Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Diary of a Caregiver: Home Dialysis Begins

My aunt started her home dialysis this week and will continue to do
the manual 4 times a day for a whole month. She is doing well, no
complications, it seems to be working as her blood pressure is not as
high and it is gradually decreasing. The only problem is she is not
confident about doing the entire procedure herself because she is not
practicing, and not reading her manual. I've laid out the practice
tools for her but she hasn't touched it. So I threatened her that she
needs to practice because by next week, she will be doing the entire
thing herself without my assistance (only watching). I also said if
she can't do it herself then maybe she is not a good candidate for
peritoneal dialysis and needs to switch to hemodialysis, reiterating
she will need to go to the hospital 3 times a week for 5 hours. Maybe
that will be a wakeup call for her.

Sometimes she cooperates sometimes she doesn't. My mom has also
talked to her about the importance of doing the dialysis herself
and that she should be independent. She has also tried to plant the
idea of hiring a caregiver and that medicare will help cover some of
the cost. My aunt was agreeing with my mom as she always does, but I don't think she was really listening.

I called my cousin about hiring a caregiver and he said he will contact the social worker soon. He did say that I really didn't have to be there and if I want to leave by all means do. I said if it came to a point where I get really burnt out or I have something important to do then I will let him know to make arrangements.

I plan to stick out the whole month, I don't give up that easily. At least I hope so, caregiving is a really hard job and I have a new found respect and admiration for nurses. But this doesn't mean I want to be one. Not ever. I'll stick with being a pharmacist, thanks.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

More Noise in San Francisco!


"In another city, 3500 miles away, there's a lot of noise right now"...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sissy Went Back To Her Owner Today :(

She was skittish and a little high strung when she first came to stay with us. Now she is a happy, confident dog. She's such a sweet dog and joy to be around. She helped us through our grief just after our beloved Maggie passed. Sissy will be missed.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

HopAlong Says: San Francisco Giants Will Win the World Series

Video call snapshot 15


I am happy to report that today's dialysis session went very well!

The dialysis nurse had a lot of patients today so she handed me the task of going over the dialysis procedure with my aunt. I decided to try a different approach than the nurse. I noticed the nurse's method wasn't working because my aunt just zones out while the nurse was explaining things, sits back and lets the nurse do everything. I thought keeping her engaged would work so I walked her through each and every step verbally with her, demonstrated how to do it, and handed it to her so she could do it herself.

After each step was completed, I would ask her, "So what do you do next?" When she answered correctly we would proceed to do the next step. When she answered incorrectly, I would tell her the correct step and explain to her why and what happens. I would also make her do the step over and over again until it was planted in her head. She responded very well to this method! When the nurse came back she was surprised! She can clamp and unnclamp the tubes, connect her catheter to the solution, and open her catheter tube to drain and fill! The only thing she can't do is break the frangibles so we're still trying to figure out what's the easiest method for her.

The nurse also taught me how to administer an Epogen injection. It wasn't that hard. My aunt will need an Epo shot every week. Epo is used to treat anemia in kidney patients, because when the kidneys fail, it stops producing a hormone that produces red blood cells. The nurse is hoping my aunt can give the shots to herself, but I don't know, my aunt has a low pain threshold. Any tiny thing she feels, she overreacts.

By the end of this month, the training sessions should be over and
will begin the home dialysis in November.

My aunt surpised us today! I figured out the only way to get her to do things is to be stern with her and not coddle her!

Today was actually fun! It was a nice feeling that I actually played a big role on helping her move forward. I guess this is how a lot of medical professionals feel when they see their patients progress. As the weeks go on doing these trainings and assisting my aunt, I am becoming more confident my decision to transition into the healthcare field was the right choice.

Friday, October 15, 2010

About to Lose My Shit

I've been thinking lately that I got more than I bargained for when I volunteered to help my aunt out with her dialysis b/c nobody else would do it. (My aunt has end stage kidney disease). I never realized how my aunt is VERY DEPENDENT, HIGH MAINTENANCE, AND DEMANDING, she is constantly calling my name which means I havent been able to properly study. Understandble if she were bed ridden, but she is not. If she can walk around the mall and shop for hours on end, I wouldn't label her as an invalid just yet.

She has to watch what she eats and she hasn't been following her diet, doc said I should do all the cooking for her. I have to dress her, clean her catheter site everyday, run back and forth to the pharmacy. Her first month of dialysis will be 4 times a day. It looks like I will have to do the entire procedure because she has done nothing to practice. She refuses to take an iota of personal responsibility which pisses me off.

Last night I studied for my math exam until 3AM. She jarred me awake at 4AM by barging into my room turning on all the lights asking me to tape up her catheter tube against her stomach so it is out of the way. I mean seriously? I thought, "You woke me up for this? Couldn't you have done this yourself?" I did it anyway because I'm not allowed to say anything because she is sick and potentially dying.

On top of that, my dialysis training session is scheduled at the same time as my midterm exam. She really gave me a massive guilt trip about that. What can I do? I have to take my exam! Should I put my life on hold for the next 3 years or however long you are on dialysis? Now I'm starting to worry that this may affect my studies. The professor is annoyed as it is that I'm taking so much time off. This is also a crucial class for me to get into upper division science courses. If I fail this class, I will be set back.

I feel bad for saying this but I feel like my future is compromised here and I can't fulfill my end of the promise of taking care of her. It's like I'm not allowed to complain b/c I'm not the one sick and dying. I feel like I'm being selfish b/c all I've been thinking this week is about passing my exam when my aunt's life is at stake.

I called my cousin (her son that lives in L.A.) and I told him what was going on. Told him I'm concerned that I'm only here for two months but afterwards she will need someone care for her. Since she refuses to take responsibility for herself, I do not have faith in her that she will be able to do the dialysis alone. I told my cousin he should start thinking about hiring a caregiver, particularly someone who is professionally trained to handle difficult patients.

I feel awful for writing this post but I had to vent somewhere because I do worry and care about her. I know she is feeling like crap and is lashing out at others to express her pain. But my cousin said so himself, "She likes to dump her burdens on whoever is there." I'm learning this the hard way.

The home dialysis hasn't even started yet, and already I am exhausted emotionally and physically. I will be a prisoner in the home as much as she is. 4 times a day, every day. :/

My patience is going to be tested to the limit for the next 2 months.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

U.S. to issue alert for Americans in Europe

I can't tell whether this is just paranoia and/or fear mongering from our government. Better safe than sorry I guess...

Video from Associated Press

From U.S. to issue alert for Americans in Europe

Washington (CNN) -- The U.S. State Department is expected to issue a travel alert to Americans in Europe in light of recent terror threat information, U.S. officials said Saturday.

The alert could be issued as early as Sunday morning, according to one senior official.

The alert is expected to urge American citizens in Europe to be vigilant, especially when in public places such as public transportation, airports, and tourist sites, officials said.

It is not expected to warn Americans against travel to Europe, officials said.
One senior U.S. official said that in addition to the travel alert from the State Department, "U.S. military installations are taking prudent precautions. This is a serious situation."

A separate U.S. official said the alert is being prompted by the volume of intelligence on possible terror threats, rather than new intelligence.

It emerged last week that U.S. intelligence officials were looking at information about a possible "Mumbai-style" attack in cities across Europe. A United Kingdom security source said Saturday that it's not believed the expected U.S. alert is a result of new intelligence received in the last few days.But the source added that the intelligence related to the possible Mumbai-style attack was being looked at very seriously on both sides of the Atlantic.

The security source said there are no plans to raise the terror threat level in the United Kingdom from severe to critical.

A severe threat level means an attack is considered highly likely; critical means an attack is expected imminently.

A possible backlash from the French burqa ban is considered a factor in the expected warning, the security source said. The French Senate recently approved a law banning veils that cover the face, including the burqa, worn by some Muslim women.
Mumbai, the financial hub of India, was the site of a three-day terror attack two years ago that left more than 160 people dead.

Ten men launched the carefully planned assault, targeting prominent sites such as the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower hotel, the Oberoi-Trident hotels, the historic Victoria Terminus train station and a Jewish cultural center.

A U.S. law enforcement official told CNN Saturday that an advisory will likely be sent to law enforcement agencies around the United States after the travel alert is issued, "just to keep them in the loop."

But the official added that current intelligence is about Europe rather than a threat in the United States.

CNN's Barbara Starr, Pam Benson and Carol Cratty contributed to this report.