I want him home, soon – out of the system’s grasp, but right now it seems he is in the best place getting the best care that system can offer. Solvable, or not, is the big question mark.
Ironically, in hospital, he’ll be followed and treated by surgeons even though surgery is ruled out as an option. Is it just me, or is that a little perverse?
I’ve always been his only child.
He’s always been my only dad.
I don’t know life without him.
Doctors talk fast, use unfamiliar words. His hearing aids are at home. He doesn’t hear or understand half of what they say but he knows I’ll find out and tell him.
He trusts them completely. I’ve learned to not be so easy in that regard. Over the last seven years I’ve had many of these events – scared nearly to death, afraid of losing him.
Maybe this too will be a problem with a solution, a happy ending.
For now I’m told his solution is: hospital admission, antibiotics, watching, waiting
Most of his days are mostly good – substantially good six days out of ten, but if we only consider mornings he is not so good eight out of ten.
Outings, however short, wear him out.
His body – older, weaker, less able to cope each time some debilitating event has occurred.
Just the same, at his cardiac clinic check up two days ago, a good report. His urologist is scheduling another round of botox shots for his bladder, his eye doc is happy with the state of his cornea transplant and, amazingly, he has a smile on his face most of the time. For his age, and for all these things wrong with him (ears, asbestos in lungs, congestive heart failure, COPD, 3 heart attacks, bladder spasms, legs/vein stents, cornea transplant) he is a remarkable story in survival.
He forgets things, but not much. He remembers things mostly right most of the time.
I called the hospital this morning – he’s unchanged, I’m told, but his nurse was on a break and the portable phone to speak with him directly is unavailable. More blood tests are being done.
Let me back up . . .
Yesterday, mid-afternoon, my day was going well. Busy morning, great brain-storming lunch with a client whose brain I was picking for help on a couple of new projects. Then it was going to be a leisurely afternoon – coffee with a friend I haven’t seen in way too long, picking up dog food, quick stops at two farmers’ markets and still get home before traffic peaks to cook dinner and spend a lazy Friday evening at home.
Then came that call, the kind one learns to dread.
My dad had hit his Lifeline button. Lifeline was calling me to advice the ambulance was rolling. Belly-pain.
I was having coffee so near to where he lives that I got there before the ambulance.
Early this morning the phone rang – about 1:30AM. X-ray, CT scan and blood tests show nothing. The doctor is saying possibly peritonitis. Solution, I’m told, would ordinarily be an exploratory surgery to find out more. Because he is not a candidate for surgery of any kind, their solution for now is to admit him to hospital, give him antibiotics – then to wait and see. His pain/sensitivity suggest something seriously wrong. (I looked up peritonitis – Wikipedia describe most of his symptoms and paints a dreary picture for anyone of any age – let along a weak old guy).
The doctor then listens. Yes, they’ll change his nitro patch that should have been changed at 8PM. Yes, they’ll resume his daily meds … though he missed his dinner time ones, his bedtime ones. My insistence earlier carried no weight – but now, over the phone at 1:30AM, I’m told “yes, we really appreciate family input”. It makes me gag. Not her fault, it was the other doctor earlier who wouldn’t listen . . .
So, we’ll wait and see.
In his 92nd year, having been through so much difficulty it is hard for me not to see him enduring, surviving, yet another hospitalization. One-more-thing. Frustrating for me – and absolutely exhausting for him.
I am hopeful things will be fine, hopeful that watching and antibiotics will work. Clearly a case of doctors hampered by their lack of diagnostic tools other than what they’ve done so far and the one thing they cannot do.
Not hopelessness, but being completely unable to do anything of value, having no vent for emotions than to rant about frustration dealing with emergency room doctors who seem to not care enough, listen enough or empathize enough when I want them to and idiocies of the health care delivery system.
Old tapes play in my head, contribute to my angst.
column written/ published from Calgary
morning walk: 3C / 37F, birds chirping … wet streets, spring melting has begun! …I’m sure of it and Gusta (a.k.a. Ms. Mucky-paws) is happy about it too. Overcast, but so fresh!