I know I have discussed the health issues facing my parents here on the Nexus before, and I really appreciate the support and love everyone has given me here concerning these issues.

I was talking with my Mom late Friday morning, and I'm afraid I have some pretty tough news concerning my Dad.

For background, my dad has been in declining health for the past several years, mostly Parkinson's disease. AFAWK, much of it was brought on because of his alcohol abuse over the years while he was working in the steel mills of our hometown. It was part of the culture when we were growing up in the 60s and 70s there - you worked hard in the mill all day (or whenever your shift was) and then went afterwards and drank in the many corner bars harder.

As the disease as progressed, his swallowing capacity has been steadily reduced and because of previously clogged arteries in his neck, he has been prone to fainting spells and has fallen many, many times. Fortunately, no bones have been broken in these falls, but he has been cut up pretty bad (though, in fairness, the bleeding has looked much worse than it really was because of blood thinners he's been taking). He requires a walker to get around and can barely talk.

He spends most of his days watching TV, particularly sports - baseball, football, golf, college basketball and some hockey and soccer. The amount of care he's had to have, plus some other factors, have forced my parents to move to a semi-independent living community near where they had been living on the Illinois side of St. Louis.

Anyway, back to the phone call with mom: She told me that he had to take a swallowing test this morning at the doctor, the latest in a series of tests he's taken over the years.

He flunked.

Mom indicated that dad will have to have a feeding tube inserted into him, and that procedure is set to take place in the next couple of days. He went into a hospital in my hometown (Granite City, IL) Monday, and from all indications, when he swallows, it's not going into his stomach, but into his lungs instead. Obviously, that's not a good thing.

I talked to my mom and my sister today and from what I've been told, he'll have the tube inserted into his stomach and then go to a long-term rehab facility in Edwardsville, IL.

As always, we've offered to help in any way possible, and mom told me this morning that she knows that and really appreciates it, even if we can't do a whole lot. I told her that we're here for them anytime they need us.

Just wanted to let everyone know the latest and any advice or support you can give to my brother Colin and I, as well as the rest of the family, is greatly appreciated.

No doubt, this is going to be tough, but like the recent problems we faced after we got back home from a trip we took to Nevada, we will fight our way through this and we will be strong.

Thanks everyone. Much love from Colin and I...

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Comment by Brent Feeney on May 22, 2012 at 7:53am

Talked with mom the other night, and I got some good news and not-that-great news.

Good news: Dad's rehab is going very, very well (he was released from hospital a week ago Monday). In fact, the doctors are very pleased - he's doing everything they're asking of him as best as he can and are amazed by the physical strength he still possesses, even at 78. I guess 40-some years of work in a steel mill must count for something. *LOL*

Not-so-good news: Mom had a conversation with their family doctor about dad's condition. The doctor layed out everything that's been going on and what could happen with dad, and while he couldn't guarantee anything, his opinion was that, out the outside, dad had about two years left. He cited any number of things that could go wrong - bedsores that get infected and pneumonia being the most possible complications. Parkinson's by itself isn't fatal; it's the complications from it that's the problem.

I asked mom what we could do, and she said basically just come and spend time with him as much as you can. Given our current circumstances, I guess that's all we can do. She knows we want to do more and very much appreciates it, but we have to play the hand that's currently dealt.

So that's where we currently stand. Mom and my sister do have plans in place for future emergency treatment should it become necessary, and they do have plans in place for the great inevitable. I talked to her when we went to hospital to visit dad and she answered all my questions honestly and in full.

Again, thanks to everyone for their support and love; as always, I'll have further updates as they warrant.

Comment by Brent Feeney on May 13, 2012 at 1:25pm

Here's the latest on dad:

Talked to mom today for Mother's Day and to find out what was up. His rehab has been good and he will be discharged from hospital tomorrow. He'll then go to a nursing home near where they are now to continue the rehab process.

Thanks to all for your well-wishes and concern. We're still taking this one at a time and I will keep you updated as events warrant.

Comment by Brent Feeney on May 12, 2012 at 1:52pm

No prob Sentient. =)  I don't think dad's in that kind of position as of this moment. I talked with mom yesterday and he's started rehab for his hip.

Mom and I did talk about those issues, if you will, about end-of-life and what they wanted to do. They do have a plan in place, which is a good thing. She answered all my questions about it in an honest and forthright manner. I don't think I'm in a position to disclose those issues, however.

Thanks for the support and thanks for asking. Hope you have a great weekend. =)

Comment by Brent Feeney on May 7, 2012 at 12:32pm

My brother and I went to see Dad Saturday afternoon at the hospital he's at. He looked all right, considering, but I have to admit too that it was heartbreaking seeing all the things he's hooked up to and that he looks, IMHO, pretty feeble.

The heart problems I had mentioned? It turns out that, two days after his operation, he had a mild heart attack. From what I was told, there was no damage to the heart muscle and he's doing well now. He was transferred from the cardiac care floor to a rehab floor, but we're expecting him to stay for another couple of weeks at this point.

Mom and I talked about several issues concerning dad; I won't get into them here, but suffice it to say that at least I know what's going on a lot better and we were able to clear the air on a few issues.

More information as it becomes available...

Comment by Brent Feeney on May 7, 2012 at 12:28pm

Thanks Sentient. You're right, it's not getting easier, but we're doing about as well as we can. Hope you're doing well too.

Comment by Brent Feeney on May 5, 2012 at 10:41am

No worries Steph! =)  *HUGGS*

Comment by Brent Feeney on May 5, 2012 at 10:23am

Thanks Steph! =)

Here's the latest. On Monday, he was put in a cardiac care unit; his heart was starting to go haywire and he also developed a high fever. He was in the unit for several days, but was placed in a rehab room Thursday and is doing much better. Needless to say, he's sleeping a lot *LOL*, but that's not unexpected.

My brother and I are going to go see him in a little bit from the timestamp on this post. Hopefully he'll be in very good shape. More later...

Comment by Brent Feeney on April 29, 2012 at 11:16pm

Here's another update: Dad got through surgery well - had some pins inserted into the fracture - and he's resting comfortably in hospital. He's on pain meds and is sleeping well, from what I was told.

Comment by Brent Feeney on April 29, 2012 at 2:58pm

Thanks Sentinet, it's very much appreciated.

However, I have some pretty bad news. Friday night, at the nursing home, dad fell down and broke one of his hips. How it happened, I have not been told.

He was taken back to hospital immediately and, at this moment, is scheduled to be taken into surgery to insert some pins into his hip. Hopefully the surgery will go well, but at his age and stage of health, I think it may be safe to say dad might be in some trouble.

As soon as I know how the operation went, I'll let everyone know. Needless to say, this is not a good break, no pun intended. I just hope he gets through things well.

Comment by Brent Feeney on April 27, 2012 at 8:34pm

A new update: Dad had a couple of test runs with the new tube today, and they both went well, so he was discharged from the hospital this afternoon. He's now in the nursing home for rehab and he's doing pretty well; he's actually gained some strength.

Thanks very much for all your kind thoughts and wishes; I really, really appreciate it. And, of course, I'll keep everyone posted on how he's doing as conditions warrant.



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