Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Yesterday, my dad got a pacemaker. Theoretically, it's no big deal, but everything's potentially a big deal when you think about infections and all that. Anyway, it was interesting because I was in the caregiver role for once. I'm not sure I like it at all, although I think I'm better at it because I'm such a pro at being a patient.

We got to the hospital at about 6:30 am. They moved us very quickly because my dad was the first case of the day. He changed into a hospital gown, and we secured his belongings and left them for the day -- he brought a month's worth of clothes and books in a suitcase and it was too much for me to carry around all day, so we left it with the day surgery folks to be delivered to his room later.

The surgery went really well. The doctor came and spoke to me when it was over. It was very fast -- faster than they had told me it would be.

Then I was herded into a new family lounge where a nice guy named Pedro was taking care of all the family members of patients who were having surgery yesterday. I saw my GI surgeon twice, as he came to talk to families, and even my mom's old shrink (a whole other story).

Anyway, Pedro was great about keeping everybody up to date -- when the surgery was over, when the patient was in recovery, when the room became ready, when the patient was moved into the room -- the whole deal. Because my dad's room wasn't ready right away, Pedro took me up to the recovery room to visit with him for an hour. My dad was doing really well -- no pain, no problems. After an hour, I had to go back to the lounge and wait until the room was ready.

Once the room was ready, I went there and waited for my dad. He somehow got lucky and ended up in a private room, which is really nice. They did all kinds of testing to make sure the pacemaker was in place, where it belonged, and functioning well.

It was about 2 pm when my dad started wanting things that were in his suitcase. So rather than wait until they brought it to him, I went back down to the day surgery floor and carried it all up to my dad's room and got him organized. They took him off the IV so he could get out of bed and to the bathroom without a tether. He isn't allowed to use his left hand, but he kept forgetting, so I convinced him to use the sling they gave him -- I know that's the only way I would remember not to use one of my arms.

Anyway, I made sure he had everything he needed or wanted. His friend came at about 3 pm and I came back here to get some work done. I'm about to go now and help get him ready to come home. I will get him settled at home, make sure there's food in the house and everything, and that will be that.

Were I not a patient, I don't know that I'd have been proactive about going and finding his suitcase rather than waiting until who knows when for it to be delivered. And I helped him ask questions and make sure he felt he understood what life with a pacemaker will be like. My brother the doctor visited last night -- he's really in charge of the medical end of things, whereas my role is caregiver.

For better or worse, I'll be traveling the next few days, so I won't be around to check on him daily and bring him food, but he has a lot of friends who will, so I'm not worried.

It was a strange feeling, though, being the one to wait, not knowing what's happening or when, wondering what my dad's needs will be. And it was interesting -- being on the cardiac floor is very different from a GI floor or general surgery in that cardiac patients aren't walking laps around the hallways like patients in general surgery are told to do.

As much as I hate being sick, I honestly think I'd rather be the patient than the caregiver. Caregivers have even less control of things -- and being a control freak, that's what ends up mattering most to me. But this experience also helped me to understand better what it's like to be a caregiver. It's definitely no fun, but it makes all the difference in the world to the patient. You caregivers out there should know how important you are. Jennifer

1 comment:

  1. Do you do facebook? I recently joined. They have "Causes" to join. That would be a great place for awareness. I'm Restful Reece (had to put a full name) and there's another crohnnie there that I know of so far.