Today was Don’s Performance Evaluation Day at St. Mary’s Hospital Rehab unit. I used capital letters on purpose because this is the day when the decision is finally made that you are able to cut the umbilical cord and GO HOME!!! (Note below the black ribbon on his shirt indicating this special day.) Hurray, he passed!
It was a busy day, starting with an early morning session for a shower, where he did everything for himself – Luis was very proud of him and reported to me later since I didn’t witness it.
After I arrived, Larry was his therapist and put him through his paces to prove he can get from the 4-wheel walker to bed, lie down flat, then get up without rails to pull on, and stand at the walker again. It will be a little different in the motorhome because he won’t be able to get the walker that close, but he’ll have door frames and other things to help him get his balance. Even if I have to get behind him and push! In fact, Don wants to leave the walker outside and just use counter tops and door frames to help him get around inside the motorhome.
Yesterday, another therapist had him walk to the kitchen in the rehab unit, park his walker, and move around using countertops for support to get a mug from the cupboard, open a tea bag packet, microwave water in the mug, and make a cup of tea. Easy-peasy!
He also walked quite a bit this morning – all around the unit (over 400 feet) without stopping and without getting dizzy and without oxygen! Hurray, we won’t have to carry an oxygen concentrator, which is quite cumbersome.
In the afternoon, one of his favorite therapists Stephanie spent about an hour with him, and he did so well she ran out of things to challenge him. He has definitely conquered the stairs!
She asked me if there was anything I wanted to be sure he could do, and I suggested the ramp. He grimaced and gave me a withering look, but he did fine on that, too. Even went back down okay, the harder part.
When this hour-long session was over, Stephanie said he definitely passed. The only thing left to prove is when I arrive tomorrow morning he will be brought to the front entrance to practice getting into the car. I know he’ll manage that fine.
I spoke with the social worker about getting a 4-wheel walker, actually called a rollator, and we decided to buy it ourselves (for less $$) than have Medicare pay for it and we pay an upcharge to get one with bigger wheels. The fact that we aren’t getting it through Medicare will also leave the door open just in case he needs a wheelchair (more $$$$) in the next 5 years, as you can only have one claim for a walking/rolling device during that time period. Ordering from Amazon and getting one-day delivery, including a stool for the shower, is only costing a bit more than the upcharge would have been for a rollator through Medicare. (Why didn’t the social worker give me this info last Friday so I could get free 2-day shipping??? Oh, well, I’m over it now.)
There’s still a slim possibility that Don’s kidneys will rebound, but it isn’t going to happen right away. He’s urinating more, but the blood tests still show he needs dialysis. So we’ll stay in Tucson as long as it takes to figure out a way to travel and continue dialysis. He’ll be going to a local Fresenius Medical Care location on Tu-Th-Sa. He may be a candidate for home dialysis, or we may just have to plan ahead for him to go to a dialysis center in the next place we’re going to, with a dialysis day then a travel day followed by another dialysis day. We’ll see what we can work out.
We also want to get more information and hopefully attend a class or meet with a nutritionist to learn more about a renal-diabetic-cardiac diet. We’ve been confused by some of the information we’ve gotten on the Internet and from hand-outs provided by the hospital, most of which focus on the renal diet. But I’m confident we can work that out and find foods he likes and is able to eat.
The best thing is that he’s definitely coming home on Wednesday!