Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Home At Last!

It was a much longer day than we expected, but Don and I are both finally relaxing at HOME!!

His discharge was originally scheduled for 1:15 this afternoon. We were told about 11:00 that it would be delayed because an emergency happened down the hall that took both doctors on duty a couple of hours to resolve.

After Don’s OT and PT sessions, he decided to skip the Rehab unit’s lunch and go to the hospital’s cafeteria instead. On the way we saw Dr. Goodman, and had a nice chat in the hall. Don told him we were just waiting for the discharge order from him, but we knew there was a lot of paperwork involved so we’d be patient.

After lunch we just chilled for awhile and waited for nurse Brett to come review all the meds, prescriptions, what to take, what not to take, precautions and other paperwork. Social worker Lagreta got Don a new two-wheel walker, covered by Medicare. It turns out that the person from her office on duty yesterday didn’t have the full story when she said we could only have one similar device within 5 years, and we should save the Medicare coverage in case Don needed a wheelchair, much more expensive than a walker. Lagreta said if he needs a wheelchair it will be a new incident and Medicare will cover it.

The 4-wheel ‘rollator’ walker I ordered from Amazon, that was supposed to arrive on Tuesday, didn’t. It may be that the FedEx truck was stuck in the haboob (big dust storm) in Phoenix yesterday. Anyway, the end result is that we now have the rollator (still in the box, waiting until I have the energy to assemble it) for outdoor use, and the two-wheel walker for inside. Don’s already making good use of it for getting around the motorhome. I’m really happy now that we have both devices.

We didn’t get out of the hospital until around 4 pm, and then had to stop at WalMart to drop off a ton of prescriptions and pick up a couple of other things. Then we found a Walgreen’s that carries the protein shakes and picked up a few to tide him over until we can get a shipment from Amazon at a much lower price.

It was after 5 when we got home. I had planned a special dinner, pork chops with carmelized onions, steamed spinach, and salad. I was a little tired when I started cooking but I didn’t want to back out of the plan, then I was really tired after cleaning up the kitchen. But we both enjoyed the meal!


Can you tell Don’s happy to be home?


Later we reviewed his meds and think we figured out what he was supposed to take before bedtime. I told him he’s going to have to find a younger wife because I’m beat after this long, busy day. But nothing will be better than waking up together tomorrow and NOT having to drive to the hospital. He starts his outpatient dialysis at Fresenius on 6th Ave. tomorrow, so we’ll have another new experience.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Passed With Flying Colors

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!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Lunch With Friends; Clueless Neighbors; Performance Eval

Today our friends Mickey and Lynn Waite had lunch with us in St. Mary’s Hospital Cafeteria. It gave Don a change of scene away from the Rehab unit, and a different kind of conversation with fellow RVers.


Their beautiful new Phaeton is parked a few sites away from ours in the Davis-Monthan FamCamp. Notice all the empty sites?


So why did this RVer choose to park right next to me?





Oh, well, maybe they won’t stay long. It sure ruins my view of the alpenglow.

Meanwhile, Don got the news that the Rehab team will be evaluating him tomorrow, in preparation for his discharge on Wednesday. They call it Performance Evaluation Day. So we know it will be a busy day, with challenges to be met throughout the day. I have confidence that he’ll do well, probably exceeding all the minimum qualifications. On Tuesday morning, we’ll check out his ability to get into and out of the car on the passenger side (no driving for awhile yet). And Tuesday afternoon will be his last dialysis session as an inpatient. After leaving the hospital, he will get dialysis at another location, Fresenius Medical Care, starting on Thursday 8/13.

Wednesday is the Red Letter Day for his discharge! Hurray! I Can’t Wait!