VA Chronicles with The Old Man: Part II

Check out VA Chronicles with the Old Man part one for the beginning of the story.  I will start exactly where I left off.

We got the call that said The Old Man ( affectionate term for My Father) needed to come in and they may take him in through the emergency room.  So we get checked into the clinic area and are waiting for the Dr. to come and look at him.  We came with a bag packed to stay and we go into an exam room.

I look at The Old Man as he is limping and in pain, but trying to walk normal.  We walk into the exam room and he sits down. I start pacing because I now have realized that this is an actual appointment and not what we have prepared for.

Two doctors walk in the Room, one being a surgeon that The Old Man remembered from when he used to work in medicine.  He says, “This guy was a resident back when I was working many years ago”, now he is a top surgeon”. I looked at the gentleman and was like, “It sounds like he is the best, hopefully he will be on our team”.  The other doctor remembered The Old Man from the Emergency room visit.  She says, ” I saw you a few weeks ago, so lets check you out now”.  It turns out that they found that my father had a blockage in his leg, in the thigh area, so blood was not flowing to the rest of his leg.  She says, “Well, you didn’t get any worse, than the time I saw you last.” My blood started to boil and I was starting to feel my body temperature rise.  She then said “you are probably in quite a bit of pain, however because your blood isn’t flowing pain killers won’t work for you”.   At this moment I had to walk out of the room.  I am looking at My father in a great deal of pain, which I can tell he is masking and then hearing someone say nonchalantly that there is nothing that can be done to stop the pain temporarily.

As I returned to the room, the surgeon came in and explained that he wanted to do a bypass procedure in The Old Man’s leg to get the blood flowing again. I looked and said “Ok, when”, he then mentioned that they would have to schedule something, but someone would have to go to a computer to schedule it.  My temperature rose once again as I am looking at a computer in the room with us and trying to figure out why this isn’t urgent and why that computer wasn’t sufficient to use. I looked at My father and saw his face and realized that I won’t get too upset because he may get upset.

So I didn’t get too upset and decided to wait on this phone call from scheduling.  So they called and said that we needed to come in again to speak with some people.  For me this was the longest process ever, we went to another appointment and I am like is it time to fix this problem yet? This time there were nurses and all kinds of people present that said who they were and what they did.  This meeting was a prep to schedule the actual surgery.

So finally 26 days from the time that he was in Emergency and almost went into Emergency Surgery, we were finally scheduled for surgery.  That day was June 28, 2016.  I woke up early that morning and prepared to go pick my Dad up to go to surgery.  He had his bag packed and still walking with that painful limp, he was ready to go.  I let him out at the front of the hospital with the wheelchair people and I parked to enter the hospital.  They took him up to the surgery waiting room and I met him there.  There were some really nice nurses to do everything to get him ready.  He gave me some instructions, he said when I come out of surgery make sure to wash my face and prepare me for visitors.  As my anxiety rose, they were going to take him to the operating room.  I walked with him down the hall and they said Miss, you can’t  go past this point.  I looked at them and wrapped my arms around My Father and the entire hallway stopped moving as I began to Pray out loud for a successful surgery.

I was then escorted to a waiting room, they said that he would be going into ICU after he came out of surgery.  The good thing was another one of his old friend’s was the head of the ICU at this time so it was great.  I literally called in every favor that I could think of and happened to have eyes and ears on him for every moment of the surgery.

I waited and waited and a few hours later I saw a bed wheeling past me.  He was still unconcious, but I knew that he was alive.  I couldn’t hold it together.  Now I am not an overly religious person, but I started “shouting”, in the waiting room and praising God for making sure that my father made it out of that surgery alive.  A few minutes later I would go back to see him.

I walked into the ICU and followed the instructions to get him a washcloth for his face.  The residents came to check on him and said, “The surgery was a success, his blood is already flowing and he has a pulse in his foot. ” Me: “Thank you for the confirmation”.

(Just so that you know when a bypass like the one The Old Man had is done they cut the inside of the leg from ankle all the way up to the thigh.  That is something that I need you to remember.)

After a few days in ICU we moved to a regular room and started the recovery process. A resident came around on July 4th to say that maybe he could be discharged so that he could be home for the holiday.  I was very concerned as his wound was very extensive and I was not in agreement with that.  A couple of days later he was discharged to go home. I was uneasy about this too, but at this point I had to go with what they said.

Before discharge The Old Man was up walking with a walker and doing pretty good.  So we told the nurses goodbye and left the hospital on his trip home.

He was very happy to be home and walking even if it was with a walker.  That was to be a temporary thing, but as you know….the story continues…Part III coming up soon.

 

Misstakenid’s Caregiver Tips

I have heard the word “Caregiver” plenty of times and never did I think that the word would apply to me.  I used to think that people became caregivers later in life, however I am fortunate enough to be one at 33. Becoming a caregiver out of the blue at a time when you are not prepared can put you in a tough situation.  However, I figured out a few tips that can help out anyone that is faced with becoming a caregiver for their parent.  These things worked for me because even though My father doesn’t live too far away, he doesn’t live in the same town as me and running up and down the highway can burn you out.  We all know that burn out is real and not something that you want to experience as a caregiver.

Let me give you a little bit of a back story before I go on.   My Dad was the most independent person I knew and for the first time in 2016 we were placed in a situation that caused him to ask me for help. He was going into a major surgery and prior to everything when we were in preparation for surgery he says ” She is the boss”, before I knew it people were giving me all kinds of Power of Attorney forms and he was telling the people at the hospital “She can speak for me and handle my affairs”. After a few surgeries, (which will be discussed in “The VA Chronicles” posts) my independent Father, “The Old Man”(affectionate term for him) became an amputee and was in a wheelchair. I never saw this coming and it hit me pretty hard, but it has given me the opportunity to share some information with you.

Here is my list of caregiver tips (some may have a little extra info and explanation as they relate to me).

  1. Make sure to check your loved ones financial information, check the mail and make sure all bills are paid.  I think this is one of the most important things.  Upon becoming caregiver I found a couple of fraud companies/scammers were taking funds out of The Old Man’s account and he wouldn’t have known if I didn’t check and report them.  Also, if your loved one may be away from home (in a hospital/rest home), speak to the service providers such as cable or satellite to see if you can put the service on hold, so that they aren’t responsible for a bill while they are away.
  2. Make sure that the home is accessible for them for when they return home.  Check everything, if you need to have some work done to make sure that it is accessible do that.  We had to have a ramp put in, furniture moved around, and things such as shower chairs, accessible bars, and other things to help him around the house.
  3. Make sure that your loved one has resources in place so that they can eat everyday.  Food is very important.  Programs like Meals on Wheels can help make sure that your loved one can have at least one nutritious meal and snack daily to help supplement their eating.  I would say check to see if there is a meals on wheels program in your area or one that is similar. If not, get familiar with “meal prepping”.
  4. Arrange for transportation if you can.  I called the county where my Dad lives and found out about their service for people in wheelchairs.  He used to enjoy doing things on his own, so I knew that transportation would assist in getting him around in his town.
  5. Get outside help if you can.  I am an only child and so I know that I don’t have any brothers or sisters to help me, but there are programs and things that you can register for to help you with caring for your loved one. Thankfully, we were able to get an Aide to come in and help him with some things a few times a week.  We were also able to get in home therapy to come a couple of times a week too.
  6. Make Rules for your loved one to follow.This sounds funny I am sure because it’s like switching roles with your loved one, but I had to implement one major rule. My Dad decided that he wanted to go back to living alone, so the only rule that matters is this “HE MUST ANSWER HIS CELL PHONE ” and keep it near him. If I ever get to 4-5 calls back to back, I am going to assume the worst and call the police to come check on you and I am zooming down the highway at whatever speed to get to you.  This rule has helped us out greatly.  It helps him keep some independence.
  7. Make sure Doctor’s and Medical staff know who you are.  Get to know the people who are supposed to provide the care for your loved one.  Know them by name, just in case you ever need the information for something. Also, show up at appointments and show interest in care and treatment plans.  You would be surprised the number of people who don’t have anyone in their corner, you have to be an advocate for your parent too.
  8. Take care of You. Self Care is very important.  Take your vitamins, work out, eat healthy, go to therapy, do whatever you need to do to make you feel good.  When you are the caregiver for someone your health is important because you need to be there to help your loved one.
  9.  You will get frustrated at times.  Frustration is a part of the process. It is ok to be frustrated, just try not to let your loved one see it. You don’t want to ever bring them down if you can help it. If ever anyone came around me with a cold or sickness it would frustrate me to no end, thinking that if I catch a cold, I can’t be around my loved one until I got better.  Another thing that frustrated me was working with putting his wheelchair in my car.  This is something that can frustrate anyone, because my car is fairly small and the wheelchair can’t go into my trunk.  There were times when I wanted to cry, because I just couldn’t get it in the car by myself, but never wanted my Dad to see the tears so I would just take a moment and breathe and usually someone would appear to help me.
  10. Celebrate your victories. As you accomplish little things along the way celebrate them.  Pat yourself on the back, you are doing something that takes a different kind of strength.  It’s ok to celebrate by taking yourself to dinner or something when you accomplish something on your list, because no matter how small it may be, it is something to help out your loved one.

I will admit being a caregiver, especially from a short distance isn’t the easiest of things.  Even with all of the ups and downs I wouldn’t have it any other way.  With my checklist and some positive energy you can do it too.

If you have some tips to share, please do…comments are welcome.

The Old Man Tales:Falling…It’s OK if you can get up. “

When your parent reaches a certain age, like 69,  you start to wonder about their health and well being.  Well due some events in the past year my Dad, I affectionately refer to as “The Old Man”, had a life changing event take place. He became an amputee.

So, let me tell you…when someone becomes an amputee the number one thing that you are always thinking about is if they are going to fall and or when are they going to fall and how will you react.  While they are going through therapy the hospital and rehabilitation staff will try to simulate drills where they have a controlled fall to make sure that the amputee knows how to get up.

This is all well and good until you think of your parent falling and possibly hurting themselves.

My Dad started wearing his prosthetic leg at the end of last year and I saw him walk for the first time on Christmas Day, with a walker.  So each new improvement, from a stationary walker to a rolling walker is a mini victory. Until you hear these words….

“I was walking into the hospital for my appointment and I fell on the floor”

Immediately, I went into “Mommy mode” as if this wasn’t my parent. (Thinking about how hospital floors are hard and an injury may have occured) “Are you ok? Did you hurt yourself? Did anyone help you up?”  Literally I grabbed my shoes, and was headed to the door.

Then I stopped and listened to him.  He didn’t sound in pain, he didn’t change the tone of his voice and he was saying it like it was a matter of fact thing. So I calmed down, sat down and listened to the rest of his story.  He says, ” I got up by myself, noticed I wasn’t hurt and kept on going”.

So I sat back down in my chair with the phone and had to think of how parents are when they see their children fall.  If you make a big fuss, then the kid gets upset.  So I treated this like that situation, he probably knew that I was on edge though.

So I said, “You were able to get back up on your own, without help,  GOOD JOB!!” I also realized that if he could fall and get up all by himself that we are definitely making some major improvements.  He also said it with confidence, so I won’t be afraid if I hear this again, unless he is injured.

Moral of the story: If you fall down and you can  get back up then you are in good Shape.

I am thankful for the lessons I am learning while going through this process.

Zucchini Noodles…my new obsession!!

Why didn’t anyone tell me about how delicious zucchini noodles were sooner?

I was taking a class on nutrition provided by my healthcare provider and she recommended that I try zucchini noodles as they would help me increase my vegetable intake easily. So, I was determined to try it out.

Let me confess, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE PASTA. So I was thinking that this would be a hard sell.  I really love spaghetti and meatballs, made with angel hair pasta or thin spaghetti so that I don’t feel so bulky when I eat it.

I was very apprehensive about the idea of trading my beloved pasta, but I figured it can’t hurt and I knew that zucchini noodles have become more and more popular over the past couple of years. My usual self would go out and buy the tools needed to make the noodles and then probably never use them again.  So this time I decided to take the easy way out.

I found out that Harris Teeter had fresh cut zucchini noodles for a couple dollars, so I decided to try  them out.

This was my moment of truth.  I got out the olive oil, some garlic, crushed red peppers, Italian seasoning and a little salt and pepper.  Turned on the stove, put the olive oil in the pan and started my adventure.  I made sure that I seasoned them to my liking.  I sauteed them up in a pan for 5 minutes and they were done, with a light crisp.

Then I took some store bought spicy tomato and basil sauce heated it up in a pan, seasoned it to my liking and dropped in some turkey meatballs.  Tossed the zucchini noodles in the sauce and I had some “spaghetti and meatballs”.

Got a bowl ready, dropped the noodles, sauce and meatballs in topped with a three cheese blend and was ready to try my special veggie spaghetti.  It turns out that it was delicious. I don’t know why I hadn’t tried this sooner, but now I am hooked.

Have you tried zucchini noodles before?  Let me know what you think about them. Leave a comment. Let’s chat. 

 

 

That time I lived in a hotel and what I learned.

Last year, I had the rare opportunity to live in a hotel.  Not just an extended stay hotel, but a very cool Hyatt Regency in the North Dallas/Richardson Area of Texas.  So you are probably thinking, maybe she just stayed for a couple of days and didn’t actually live there.  I didn’t even think I would be there for more than a week, max 2 weeks, but that turned into 47 days.

Before you ask why I did this… I will give you a simple answer.  I agreed to help someone out and trade places with them for a work assignment. I thought the assignment would only last for a short time and then everyday turned into “Groundhog Day”, you know the movie where each day is the same until the very last day for the main character.  Well that is what life was like for me, but I did try to do something different each day to get something out of the experience and over all it wasn’t terrible and I could have been placed in a different hotel (for that I am thankful).

I arrived to the hotel after a 1 night stay at the Hyatt House.  The hotel was booked the day before due to a huge hail storm that had happened one week prior and was full of insurance adjusters.  One thing is for sure, I learned on day one that anything could be happening at this hotel on any given day.

The staff was very polite when I checked in and assisted me with my reservation.  I was placed in a king room on the top floor and they asked, ‘How long I will you be staying with us?”.  The most interesting part was my answer “I don’t know”.  I literally had no idea of how long I would be there, I just knew that I was there for work. So I said, ‘Let’s start with 2 weeks and go from there.”   They laughed as if it was a joke, I was serious, but laughed anyway.

My room was normal, a king bed, coffee pot, tv.  U know the usual.  However, when I looked out my window. I had a pretty good view.  (Night image featured below) The first night I was getting used to my new surroundings so I ventured down to the bar to have a drink.  This was a great idea as I was able to meet the bar manager and the bar staff. (Note: Always network with the staff in a new place, they can tell you things that others won’t)

The most awesome part about living in a hotel in my opinion is not having to take out your own trash or clean your room everyday, someone does that for you.  I loved every minute of it. (Don’t forget to tip)

I learned a lot from this experience and I would like to share my very important tips for hotel living.  These are keys:

  1. Make friends with the staff, after all they are the ones that can help you out when you need assistance. I quickly met the staff and arranged for a microwave and mini fridge to be placed in my room, the staff will look out for you if you are nice to them.
  2. Treat the bar as if it is your living room.  Dress  appropriately, but enjoy the perks of happy hour and whatever the hotel offers. It will feel like you are at a house party/social everyday and you can meet new people.  You will feel more comfortable when talking to people and when you get the question “So, how long are you here for?”, you can just respond with “I live here.” (there is your icebreaker and conversation starter)
  3. Figure out who on the bar staff makes the best drinks, and remember to order from them everyday.  (Don’t forget to tip)
  4. Ask the staff where the best food places are around town.
  5. Take a look at the crowd when you are in your “living room” every day and see if you see the same people everyday.  You can make some friends and form a “crew” of people that are living there too.
  6. Learn the menu of the restaurant. If you know it then you will know what you will or won’t want to eat, just in case you get stuck in due to a storm or being  too tired to leave for the evening.

Those are my keys to hotel living.

While we are talking about my stay at the hotel I have to talk about a couple of things that were specific to my trip. Remember earlier when I said at any given day anything could be going on at this hotel. That was really true.

One day I saw a sign near the bar and there was a fitness drink convention.  All of the people looked like body builders and were very much in shape and selling a special fitness drink.  These people were also in the gym heavy, but that wasn’t anything special.

The most interesting day in the bar would come a  week later.  I walked into the bar and saw some flowers on 2 stands near the door. As I looked at the flowers I was thinking I wonder what type of program is going on here today.  I then noticed a small sign and everyone was dressed in black.  I realized I had walked into a memorial service.  However, everyone was ordering shots and said that the Memorial service was for a guy that was known for “having a good time”. You would have thought that it was a party in there.  I had a regular drink and went to my room.

I could write about this experience and chronicle each day, however my favorite part of my stay was a Hawk that came to visit my window everyday.  I named him “Jack (pictured below).  He came to visit my window each day and even when I changed rooms, he came looking for me. It could just be a coincidence, but Jack made my stay more comfortable.  They say that Hawks are a spirit animal of protection.  So he was my protector.

My Dad even got a chance to come out to the hotel for a week.  He knew the keys and made friends with the staff quickly.  Once they found out he was my Dad they treated him like he had been there for 30+ days already.  He was getting perks I didn’t even know about.  Never underestimate ‘The Old Man” (affectionate term for my Dad).

Each day brought something new and allowed me to learn something about myself or others.  After everyday being “the same”, 46 days later the alarm music changed and I was getting ready to come home.  It was tough to know that I was coming home to my Dad being in the hospital Emergency….but that is another story…(VA Chronicles part 1)

I will say, that the staff at the Hyatt in North Dallas/Richardson, is one of the best.  They are very accommodating and  helpful.  They even took good care of my Dad when he came out to visit me. If you are ever in that area and just need a nice place to stay check them out.

Below you will find a couple of pics from the hotel.

Ruth’s Chris on a Budget

Hello friends,

When you think of Ruth’s Chris Restaurant you probably think that it is expensive and will cost about $100 for your meal.  This can be true if you stick to the regular a la cart menu.  Which is an amazing menu by the way.

Some people think that you need to wait until “restaurant week” comes around to even eat at a restaurant like this.   What if I told you that you can eat at Ruth’s Chris on a regular within a reasonable budget. How would you feel about that?

Let me start off with the idea that I like food and at times don’t really care what it costs, however I have figured out that some restaurants such as Ruth’s Chris offer a “happy hour menu” or a “prix fixe menu” daily, if you didn’t know then I am telling you that you don’t have to spend too much to eat there.

First of all sometimes it is best to check out the bar of the restaurant, sometimes the bar will have a special menu that is not utilized in the rest of the establishment. This is easier for me as I am usually eating solo. So if you have a big group, it is possible to get bar area seating, but just be mindful that there may be a wait, especially during the “happy hour time”.

The average meal on the “happy hour” menu is about $12 and the drinks listed are about $8. So for $20 plus tax and tip you can eat a meal that is a great quality and still filling.

Or you can take a look at the prix fixe menu, which the lowest amount is $39.99, plus tax and tip (not including a drink).  This may seem like too much for some, but think about it this way,  you are getting a salad, main course with side, and dessert. Which I think is a great deal.  There are many options for this menu, salmon and shrimp, stuffed chicken breast, and even a steak.  Keep in mind that this menu may change it’s offerings throughout the year, but the stuffed chicken is pretty much a staple on this menu.  All of those are great options for a meal at this establishment that prides itself in the quality of its food.

Well, I just decided to share a little bit, everyone always thinks people have to spend so much money at Ruth’s Chris and you can if you eat a la cart style, but I am letting you know that you don’t have to.

I would like to add that I frequent The Ruth’s Chris Restaurants in the Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina Area, and they have amazing service.

Yes, I gave them a mention…you have to acknowledge great service when you get it.  Especially when they don’t know that you are writing a review.

Drop me a comment to let me know if this post was helpful….(images from a couple of my meals are included below)