Monday, January 2, 2012

Sorry for the absence....Part 2

Where was I at....oh yes, Thanksgiving.

We ate at my mom and dad's house and dinner was great. The next Tuesday was my dad's surgery. He's had bypass surgery before but this surgery was different. It involved a bypass by an aneurism in the descending aorta and bypasses on the femoral arteries in both of his legs. This is the worst of the bypass surgeries since they have to cut you from stem to stern.

Surgery lasted longer than they had anticipated and the clamping off of the aorta caused excessive water retention in his body, this in turn caused his kidneys to be overwhelmed and they started to shut down. Luckily for my father his regular internist had stopped by in the morning to check on him and saw what was happening. His son is a kidney specialist and he called him. The kidney specialist was able to put him on dialysis before the kidneys failed. The first days were in a detox mode without removing fluid. Once he was detoxed they slowly started removing fluid.

They told us that he was holding his own but if he caught pneumonia that might be it. He was on a ventilator, dialysis, and had 15 IV bags going at one time. To make matters worse he has a rare blood condition and rare type of blood that only 700 people have. Then he caught pneumonia. But he held his own.

Slowly they removed the dialysis machine even those he was and still is swollen in the extremities. Several days before Christmas they removed the ventilator and the day before Christmas Eve they moved him out of ICU and onto a general floor. It was a miracle and the doctors were calling him a miracle man.

At the time we were happy with his progress but we felt he needed at least a couple more days in ICU but the powers that be in the hospital moved him to the second floor (no doubt to scale back ICU during the holidays) and well it was down hill from there. The ICU crew were great. Very knowledgeable and caring. They deserve as much credit as the doctors when it coes to his recovery.

The first night that he was on the second floor, my mother called and asked me to go up to the hospital to set up his TV. I arrived to find him trying to throw back the sheets. I asked him what was wrong and he said he needed to go to the bathroom. That's all well and good but he has yet to get out of bed because his feet are swollen and he's weak and can't walk. I went and talked to a nurse and she said "well, he doesn't have his light on." DUH!!!! he could hardly focus or move his arms and hands to work a call button.

In the meantime, they took their sweet old time getting in there. But first a word about their appearance. I thought nurses were required to wear their hair short or pulled back? These two nurses had long unwashed hair. I was not pleased but that was just the beginning. The next day I was told by my daughter in law (the lawyer) to start taking notes and about what was going on. I also started taking photos.

We were still hopeful that we had turned a corner. He was having a hard time talking because his throat was sore from almost a month on the vent and also on a feeding tube. He did very little talking and slept most of the time.

Christmas Day he was really tired. The day after Christmas we found out they were giving him morphine shots despite the fact that he repeatedly told them he had no pain. His doctor told them NO MORPHINE. We told them NO MORPHINE.

December 27th my sister, my mother, and I arrived at the hospital to find him slightly more talkative when asked questions. His doctor arrived and spoke to us about his rehab which will take months. The nutritionist arrived and spoke to my dad about removing the feeding tube and he said he wanted that. So the feeding tube came out. She also spoke about possibly placing the feeding tube back in his side if he wasn't getting enough calories by mouth. His swallowing is damaged from the vent and he can only swallow thick fluids. She ordered chocolate (his choice) nutrition shakes for him.

My mother washed his hair and the nurse shaved him. He now has quite a cookie duster from his month plus time in the hospital. All was looking good when we left on the 27th.

Seven hours later and slightly after midnight my mother received a call. I had just crawled into bed when I also received a call. I thought it was a telemarketer calling and did not answer. Three minutes later my mother called me and said we needed to get to the hospital fast.

My mother hasn't driven a car in years and it just so happened that the roads were covered in ice that night. Because she is so close to the hospital she does drive during day light hours. That works out OK, but even I was unsure of the roads on that night. None of the roads had been salted. My sister and brother in law traveled by expressway and it was quite an experience for them to say the least.

I was already exhausted and so looking forward to getting into bed. I really don't remember getting dressed but we were out the door in a couple of minutes. I told my mother to be ready with garage door open and we would take her car with R driving. She lives about 3 minutes from the hospital. I live about 7 minutes from my parents.

The plan was to drop my mother and I off at the front door and R would park the car and then come in. I went to the automatic door and it wouldn't open. The lettering on the door said to use ER entrance after 9PM. Unfortunately, when they called my mother, they forgot that little tidbit of information.

Everything was covered in ice as we walked around the building and up and down concrete steps covered in ice. We arrived in ER only to be treated rudely and told we could not go into the hospital after hours. Finally, after 20 minutes we were allowed to go into the main part of the hospital.