MEMORIES WE SHARE – Part 14
It was Saturday morning, August 13th. As you woke, I asked how you how you were feeling.
“Rough” you replied and I told you it was time for your morning pills. I handed you the daily sleeve of pills for your medication box that is divided into days of the week, got you some water and went to get your coffee. In the forty or so seconds it took to pour coffee, add creamer and an ice cube, you took the entire day’s sleeve of medication. I just stood, staring at the empty compartments trying to make my mind focus and then asked if you had taken all of the pills to which you replied with a nod and, “Yup.”
“I couldn’t figure out which ones to take so I took them all.” You sip your coffee totally unaware of the danger of what you’ve just done. Just counting the pain pills and other sedating drugs with their ability to completely shut down your already damaged respiratory function you have ingested three 50 milligram doses of Oxycontin, five 5 milligrams of Valium, 60 milligrams of Paxil, and 10 milligrams of Abilify.
I call the hospital and ask them to page the Hospice nurse on call immediately. She calls back, listens and says, “He needs to throw up. Give him some syrup of ipecac and I’ll inform the Hospice doctor.”
I call the pharmacy and find they don’t open for another half an hour so I leave you sitting in your chair and drive there. I beat on the glass door until it threatens to shatter and the pharmacist appears, looking frightened by my wild eyes and demanding demeanor. She incredibly tells me they don’t carry it and calls the pharmacy in the next closest town and they do not have any in stock. She tells me to call 911 since they supply the first responders with this liquid and it should be on the ambulance. I remember waiting for them to come when I had my heart attack and decide to drive to the fire station where the ambulance is kept. About three blocks into the seven block drive I hear, “thump, thump, thump” and the thought barely touches my mind that the car has a flat tire. I jump out of the car yelling “Hello! Hello! I need help here” and a response comes, “Hello?”
“Where? Where are you?” then I see two men approaching from the office area of the fire station so I hurriedly tell them what I am after. They are electricians! No one else is there and they too tell me to call 911. I think of the Nurse Practitioner and call their number while driving back to our house, “THUMP,THUMP, THUMP, THUMP!” I reach the nurse practitioner who no longer works at the clinic but whom we have seen and he is familiar with you and your circumstances. He too says to go ahead and call 911, that you need to be seen in the emergency room. I run around the house packing some clothes, my sleeve of medication for the day, put fresh water into the pet’s bowl and dry food for the cats and the dogs. I call my son’s fiancée and ask that she check in on the pets and let them out at least a couple of times but I have to leave a message because she doesn’t answer the phone.
A deputy arrives explaining they are called when there is an apparent overdose, a possible suicide attempt. Are they going to arrest you? Good! Police cars go fast and maybe they have some of the syrup of ipecac at the station!
The paramedics arrive and want to know exactly what you took and at what time. I hand them your medication sheet and draw a line under what you’ve ingested minus one 40 milligram pill of Oxycontin the deputy spots in the chair you had been sitting in. You have moved to your lift chair and are still drinking your coffee and watching all of these people coming into our home and seem entertained by the commotion. They help you onto the gurney and I tell you I will be right along when my son’s fiancée arrives and you are unclear why you are going in an ambulance but seem to be good natured about it.
As I am about to walk down to the car dealers and see if I can test drive a car so I can get into town, my ride arrives. They had to shower and stop for gas. I had called my daughter who lives about fifteen minutes from the hospital to tell her I needed her there. Her daughter answers the phone and relays the message, comes back on the phone and says,” Mom says she doesn’t have the van. Joe took it to work.” I told her to tell her mother to get her cuss word ass out of bed and walk the six blocks to where the van is and get to the hospital, that I will see her there! I call the Hospice nurse back and tell her you are on the way to the hospital. She actually reminds me that you have a DNR (do not resuscitate order) and I almost yell at her, “For COPD related or if his heart stops NOT because his dementia caused him to take an overdose of meds!”
When I finally arrive, the receptionist, who ALWAYS make you sign paperwork and gets insurance information, tells me the nurse and doctor both want me to go directly back to where you are. I glance over and see my daughter sitting in a waiting room chair and she joins me and tells me you are being combative and at first wouldn’t let them put in and IV and then took it out as soon as they got one started. You can’t tell them any of your information and are highly agitated to find yourself in the emergency room. Soon enough you calm down when I explain why you are there and that you must cooperate. The doctor says they will be taking you for a CT scan of your head, to X-ray and are waiting on labs from the blood they have drawn to see if you have damaged your liver.
Three hours later the Hospice nurse on call, that I like, arrives and says they have been working behind the scenes and have everything set up for you to be admitted to the Hospice wing of the hospital and she tells me if I need a ride home to call her. I tell her I will be staying, but thanks for everything and catch you just as they are transporting you by gurney to the Hospice floor.
We spend the next 37 hours in the very nice accommodations, waiting. We wait to see if the drowsy state you are in will clear. We find out you did not damage your liver, you have no tumor in your brain and that I have to be much more diligent with your medications and not only lock them up but only give you one dose at a time and not a sleeve of pills. They don’t know what is causing increased Dementia, but you have it and I have to make some radical changes around the home. One that will cause you to say you might as well go ahead and die is making the car keys unavailable to you. No more driving to the local coffee shop, checking the mail or picking up prescriptions. If you can’t walk there or allow me to drive you there, you are housebound.