Monday, December 20, 2004

Oh, how the mighty have fallen . . .

I thought I would give a quick update while I had the comfort of a plate of my little sugar cookies and a glass of cold milk. Everyone has their vices . . .

Lulled into a false sense of security, my sister and I have both been attending to our own families for the past 2 days while my mom dutifully gave my dad pain medication and meals, waiting to see a specialist this coming Tuesday for the bad knee. My sister's husband had told her that she couldn't drop her entire life for my dad, and in a more subtle way, my husband had told me the same thing, so we both reluctantly stepped back and hoped for the best, sure that the doctor would see my dad on Tuesday and get the surgery ball rolling.

However, that was not to be. My dad's convalescence at home was short-lived.

I found myself at my parent's house Thursday night. She had called me in a panic - she wasn't able to move him, and his pain medication wasn't holding the pain anymore. Hubby and I raced there to find him weak and in incredible pain, slumped over on his portable potty chair. It was a pathetic sight. Thank God for Hubby, he stepped up to my dad, lifting him like a child and gently plopping him onto his makeshift couch/bed.

Noticing his wincing and grimacing, I stepped closer to him, straightening out his clothing and that is when I noticed just how bad he had gotten in 2 days. His sore leg was like a tree trunk - swollen now from the thigh down. His skin was shiny, it was pulled so tightly, and his leg was cold from the knee down. I panicked, and asked my mom how long the leg had been like this. She wasn't sure, she began to cry and say that she was giving him medications for his pain like the doctor instructed, and that Daddy hadn't really done much except sleep.

His mouth was dry. She said he wasn't eating much, and drinking less than that.

I'm no nurse, but I knew that his leg wasn't right. Even though the doctors had said that his condition wasn't urgent, that he would have to see a specialist next week, I knew he couldn't wait that long. No way.

So, once again, 911 was called, and he was taken to the emergency room. This time, the news was quite different. He had a blood clot behind the bad knee, his blood sugar was nearing 300, his kidneys were barely functioning, and infection was setting in.

Finally, the healthcare system swung into action. He was quickly admitted and teams of nurses began to infuse bags of liquid into several IVs. Radiologists with portable machines took chest xrays, and doctors came in and out, examining his leg and listening to his heart.

Not good.

I had heard of Heparin. I knew that it stopped blood from clotting. The doctor mentioned that my dad would begin receiving Heparin to help dissolve the blood clot. That sounded promising; I thought that if they could resolve the clot, that they would be able to fix his knee, and that he might have a chance of getting back on his feet and regain some mobility. The doctor dashed that hope when he announced that the clot would have to be resolved for better than 3 months before any surgery for the knee would be considered.

The Heparin didn't take long to start working. It was sort of a good news/bad news thing. Good news - some blood flow returned to the bad leg. Bad news - when the blood began to circulate, and the swelling began to go down, incredible pain hit like lightning every 5 minutes or so.

Modern medicine has an answer to everything. He has a pain pump now, and can hit a little button for a small dose of medication every 10 minutes. If he wasn't so high and delirious, that would be a great thing. My mom refuses to leave his bedside at this point, so I gave her the task of hitting the pain med button every 10 minutes for him. It's like talking to a little kid now with her - she is like a frightened rabbit.

I know the husbands meant well, but they both overestimated my dad's resiliency and my mom's clarity.

I think we all did.

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