Friday, March 31, 2023

Heart and Feet and the Tide

It's always a new thing.  Yesterday, it was the podiatrist visit.  Dad's been doing better lately, as we've struggled to work with his failing heart.  He's been better with his meds, better with managing his sodium, better at not drinking the damned brandy. 

But his heart is so weak now, as it struggles away in his chest.  We go to his doctor's appointments, and they take his blood pressure, and the techs are always surprised with just how low it is.  100 over 29?  That has to be wrong.  They take it again, and it isn't wrong.  The system, barely pressurized.  There's only so much that muscle has left in it.

He'd been complaining about foot pain, and his new primary care doctor had been concerned about the significant decrease in blood flow to his extremities.  We'd added a lotion to his treatment, and I'd put it on at night, slathering it onto his reddened, gnarled feet, the sharp scent filling my nostrils.  

I do that once a week, when I take the place of his home aide.  A week ago, his feet looked fine.

But when we took off his socks at the podiatrist yesterday, one week later, there were wounds.  A large, suppurating blister on his heel.  On the pad of his foot under his little toe, another.  Smaller, deeper, an angry blood blister with a dark black center.

The podiatrist was alarmed.  Took pictures.  Cleaned the wounds, and cleared away the dead flesh.  There was urgency.  

He came home, his foot bandaged, with instructions to change the dressing and apply a debriding salve.  There's risk, to his mobility, to his foot, to his leg.  It's something more, something else, even if it's not unexpected or improbable.  

Caring for an aging parent is a state of constant adaptation, like being a little boy with a sandcastle as the tide comes inexorably in.  The waves crash, and the walls fall, and you rebuild, and fall back, and rebuild again.  

Yet still the water rises.