Tuesday, November 4, 2008

my dad

I wrote this out yesterday in an email to my women's group back in Calgary:

Some of you know the health struggles my dad has had this year starting with pneumonia at Christmas, then two brain surgeries to removed tumors and long, long recovery. He was re-admitted to hospital about mid August cause he had zero appetite, was unable to keep any food down and was literally eating nothing. Starving to death. He was so weak.

They put him on intravenous nutrition but he didn't get any better. Oct 17th they started kidney dialysis since his kidneys were only functioning at 15%. Prior to the dialysis, he was sleeping all day, still not eating, non-responsive (we could hardly get a yes or no out of him), drooling... It was awful to see him like that. But after the dialysis, he was a different person. The staff was shocked to walk into his room and find him awake, alert, talking, making jokes, eating (as much as his poor shrunken stomach could manage). We were so much more hopeful even if it meant a lifetime need for dialysis. My dad said several times over the past two weeks how much we had to be thankful for.

Since he's been in the hospital so long, he was exposed to the c. diff bacteria. This bacteria specifically infects the colon. Since being on so many courses of antibiotics this year completely destroyed all the good bacteria and gut flora that normally colonize our digestive system, and because he's been so sick and weak, it was just the perfect breeding ground.

Well from Saturday sometime to Sunday night, his condition took a significant downturn. He was taken to ICU Sunday morning. It seems the c.diff in his bowel had become toxic and he deteriorated rapidly over night. Was responding almost not at all. They stopped short of saying he was in a coma only because he opened his eyes once Sunday morning. At about 10:00 p.m. Sunday night they took him to the O.R. to completely remove his colon (bowel). The mortality rate is about 86% with this surgery; 94% without surgery but with the standard treatment with antibiotics.

He did survive the surgery, which the doctor seemed very encouraged about. He'd been very deliberate in not being optimistic that night when we were discussing the options (me on the phone from here in Quebec). My dad just has so much stacked against him: immuno suppressed because of his liver transplant, kidney function currently at 0% (as in they aren't working AT ALL), being already so ill and so weak. The first 48 hours are absolutely critical as far as his recovering just from the surgery, so we've got about another 16 or so hours to go til that milestone. Since the surgery was successful, the c. diff will no longer be an issue since the colon is the only place it lives, so the infection should be completely gone by now.

So please pray for him. I don't understand why God would've even let him survive those initial brain surgeries only to have had such a hard, awful year and now this. My dad has always maintained that God was not through with him and that he felt so strongly that this was not his time to go. As I was lying in bed the night of the surgery, waiting for my mom to call, I know that my prayers were very selfish - almost challenging God with the promises he'd made to my dad, to never leave him (a phrase that my dad has audibly heard from God on more than one occasion in his life). But even as I prayed, I could hear my dad's own words from the night before his first brain surgery... that our trials and problems don't negate God's promises or change who He is. That God never promised that we wouldn't have pain or problems or suffering; His promise was to be with us through it all.

So I go back and forth almost every minute from being confident that my dad will recover from all this, to being scared and angry and questioning God. I find myself clinging more to my dad's faith than my own...

And here's an update from this morning:

I spoke to my dad's nurse early this morning (since I'm out East and the first awake) and she said that he had a really good night. He's almost off of medication to control his blood pressure. He's still on the ventilator, but he's choosing how often and how deeply he's breathing. They'll decide during rounds whether to take the tube out (likely it will come out). He's also opening his eyes other than only in response to his name.

All of those are very positive things. However we're all still anxious to see how he responds to the dialysis and what kind of state he'll be in afterwards, pain-wise and also his mental state, clarity, alertness, etc. I'm sure he'll be shocked to find out that while he was out of it this time, we had to have one of his major organs removed and he no longer has the use of his bowels. I can't imagine how strange that will be for him to hear and digest. I'm sure he'll take in it stride though.

Thank you for your prayers. Please continue.


P.S. I know I have some fun stuff to post -like Halloween and Liam's monthly letter- but it seems strange to do it with all this other stuff going on. Maybe tomorrow.

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