May 21, 2020
It has been 49 days since I last posted about the dilemmas we caregivers have faced since the stay-at-home orders were put into place. Since then, several things have escalated. I am coping and staying strong throughout it all because I care for my parents.
After moving into the apartment after the house fire, I had been taking my parents out to eat so they could have one healthy vegetable/protein meal a day. Dad loves fast food and always indulged in donuts, cinnamon rolls, or individual pies from Walmart after golf. On non-golf days, my parents would watch a movie and eat popcorn for lunch. The doctor told him a high-protein meal would help his ulcer pressure sore heal faster. Then–the notice to shelter in place. STAY HOME, AND STAY SAFE. Dad was saddened, and I followed the doctor’s orders. Mom and Dad are already high risk because of their age, but their underlying health issues make them even more vulnerable. Dad became more anxious as a result and was having panic/anxiety attacks everyday. He needed to get out of the apartment.
My parents are on palliative care, and, before the pandemic, the nurse had come every two weeks to check on them. Now, their visits are phone or video calls. Dad goes to the wound center once a week for treatment of the ulcer, but at this stage (4) it looks like it will take more. He is happy to get out of the apartment, he also has had angioplasty and visits to the pulmonary specialist during this time. His lungs are clear–his angioplasty to open the arteries in his legs to heal the ulcer was a success. He also has a wound-care nurse visiting twice a week, and the nurse’s aide gives him a shower two days a week. Someone is here every day of the week in the morning, and Dad enjoys interacting with them. Mom’s caregiver comes in the afternoon which allows me to set aside more time for Dad. We wanted to take them both out for walks, but I didn’t have any masks. (Dad eventually got one from one of the doctors he visited, so we kept it for him.) Taking them for walks means having to use their transport chairs–Dad has to limit his walking due to the ulcer on his heal, and Mom has issues walking long distances due to her neuropathy.
Dad’s anxiety would worsen after lunch. Going for walks and watching TV were not enough of a distraction for him. During this time, I’ve been making frequent calls to the stress-anxiety hotline and talking to his palliative nurse about his anxiety. He was recently prescribed a new medication to help him sleep better and, hopefully, keep him calm during the day. It is finally working after a week, but it seems to wear off at noon. His anxiety increases in the afternoon, and it’s triggered by changes in the schedule (the schedule he goes by). He is easily frustrated both by house/money worries and when he doesn’t get his way. We changed his medication time to noon and after 5 p.m. I expect more quiet days as things go back to normal. My brother is staying with us, and he will help guide the caregivers if needed. I can finally fly home for one day to see my best friend–my husband.