Not sure on if he would be embarrassed of me seeing him with soiled pants, I was hesitant in entering his room. A couple of seconds later, I got over that thinking to myself, “HELLO Aukele. This is your job. You are his caregiver. His business (and all it entails) is your business. Buck up!” To my dismay, he wasn’t incontinent – he was laying in his own sweat.
Here I am, a twenty-one year old caretaker of my sixty year old Dad who has terminal squamous cell carcinoma; a weeping wound eating away his chin and neck area; a tracheotomy to help him breathe due to the tumor swelling his tongue so much that it sticks out of his mouth, pushed a couple of teeth out and blocks his normal airway; a g-tube for nutrition; and PICC lines.
Once Dad realized I was home, he immediately garnered all the strength he could muster to get out of bed. As I talked to him, he paced back and forth, sitting down and then getting up – disoriented. I tried to ask him questions, but he was so disoriented he really couldn’t give me sound answers. Finally, I realized I had to take charge. I needed to be the parent, and he – the child. I had Dad sit down, told him we were going to go to the hospital and proceeded to call 911. They told me to try to cool him down with wet towels, obviously avoiding getting the water into the tracheotomy site, wound site etc. When the paramedics came they had a slew of questions. Why is his tongue swollen? Why does he have a trach? Why is he wet?
Can you imagine the stress? I just kind of stopped them amidst there questions. I had to relive each occasion again. He has cancer and it is in his throat area. The wound site is from the biopsy that never healed. His tongue has swelled from the cancer and so he has a trach so he can breathe. Also he has a g-tube so he can have a decent nutritional status. And he has PICC lines in his right arm. Just take him to Kaiser, and tell them he has a fever.
After they left I started packing his bag. The essentials for a hospital stay. Cell phone, charger, books, puzzle books, underwear, toothbrush, lip balm, glasses, etc. If you’ve ever endured something similar to my situation you know what I’m talking about.
Once they had him on an IV and what not his temperature started dropping, but he still had a fever when I arrived and so they admitted him. He was there for a week and was discharged with a diagnosis of pneumonia.
LESS THAN 24 HOURS AFTER DISCHARGE – Dad’s fever came back. Livid would be an understatement as to my emotions.
Come to find out, he had an infection in his PICC line. They had to take it out, let it heal somewhat then re-insert it with nursing students. SERIOUSLY??
And this my friends, is just one of the horror stories I've had to endure thanks to cancer (may you see you're way straight to the pit of hell).