2005-07-09 01:09:54 (UTC)

My Dad

I wrote a little bit about my Dad in my last entry but
haven't written since as things began to take a downward
turn. The following Sunday my sister phoned to tell me that
Dad seemed more confused than ever. I spoke to him and he
thought that I was my mother. A few hours later she called
and told me he appeared to be having a seizure. I told her
to hang up, call 911 and that I'd meet them at the hospital.

My Dad was diagnosed with sepsis and, as I have the power of
attorney for health care, I signed the permission papers for
him to have a spinal tap to see if he had meningitis. He
didn't. A CAT scan ruled out a stroke. During the next
week he continued to have these small seizures, mainly
affecting his mouth. He was put on anti-seizure medication
and that seemed to stop them; he was also put on strong
antibiotics through an IV. They wanted an IV that went to
his heart but as he became sicker he became more confused
and began to pull out the regular IVs and try to leave
because he wanted to go home. There were times he was lucid
and then he'd come up with something odd or wrong. He
talked about the deer which visit his backyard but then
would say that his dog would bark and chase them off. He
doesn't have a dog and hasn't for many years. He asked me
if I'd seen Eugenie lately; Eugenie was his mother's name.
They put him on a strong sedative and at that point it was
safe to put the IV to his heart in. After a week in the
hospital he was judged able to be released to a nursing home
for rehabilitation. The day of the move he was lucid, could
speak clearly although not quite everything made sense and
he made jokes. But by the next morning he was drooling and
unable to speak and unable to swallow. In the middle of the
night I got a phone call from the nursing home that he was
in respiratory distress and had been sent by ambulance to
the hospital.

The CAT scan still didn't show he'd had a stroke but
obviously something was terribly wrong. He's also developed
aspiration pneumonia and his blood infection was back,
stronger than ever. He was in serious condition and his
doctor told us he was near death. We had a family meeting
to discuss whether or not, if he went into a severe
respiratory distress, to give permission for the doctor to
use a mask which would force oxygen into his lungs. We were
told this mask was uncomfortable and that he would have to
be restrained. The chances of recovery from his pneumonia
was estimated at 1%. With the mask, it would be 5%. My
sister was leaning for using it, my brother was undecided
and I was against it. After a long, emotional conversation
with a great deal of deliberation and crying, we agreed we
would not give permission for it to be used, all of us for
different reasons. Mine was that Dad did not understand
what was going on and the thought of his dying, strapped
down, with a mask over his face, not understanding what was
going on, horrified me. For my brother it was that the
increased chance of survival was not enough to warrant its
use; my sister was concerned he would be injured physically
because of the restraints. My sons went with us that
evening to say good-by to their grandpapa.

I went to see my Dad early on Thursday morning and was
astounded to find him sitting up in bed, looking at
photographs in a magazine! He still couldn't speak, still
couldn't swallow and eat but he was recovering. During this
visit he kept pointing at a sign right in front of him and
then pointing to his chest. The sign read that he was in a
cardiac ward but he was there only there because they
couldn't find him a regular medical bed. There was nothing
wrong with his heart. However, I realized that what he was
doing was asking why he was in this ward. I immediately
tracked down his doctor and insisted that he come in and
tell my Dad that there was nothing wrong with his heart. He
did and once he did, my father calmed down considerably.

This brings us to today, Friday. Dad has been transferred
to a regular room. When I walked in this morning he was
obviously happy to see me and we hugged and kissed. He
pointed to his heart and I told him again, there was nothing
wrong with it, and he smiled and laughed as if he were
telling me he "jokes on me for thinking there was something
wrong with my heart!" . He also pointed around the room
and I told him yes, he'd been moved to a regular room. He
pointed to his mouth and then the clock. He was hungry and
wanted to know where his breakfast was and I had to tell him
he couldn't have anything to eat yet. He then pointed to
the board where they list who his nurse and doctor are, his
vital signs and so on and then tapped the bed with his index
finger and looked at me. It took me a bit to realize what
he wanted was an alphabet board or some other way to
communicate and I requested one for him. Louise came in
later and told me she would follow up on that and I'll check
later today and make sure that he did get one.

He's being evaluated by a speech pathologist and a
neurologist. The latest CAT scan indicates he may have had
a stroke. We'll know more later. Right now he cannot
communicate well although he's still trying and he can have
nothing by mouth. He still has the infection and still
fighting pneumonia.
I spent part of the afternoon baking cookies and making
brownies. Pastor Ruth and her husband are moving tomorrow
and church volunteers will be painting the parsonage for the
new pastor who's due here in the next couple of weeks. I
made sub sandwiches, chocolate chip cookies, brownies (for
eight year old Benjamin who's a big brownie fan), and
brought lemonade, chips, and bananas as well.