To say that my Papa is special to me is an understatement. He is more than just a grandfather, he raised me like his own daughter. He filled a role that could have been missing in my life; he has modeled what it means to be a man and showed me what sacrificial love looks like. Our relationship is unique, and we share a mutual love and adoration for each other.

My heart skipped a beat when I found out that he was rushed to ICU a few nights ago. He was in pain, delirious, and blacking out. His blood pressure was dangerously low, so he had a blood transfusion. A CAT scan showed that a tumor in his liver that had erupted, and he had been bleeding internally. He went into surgery on Thursday morning, and has since been recovering in ICU. He is still in critical condition. We are awaiting the pathology results to find out if his tumor was cancerous.

I don’t have the words to fully describe how this makes me feel. All I can do is pray against cancer and plead to God on his behalf for a speedy recovery. I would appreciate it if you would join me in this.

**************UPDATE, MARCH 14********************

Just spoke to my grandma. Papa is not doing well. He is not making any sense at all. He couldn’t even give a sensible response when she told him I was on the phone and that I said I loved him. That just killed me. They are going to do a CAT scan today to check his brain activity.

**************UPDATE, MARCH 15********************

Today Papa was moved from ICU to a Surgical Care Recovery floor. I called his room and had a very short, confusing conversation with him. He knew who I was but was not making much sense; some of the things he said were completely bizarre, and some words just sounded like babbling. He did understand that I love and miss him, and he even said that he loves and misses me, too.

The doctors did a brain scan last night and they say everything looks normal – no signs of stroke. They don’t know what is causing his confusion, but they are pointing to the pain meds. All I know is that before he was rushed to the hospital with the erupting tumor, he was my totally coherent & sharp 85 year-old Papa. Now, just a few days later, he is totally disoriented and nonsensical; he’s acting as if he has altzhiemers or dementia. I’m no doctor, but this seems pretty serious.

**************UPDATE, MARCH 16********************

MORNING: Papa is stable, but today he is completely incoherent. He doesn’t recognize anyone (not even my grandma). The pathology report from his surgery should be released any time now. He is eating, but cannot feed himself. My family is taking meal shifts so they can help feed him. He was having trouble breathing, so the nurses gave him a breathing treatment along with a chest x-ray (still awaiting results).

EVENING: I called the room, and my family told him I was on the phone. In the background, I could hear him saying,

“How long will it take Betsy to get here?” (A: “She’s in California, Papa.”)

“When can I leave?” (A: “When you’re better.”)

“How long have I been here?” (A: “Six days.”)

“I want to go to California!”

So precious! He is totally disoriented, but he knows he wants us to be together. Then he insisted on talking to me, and it took all his breath to muster up a very winded, “Hi Betsy, I love you, I miss you.”

AHHH – BREAKS MY HEART!!!

**************UPDATE, MARCH 17********************

MORNING: Papa had a rough night and is back in ICU. He has been throwing up, his oxygen level has dropped and his heart beat is very irregular.  He had a chest x-ray taken last night and had been getting breathing treatments every four hours throughout the night. The pathology report should be in soon.

MID-MORNING: Things have gone from very bad to worse. Papa is very critical. His heart is acting up, his kidneys are worse, and he has pneumonia in both lungs. He is on a ventilator in ICU and is very sedated. Once he stabilizes, they will do an angiogram.

AFTERNOON: His kidneys are failing. They are starting him on kidney dialysis. On a personal note, it is very difficult for me to know what to do right now (stay or find a way to fly to Indiana). We gotten mixed answers from family and doctors about whether or not they think he will pull through this.

LATE AFTERNOON: His is considered “septic;” he is sedated, hooked up to a breathing machine, and remains hooked up to the dialysis machine. Preliminary results show that the tumor they removed was liver cancer. We are awaiting the final pathology results to see if the doctors were able to remove it all.

Thanks to my amazing cousin, I will have access to my uncle’s “buddy pass” so that I can fly standby and pay only fees and taxes. Major blessing. I am waiting to hear back from my family to decide on the “right time” to travel. Once I have a better understanding of the situation I will make a plan of action, taking into consideration that each day away from work is a day without pay. I also might need to reschedule a big job interview. While those are weighty matters, their weight will be put into perspective based on the situation…

**************UPDATE, MARCH 18********************

Pathology reports are in: the tumor that ruptured in Papa’s liver was cancerous – stage 1. The tumor was contained to the liver. The lymph nodes were biopsied and no cancer found. The tissue around the tumor showed no cancer, and his liver is working. The doctors believe they removed all the cancer during his liver surgery, but they can’t rule anything out.

He is still considered very critical. Right now our biggest concerns are his lungs, heart, and kidneys. He is still on dialysis, and he may be getting a pacemaker. He has double pneumonia, but his lungs look clearer today. He is somewhat coherent, but cannot speak due to the ventilator.

As you can imagine, this has been an emotional rollercoaster for my family. I am staying here in California until I feel it is the right time for me to fly out to Indiana. I’m praying that God will let me know when that time comes. We are optimistic but also aware of his critical state. I appreciate your continued prayers!

**************UPDATE, MARCH 19********************

He is more coherent today; my family has been able to understand a few things that he has mouthed, like “I’m cold!” His doctors say his pneumonia is a little better again today, and they will probably remove the ventilator tomorrow by weaning him off it. His heartbeat is still irregular, but other vital signs seems good considering all he’s been through.

**************UPDATE, MARCH 20********************

Even in his current state, my Papa cracks me up. Apparently he keeps trying to escape. Yes, ESCAPE. This includes: pulling tubes out (including his breathing tube) and throwing his legs over the railings. I’m sure this is not funny to him, as he is totally uncomfortable and wants outta there – but you have to admit – his escape attempts are kind of funny. Thanks to Papa’s bad behavior (lol), nurses have had to restrain him. Thankfully he has calmed down a little bit since this morning.

He is coherent and responsive. Even though the ventilator keeps him from speaking, he can still mouth words and smile when something is funny, and show disappointment when they say he can’t take the tube out yet (poor Papa!). He understands everything and still has his sense of humor. My Aunt Cathy read him an email from a family friend, who described our family as:

“the most wonderful people. This is a huge family, and the morals, love, and kindness the grandparents have instilled in their children, and granchildren is amazing, and rarely seen in these times.  I am so touched by the obvious love, humor, and true goodness of everyone. They are a blessing to know, and our world needs people like them.”

In response to that email, my uncle Dave replied, “Who the heck is she talkin about? I’d like to meet them too!” To that, my Papa nearly laughed out loud and had the biggest smile on his face. If there is one thing my family loves to do, it’s laugh (especially at ourselves).

On top of all that, he managed to write my grandma a love note and will surprise her with it when she arrives at the hospital today. Even though he can’t speak, he found a way to tell her how much he loves her. Isn’t that just the sweetest thing ever? Yes, THAT is the measure of a man. It’s no wonder why all four of his granddaughters (including myself) haven’t found the “right man” yet :). We don’t want to settle for less; He has set the bar high! And best of all – he and my grandma will celebrate 67 years of marriage this Sunday! Awwww.

Besides being a hoot (as always), Papa is showing signs of physical improvement. He is taking half of his breaths unassisted, and they are trying to wean him off of the ventilator. He still has an irregular heartbeat; the doctors would like to put him on blood thinner, but can’t yet because of his recent surgery. We all recognize that it is a miracle that Papa is doing so well, and your prayers have a part in that. We all appreciate your prayers and support more than you can know!

**************UPDATE, MARCH 23********************

Papa has been fairly sedated, and when he has been awake, he’s been confused. The occupational therapist was in today and asked Papa to raise each foot, bring his knee to his chest, and raise his arms. He was able to comply weakly. He could not stand, and kept falling asleep as he was sitting up. He also could not answer simple questions like “When is your birthday?” but he doctor thinks his confusion will clear up.

He’s been moved from ICU to the “renal floor” (which means kidney floor).

AFTERNOON: Things look really bad. He’s requested that my Aunt get me on the phone twice today, but he cannot speak. The second time he fell asleep before I could talk to him. He did not pass the “cookie test,” which means he cannot eat food. This is a VERY bad sign, but I won’t  go into the details just yet.

**************UPDATE, MARCH 24********************

It has been a tough time for my family. We are all so concerned about Papa’s condition. I will try to piece together what I understand.

Yesterday Papa did a cookie swallow test, which means he was x-rayed so that the radiologists and speech therapists could see what happened as they gave him varying degrees of food – thin liquids, thickened liquids, cookie, pudding etc.  The report said he failed on all aspects meaning no matter what they gave him, it started going into the airway instead of the esophagus. The reason we are all so concerned with the result is because Papa has written a living will that essentially says not to keep him alive via a permanent feeding tube.

So now the question is – would the tube be permanent? Nurses say maybe not. As of now, he needs more nutrients than he’s been getting through the IV. The doctors have recommended speech therapy to assist with his swallowing (but to my knowledge they have yet to start it), and they want to do another cookie swallow test at a later date.

Our other major concerns: he’s having a hard time breathing, his heart is beating irregularly, and he’s hallucinating again. He goes in and out of lucidness.

Our cousin Nancy, who is also a nurse (and the doctor’s wife), described it this way: “He’s extubated, kidney function is under control, mass is gone, surgical wound is healing.  His body has really done remarkably well for being 85 and it’s probably because of a strong will to live.  If those systems can stay stable now, I would think in due time his GI system (swallowing etc) will follow suit.  It’s just that when any of the above get out of whack, it’s going to mean a setback for everything and of course the more that happens, the harder (and less likely) it is for all the systems to recover again.”

We all want to be positive, and at the same time we hate to see Papa suffering like this. Poor guy asked for iced tea, Dr Pepper, and grandma’s fudge – and he can’t drink/eat them! Now THAT’s a whole other level of suffering!

At this point we all need to pray for miracles!

**************UPDATE, MARCH 25********************

Papa is getting weaker by the day. He hasn’t had food since the surgery. He needs nourishment, but they can’t give him a feeding tube because his breathing is too unsteady. 😦 He’s agitated and unhappy.

**************UPDATE, MARCH 26********************

I abridged my Aunt Cathy’s update for you:

MORNING: He is still very critical, weak, and extremely uncomfortable. He’s thirsty but is physically unable to eat or drink, so the only thing my family can do is swab his mouth with a moist sponge. He’s developing sores on the inside of his mouth and tongue.

Right now our biggest concern is his lungs/breathing. The doctors have him on a new breathing mask that forces him to breathe lots of oxygen (a bi pap machine).  This new mask is supposed to help heal his lungs and breathing the fastest, but it agitates him. If he takes the mask off for more than a few moments, his oxygen levels drop and the monitoring machines beep.  This isn’t a good thing because the gastrointerologist (who will insert the feeding tube) won’t operate until he can maintain his oxygen levels.

We need prayer that Papa’s lungs heal quickly and his breathing becomes normal soon, so that he gets the feeding tube.  He needs more nutrition to heal faster, and they can’t keep giving him certain nutrients through his IV.

AFTERNOON: The doctors ran another “cookie test;” Papa improved from the last time but still failed. This means the food went into his lungs instead of his esophogus. He is supposed to have surgery tomorrow to get a feeding tube inserted. Please pray that he makes it through yet another tough surgery, and that this tube can provide the nourishment he needs to heal properly.

He is in such bad shape, and pretty much chained to a hospital bed (he can’t eat, can’t shower, can’t use the bathroom). As the nurses say, “he is a very sick man.” It breaks my heart to hear this, and I know I would be even more heartbroken to see him this way. I honestly can’t let myself dwell on it, because when I do, I break down into tears. I make it through each day by living in the spirit of hope, rather than the spirit of sadness.

**************UPDATE, MARCH 30********************

Papa had the feeding tube inserted successfully, and has been receiving nourishment for the past few days. Today the doctors thought he was not getting enough fluid so they put him back on an IV. They say that as he gets stronger, his swallow mechanism should start working again. His official prognosis is “improved.” He is no longer septic. He has been having trouble breathing, so the nurses are monitoring that. His kidneys have improved to the point where he does not require dialysis as of now (GREAT news!). His delusions are still a concern, so the doctors will run some scans (CT and MRI) to see if they can find a reason for his confusion. Thankfully he is coherent some of the time, so my family has been able to talk to him. I spoke with him on Friday and told him a little inside joke, which made him laugh out loud; I felt pretty good about that!

As of now, doctors think he will be in the hospital for at least another week, then go to a rehab. facility if he has not regained strength.

**************UPDATE, MARCH 31********************

He is confused and extremely weak today. We are awaiting results from his MRI. Doctors have talked about “releasing” him, as he is only allowed a limited amount of days in the hospital. Hopefully if he is “released” he will still have full-time overnight care somewhere, as he is still in very bad shape. He can’t sit, stand, or swallow on his own.

*************UPDATE, APRIL 1********************

He’s not doing well. Slightly worse than yesterday. He was so agitated that he ripped everything out (IVs, tubes) and tried to escape again. He doesn’t get very far because he cannot stand up. The Cat Scan showed that he has had some mini strokes since he’s been in the hopsital, which could explain his confusion. The scan also showed a one-inch lesion in the frontal axial of this brain, but they believe it to be a benign cyst. As always, we’re awaiting more info.

*************UPDATE, APRIL 2********************

He is restrained, so he must have had a bad night.  The nurse said he kept pulling at at his tubes. He has already had a breathing treatment and will have an EEG sometime today. He will most likely get transferred via ambulance to Progressive Hospital (where Nancy, our cousin works), so that he can receive physical therapy and occupational therapy there.  Hopefully they will help him get stronger and he will be able to walk and swallow soon.

In other news, my grandma was alone and fell in the kitchen this morning. 😦  She is okay, but she had been on the floor for half an hour trying to get up.  She finally scooted to the stairway in the dining room and pulled herself up, using the steps and banister.  She couldn’t reach a phone to call anyone, so my family is looking into one of those alert necklaces.

*************UPDATE, APRIL 3********************

Papa was moved to a new facility yesterday. He’s very confused and he thinks he’s in a hotel in Missouri. The good news is that it’s a nice, new long-term care facility, and he seems much more comfortable there. The nurses said he had a good night, and was calm, restful, peaceful, and such a gentleman (the opposite of what his reports said at the hospital).

*************UPDATE, APRIL 7********************

I spoke to Papa yesterday and he seemed chipper, but exhausted. He passed the swallow test and was able to drink/eat a few bites of liquid. Today, however, he  has had a really bad day. He won’t eat, he’s very confused and has only recognized two people (his wife and their friend). He is agitated, angry, and being mean to people (NOT the Papa I know). 😦

*************UPDATE, APRIL 9********************

Let’s hear it for GOOD NEWS! Papa has had a great 2 days. He’s very weak, but doing much better in both action and attitude. He told my grandma and he knows he has been difficult, but he’s decided to accept what has happened to him and work on getting stronger so he can go home. It’s amazing how the mind, spirit, and will are so influential in the healing process. I spoke to him today and he sounds so much more like the Papa I know. He has also been eating all his food (which is currently mush/puree) and cooperating with everyone. He still has a long way to go, but praise the Lord for the recovery that has already taken place!

*************UPDATE, APRIL 10********************

I guess he has his good and bad days. Today he is ornery, upset, & very confused. They took the catheter out as well as the shunt for his kidney dialyses, which is good news.

*************UPDATE, APRIL 15********************

I haven’t updated in a few days because his condition has not changed much. He is still in the nice longer-term care facilitiy, and he still has his good and bad days. Yesterday was good – he ate his food (he’s eating solid foods now!) and with the help of a few physical therapists and a walker, he walked across the room. Today has been a bad day. He was supposed to go to the hospital for an EEG, but he wouldn’t cooperate and was too agitated, so the nurses cancelled it. He is having some scary, intense hallucinations. He thinks he is being held prisoner. We are concerned about what will happen in terms of long-term care, as he cannot take care of himself, and grandma cannot take care of herself, let alone my Papa.

*************UPDATE, APRIL 16********************

I am starting to understand that Papa has a long road of recovery ahead of him. I fear he may not ever be completely “with it” again, since his hallucinations have been pretty consistent, even without medication. He will eventually need to move out of his acute care hospital and into rehab, but rehab won’t accept him until he is strong enough to be in their care. Thankfully his insurance covers him for a year of hospital stays/rehab.

He is eating solid food on his own, which is a great improvement. I am told my grandma encourages him to eat his food, even when he wants to stop – and they are so cute together (of course they are!).

*************UPDATE, APRIL 24********************

Today Papa was moved from the Acute Care Hospital to the Rehab floor of another hospital. My grandma says it’s a really nice place: his room is big and has several comfortable chairs. She seemed encouraged my his progress and optimistic that this new facility will be good for his rehab and his spirit. Please continue to pray for his healing as well as his mental clarity so that his confusion will go away.

*************UPDATE, APRIL 27********************

Papa was violently ill for a couple days this past weekend, which was apparently caused by dehydration. He is back on an IV and doing better. He is still very tired and pretty much bed-bound. I talked to him for quite awhile yesterday, and he seemed so exhausted. The idea of rehab seemed overwhelming to him. Beyond feeling tired, he didn’t have much to say seeing as how he’s been in a hospital bed for so many weeks. I tried to entertain him with stories from my exciting weekend. He said it’d really cheer him up if he could see me. (Awww!) I might have to find a time to get up there (June or July?) before my trip in October. I know it would mean a lot to him. Your continued prayers for strength and healing are appreciated!

*************UPDATE, APRIL 30********************

Papa is doing well in the Rehabilitation floor of the hosptial. He is wearing clothes (no more hospital gowns!) and doing exercises with the therapists. They have given him a release date of next Wednesday, May 6! Once he is released, the nurses/therapists will work with him at home.

*************UPDATE, MAY 5**********************

Grandma fell today and went to the ER. She’s very sore but OK. Papa’s release date from the hospital was pushed due to an infection and some other issues. Never a dull moment with this family.

*************UPDATE, MAY 22**********************

Papa has been released from the hospital and is at home. Home care has been a challenge for the entire family, and they are looking into other options, as he and my grandma require more care than family can offer at this point. Thanks so much for following this blog for updates and for praying for healing. I count his healing as a miracle.

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