Monday, March 15, 2010

I Don't Have A Clever Title For This One

You may remember the saga of my Dad from last year.  Long story short, he wound up in the ICU on 3 separate occasions in a 3 month period due to pneumonia complicated by Post Polio Syndrome. He was also placed on a ventilator on all 3 of those occasions (and thanks to the negligence of a certain nurse he even had some experience taking himself OFF of a ventilator. No, you did not read that incorrectly.)

This past October, he found himself back at Henry Ford Hospital when he had a heart attack, though not in the ICU.  It came as a bit of a shock because we had allowed ourselves to think that something serious enough to hospitalize him would most likely be lung based.  This past Wednesday, my Dad went to the hospital again complaining of chest pains. Oddly enough, the test results showed no evidence of a heart attack and he was released later that day.

While he may have been sent home, my Mom had been noticing that he wasn't being himself and hadn't been for a couple of weeks. Skipping over a few details here...   he was admitted to the hospital yet again on Friday and by that afternoon he was not really responding to us.  By 2am they had decided to put him on a ventilator again. Oh we go again.

While eventually he had developed a small case of pneumonia, the issue that placed him in the ICU is that his body was not ridding itself of carbon dioxide the way that it should.  This is a direct result of the Post Polio. The ventilator became necessary because his CO2 levels were getting dangerously high, and nothing else that they tried would work.  Trust me, everything was tried including us taking turns standing over him and yelling  "DAD!  BREATH! TAKE DEEP BREATHS!"  Needless to say, while he generally did not respond to any of us, the one time he did was when my Mom was encouraging him.

The reason that the ventilator was so scary is that every time a person is intubated, they become more dependent on the ventilator.  Because my Dad's respiratory system is approximately 50% paralyzed from Polio, this is especially a concern.  As you might imagine, we do not want my Dad to be placed on a ventilator (or feeding tube) permanently. Having him placed on it was both devastating and comforting in an odd way.

My Dad had expressed to my Mom his extreme distaste for being intubated many times and when they allowed him to come-to after the intubation, he managed to scrawl out a note to my Mom that simply said:  "You're putting me on right?"   Last night he wrote me a note that said "Being able to talk is terrible" but then continued to pen a series of scenarios that could happen on the season finale of Desperate Housewives.  At that moment, something told me that he would be okay, but I don't think that any of us were ready to relax until he was breathing on his own.

This morning, they extubated my Dad and he is doing great so far!  He even passed his swallowing test on the first try (which was another concern.)

So, onward and upward.  Cheers to happiness, health, happier blog posts and to next weekend actually being a weekend!