Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Hello, 2014!

Boy, am I happy to see you!  I don’t want to offend 2013 but between us, I am happy to see 2013 go. 

I mean, 2013 had its good moments but it also had its challenges.  Lots of challenges.  Wow, lots and lots of challenges. Let’s just say the countdown to 2014 was more about saying goodbye good-riddance to 2013 (not that I actually made it to the countdown but I made it to countdowns in Eastern Time, Central time – even Arizona time. Pacific Time: sorry, I failed you.)

2014, I have high hopes for you!  Not that there’s a lot of pressure to live up to my expectations.  Heck, I’m really only asking for a few more laughs, a little less stress and lot fewer hospital visits.

Sheesh – how hard can that be?  Robert was hospitalized twice – wait, no that’s three times – for pneumonia. Almost forgot his pre-Christmas hospital visit for pneumonia.  This was the visit in which the ER doctors didn’t really think he had pneumonia so recommended a lumbar puncture to check for meningitis. I almost lost my confidence as Robert’s advocate but had a supportive nurse who reminded me I knew Robert better than anyone and since this was his fourth bout in about a year and half and I know how these things progress, I refused the lumbar puncture. It was a relief to have the head of Robert’s team of doctors validate me the next day by calling me a “healthcare hero” and acknowledging that pneumonia is a clinical diagnosis, not an x-ray diagnosis.

Well, 2014, I guess 2013 wasn’t all bad – I can thank it for rebuilding my confidence and reinforcing my advocacy skills.

Ahh, but, 2014, you should know that I do not like surprises. Apparently, 2013 didn’t get that memo and threw me for a loop when one afternoon I got a garbled call from my husband telling me he was in the hospital.  After a flurry of worry and activity, I found out he was not only in the hospital but in the ICU and had been there all day – without a call to me from anyone except the patient! Fortunately, the accidental overdose of Fentanyl given to Richard (medication which was meant for his intrathecal pump), didn’t kill him. A few days in the ICU with an antidote and he was back to himself, albeit more wary of this device which has considerably decreased his pain level over the years. 

2013 may have given me a surprise or challenge or two (or several), but gratitude seemed to be the word of the year. How could it not be?  My husband survived an overdose that came very close to killing him. Robert survived three bouts of pneumonia – all of which sent him into sepsis and one in which his blood pressure plummeted to 85/36 and his heart rate sky-rocketed to 125 and his body went sailing into septic shock.

Robert has survived sepsis before but the seriousness of the septic shock was not lost on me. The nurses scrambled furiously to get a central line in and the ICU nurses told me several times he was “very sick” which is code for "he was close to biting it."  No kidding.

I am not only grateful my husband survived his overdose and Robert survived his infections but that Robert moved in with us. Richard and I weren’t completely ready for Robert to move in (heck, he still doesn’t have his own bedroom or shower) but I couldn’t ignore my gut telling me to get him moved in with us. Two weeks after moving in is when Robert was hospitalized with pneumonia and septic shock. I can’t help but think if he hadn’t been with us, his facility would not have reacted quickly enough for him to survive.

2014, I’m not trying to be overly dramatic but given the history with New Home and their level of service – it’s not a huge stretch to be grateful Robert was with us and not them.

Oh my gosh, 2014! Don’t forget about the vacation. A cruise to the Bahamas with family and friends, giving me the opportunity to meet many members of my extended caregiving family! 

See, 2014?  2013 wasn’t all bad after all! It was a challenge but it gave me many reasons to be grateful, many opportunities to hone my advocacy skills and even a relaxing and laughter-filled vacation with family and caregiving friends. 

I will happily say goodbye to 2013 but what I appreciate about you right off the bat, 2014, is the hope you provide. There is hope for a year with opportunity and possibilities and dreams to come true!

I don’t expect you to do all the work, though.  I won’t sit back and just wait for the good times to walk through my door.  I am willing to do the work to make great things happen. I have the courage to hold on to my confidence and use it to advocate for both Robert and Richard.  I have the drive to find ways to ask for help and hire help in order to reduce my stress level so my own health doesn’t suffer.  I have the dream to write more and find a home where Robert will have a room and shower of his own. I have the love for my husband to help ease the pain he still has and to encourage him to follow the dreams of his own.  

What I ask from you, 2014, is to continue to offer hope for the fulfillment of these goals, for encouragement to keep going when I fall short of succeeding and for giving me a fresh new day full of possibilities each and every morning!

Welcome, 2014!

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