Caring for the sick and the elderly

I regret to say things are tough, and there’s not much we can do.

Halloween 2019, when Dad was stronger and healthier

Back in September, Oneal’s dad suffered a stroke. When they went to the hospital, they found that Dad was positive for COVID as well. Luckily, Dad recovered pretty quickly. Still, we had to make adjustments. Dad needed a low sodium diet, so we ordered medical meals from Daily’s Diet. Though Dad was able to move his left side again, and walk on his own, his movements were still slow, his limbs heavy, and his legs swollen from liver and kidney damage.

Unfortunately, early in November, he suffered another stroke–his third. His first and second strokes had been ischemic strokes, but this one was a hemorrhagic stroke–bleeding in the brain.

It was a Thursday night, and we were just having dinner at home. I was in the upstairs bathroom with Lucas, and I could hear Dad coughing at the dining table. It seemed like some food had caught in his throat, and he was coughing a lot. When we got back downstairs, Dad was having trouble controlling his left side. Oneal checked his blood pressure, and it was very high. Gradually, Dad started losing control of his left side, sliding in his chair, his speech slurring. Dad didn’t even want to go to the hospital anymore.

September 2021

Oneal packed some clothes for himself and Dad, and with much difficulty, we brought him from the dining room to the car. It wasn’t easy. Oneal carried the bulk of Dad’s weight, and I had to move his feet one by one down each step of the stairs. At the bottom of the stairs, we got a swivel chair, and used that to wheel him to the garage. Then Oneal had to lift him into the car. They drove away, and Lucas and I were left at home.

Luckily, we still had funds from the donations sent by friends and family, and that helped us make a deposit at the hospital before admission. There were many tests, including an MRI, where they saw the blood clot in Dad’s brain. Because Dad was having trouble chewing and swallowing, the nurses had to insert a nasogastric tube (NGT) for feeding. Because of the various medications they had to give him, they had to insert an IV line. And because he couldn’t get up to go to the bathroom, they had to put a diaper and a catheter on him.

None of these inconveniences sat well with Dad. Multiple times he pulled out his NGT and his IV line, and disconnected the tube from his catheter. He was so uncomfortable that he kept asking for water, or for his back to be scratched. He asked for food. He kept asking to go home. Sometimes he mistook Oneal for Ron.

There were various medications that Dad needed, and some of them had to be purchased at a drug store outside the hospital just to cut costs, because the prices were much higher at the hospital pharmacy. Other supplies were better off bought outside too, like diapers and bed pads.

Dad’s birthday, August 2021

Oneal was with him over the weekend, and on Monday Ron went to the hospital to take over. By Wednesday, Dad was discharged. Unfortunately, his left side was still paralyzed, and he still had trouble eating and drinking, so we needed to find a caregiver. My mother was able to refer me to a training center, and I found a caregiver, quickly making arrangements for her RT-PCR test and transportation to our house.

By now it’s been over two weeks since Dad got home, and Zai, the caregiver, came to take care of him. She mostly feeds him oatmeal, because it’s the easiest thing for him to swallow. She’s able to give him his medicine, change his diapers, even change his clothes and his sheets, all by herself. Dad sleeps a lot, but sometimes he chats her up. Often he asks when he can get up and go to the bathroom. Sometimes he says he wants to go home. One time, I heard him calling out, “Bert! Robert!” Another time it was “Mama! Mommy!”

Once, I was in his room, and he told me to call for a priest, to call this person or that, to make arrangements, and so on. “Dad, don’t say that. Lalakas ka pa naman, para maghabulan kayo ni Lucas.”

I haven’t been able to go back into his room since then. It pains me.

We are so grateful that Zai is here, and she is strong and cheerful, and very capable. We couldn’t possibly do what she does, not without great amounts of emotional distress and physical exhaustion.

We set up a small Christmas tree and lights outside Dad’s bedroom, so that he can feel some Christmas cheer despite being bedridden and paralyzed. Lucas visits him, talks to him, wishes he would get well. Sometimes Lucas comes to me and says, I’m sad about Papa. I can only tell my son, hug Papa, tell him what you did in school. Pray.

I really don’t know what else we can do.

2 comments

  1. I totally understand the hardships and difficulties of the ordeal of taking care of someone who had a stroke. My dad had a stroke in 2018 and has been unconscious and bedridden ever since. Since most of our resources will be allocated to paying off the atrocious sky-high hospital debts, we don’t have the resources to get a caregiver for my dad, I and my sibs have to make a herculean effort to take care of our dad. Not to mention that the world is in a pandemic, our resources are depleting fast and we are finding ways to sell off some stuff to help out paying off the debts.

    We are lucky that we have the resources, I felt sad for the others who are less fortunate than us who are also going through such hardships. I am praying that a better healthcare system for everyone in the future.

    Like

  2. Reblogged this on Adventures of a Stormtrooper Dad and commented:
    My wife writes so much more eloquently about the difficult situation we are currently in.

    Like

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