This article represents the third installment of a multi-part series recording a friend's unexpectant journey from daughter to full time caregiver. Serving as the primary caregiver for a kidney transplant patient poses some unique challenges. Learn more about the ups and downs of family caregiving...
Part 3 "Suddenly a Caregiver: Coping with Kidney Transplant Complications" by: Teresa P.
The exhaustion is taking its toll on me. Getting up every morning at 5:30am and getting Mom out the door to visit the transplant center for daily labs is extremely difficult for us both. Fatigue and frustration is setting in on Mom, as well. She desperately wants to return to normal, sleep in her own bed and check in on Dad. She's worried about how well he is getting along by himself. Her appetite is poor and she is beginning to lose weight...not a good sign.
Another significant and surprising concern is the fact that mom seems to be very agitated, verbally and sometimes physically aggressive. All of a sudden she has a very short fuse and is provoked by even the smallest of matters. Today, she grew angry when she overheard the visiting nurse and I discussing how best to increase her fluid intake. When I offered her a bottle of water, she slapped me. Stunned, I turned to the nurse for support. The nurse told me that the aggressive behavior was a side effect of one of her medications, Prednisone. "Roid Rage" from steroid use is a well documented challenge for transplant patients. An additional steroid side effect is night time sleeplessness. Since mom couldn't sleep well, I was forced to share in the misery. I secretly wondered what other problem behaviors would materialize.
We were hoping that the transplant team would discharge mom and allow us to check out of the hotel and head home. Unfortunately, upon exam, her team informed us that she was not quite ready. Her blood pressure was elevated and some recent lab readings remained outside of the normal range. We were both seriously disappointed. To lift our spirits, we traveled to a local beach to enjoy some fresh air and a much needed change of scenery. It was reassuring to realize that there really was a beautiful world out there apart from hospital clinics and drab hotel rooms. Refreshed and de-stressed from her brief trip to the beach, mom's blood pressure returned to normal. At last, the doctors delivered the news we had been waiting for; she was released to travel back home.
I was beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Things were definitely looking up. Mom was recovering nicely and soon would be back to her old, independent self. Dad was another story. Unfortunately, Dad's gout was flaring up and was extremely painful. It was apparent that taking care of himself, the house and their dog was just too much for him to handle on his own. He was clearly relieved to see me and quick to point out all of the chores that needed to be accomplished around the house...by me! Dad readily relinquished control of everything to me, comfortable knowing that I would handle it. While mom and dad snoozed in the living room, I began the task of creating some system for organizing mom's complex array of medications. I used the hutch in the kitchen as a staging site for mom's meds with bottles placed in the exact order in which they were to be dosed. Precise dosing instructions with a daily chart were kept alongside the medications. I set up a calendar with all key dates recorded for follow-up appointments and lab appointments.
Exhausted after a full day of transporting mom, shopping, cooking, organizing and dealing with a "special needs" pet, I collapsed into bed. Worry crept in, how would Dad manage all of this after I left? I live in another state about 10 hours away and have a family of my own to care for, at some point I have to return to my personal responsibilities.
Consult Atlanta's most trusted source for quality Home Care assistance, Easy Living Services, Inc. We have supported families in their efforts to keep loved ones fulfilled at home since 1994. Call to discuss your specific needs, 770-442-8664 visit us at: www.easylivingservices.com