Monday, August 9, 2010

Waiting To Exhale....

It has been such a long weekend.
It turned out that Daddy had a bad reaction as the anesthesia began wearing off. Apparently there are times when the flood of anesthesia that is built up in a person's system can cause a temporary form of confusion and disorientation.

His doctors held back a little bit on his pain medication thinking that it would help him in his clarity and get passed the anesthetic hump. But in retrospect I think holding back the pain meds put him into a state of delirium. He was in so much pain that he became unable to communicate and babbled incoherently. Severe dementia set in quickly.

Daddy became severely agitated. He was combative and hostile and didn't know who I was. We took turns sitting vigil over him to try and bring comfort and safety. He was so panicked that he had to be restrained after pulling tubes out and then even with me right next to him he pulled out his feeding tube from his stomach.

While all of that was going on we couldn't get him out of bed and post operative pneumonia set in. His resting heart rate was 130 all weekend and he was without nutrition since he first fell and I had disconnected him last Tuesday night.

Through it all I tried desperately hard to focus on each moment and not think of anything else but last night was a breaking point for me.
Daddy had slowly calmed down throughout the day with round the clock morphine and 2 units of blood being administered to a more restful sleep and then about 8pm he open his eyes for a moment and I could tell he actually knew who I was. His chin trembled as he whispered "pain" and pointed to his j-tube site on his stomach. His nurse was right there with another dose of merciful medication and he drifted off to sleep.

As I held his hand other things transpired around us that still makes me sick to my stomach. The charge nurse and room nurse were working over Daddy's bedside and conversing with one another about life beyond work. One looked at the other and with a loud booming voice said, "Well you know my philosophy. You work hard, life is rough and then you die." Oh my goodness! I know and understand it is easy to get callous and forget to be professional at times but wow that was so inappropriate. Here they were leaning over a man diagnosed with stage 4b cancer and a broken hip and they are making sarcastic ignorant comments about life.

I was too horrified to even confront the situation. I just kept looking at Daddy's hand as I blinked back tears. Then later through a phone conversation I felt beat up and chastised after being told that I had held back incorrectly an important medication that I thought Daddy was allergic to.

I know it was wrong and lies were seeping in with the mounting fatigue but I couldn't fight back the thoughts that I made a mistake with the medication and it could mean the difference in the pneumonia winning, that he had pulled out his tube on my watch and was on day 4 of not having a drop of nutrition because I didn't catch him fast enough, that he fell in my care in the first place.

I couldn't fight anymore. The doctor had ordered an aid to sit with Daddy for the night, so I kissed his forehead and made my way to the car before breaking down. I cried, I hyperventilated, I screamed and beat on the steering wheel till I could no longer feel my hands, I cried until sound no longer came out anymore and I was spent before I was able to drive home. Then a fresh wave hit me in the driveway and I started all over again. After a fitful few hours of sleep I got myself ready for the day and headed back to the hospital.

Then the miracle happened. Daddy opened his eyes and smiled at me. Recognition and relief washed over him as clear as if I were reading the words tattooed on him in black and white. Then he started crying and whispering "I love you so much" over and over again. Throughout the day he carried on complete conversations with me and others who came by. I re-oriented his memory and hung pictures of family by his bedside. He participated in physical therapy, used his spectrometer, and even ate some applesauce.

His feeding tube was replaced today and we were able to start up his nutrition right away.
When I left tonight he was too weak to hold anything but he could speak clear and strong for anything he needed. He felt it very important to stress that I must not change my plans in going back for the wedding. He was adamant that the wedding is too important to miss and oh how I love him for that. Even in his pain and nightmare weekend he is still thinking of what is important to others.
I was able to pray with him tonight and he heard and agreed with every ounce of it before telling me to get a good night sleep.

I am very much looking forward to seeing him even better tomorrow after a night of sleep.....
and then maybe I can exhale.

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