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Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Long Update on Dad

It's been such a long time since I last posted! Partly because my new (ish) iPhone has such wonderful photo sharing abilities that I can use on the fly. But since early December, I've been kind of distracted.

I thought I'd give an update on my dad, mostly with photos. There's lots, but I've just picked some that show the progression.
Dec. 5 - As I was just finishing my report cards, Dad was admittted to Delta Hospital with a sinus infection that became septic. In the night, he was transferred to Abbotsford Hospital ICU, the only local unit with a bed.
Within a day, he was put on a medical ward. IV antibiotics, lots of fluids, oxygen. Still smiling and with us.
Dec. 10 - Moved to Stepdown, a level of care just below ICU. Fluid in his lungs. Needed more oxygen. I was so struck by the aging that had happened in just a few days. I had to leave the room to cry for my dad, the one who had always been so strong and who was my best cheerleader.
We all had to mask and gown due to concerns for his super low immunity level. Also, it appeared that he had MRSA, a super bug.
Lots of sleeping. On this occasion, I was alone with him for a couple of hours. I knew that things were bad and I wanted to tell him how I felt, although he wasn't able to hear me. We've always had a really close relationship, and it was a special time, in a funny kind of way.
Dec. 13 - in ICU. Intubated and completely sedated. The doctor made very grim predictions. Concerns about possible pneumonia. Tim and I hardly went to work that week; I had a constant knot in my stomach. As the days went by, we had a number of different diagnoses and began to wonder what was really happening!
This is where my mum has been the entire time, standing in faith and praying.
After a few days, the sedation was stopped, but it took another few days for Dad to fully wake up enough to remove the tubes.
Dec. 18 - The tubes had been removed and sedation stopped. He was kind of awake, but pretty delirious, unable to say who or where he was. We had an amazing prayer time with the MacLeans, who stopped in on their way to Mexico (Tim and Lea were supposed to be going with them on a mission trip, but had to cancel).
Dec. 22 - in a chair! The smallest things were really exciting! Our mandate, now that he could swallow, was to get him eating. He was SO thin!
The amazing sling that got him between chair and bed. He was far too weak to stand or even roll over on his own! An hour in the chair was exhausting and he was still delirious. Some of the things he said were hilarious, while others were just odd.
Dec. 24 - Dad's first time out of the unit! We felt like dancing, but he was exhausted. At that time, we had to cart around a big oxygen tank with us.
Christmas Day - Dad was pretty aware, which was wonderful! We all had Christmas dinner in the hospital cafeteria. I don't recommend it. He ate a few tiny bites, but was developing huge canker sores in his mouth, which made eating excruciating. He wasn't talking much, either.
Christmas, hospital style! I spent a total of two hours shopping this year. Somehow, it just wasn't important. We did, however, spend the day together, and even sang carols in the hospital room. That evening after we'd left, one of the nurses told my mum that they had never had a family like ours on the unit. Makes me wonder why not...
New Year's Eve - although Dad was still having lots of trouble with eating and was pretty gloomy, he still gave us big smiles.
Jan. 15 - Dad stood up without help for the first time! It was another exciting milestone!
This was tonight, as we said goodbye. What a long way Dad has come in the six weeks he's been in the hospital! He has been as low as anyone can be, but is pulling through, and will be discharged soon. At this time, we're not sure if he'll go directly home when he's finished with the IV antibiotics, or if he'll be transferred to a hospital close to home for more rehab. Mum is anxious to be back home (she has been staying with a wonderful friend in Abbotsford, who has looked after her so well)! He is able to walk with a walker for balance and is working with the physio to rebuild his strength.

We have learned a few things through this journey:
  • Nurses are amazing! They have the ability to make everything better!
  • The best doctors are those who show that they truly care, are able to think outside the box, and can say that they don't know, if they don't.
  • Every doctor seems to have a different opinion!
  • God holds our lives in his hands and is the only one who knows.
  • Going to the hospital every day when someone you love is critically ill is super intense and absolutely exhausting!
  • It turned out that we didn't have to spend $9 each day for parking. There's a weekly rate that only worked out to $5 a day! Always check the "more" button on the pay station machine.
  • Even when we're completely stressed and exhausted, it is still possible to smile together.
  • We may have been alone in the hospital room, but many, many people were praying for us!
  • Hospital food is truly disgusting.
  • Family is precious.
Thank you so much for holding us up in prayer. December was an exhausting, intense month, but we were all together in it. I feel deeply grateful for the way Dad has returned to us after he was so close to death. I know that this has all been easier to get through because of the strong support of other people, because of our love for each other, and because my mum is SO amazing!

The journey isn't over yet, though. Over the past year, Dad has been treated for T-cell Lymphoma (which is why his immune system was so hammered). The chemo didn't quite do the trick, and there are no treatments left for him. I don't know exactly what lies down the road for us, but I do know that we'll walk through it together with God.


Southern Ange said...

Your mum is amazing. But so are each of you in the family. Your dad is doing so well. What a testimony to his grit and fighting spirit too. I am SO, SO relieved and happy that your dad is doing so well. Bless you all and thanks for sharing his journey and yours! xo

Crystal said...

Ange - I feel just terrible that I didn't know this was going on through all of December. I knew your Dad was ill but not to this extent. Please accept my apologies and you will all be in my prayers as God continues to heal and hold you all close. ((( HUGS )))

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