Monday, February 21, 2011

Confusion Galore and a Mind of his Own

As I said, February was the worst of all the confusion. Danny had a wobbly gait, talked clearly but in riddles. 
He was entertaining some of the time too. He smiled and cracked jokes a lot at home. Many things made no sense at all and his confusion was very apparent. He wanted to try cooking and one night I had speghetti and sauce cooking on the stove, and he went out into the kitchen, took a sauce pan out, poured half a bottle each of 7-up and cooking oil into the pan, mixed it together and then made me try it over my speghetti. He said "You KNOW the kind of good cook I am."  And he WAS a great cook. He used to cook dinner for me every night and have it ready when I got in from work. Anyway, I tried his concoction with a bit of sauce added along with it, and you know? It was actually good lol. Another night he came downstairs with his charger for his electric toothbrush in his hand, and when he saw my soup needed stirring, in he stuck the charger and started stirring!!
He also liked to concoct all sorts of weird things to drink. The worst one was in a big tumbler into which he put milk, soda, jello mix, pudding mix, hot sauce, olive juice, A-1 sauce, vinegar and I dont know what else. He stirred it up and actually drank a small amount of it before admitting his "nutritional drink" wasn't very good to the taste buds.
He was sooo thin...down to 146lb. at discharge. I was still cutting his foods into itty-bitty pieces and encouraging him to take a drink between bites, but he would get angry and demand regular bites and foods, so although I instinctively felt he would be ok with chewing and swallowing, I sat right with him every time he ate so that I could be sure. His appetite was poor though and I worried. I bought him carnation breakfast and high calorie drinks, but he was stubborn and wouldnt drink them. Eventually toward the end of the month his appetite improved, but he still wasn't gaining much weight at all.

I was still assisting Danny with getting dressed. He was able to put on sweatpants, but I needed to help due to the fact that he needed an adult brief for his occasional incontinence. And he needed help with shirts because his broken left shoulder blade remained stiff and painful. I continued putting his socks and shoes on for quite some time. He would try to do things himself but because of either pain and discomfort or impatience and frustration, he would quit and ask for my help. One evening he must have felt like trying on clothes though, and came downstairs with a pair of Nick's size 8 stretchy sport pants pulled halfway up his legs and he was insisting the pants belonged to him. It started out funny, but he ended up getting angry because the pants just would not stretch large enough to go up, and he began yelling at me to pull them up!

He came home ordered to continue wearing his neck brace, but let me tell you, as soon as we got in the door from rehab he was DONE with it. I spent three days putting it back on over and over and over and over. It was so tiring. I threatened to duct tape it and he got VERY angry, so I didn't push the issue. I made deals with him to leave it on for periods of time, and always wear it to bed and in the car...and he was compliant with that deal.

I was happy I was prepared for the incontinence issue, armed with plastic pads and liners for the bed at night. In the rehab they really and truly didnt have the staff and time to bowel and bladder train adequately, but I was determined to have his dignity returned as soon as possible after coming home. I asked him every 2 hrs if he needed to go, and I took him and he went usually. He still had accidents but they grew few, and by the 5th night home he was dry overnight. Late in February I dared to try letting him wear his normal boxer briefs when we went out to appointments. As the month wore on I had started weaning all his pain meds, and realized he obviously didnt need a stool softener anymore, so away that went too. I kept a urinal by the bed for times he had to go badly and it was too difficult for him to gather his senses and navigate to the bathroom.

By mid Feb. I began noticing a pattern...every 3rd day he was ZONKED and would be so very sleepy. It seemed his brain was shutting down at regular intervals for intense healing. On the wakeful days though, he could be a flurry of activity...talking, getting into things, being funny, being mean at times. I saw that after a day out he would become full of anxiety, and also when we had company. He would usually retreat to the bedroom shortly after company would arrive to see him. After some quiet time he would be ok again.
There were also intervals of crying and sadness. I felt so bad for him during all these "mood swings." He kept telling everyone he couldnt remember the last 10yrs of his life, but in actuality, when given clues, he could recall most things and that I saw as good. 

Towards the end of the month he began getting more agitated. He demanded I go get him beer often. Of course I didnt do that, but the stress of him going on and on about it was overwhelming. He also started refusing his medication. Unless I told him there were "good pain pills" therein, he wouldnt take them. 
He refused to get into the shower and gentle coaxing, bribing, threatening didnt work. We convinced him every now and again to finally do it. I know that the feel of the water hitting his skin caused heightened discomfort...still does...and thats some of the problem. Simple lack of motivation was the other problem. Still, day after day, I worked at getting done what I had to...meds, food, showers, dr visits. No matter what it was, it was a struggle. I was beginning to realize just how difficult this was going to be.

End of February I broke the news to Danny that his dad had passed in 2006. I felt it was time. He cried, but in essence I feel he already knew and was afraid to ask me. I quietly let him go through all the funeral things. We talked, and he was fine after while. Much to my dismay, this was a procedure we had to go through several times before he "remembered" his dad was no longer with us....