Last Thursday, on Valentine's Day, I received a call from my Mom. My Dad had been on a trial of several new blood pressure medications and was having all sorts of bad side effects from the latest one he'd been on for three days. I was eating lunch with my sister when she called, and we finished up to head over to their house to see what was going on. I found my sweet Daddy, who turned 80 on the 10th of this month, sitting on the sofa looking for all the world like he wanted to head out to meet his maker. He had swelling in his legs, was not voiding well, said he felt like his head was "fuzzy" and he simply had no energy to get up and go. The medication, which was a vasodilator, was certainly not agreeing with him, though his blood pressure was actually pretty good. He'd been struggling for weeks as his nephrologist (he inherited his Dad's polycystic kidney disease) tried to find another combination of blood pressure medication that might not cause him to retain fluid as the one he'd been on for years was doing. He's always been sensitive to medications and it took his previous PCP forever to find one that he could tolerate which controlled his blood pressure. There had been spotty communication from the doctor's office and I was simply tired of all the confusion. So, I put on my best "nurse Jayne" voice and called their office to talk to the nurse. She was seeing patients so I had to leave a voice mail, but lo and behold, she called me back within 30 minutes and said, "Can you get him on down here to see Dr. H?" I told her I certainly could, and hung up the phone to tell him to get his shoes on because we were going to get him evaluated. He seemed surprised as it's hard to get past the front desk with this particular practice and phone calls are usually returned at the end of the day and urgent appointments made for days out.
We got down there, they collected blood and urine, and we were back in an exam room in no time. They did an ultrasound of his kidneys and bladder as well. His weight was up five pounds from the prior two weeks. Dr. H came in, smiled, shook all our hands, and looking at me said, "I knew when you called something was up." I had once worked with him when he was a hospitalist, before he went on to do a nephrology fellowship, and we had a good relationship. Our labs and urine looked OK and the US did not show anything new. Once we discussed how difficult it is for him to adjust to new medications, the good doctor decided to place him back on his regular BP medication and add a diuretic to the mix, which was met with great relief from both my parents. It had been a truly miserable few weeks.
This week, he's slowly feeling himself again and on Tuesday, my parents asked me to go to lunch with them. We had a lovely lunch at Red Lobster and once back at their house, my dad handed me an envelope. Once I got in my car to leave, I opened it. Inside was a way too generous "love offering" with the note above. I paused. My eyes welled up with tears. I've never felt I had to take care of my Daddy. He has always taken care of me. I felt humbled, and the swell of love in my heart was huge. He's taken care of me for 51 years now. He saw that I got an education as a nurse and that I grew into a strong, confident woman who can take care of herself. Now, it's his turn. And I smile as I think about how gladly I take on this task of making sure he has everything he needs in these next years of his life. I feel honored and privileged that I can somehow, in some small way, say thank you for the enormous love I've been given. It's what life is all about.