Sunday, September 24, 2006


My dad is at last getting better. Late last week he was diagnosed with ARDS – Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome which basically means they didn't know what was wrong. He was given a 60% chance of surviving and we were all frantic with worry. Finally on Tuesday he pulled through and was taken off the respirator, but we still didn’t’ know with any certainty whether his lungs would be able to function on their own. And if his lungs did function, would his kidneys be able to clear the fluids that were in his lungs?

On Wednesday morning he had survived the night without being put back on the respirator, and we breathed a sigh of relief. However, he then developed a depression and refused to cooperate with the nurses- he ripped out his feeding tube and my mom had to go and coax him into allowing it to be put back in. It wasn’t until late Friday that he was given the all-clear to be moved out of intensive care.

I went to see him today and he is unplugged from the myriad of tubes and monitors he had attached to him, and has only one feeding tube in his nose – his throat is so swollen from the respirator that he is not able to swallow. He has also lost a ton of weight, but is in good spirits. We are all immensely relieved and happy to see him back with us. He has lost memory of most of his time in intensive care, but I can’t say it would be something he would want to remember anyway.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

roller coaster

My dad is worse. They’ve put him on the respirator again, his lungs are filled with fluid. He was better for two days and now he’s back under sedation. We are all in shock and grief. I can only pray he will recover from this latest setback. Just yesterday he was sitting up and asking for jello and juice. It was the one day I decided to not go to the hospital since he was so much better, and all the visitors were tiring him out. Now I wish I had gone anyway, just to see him.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Breathing again

My dad is off the respirator! Hallelujah. He is almost his old self – a little slow speaking due to swollen vocal cords from that blasted respirator tube – but otherwise healing beautifully. He’s sitting up in a chair, and physio has begun. The road to recovery! He still has pneumonia and his kidneys are not up to par, which means he may stay in the ICU if his lungs don’t clear soon, but generally is hugely better.

On another more annoying note, I got rear-ended last evening on my way home, and was sandwiched between two cars. Of the three of us, my car was the only one with any damage. The woman behind me lost her little VW hood ornament, and the guy in front didn’t even have a scratch – it was his tire holder thingy that munched in my front hood. So now the round of police reports, insurance and autobody has to begin. Most annoying. On top of the hospital, and having a friend over to stay who had just had surgery, it’s been a grueling week.

S. and I are going for a much-needed dinner - without Samuel. Speaking of which, he’s an absolute jewel. He’s into boisterous bouncing in his exer-saucer and loves playing patty-cake. Every day he becomes more responsive and expressive of his opinions and preferences. He started pablum a week ago, and I’m thinking he could probably easily chow down double the amount I feed him, but I’m afraid of constipating him. It’s all about input and output these days.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


My dad is finally starting to wake up. After three nerve-wracking days he opened his eyes, is nodding or shaking his head for yes/no, and can grasp hands or wiggle his toes. This is all very promising because it indicates he hasn’t had a stroke while on the heart machine. He may have some cognitive deficits for a while, and perhaps some permanent impacts, but we won’t know that until he is fully conscious and can have neurological tests. It was such a huge relief to have him actually focus his eyes on me when I asked if he could see me. He still can’t see very much, he said he couldn’t see my brother about an hour earlier, but hopefully this indicates he is improving steadily.

He is still on the respirator but the doctor said he is mostly using his own efforts to breathe. They may try to take him off the respirator today. Providing his pneumonia is not too advanced, he may be off it by the end of the day. This will be a huge comfort for him, he is in obvious distress from it.

The worst part is seeing other heart surgery patients come into the ICU, wake up, and get moved out to the step-down unit all within 24 hours. Although it is not unusual for patients to take a bit longer to wake up, four days is a little on the extreme side.

We are all exhausted. We take my mom home in the afternoons and try to dissuade her from making a long visit in the evening – she is also physically frail and needs to rest. We will all feel a ton better once he can communicate and breathe on his own.

Monday, September 11, 2006

too slow for comfort

My dad is still on the respirator. We’re all getting a little more worried each day. Yesterday they took him off all medication except his painkillers, to see whether he would wake up on his own. Unfortunately he fights the respirator as he’s waking up(who wouldn’t, with a tube stuck down your throat?), getting too distraught and tiring out, so they have to sedate him again.

We had a family conference with the doctor, he sounded a bit puzzled but not seriously concerned about the respirator, and assured us that my dad’s blood tests indicate he should stay on it – he is not breathing enough to supply oxygen to his blood in sufficient quantities. To add to it, his breathing tube is showing some yellowish discharge which raises flags of pneumonia. The game plan is to continue trying to wake him every four hours, and hope for a lucid response.

It’s getting more horrible by the day, I am getting visions of a long and complicated recovery. But I guess alive and slow recovery is better than any alternatives.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Heart Surgery

My dad just had heart surgery yesterday. A bout of shortness of breath on one of his rambling walks this spring was diagnosed by early August as blockages on three of his coronary arteries, and possibly a fourth. The only reason it took so long was his physician idiotically referred him to an intern instead of a specialist and that resulted in a delay of four months. Anyway, he eventually got scheduled for an angiogram, and then the surgery itself was delayed a few weeks while a kidney infection was treated.

All is supposedly well, the surgery took three hours and he had three bypasses. They took veins out of his leg. Sounds gross but its fascinating – veins are so stretchy you can remove a few inches and tie the ends together with no repercussions. I thought they would have to insert plastic veins or something. The human body is amazing.

They asked him to arrive at the hospital at 6am, but didn’t get him into the theatre until almost ten o’clock. I can only imagine how nerve wracking it must have been waiting for three hours!

What really freaks me out is the thought of my dad with his breastbone sliced in half and the surgeon fiddling around on his heart while some machine does the breathing and pumping. In the realm of shudder-inducing images, that one reigns supreme.

In any case he emerged from the OR in fine form, wired up to about thirty machines. We got to see him after he was “ready” (whatever that means) and in the Intensive Care Unit. He still had the respirator on and was sedated, but aside from the tube going into his mouth, he looked fast asleep. His colour was good, which surprised me. I thought he’d be pale or off-colour somehow.

Now the waiting game begins, while they ease him off the respirator (was supposed to happen last night) and then settle him into the regular recovery ward for a week or so.

My mom was a complete basket case for the past few weeks anticipating this surgery and worrying that my dad would have a heart attack before he got to the table. Hopefully she got a decent rest last night.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Fit to be tied

...whatever that means. This is actually a rant about my cat. I think I would be quite happy to have my younger cat Daisy stuffed and mounted or perhaps turned into a little cat-rug, snarling face and claws displayed, just like they do with bears. She has developed the annoying habit of waiting until Samuel is almost asleep in my arms, and then walking over and yelling “MIAO!” as if to say: oh, there you are, WHERE’S SUPPER?? Or “LET ME OUT!” or some other cattish indignation. I don’t know why she waits until the moment of sleep, or whether she realizes I’ve disappeared into the baby’s room for too long and it’s time to come get me, or what. Regardless of the workings of her kittycat brain, it’s supremely annoying. Sigh. Now when she walks into the room I either make growling noises to deter her (doesn’t work, and gets comically puzzled – and awake – looks from Sam) or I try to keep the door closed altogether, which means she miaos even louder just outside.

To compound the problem, Samuel has decided he hates sudden loud noises – the blender, the weed whacker, the lawn mower, loud laughter, all will set off a screaming fit of fear which takes several minutes to comfort. Needless to say, an inopportune miao qualifies as a sudden loud noise. Sigh.