In 2004 our dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. In June, 2007 he moved across the state to live with me and my sister (his only children). He did fairly well during this time. He walked slowly with his walker (bad bone-on-bone left knee); fed himself (took him awhile-had great appetite); when clothes were picked out, he dressed himself (went to elastic waist pants and no button shirts 2 years earlier); and could go to the bathroom by himself (some accidents at night but not bad). Of course his memory and communication abilities had decreased during the 6 years he lived with us but it wasn’t bad. He still had his sense of humor and we laughed often.
On May 9, 2013, he suffered a brain bleed stroke. He was hospitalized for a week and then in a rehabilitation facility for 5 weeks. The stroke affected his vision (had a blind spot to his left with some depth perception issues); he was unable stand and support his weight and couldn’t walk. He could feed himself “hand” food but was still struggling with silverware, he could touch his face with both hands, and he could sit in a wheelchair and kick his feet up some and do a little marching in his chair. His communication was the same after the stroke, maybe even a little better. We had been given a discharge date in one more week.
He was “fine” after I visited him on Thursday. When I got there on Friday evening, there was a nurse by his side, he was on oxygen and unresponsive. The LPN said he had a 103 temperature, critically low oxygen level on his left hand and she was just getting ready to call me. God took dad home to heaven 20 minutes after I got there. The LPN nurse pronounced him as there was no doctor in the facility (even on a regular basis). I couldn’t believe it. I went through the motions in a fog. After the funeral I called to ask what they thought had happened. The administration nurse said things were fine when she left at 4:00pm but when she returned around 7:30 there had been a change in his condition. We told her no one called to tell us he was having problems she said that was the staff’s responsibility. When we asked what she thought had happened, she said she needed to go to a meeting, took our number and said she would call us back. She never did. That wasn’t surprising; communication was not one of their strengths in the 5 weeks he was there. We were looking forward to dad getting out of there and back home.
When we got the death certificate in mid July, 2 weeks after the funeral, it listed the cause of death as the brain bleed stroke. How can that be when he lived 6 weeks after the stroke? I called the rehab facility and left a message to have the doctor who listed the cause of death to call me. He has not called. Since the funeral I sleep a lot and when I’m not, I’m thinking about what could have happened. Why won’t they return our calls? Should I accept the cause of death and drop it? Should I try to have the cause of death changed? Nothing will bring him back. I miss him. 6 years of 24/7 care -- I don’t know what to do. I’m lost