It’s been a long week. Last Saturday, Ray’s sister was visiting when he had a bout of “seizure like activity.” On Monday, just as I was getting ready to leave the rehab hospital to go pick up the kids, I noticed that Ray’s breathing was labored. One thing led to another, and it turned into another “seizure-like” episode. Next thing you know, we’re back at St. Vincent’s hospital for testing.
An echocardiogram, CT scan, EEG, and MRI later, we were all set to leave St. V’s Friday afternoon.
However, we could not return to the same acute rehab hospital we had come to know and love. The average stay there is 14 days. Ray had been there for 49, and the insurance wasn’t ready to pay for more. Tuesday had been set as his discharge day.
I had prayerfully considered bringing Ray home, but the doctors and family and friends strongly discouraged it. He is very impulsive, extremely shaky on his feet, and recognizes neither. He should use a walker or wheelchair, and needs a spotter, even with the walker. But he doesn’t remember that and, without a second thought, will hop out of bed, a chair, or even a wheelchair and eagerly want to help me, grab an imagined item, or go to the bathroom. How could a mother with five young children, including a baby, handle that? The answer is… she probably can’t. Plus, at a subacute rehab, he would receive two hours a day of therapy, whereas if he were at home he would only get three hours a couple days a week.
I toured three subacute facilities, and said I would cut off my right arm before putting him in two of them. However, there was a third that I was very comfortable with. Unfortunately, there was a mix-up and miscommunication, and that facility denied him admission. We were expecting to get that figured out early next week, so we decided to put him in one of the other cut-off-my-arm-subacutes in the meantime.
I figured he’d survive a few days in a poorly decorated geriatric facility, and then we’d get him to the better option.
We left the hospital around 4:30, and finally got to the new facility at five. After waiting 20 minutes for someone to bring a wheelchair, we were finally shown to his room. Walking through the halls, I was reminded of why I wanted to cut off an arm before sending him there, and when we walked into the vintage eighties room, boasting two beds with nasty, mismatched comforters and not much else, I wanted to cry. It was only for a few days, though, so I thought we could handle it.
But then I noticed that the bed had no rails. And the tech informed me that none of their beds had rails – that’s considered a restraint, and they can’t have restraints. So I asked about a bed alarm. And he said that, no, they didn’t have those, either. That was considered a restraint too.
And I said, “He can’t stay here.”
Which left only one option. Bring him home.
Thus, last night, with no planning and zero preparation, I finally brought Ray home, after
over two months of hospitalization. My full time job has now switched from hospital visitor, rehab supporter, and medical advocate. I am now 24/7 caregiver, not just to five kids, but to one adult man as well. Fortunately, I had been trained in walking with him, helping him to the bathroom, and transitioning from wheelchair to car. Unfortunately, we left the hospital with no training on his medications, no medical equipment, and a house that needs rearranged to fit our new needs.
It’s gonna be an interesting few days, but it’s good to have him home.