A Caregiver Vacation

Original painting of ocean and clouds painted on our caregiver vacationWhat is a caregiver vacation? Vacation: a period of suspension of work, study, or other activity, usually used for rest, recreation, or travel.   Good travel, but where’s the rest and relaxation???

Just three hours away  from home, but we have different walls, different views, different noises and smells.

The waves roll in below us, hypnotic in their unceasing movement and Photo of waterspoutrhythmic noise.  The sky is huge  – colors and textures ever-changing from blue with huge white puffy cotton ball clouds on the horizon to dark threatening clouds.  Even a long descending black waterspout, stirring up the water to white froth where it met the surface.

Photo of a caregiver vacation sunriseFacing the east, we see morning sun breaking the horizon, ascending out of the ocean.  We also benefit from prevailing easterly winds, allowing us to sit on the balcony once the sun rises enough that we are in shade, even though the temperature is high and the air is heavy with humidity.

I’ve had a few moments to paint the changing scenery and even took a jacuzzi while Larry watched football.

We’ve had some gliches.  I expected some bumps, just not the ones we’ve had.  Another lesson in letting go of expectations.

I realize why I don’t ever want to live in a high rise.  I have to wait for an elevator, and the stops for other floors, then walk through several courtyards to get out to walk the dog.  Four times a day.  He loves all the strange smells but his walks takes forever.

There was the cranky admissions hospice nurse who hated the dog, the problems of hospice delivery people finding and getting into this building which is on top of a public parking garage.  There was the frozen and leaking refrigerator, and the dog peeing on the bed.  There was the loud and awful karaoke the first night echoing in the public courtyard at ground level.

And then there were Larry’s problems.   The bad part of a caregiver vacation.

His bipap machine for sleep apnea has long tubing which is humidified.  Water kept condensing in it, making it gurgle and waking Larry up, which woke me up.  After two nights of this I had to call our home hospice nurse to call the respiratory therapist who called me to help me recalibrate it.  Apparently being by the ocean provided enough humidity.

The second night he choked on dinner.  Turned gray, and passed out, smacking his head on the table as he fell over.   I had to drag him to the floor (hitting his head again) to do Heimlich and chest compressions yelling “I don’t care about your DNR, you’re not dying on our vacation!!!”   He finally started breathing after what seemed like an eternity.  I called the front desk to help get him back in his wheelchair and hospice to come check him out.  He had no recollection of it and was joking and asked for dessert. I was a basket case.

The first few days his breathing was a lot better than home.  We figured it was getting away from the airborne toxins of the red tide.  The last two days his breathing has gotten worse again.  I heard in the elevator that the red tide has migrated around to this coast with the ocean currents.  Really??? It followed us??? I was wondering why I had been coughing on the dog walks.

Original painting of flowers I brought on vacation

The last two nights his breathing has been so loud and shallow even with the bipap machine and oxygen on, and he’s had full body twitching. Is he not getting enough oxygen?  I checked the hose for kinks or leaks.  Are the bipap machine settings off?  Is he dying?  I couldn’t sleep with worry, the noise, and the shaking of the bed.  Last night at 1:30 AM I called the respiratory therapist and asked for help.  She couldn’t offer any solutions but she was a friendly voice in the darkness.  I finally gave him a small dose of morphine.  I wanted to give it to myself.  I listened to a meditation on my computer instead.

View from our balcony on vacationLate yesterday I asked how he was feeling, from 1-10.  He said a 7.  He hasn’t been higher than a 5 and mostly 4’s in a very long time.  I asked how come and he waved his arm toward the ocean.  We were sitting on the balcony.  “All this,”  he said.    Pretty cool.

He’s still sleeping this morning.  It’s my birthday.  I bought myself a chocolate croissant and coffee when I walked the dog.  This is a caregiver vacation.  It’s not restful, but it’s still vacation.

4 thoughts on “A Caregiver Vacation”

  1. Happy Birthday, Nancy!

    I’m so sorry about the horrible dinner experience on the second night. I hope things go smoothly and that the days are nothing but 7s (or higher) from here on out.

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