there! So much better than the hour cab ride.

Done with the Whirlwind Tour and We Have a Winner!

Well, it took a couple of hours, a subway ride, a bus trip and a cab, but I have visited all three places recommended for dad's rehab.

The Riverside is unacceptable. It is in disrepair, the carpets are dirty and the staff seems to think leaving used medical supplies lying on the floor is acceptable. I saw used gloves and tape by patients beds.

Amsterdam house is a significant step up. The facility is clean and well maintained. The staff is friendly and the patients seem happy. They have MDs during the day and RNs on staff with aides to assist twenty four hours a day. There is a gym on the first floor where one-to-one physical and occupational therapy occurs. This place would do quite fine for dad.

Despite all that, Jewish Home is heads and tails the winner. Every floor has an MD, two RNs and a half dozen aides on duty all day and night. They have specialists for a dozen or so ailments including specialists in nutrition, substance abuse, cardiac treatment etc.

The place is incredibly clean and well maintained. There are physical therapy rooms on each floor and PT is available seven days a week. All the equipment is brand new and spotless. It actually is cleaner than the hospital dad is currently in!

I will be meeting with the hospital social worker this afternoon to expedite dad's transfer. He may not be able to go to the exact location I visited, but they have another in the Bronx. That facility is better able to meet dad's needs involving his cardiac and other issues.

MRI results and Rehab Center Visits

Dad's MRI came back totally clean. They can't even find evidence of the septum defect he has had, supposedly, his whole life. Clean angiography and clean MRI means, besides his weakness, he is healthy enough for release. He is now ready for a rehab facility at which there will be physical therapy.

I'm off to personally check out the three facilities on the Upper West Side. Riverside told me I could come by anytime. The Jewish Home runs tours at 11am and 2pm. Amsterdam's admission officer asked me to be there between 11:30am and 12:30pm. Scheduling is odd, but I'll get it done.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

MRI Time!

Dad just went down for his MRI. We won't have results until tomorrow. It's possible they could start the discharge process tomorrow.

I told dad I loved him and am heading home. My plan tomorrow is to get up early and visit these rehab centers, visit with dad after that, and pick where we are heading next!

Phone Number

There is a phone in dad's room, with a direct number. I would suggest calling after noon as dad routinely sleeps for most of the morning. He may be transfered soon, so check back here before you call to make sure he still is in the same room.

If you can't make it to visit, you may reach dad at two one two fiive eiight fivve 7610.

News and a Plea for Advice

After the positive results from dad's angiography yesterday, we await the MRI. The doctors do not think they will find anything, but it will rule out a few of the low-possibility causes for dad's weak heart. They are 99% certain it was his lifestyle choices that caused the heart muscle to lose strength, but there are a few outside the box things that could, maybe be the culprit.

If the MRI comes back clean, the next step is finding a facility for dad to rehab, regaining his strength. By where dad lives, the Upper West Side of Manhattan, there are three places recommended: Jewish Home, Amsterdam and Riverside



Does anyone have any suggestions or experience with these places? Please email me at peter@berbec.com or put a comment in.
They are talking about dad transferring in days, not weeks, so suggestions would have to be quick!

Thanks all!

Monday, June 1, 2015

All clear

Dad just came back. He veins are clear! There is an MRI tomorrow and we will see what's up then.

Finally!

Dad just got taken for his catherization. I'll update again when he gets back.

Getting Annoyed

We are still waiting for the catherization. They can't give us any time frame and until the test is done, they are not allowing dad any sort of sustenance - solid or liquid.

Logically, I understand the scheduling issues they are dealing with. They have to prioritize cases based on need and fitting us isn't high on the list.

Emotionally, I just don't get denying my dad any food or beverage for this long. The last thing he had to eat was yesterday at 6:30pm and no beverages all day. For someone as weak as his is already, this is unconscionable.

If they haven't sent him for the test by dinner time, they get to try tomorrow. I'm not denying him another meal.

The Hunger Games

It turns out the NPO order put on dad means nothing goes in his mouth for consumption. No food, no liquid, nothing. He has been on it all day preparing for his catherization and won't be taken off until after.

Unfortunately, there is no time frame for the test, so we have no idea when he will have the test and be able to eat. I wish they could schedule thus better, but understand why they can't. It's just frustrated to wait with no end in sight.

Waiting for Testing

Another day, another waiting game. Today is dad's angioplasty and MRI. Since dad is a low-priority case, because he's not dying or has internal injuries, they aren't sure when the test will be. He could be bumped for someone having a heart attack, stroke or other immediately life-threatening issue.

I'll update as news comes in.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Visit from Kristi!

We had a wonderful visit from cousin Kristi today. She just happened to be in New York the week and came to see dad. Robert was very glad to see her. Joycelyn and I brought Elise's present from the wedding, forgotten those many weeks ago in a seafood restaurant and Kristi forgot to take it with her! She says she will be visiting again, so don't worry Elise: Mom will be bringing you your beads, we promise!

Looks like another slow day

As radiology and the catheter team plan their explorations on Monday, is looks like Sunday will be a day of waiting. I just want news about dad's condition. I wish they worked on non-emergency cases on the weekend.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Ready for Visitors!

I would like to let everyone know Dad has said it is Ok to come visit him. He still sleeps a lot, and it's always possible he will be taken away for some test randomly.

If you bring food or snacks, please follow his diet restrictions: very low sodium, no red meat, no dairy and no saturated fat. We don't have anywhere to put flowers, so abstain from that tradition please.

Besides my wife Joycelyn and myself, Catherine is our first visitor! Thanks go out to her for stopping by. She just happened to get in touch with me right after dad told me to let people know. It's like finding a sale they haven't sent the fliers out for. 

Belpharitis

We were just visited by Dr. Hollenberg's weekend substitute. She examined dad, poked, prodded, and asked him questions to test cognition. He passed all with flying colors. He even knew he was at the Cornell part of New York Presbyterian, nor the other part.

He has a new, very serious condition. Robert Ryan Berbec, at the tender age of 71, has Blepharitis. It's when you get gunk on your eyelashes. Everyone's had it at one point: that crud that sort of sticks your eyelids together when you blink.

Treatment? Johnson &  Johnson's baby shampoo and some cotton balls.

If only all of our troubles were so simple!

Lunch

They have dad on this no-salt, no-saturated fat diet. So no red meat, sodium or milk products. He ate all of his cream of mushroom soup, his lemon ice dessert, but the tuna sandwich was just to crappy. No mustard, no mayo, no salt.

His appetite seems to be returning, but he still won't eat horrible food!

Cardiology Visit

We just had a visit from dad's cardiac team. They poked and proded him, asked a few questions and told us the plan for the weekend.

The MRI is still a go. This gives them a better look at the heart compared the previous echocardiograms. This appearing, disappearing thing in his heart will be discovered or disproven.

There is also a cardiac catherization planned. The will insert a tube into one of dad's blood vessels in his groin area and snake it up to his heart. Coronary angioplasty, the specific type of catherization they will be doing, allows the team to check for blockages in the heart's blood vessels.

If there are blockages there are a few options, bypass surgery being among the most well known. A vein would be transplanted from another area of dad's body and would be used to skip over the blockage.

Balloon angioplasty is a less invasive procedure that produces similar results. They go in with a catheter, just like for the exploratory process, but the catheter is inflatable to allow the blockage to be pushed out of the way.

The hope, of course, is there are no blockages. We want the reason dad's heart is weak to be related to activities, it lack thereof, not buildup in his veins.

Whatever the reason and test results, I'm sure we are in capable hands.

RN update

Dad's nurse came by to give him his pills and heparin shot. I get an update.

He had an uneventful night, and no MRI was done. They usually don't do MRIs over the weekend, so it may be slow until Monday. She hasn't heard about the catherization, so I'll try and find a MD to ask about it.

Robert is still tired, so he is sleeping now that the nurse left. I'll try to get him some breakfast when he wakes up if it isn't lunch time by then!

The Waiting Games

I'm here with dad thus morning. They have delivered breakfast, but he still wants to sleep. We had to wake him for his morning EKG, and it was right back to sleep after that.

I'm waiting for a number of things now:

To see if the MRI was done overnight
If not, to find when it is scheduled
To talk to his nurse about how he did overnight. The day shift RNs get a report from overnight, so they know as much as anyone
For dad to wake up and eat breakfast
To find out about the cardiac catherization his MD was hinting at

Dr. Hollenberg told me last night the cardiologists were thinking of doing something involving his heart. I'm not sure what catherization is, and I plan on asking his RN when she shows. If snooze does know, please explain in the comments!

Time goes slowly when you are worried about a family members health. The only thing that really helps is good news, but any news is preferable to no news.

Friday, May 29, 2015

On the Road

The nurse came and helped dad to the bathroom. When he got back to bed, he looked at the TV (CNN of course!), and asked what country we were in. For some reason, he thought we were in Scandinavia watching a USA CNN feed. This normally would distress me, but this time he recognized his confusion for what it was and asked for help. This is a big step forward.

That's it for my visit today. Tomorrow I hope for the MRI results and maybe (hoping!) a transfer for him back to the regular part of the hospital, out of ICU.

Dinner and Waiting for Radiology

We had a few blood draws. Some IV vitamins. Lots of CNN.

We are still waiting for the MRI of dad's heart. We don't know when it is going to happen.

Dad is not a big fan of hospital food, so we talked to nutrition and asked if and what we could cook. We were told anything Joycelyn makes is Ok, just keep it low salt. Joycelyn is vegan, so there are no saturated fats to be found! Perfect for cardiac patents. She made lasagna and chili. I served the lasagna and dad ate half and a cookie. This is the most dad has eaten so far. I'm going to refrigerate the rest for later.

Update from head MD in charge

Dr. Hollenberg called my dad's room just now and gave me an update on his condition.

The contrast echocardiogram did NOT show the "something" the previous echo showed. The new echo also couldn't find evidence of the hole my dad has between two ventricles. They are sending him for a heart MRI to get a better look.

He confirmed has blood work is looking better which was the reason they took him off the heparin. They also removed his IVs because the goal is to get him on all his medications in pill form. His lungs are totally clear, so they have taken him off oxygen as well.

If all goes as planned, we should be back to the 11th floor gen-pop, and will get started on discharge plans soon. Then we find dad's inpatient physical therapy location.

Cardiac Diet

We just got a visit from Nutrition. Because of the concerns involving dad's heart, they are switching his diet.

The cardiac diet they are putting him on focuses on low sodium and low saturated fat. We already had dad on low sodium for his blood pressure, but previously I was unconcerned about his saturated fat intake.

The main sources of saturated fat are animal products: whole-milk dairy, cheese, butter, sour cream and red meat. This will take some getting used to as margarine, chicken, turkey and fish are the new normal for dad. Occasional beef, pork and lamb is possible, but I plan to be fairly strick.

You only get one heart!

Occupational Therapy & Cognition

The OT lady came by. She always asks dad the day and where he is. He knew right away today, which is good news. Since Robert has gotten here, he has had bad memory and focus abilities.

He would often wake up confused, not knowing where he is, the day, or why he was in the hospital. He told me he was in Baltimore once because that was where the statue in liberty was. He woke up once and took his IVs.

Father and the OT walked together, dad got up and, using a walker, walked to the bathroom and brushed his teeth. He hadn't done that in a while. Robert had been. His teeth in his bed. After teeth, he walked back and sat in the chair where he got his elbuterol treatment for his lungs.

I'm still waiting for news from his MDs. The RN took him off the heparin. It seems his clotting factors are normal again.

Woke up late

It's funny how waking up two and a half hours late, due to traffic, can get you to your destination less than two hours late.

Dad is sleeping calmly and had a quiet night. The aide watching him said he ate most of his breakfast! He has had no appetite his entire stay and this us great news. He has daily physical therapy, and his caloric intake was around 500 a day, previously. That's just not enough to have any energy for exercise or muscle growth. This is great news.

I await the RN and MDs to get my questions from last night answered.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Goals for Friday

I've got a few things to learn or get done at the hospital tomorrow:

1. Get dad his appetite back
2. Find the results of the contrast echo
3. Get dad to do some exercises in bed
4. Make sure the physical therapist comes
5. Find out if there is another heart scan. CT? MRI?
6. Bring dad a real knife and fork
7. Bring dad a cocktail mixer to get the Ensure cold, hoping he will drink more of it then

Heading home

Joycelyn came by and we got dad to eat some chicken. The "unofficial" (by the tech, not the doctor) sonogram results was no clots found in dad's legs. We stuck around for the ward's resident vampire's nightly feeding and are getting home. (also know as the phlebotomy drawing blood)

Sonogram

Just got a surprise: a tech showed up to do a sonogram on my dad's legs. They are checking for blood clots.

Physical Therapy

We had the PT person come by just now. She worked with dad: got him to stand and walk. It was only 40 feet, but it is difficult now. He also is quite worried about falling, understandable. She was very nice and said she will be back and get him moving!

Echo of an Echo

Dad just came back from his second echocardiogram. He is in good spirits and seems less confused. I await the doctors interpreting the results.

Subscription Service Added

If you look to the right, there should be a way to subscribe to this feed. It will give you daily email updates from the blog.

Cardiologists

I just met with dad's GP and his team (like six!) of cardiologists.

The first concern is dad's heart being relatively weak. It pumps significantly less than it did three years ago. Like all muscles, it atrophies when not used. Just like his leg and arm muscles, being sedentary has affected his hearts ability to do its job. Physical therapy and exercise for the rest of his body will help his heart just as well.

The second concern comes from the results of yesterday's ECHOcardiogram. I has the acronym right but he meaning wrong. This is the same tech for a sonogram of a baby in a pregnant mother. The echo showed a mass in dad's right ventricle. They are unsure what it is, but it is 99.999% NOT cancer.

As some of you may know, dad was born with a small hole between two parts of his heart. They call it a ventricular septal defect.  It is small enough that it never affected his life, and would have required major surgery to fix with a non-negligable risk of his heart stopping with all the negatives that comes with. One idea the doctors have is the piece of his heart that was supposed to cover that hole came loose and is flapping around. This would take major surgery to fix, and dad is not health enough for that.

That is why they are treating him for the other possibility brought up: the mass is a blood clot. A clot could have started small and gained size over time, reaching it's current size. The treatment for this is simple: IV heparin, an anti-coaggulant.

The cardiac team is planning a second echo with contrast. They inject dad with a sort of dye to allow a better view. As you can imagine, since even a resting heart beats sixty times a minute, figuring out what something the size of a small marble is in a blurry black and white picture is very hard.

The best case is a clot that is smaller on the second echo, being reduced in size by the heparin. Next would be a flap of heart tissue that is attached firmly to the rest of the heart, so they can just ignore it. A clot that doesn't respond to heparin would be worse and a heart piece just about to separate would be bad.

The added concern for a clot, if that is the issue, is it dislodging from his heart and going somewhere bad, like the brain, causing a stroke. If it does dislodge, the neurologists can go in and break it up into small pieces, minimizing damage.

This is all supposition. It is possible for the blur to be one or none of these.

The team overseeing his care is top notch. New York Presbyterian has been ranked as the #1 hospital in the state fourteen years running. I trust the people here to get the best information, make the best decisions to get the best outcome possible.

Dad is in the best hands he could be.

Swallow Test

Tuesday, dad had difficulty eating a soup with mushrooms in it. He started coughing and said it was caught in his throat. I told the nurses and they put him in line for a test to see how his swallowing was.

He only had issues that one time, but once you say something is wrong in a hospital, it MUST be checked out. He passed with flying colors and I feel sort of stupid for bothering because it never reoccur. Better safe than sorry, I guess.

ICU

Dad has been transfered, finally, to the cardiac ICU. I haven't seen his nurse or doctor yet today. He had an easy night according to the his aide and was sleeping when I arrived.

I'm still waiting to hear from his doctor about the results from his ECG. I will keep everyone updated.

Travel

Subway transfer to bus was one hour. I'm going to try strange subway only route tomorrow

Morning

The day begins. I've been taking cabs to get to the hospital the last few days, but the traffic on the east side Highway is horrible. It takes over an hour to get from my location (187th) to the hospital (70th) an 8 mile trip. Today I'm trying mass transit.

Due to quirks of the system, there is no way to get to the east side of Manhattan via subway without insane convolutions. Best route is a subway to the west side and a bus. We will see what's faster.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

End of day

I managed to get dad to eat some chicken and potatoes. Now to home for me. They say they will transfer him to cardiology overnight.

They took dad off the fancy sleep apnea machine around lunch time, but left him on oxygen. They didn't put the machine back after lunch and his oxygen levels have stayed high. It seems they got the fluid out of his lungs!

His remains in good spirits and has no pain.

EKG

Last night the doctors suspect dad had an incredibly mild heart attack. He showed no symptoms of a heart attack, but there was a blood test he took that showed results similar to those who just had a heart attack.
For that reason, dad just returned from the fourth floor cardiac ward where he got an ECG. His doctor is expecting the results within the hour.

Dad is also on 24-hour watch by someone. He wakes up confused some time and has tried to pull out his IV. It's for his safety for someone to remind him where he is if he is a little disoriented.

They do have CNN here, so he may not want to leave!

New York Presbyterian

Robert was admitted to the hospital Sunday, May 24th around 3am. He had fallen and the EMTs took him to NY Presbyterian hospital. His strength is so low he is unable to walk, even with a walker or cane, unassisted. His appetite has been very low, leaving him without energy, so he doesn't go out of his apartment much, so he doesn't get any exercise, so he doesn't get very hungry, repeat.

The long-term plan is to transfer him, after stabilization, to an in-patient physical rehab faculty to regain his strength. He would speed weeks, not months, there before being released.

Dad took a slight turn for the worse last night.

His O² stats hit the floor (low 70s) last night. The x-ray of his chest showed fluid build up in his lungs, so they have put him on diuretics to drain his lungs. They have put him on a bypath (spelling?) machine to push more air into his system, assisting his kidneys to work harder so the lungs drain faster. It's basically a really Damn expensive sleep-apnea machine.

An endocardiogram is also on the list to check for heart blood vessel blockages. They have him on IV heparin to clear any possible blocks. They believe he may have had a extremely mild heart attack overnight.

They are not concerned, currently, that any of these issues are even close to life-threatening. He will be transfered into the cardiac ICU for closer monitoring, that said.