See update to the medical story here.
I left last Friday to go to a niece’s wedding in Arkansas with my father. She was married on July 4th in a beautiful outdoor ceremony near Little Rock AR. The photos on the site’s page do not come close to the majesty of the setting. They do justice to the facilities, but not the nature surrounding them.
My father mentioned on the drive up there that he’d been having dizzy spells which, at first, sounded like orthostatic hypotension. He’s 86 and I really thought that this was probably natural for his age.
However, the day after the wedding, he was more than tired. He was suffering fatigue. He had no energy and no appetite. I decided to stay another day or two. In all honesty, it wasn’t just that, it was also my innate dislike of leaving wherever I am. I’m pretty much at home anywhere and hate moving. Staying another day or two sounded great to me and I have the most understanding husband in the world.
Tuesday morning, my Dad was feeling dizzy sitting down and lying down. We eliminated the possibility of it being an inner ear infection because he’s suffered those numerous times and it certainly wasn’t that bad.
We got an appointment to see his PCP Tuesday afternoon. He confirmed my father’s suspicion that his blood pressure was low and they decided to discontinue two medications that might be contributing to his problem.
We go home thinking the problem is solved. Wednesday morning, 11 am — blood pressure is 106/51. Pulse is 37. (This machine had been previously “calibrated” with an RN’s manual BP reading.) Checking BP again, the reading is 81/45 with pulse still 37. My choices are… call an ambulance (and first responders) or attempt to transport my father 40+ miles to the nearest ER.
I take my hat off to Little River County’s first responders. Before I was through giving the ambulance service all the pertinent info, a trained first responder was in the house. His BP reading was a bit higher, but he noted the pulse was irregular. Within minutes of his arrival another first responder (who also worked as an EMT for the ambulance co.) arrived and confirmed the irregular heartbeat and slow pulse rate, although the BP was within normal ranges by that time.
Keep in mind while reading all of this that my father is 86 years old.
When asked where he wants to be transported, my father names the hospital where his wife is getting rehab after a hip replacement.
His transport takes 45 minutes. During this time he is sitting up in a gurney. This means that his legs are, at best, a 45 degree angle to his torso. He is then transferred to a standard ER “bed” which is not capable of raising the knees or ankles to a comfortable position for a young person not suffering from near-crippling arthritis.
Imagine that you are 86 years old and that doctors have told you that your back/hip/knee/wrist pain is inoperable and that the best they can do is narcotic pain relievers. Imagine that you’ve always thought that you didn’t need pain medication, that your mind could overcome it.
Now you are put in the most uncomfortable position a human can be in for 4+ hours. Imagine that all your blood relatives suffer from painful arthritis. Imagine a doctor questioning you as to whether you are REALLY in pain or not… the same doctor who thinks your BP of 110/60 is fine even though you are in writhing pain.
At least this doctor listened to (or gave into) the ER nurse with 29 years experience who insisted that my father was experiencing REAL pain. She administered 3 demerol shots during the 10 hours my father was in the ER.
My father was admitted for “observation” overnight. I will post later (if I feel like it) about how that turned out.