Category Archives: Family


Home at last.

Last I saw, Dad was discussing his care with one of his nurses. He will always be my Dad, but he’s no longer by day-to-day responsibility.

Time for me to go to bed with the wife and the cats.

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Five Days

If all goes well, by this time Wednesday night, I’ll be back in my own home, getting ready to sleep in my bed, with my wife, and all the cats.


My mother used to take care of my father, who has a lot of medical problems. Five weeks ago, when she got sick, I moved in with my dad to take care of him. The plan was that I’d stay with him until mom got back, and we’d see what happens then, but instead my mother died.

I’m still taking care of my father, but it has become increasingly clear that this situation is untenable. I have a computer here, and I can get some work done, but I’m not earning enough money. And I miss my wife. She comes to visit several times a week, but she won’t be able to keep it up.

The only real solution is to put my father into long-term nursing-home care. Even if there were some way to make this home care situation work out, my father is just one more medical complication away from being beyond my ability to care for him. The social worker who helps us with his care has implied I’ll start to develop stress-related problems myself in another month or so.

So, putting my father in a nursing home is the obvious next step, but I’ve been dreading telling him about it. I didn’t want to pull the rug out from under him right after his wife died, but I haven’t been sure how to bring it up to him.

My dad’s got a pretty good thing going here—someone ready to take care of whatever he needs at a moment’s notice—and he doesn’t seem to know it’s got to end. If he knows this isn’t the way things are going to be forever, he’s given me no sign.

Until today. This morning, out of the blue, he told my wife and I that it’s time to think about putting him in a nursing home.


As They Say, Blogging Will Be Light…

A few years ago, my father went into the hospital and came out bedridden. Since then, my mother has been his primary care giver. She gets some assistance from a home care service, and my wife and I get over there a couple of times a week.

Looking back, she started getting tired a month or so ago. Two weeks ago, I took her to her doctor, who said she seemed mostly okay, but needed some changes to her medication.

Thursday, she called my wife and asked her to stop by and make dinner because she was too tired. She’s never done that before. Friday, she didn’t call, but I stopped in to see how she was doing, and she didn’t seem to be able to get out of bed because her legs were too sore.

Yesterday morning, we sent her to the hospital, where they diagnosed her with congestive heart failure. They’re dripping three different medications into her, and she’s on 100% oxygen.

I knew the day would come when my mother couldn’t take care of my dad any more, but somehow it managed to sneak up on me. I suspect my mother helped a bit by hiding her problems. She doesn’t want me to worry.

(I’ve got a medical power of attorney, so I’ll be able to get all the answers from her doctor.)

I’m staying overnight with my dad to take care of him. My wife will come by tomorrow to spell me for a while, then I’ll take over for another night. And then…

I’ve asked a friend to wipe the Windows 7 beta off my second computer and install a stable operating system and some development software on it so I can do productive work from here. I’ll pick up a cable internet box on Monday. And then…

And then…

I don’t know. Move in with dad? And mom when she gets back? Put dad in respite care? Put them both in a home? Sell our condo into this soft market and try to buy a house large enough for all four of us?

I’m filled with doubt and fear of the unknown. I’m angry at myself for not being ready. For not seeing it coming. For not having a better plan.

(Although I must admit, I’m one libertarian who is, at least for today, greatful for the highly-socialized healthcare available to seniors.)

Right now, I just woke up after a few hours sleep at dad’s house. He’s been sleepy and peaceful. It’s actually nice and quiet.

That’s deceptive, of course. In the morning, he’ll have demands. There will be meals, and changes of bedlinen, and medication, and laundry, and shopping, and housekeeping and God knows what else…I don’t know the daily routine of the household.

As the saying goes, blogging will be light…or at least a bit different.

A Busy Memorial Day

Well, today is Memorial Day. It’s also my birthday. And my dad’s birthday is in a few days. To celebrate, the paramedics took my father to the emergency room at Hines Veteran’s Hospital.

He had trouble breathing this morning and asked my mother to call 911. By the time the paramedics showed up, my dad was feeling better, and didn’t think he needed to go to the hospital. So the paramedics gave him a yes-or-no choice: Sign a refusal to be transported, or go to the hospital. My father decided to play it safe and go to the hospital.

By the time my wife and I got to the emergency room, the doctors had decided he was in no immediate danger and sent him up to the wards for observation. We stayed with him for a little while, but now we’re at their home, checking up on my mom.

It’s not exactly how we planned to spend the day…

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Dad Went Home

This last Saturday, my dad was scheduled to go home after two months in the hospital, and my wife and I were gearing up to handle it.

The end of his last hospital stay, a year ago, things had gotten ugly. After being stuck in a hospital room for six weeks, he just wanted to leave. Unfortunately, the hospital staff bungled his discharge and they had to keep him there an extra week until they straightened everything out. That was enough to turn him into an angry son of a bitch. When it was time to take him home, he was pissed as hell and very demanding.

This stay was even longer—in part because it was extended two weeks when he caught a hospital infection—so my wife and I were preparing for a long and tiring day.

When we got to his room, the staff were just preparing to shave him and wash his hair. I went down to the pharmacy to pick up his discharge medicines, and by the time I got back he was ready to go. We took him downstairs and loaded him in the car, tucked in under a hospital blanket to keep him warm.

We drove dad home in silence, and he just stared out at the new world outside the hospital. It was a beautiful Spring day. The trees were filled with new leaves, the grass was all lush and green, the lilacs were in bloom. Somehow I hadn’t noticed this happening while I was visiting him every day in the hospital.

He had to struggle to make it up the stairs into the apartment, but once he got inside, he grabbed his walker and made his way to the bedroom. Despite the disturbing episodes of delerium in the hospital, now that he was home he had very little trouble remembering how his world worked. We helped him out of his street clothes and into bed. In a few minutes, he was napping comfortably.

It couldn’t have gone better.

My Father Before the War

When I think of veterans, I think of my dad.

As I understand it, my father joined the army when he was 17—I think he lied about his age—and he’s 88 now, so anything he remembers happened a long time ago. Some things about the army were very different back then, and this evening on Veteran’s Day I though I’d just share a couple of details about his pre-WWII service that struck me as interesting.

In one of his early jobs in the army, he says was the “pacesetter” when his unit would go on the march. I don’t really understand what that meant, but apparently it involved carrying one of the unit’s BARs. That’s a Browning Automatic Rifle. It’s a .30 caliber light machine gun.

Of course, a “light” machine gun is still a very heavy piece of equipment to be marching around with, especially with all the ammunition a gun like that can use. My father got the job of carrying the darned thing because he was a big farmboy who could manage the weight all day long.

The thing that gets me about it, however, is that one of my father’s roles in his unit was air defense. If they were attacked by an enemy aircraft his job was to try to shoot it down. Or at least spoil its aim.

He says he never got to try that tactic in combat, and even though it was propellers and bullets back then, not jets and smart bombs, he doesn’t seem to think it was a very good idea.

A little later on, he was with a pack artilliary unit. That means the artilliary pieces, the ammunition, and all the support equipment was pulled through the mountains of Panama by horses. His unit did have one truck.  They used it to haul food for the horses.

That’s how long ago my father, Burnett Draughn, served his country.

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Dad Health Update

My father has been in the hospital since February 22, almost six weeks now.

He’s going home sometime this week, and things have been a little hectic. They’ve been sending home-care supplies to my parents’ apartment for a few days now—adjustable bed, nebulizer kit, over-bed table—and I’ve been helping my mother deal with it all.

At this point, we’re just waiting for the oxygen supply to be installed. Once that happens, I’ll go get my dad and take him home.

Shortly thereafter, I expect to resume vigorous blogging. My father’s in a VA hospital, and I’ll probably have a thing or two to say about the quality of care there.