Thomas Surma Thomas Surma

My sisters and I have decided that with our large family it would be best to set up a  Caring Bridge site.  The last two days have been very difficult for Dad. He will be 90 in April. He woke up during the night on Tuesday with lower back pain that progressively got worse through out the day on Weds. It had snowed Tuesday night so my son Jeremiah called Dad to let him know that he was coming to shovel the driveway. Dad told Jeremiah that he was having back pain and that he had gone to get a haircut in the morning but now it was 2:30 and his back hurt so much that he could not drive the van into the garage. Jeremiah called me and said I might want to come and check on him.  When I got there the area on his lower back where the pain was made me think it was kidney's.  I told him it would be best if we went in and had it checked out. We went to Urgent Care at the Plaza and Jayne and Karen met us there.  The doctor ordered a CT scan and sure enough there were very small stones in both kidneys. However his symptoms were not consistent with kidney stones , the stopped if he did not move. His blood pressure was 139/74. Slightly elevated but with pain that happens. His weight was 115 fully dressed and with 2 pounds (according to Dorothy) of weight from the items in his pockets. The doctor prescribed 3 different meds that were to help him pass the stones and ease the pain. On the way back home Dad turned to me and said "You can stay overnight if you want to."  I stayed overnight. It was a rough night. He can't get up off a chair without help because of the pain and is using a walker all the time now. Using the bathroom during the night was a concern (we will get a urinal). He got up a couple of times and the second time while we were helping him back to bed he passed out (although he insists he did not).  We did manage to lift him up into bed before he hit the floor.   After he was safely tucked in bed Dorothy and I decided that there must be more going on then just kidney stones.  We would call his primary doctor in the morning.  

We called the doctor and had an appointment at 9:40am today.  She listened and looked everything over and decided that it was not the tiny stones that were causing the problem.  His blood pressure was 86/54.  She ordered another CT Scan - wanting to do an MRI but not possible with his pacemaker.  This time she was looking for a fracture in his spine.  The CT Scan showed no fracture but severe arthritis in his spine pinching a nerve.  She took away 2 of the meds ordered last night and then had a long talk with us.  She said Dad and Dorothy (Dorothy's vision is declining) can no longer be in their home without 24 hour help and that it is time for them to go to Assisted Living or get in home 24 hour care from home health aides.  Lots of tears later we plan to tour the Albany Assisted Living Apartments in the morning.  This is so very hard for them. Dorothy has talked about moving in the past and said she believes a small facility in a small community would suit Dad best but Dad has not wanted to move.  This is going to be very hard on Dad and hard on Dorothy with both the move and knowing that Dad is struggling with it.  "Who will feed the birds?" "I can't take my guns there!" "What will I do with my tractor?" "What are we going to do with all my tools?" and then sadly looking at Dorothy he said "Well, I guess we will have to sell the house". 

By evening Dad and Dorothy have started realizing that this is a necessary move and are more excepting of it. Dorothy even said "I won't have to go grocery shopping as much!"

Dad has always been a man who loves to keep busy - preferably outside.  A couple years ago he was given a 20 pound weight limit for lifting.  He did not like that restriction at all - but today's "restriction" really sadden him.  It will take them both time to adjust to this next chapter in their life and I truly believe it can be a good chapter if we are gentle with them and respect their wishes where possible.  The doctor said that when she sends people to assisted living that do not want to go, they come back 4 weeks later and say "That was the best thing I ever did!" Lets hope it works that way with Dad & Dorothy.

Please keep Dad and Dorothy in your prayers as we come to a final decision on what will work best for them and that Dad's pain level is brought down from a 10 to hopefully 3 or 4.

We appreciate your thoughts and prayers and will keep you all updated through this site.
God Bless - Kathy Surma

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