Hospital Getaway

My father-in-law went in for surgery to correct a problem with aneurysms in his upper thigh and legs. The surgery was successful. Yet, his recovery has been difficult. The doctors cannot stop post-op bleeding since the procedure a little more than a week ago.

With fluid bloating his bladder, pain comes and goes in waves. He pushes on his side to keep pressure and provide temporary relief until his next round of Dilaudid.

Comfort is relative and brief. He oscillates from his bed to the bathroom, back to his bed, from his bed to the chair, to the sofa and back to his bed. Normally a strong man in body and spirit, I felt the frailty of his 75 years while assisting him in his quest for a brief respite.

Hospitals have a way of making you feel small and vulnerable and mortal.

Bedside Manner Sponsored by NASCAR

A boyish man in his early 50’s, well kept and well spoken, entered his room this afternoon.  He introduced himself as the doctor filling in for another doctor whose name I didn’t recognize. He spoke to my father-in-law while reviewing his vitals on a machine in the corner and glancing at the saline bag and some other medicine hanging on the IV pole.

We need to get that bleeding to stop before we can let you leave. Well, if you need anything, please call me.

The nice but not-so-helpful Doogie Houser bounced out of the room. The M.D. bedside manner turnstile spun to a stop.

NASCAR pit crews would be envious of the stop this doc landed.

Maybe it’s modern-day medical practice reality or a “just fix it” mindset of the patient and family, but either way, frustration can overwhelm you if you let it – so we don’t.

We are thankful for the doctors and nurses. Without their expertise, we would be at a funeral home.

A few months in remission from cancer and chemo treatments, my father-in-law visited the hospital for a pre-op check prior to this procedure. After running tests, they found one artery 90% blocked and another with significant blockage. You guessed it: Heart surgery.

The doctors suspect the issue now is related to the chemotherapy regimen of his cancer treatment.

Our Terms of Endearment

My wife and her mom have kept a rotating and constant vigil at his bedside. Frequent visits from friends and family keep his room alive with activity. After whispers of his progress cease, the conversation is light and upbeat. We joke and laugh.

At 4:00 PM today, I told my wife it was time for his next pain medication which was a relief as his moans and groans grew more frequent and loud. As she opened the door, I said,

If they don’t come quickly just run around the nurses station screaming, “Giiiive him the shot!

A dated reference to McMurtry’s Terms of Endearment, but fortunately, everyone in the room was Texan, old enough to remember, and laughed.

One More Day

This week began with a funeral and has been an emotional roller coaster, especially for my wife. Not all fathers and daughters are fortunate enough to share a close bond. My wife and her dad are the fortunate ones.

A violent car accident caused by a drunk driver when my wife was 18 months old left her biological mother bound to a nursing home for the remainder of her days. An 80-year-old man reached into the burning wreck and saved the young child.  She was later returned unharmed to her dad.

For nearly a decade after, my wife and her dad were together and on their own before he married my mother-in-law. He raised her. You can see the thankfulness as well as the mutual love and respect forged during those years between the little girl and her daddy – even now, over 40 years later.

The little girl now grown sleeps beside me as I type, exhausted from her day. I know, we all know, one day I will have to find a way to help her say goodbye.

I am thankful we have one more day.

That’s enough for tonight. Tomorrow’s another light. From one sojourner to another, all the best.