Thursday, November 25, 2004

today is better than yesterday.

my dad was operated around noon yesterday.
at noon today, he was sitting in his bed, eating meatloaf and potatoes.

i can't visit him right now: i'm sick. i've got an upper respiratory infection and fever. it's annoying for me, but for my dad, this kind of infection would not just be annoying, but possibly life-threatening.
so i'm waiting it out, this cold.

bizarrely enough, minutes after my dad was extubated in the icu last night a doc gave my dad a phone so he could say hello to my mother. he was discharged from the icu early today.
the miracles of modern medicine.

we've been advised to expect things to get worse the next few days, but the general feeling is that of relief. intense relief. gigantic relief.

i had no doubts about this op working out. none at all.
i needed this positive viewpoint yesterday to be able to look after my mom yesterday.

i let out some worries while i was still alone at home yesterday morning. i turned up the brilliant "sometimes you can't make it on your own", really loud, sang along and cried a little and got my fear of a life without my dad out in the open and send some good thoughts my dads way. call it a singing/crying meditation.
afterwards, i was okay.

it prepped me for a day of being nothing but positive and supportive and optimistic. at least on the outside.
my poor mom was a nervous wreck, understandibly. a pessimist nervous wreck.

she had figured that as my dad was scheduled for a 10am operation date, he might be done by 2pm.
at 5 minutes to 2, she asked me for the first time whether she should call the icu. i told her to wait, because the icu had told us they'd call as soon as he was up there.
her nervousness and inability to think, write and talk increased with every passing minute.
there came a point when she was swaying in her chair, repeating the same sentences again and again, telling me she knew there had been complications, that things were going wrong, that my father might have died.
by 3:15pm no amount of reasonable argumentation by me (such as the first op of the day possibly having been delayed/the time needed to get him up into the icu and having him settle in there) could stop her from calling the icu, and things were just like i had predicted:
he was actually being wheeled into the icu that very moment.

his op had started later. so they couldn't tell my mom more then that they'd call in a "few minutes". when "a few minutes" turned out to be fourty-five minutes, my mom was in tears and hyperventilating and clenching her fists and not responsive to communication.
it was something i'd rather not experience again.

i tried to calm her, explaining that they needed to hand him over to icu staff, inform them on how things had gone during the operation, plug in all the machines, adjust his meds: these things take time.
you really don't want anyone forgetting to plug in the heart rate monitor, no?

turns out that it took fourty-five minutes, too, because they wanted the doc that my mom knows best to call her to tell her how he was.
that helped. and he was fine, of course. as fine as one can be after heart surgery.

celebratory sacher cake was had after that and my mom visibly relaxed.

the same doc called again a few hours later and told my mom all was well, but by 10pm she was superstressed again and called the icu again.
when the nurse said "i'll hand you over to the doc", my mom got pale immediately and started hyperventilating again, not listening to me telling her that of course by hospital rules a nurse was not allowed to give out medical info on my dad over the phone.
but of course the doc informed her that all was fine given the circumstances. 2 minutes later the phone rang and it was my croaky, barely audible dad, having been extubated just moments before. how nice of the doc who did this to call my mom for him.
funnily enough, his voice was so croaky and so small and old, my mom didn't recognise him at first. :)
oh, the romance of marriage of over 35 years. :)

so all is better now.
yesterday was rough, but yesterday is over.
i don't want another yesterday anytime soon. or maybe forever, if that's okay.

how good i never faltered in being positive yesterday. it was hard to not shake my mom at times. she needs to stop this pessimism thing: it's patently unhealthy.
i'm so glad i prevailed and kept dragging her over to the side of the sane all day, there came one tiny little moment when i almost went her way, pondering life without my dad, but i turned around after less than one hundreth of a second.
i helped her. i am happy i was there for here, just like she has been there for me all my life. i know she would have felt worse without me.

so the first bump in the road has been dealt with.
now i hope the next few weeks will go equally well.
a cardiac care nurse (who happens to be the daughter of a friend of my dads) told my mom today that day one post op was usually good, but days two to five were usually quite hard. so we'll see.

i worry a little about what the cutting through the breastbone might have done: i've often read about the change in taste and the depression that can follow and also of the aftermath of being on the heart/lung machine, about temporary amnesia and congnitive deficits.
i'm hoping for the best, but no one here expects this to be over within days or weeks or even months. my dad will need as much time as he will need, and we will be there for him, no matter what.
i'm happy he will get 4 weeks of cardiac rehab: he'll definitely need them and they'll be good for him, and even after that, working in our own company, he can go as slowly as he will want to and play as much golf as he feels like....

today is better than yesterday. i hope tomorrow will be better than today, too.