ventilator

ARG, I have missed the last  10 Think Kit posts – Here is the one I began on Day #9 (Tell us about something that surprised you this year) and did not finish until today.

As I am sitting in the surgical family lounge area of St. Vincent’s hospital, I suppose I’ll say my surprise this year was that I would have to be here at all, anxiously waiting while my dad underwent brain surgery.  He has had a non-cancerous tumor in his brain for years, and it was deemed so slow-growing that it would likely never affect him in any way during his remaining years. (he is 72, after all).  However, in the past few months his depth perception and peripheral vision have gone downhill significantly, and the scans showed that as slow as it was growing, it was growing into bad places – affecting the optic nerves of his eyes.  Without surgery, he would eventually go blind.  So at 6am I met my mother here to have him admitted for today’s surgery.  The surgeon came in and said it might be a lengthy surgery, but should be fairly straightforward.  Then the anesthesiologist came in to talk about all the lines they’d be putting in him to keep track of all the things that could go wrong – blood pressure, loss of too much blood, keeping him dehydrated so his brain would shrink and it would be easier to get to the tumor.  Scared the hell out of me, because I know he’s not the healthiest guy around.  Scared my dad enough that when it was time to kiss him goodbye and wish him good luck, he started to cry.

Then the waiting.

After about 4 hours, we got the word that the surgeon was ready to talk to us, and we were filled with trepidation – why does he want to talk to us after only 4 hours, when it was supposed to be an 8-hour surgery?  Tight with tension, my family entered the consultation room — to get the good news that the surgery was so much easier than expected and not a single thing went wrong.  There was the good surprise!  We all went home greatly relieved.

At 6am the next morning, my mom called to tell me that dad’s breathing and heart had stopped at 4am.  He was resuscitated, but was now sedated and on a respirator.  Get this:  she had been called by the nurses at 4am, asking her to come to the hospital, and that they were sending St. Vincent security to pick her up.  She was met by the CHAPLAIN.  Can you imagine the fear?  Then she couldn’t get into the room to see him, because he was surrounded by the trauma team who was “working on him.”  Horrible surprise.

There has been quite a bit of progress and healing since that day, but each day continues to bring its own surprise – sometimes a great one, like improved coordination, but sometimes a bad one, like infection.  We’re hanging in there, and I think getting back to these #thinkkit posts whenever possible will help me keep my sanity in the midst of all this unknown.

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