Hospital Stay, Day 2

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It is late. 1:42 a.m. to be exact. I should be sound asleep. I can’t until I share our update. Please forgive the lack of editing and please keep in mind the time and the fact I am tired. Just get the gist of the story:

The day started off with one thing after another. Brad’s fish tank filter stopped pumping. Frances missed the bus. I needed to shovel off the massive amount of dirt that had been washed across our sidewalk with the recent heavy rains. I was desperate to get to the hospital to see how Jim was. I had called the nurse and she had said he was the same, but I wanted to see for myself.

I eventually got there and saw that Jim was now receiving oxygen. I couldn’t stop myself, I just started crying. I hugged him and with a slightly confused look in his half closed eyes, Jim wrapped his arms around me and told me he loved me. I was just so sad. I realized then it was going to be a long day. The waiting began. The physical therapist came in. After explaining to her that the Jim laying in that bed was not MY Jim, this was NOT his normal baseline, she concurred he needed to get some rehab before coming home with me. (The day before she had recommended he come home with his wife and some home help) That was a relief as I knew I would not be able to take care of him in this state. He was sleeping 97% of the time and not eating and hardly able to speak. Plus he was really confused. Then the speech therapist came in to see how he was swallowing. It seems he was unable to swallow quickly enough and liquid or food could go down the wrong pipe into his lungs. She recommended a new diet, to include thicker liquids. But Jim was still not eating. Two bites for breakfast and 5 for lunch. All he wanted to do was sleep.

Finally, mid-afternoon the doctor graced us with his presence. Ok, that wasn’t nice. His visit was much better than the first one. It seems he had spoken to Jim’s regular neurologist and realized this was not typical behavior for him. He concurred that Jim would need rehab and recommended he go straight from the hospital to such a facility. I was given a list of places to choose from and the hospital would call to see if any had openings. He also let me know that he was very concerned about his ability to chew and swallow properly and that if we didn’t keep on top of this, it could potentially be deadly (food and bacteria in lungs is obviously not a good thing).

So I felt better, but I was still just so sad every time I would look at Jim. When I would get him awake, I would ask him who he was, who I was, where he was, etc. For the most part, he always knew he was in a hospital. He knew his name. He sometimes knew I was his wife and sometimes knew my name, not always at the same time. He had started off his stay in the hospital telling me we had four children but now he knew we had two. But he was having much difficulty recalling their names. Yet, when they brought lunch and the roll was on a doily, he lifted it with his fingers and said, “huh, doily.” ┬áBy the time I was leaving to go to Frances’ field hockey game, he was telling me I was his sister, not knowing he was in the hospital and finally awake enough to watch some tv.

I want to remind you that Tuesday, I left him for 3 hours and his Alzheimer’s Disease accelerated by five years.

I returned from her game and Brad’s baseball practice with my Mom in tow. She hadn’t seen him yet. When we turned the corner to pass the nurses station, THERE WAS JIM!! He was sitting in a chair. He was happy. He was alert. He was awake. He was joking around. He was able to walk back to his room. He was smiling. It was AMAZING. I was stunned. I had been thinking that he might not ever be able to come home again. I had been hearing from so many people that once the infection (they think in his lungs) cleared up, he would get back to or close to his “normal”. But sitting there all day long watching him sleep with his mouth open, it was nearly impossible to imagine that could be the case. Now, I am thinking that might just happen. I was so excited, I called my Dad and had him bring the kids (who had been very dismayed by Jim’s demeanor the night before). They too were very surprised and happy to see such a change in their Dad.

He still couldn’t recall the kids names very well. He forgot my parents came to visit him. He was still confused where he was and thought he was at the stadium watching the football game instead of seeing it on tv. The sprinkler head on the ceiling was fascinating him and he was wondering if they turn them on all summer. He was eating. He was laughing and joking. He was so different than the man I had left just a few hours before. It was like when he took such a turn for the worse, but opposite. Crazy stuff.

So, now I can head off to sleep, knowing I have filled you in. I am anxious to see how he is when I arrive tomorrow. I am hoping he will not only be as he was tonight, but even better.

posted by Karen in Early Signs of Alzheimer's,Early Stages of Alzheimer's Disease,Younger Onset Alzheimer's Disease and have Comments (20)

20 Responses to “Hospital Stay, Day 2”

  1. norm says:

    Your husband seems to have rebooted, so to speak, his brain has found a new route to do the automatic functions, drinking and such. My friend Cliff did the same a number of times in the course of his trials from Early Onset. There are only so many of those alternate routes wired in a person’s brain and they are getting clogged with plaque as well. The shut down of the automatic systems is what killed my friend. We were drinking in the bar not five days before he died from respiratory failure. The DNR saved my friend from passing in a hospital bed instead of at his wife’s side in their own bed.

  2. Liz Guy says:

    So glad to hear about his turnaround!

  3. Shelley Graham Turner says:

    No comment. Just letting you know I am listening. AND praying for your family.

  4. Michelle Fox says:

    Good news!! Be cautious though. I would hope they still give you orders for an OT and PT and possible HHC for awhile until you can see how Jim is at home. The one and only time we took Mom to the hospital, she had pneumonia. She was there for 3 days. She seemed alert and oriented x2 by the time we left but when we got back home…confusion set in again. These hospital stays are so very hard on our loved ones. It took about 4 weeks for Mom to come out of her fog. She knew us, she was not eating well. She had to learn to walk again, almost but mostly get her balance. If you see that Jim is having trouble swallowing, ask for a swallow study. Oh, my dear..there is so much but I am happy to read your update.
    Thanks for letting us know. You and Jim and the kids continue to be in my prayers. I know this journey far too well <3

  5. Jeanne Sapia says:

    :) :) :) I am happy for you and Jim and the children. Here’s to more good things happening.

  6. Jeri says:

    Karen, I don’t really know what to say. I just read your last two posts and I think I must have been holding my breathe. Whew!!!! I was so worried for you and scared for Jim. I sure had no idea “how quick” things can change. After all my reading and research and family history, to find I’m this clueless when it comes to Alz., is just astounding – and frightening!
    I’m so glad Jim seems to have turned the corner and will soon return to his “normal”. Hugs to each of you. You have no idea how much and how often you’re thought of.

  7. Kathi Klotzer Chasse says:

    Hi Karen, please know that Jim is in my thoughts and prayers. Give him a big hug for me. As you know we were so close as kids growing up together!!! Love you Jim!!! <3

  8. Marilyn Klotzer says:

    Hi Karen, so good tohear that Jimmy is getting better. and may be on his way to rehab. You must have been so upset when you saw him in the hospital. The way he was. Love and prayers to you and the family.

  9. Elizabeth Brewer says:

    Loving the update.
    Loving the little things-loving YOU!

  10. Susan says:

    Infections can have a major impact on Alzheimer’s patients. Mom had a bout of diverticulitis which sent her to the hospital. She was awful. I did not think she would live through it. However, once the infection subsided, she gradually got back to where she was. Take all of this one day at a time. Take advantage of the respite to get catch up on some sleep and relax to get your mind and body back in shape to care for him when he returns home. Spend some quality time with the children as well. Take care and good luck.

  11. joan says:

    Glad Jim is OK.Felt so alone till I found your blog.
    Signed up for alz learning course to help me take care of my husband,dont know how you do this with children and work.God bless!

  12. Joanie says:

    Enjoy the little glimpses of him today

  13. Opal Tipton says:

    So happy to hear he is better! It’s so scary! We never know from one day to the next, what’s going to happen! Traveling this road with you. God bless you both along with your sweet babies…..

  14. We caregivers find joy in the smallest improvement of our mates. The road is endless, the pot holes seem to always appear, the love grows and our stress is on an even plain for awhile. Hugs and more hugs.

  15. Wendy Sweigert says:

    I hope he continues to feel better and to get back to his baseline!

  16. Martina says:

    This is wonderful news !

  17. Kate says:

    Thank you for the update. I hope you were able to get some much-needed rest!

  18. Lee Ann says:

    Being a hospice and long term care nurse for 20 years, I want to be the devil’s advocate here. So please take this with the love intended. You are going to have to make some big decisions in the future, and you need to get as much information as you can. If the swallow study should come back that he’s not swallowing well, they will want to put in a feeding tube. You have to decide beforehand if you want that for Jim, if it will increase his quality of life or just prolong the whole process. Lots of people are told they have to put in the tube, but you do not have to. I’ve never met anyone happy on a feeding tube. Unless it would be a child where there is a lot of hope.

    My Dad, when getting very confused due to a brain tumor had filled out his advanced directives that if he was terminal or with dementia, to withhold meds, hospital visits, or anything else except comfort care. He had a tumor in his brain, and the oncologist wanted to do increased treatments for the tumor. We all decided that it would not improve his quality of life in any way, so we stopped the treatments.

    You know Jim more than anybody in the world. You know what he would want done. That’s why you are the next of kin. The more you can educate yourself about these choices, the easier it will be when the time comes.

    If his increased confusion is dementia related, there is no amount of rehab that is going to help him get back to baseline. If its an infection, it might help. Find a good social worker with a good head on his/her shoulders and go through the pro and cons of what choices will be made. Then it will be easier to go through these changes because you will have decided on certain things.

    Relax and spend these few days getting more rest. I greatly admire you for all the things you are holding together. It will get better.

    • Andrea says:

      Oh my goodness, so much change so quickly. I would have been terrified too! Thank you Lord for sending people to assist you in your time of crisis. What a blessing. LeeAnn, thank you for posting the information about the feeding tube. I will keep that in mind for my husband too, if he encounters problems with swallowing during his ALZ journey. Continued prayers for you, Karen, and your children and Jim.

  19. Judy Williams says:

    What a shock. I am so happy for you all that things have changed for the better. My thoughts are will you. Love to Frankie Frances, Bradley, and you. You are a brave, strong woman.

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