Monday, August 30, 2010

Released from Hospital Prison. Now on Cardiac Parole.

Dad was released from the hospital today! He had quadruple bypass surgery on Aug. 24th and came through it with flying colors. We arrived at the hospital at 7 a.m., got him checked in, the paperwork completed, and they got him prepped and on the gurney. They wheeled him out and I was left to wait in the waiting room. The surgical nurse took my cell number and said she would call from the operating room to give me updates. Her name was Faith, which I took as a good omen.

They called me about 9:45 or so to let me know that they had opened his chest and retrieved the veins they would be grafting. After that, I didn't get another call until 11:45 or so. The time between calls was hard because I kept thinking that something had gone wrong and they were trying to fix it/waiting to tell me. I did a lot of praying in that waiting room. I breathed a sigh of relief when the call came around 11:45 telling me that things had gone well and they were closing him up.

I was beyond grateful that the hospital waiting room had free Wi-Fi service. It really helped to keep my mind off things and give me something to focus on, although my thoughts were never far from my Dad.

After the surgery, they took Dad to the SICU, which is the Surgical Intensive Care Unit. He was in so much pain, I felt terrible for him. The anesthesia was wearing off and he was in and out of consciousness. They removed the tube from his throat after a couple of hours and he started saying how much he hurt and that it had to get better because it could not get any worse. I wanted to cry. My Dad is not a big complainer about anything so if he was saying he was hurting, then he was really hurting! They gave him some meds and he drifted off to sleep. Thankfully, he doesn't remember any of the first few hours he was in recovery. I'm glad there are no memories of the pain.

The second day he was in the SICU, the left side of his jaw became numb and his face began swelling up. He looked like a chipmunk. The nurse said it was because of the air trapped in his chest that was moving up. Apparently, it's not uncommon after removing a chest tube for air to be trapped in the chest and to move into the face and get trapped there. They kept an eye on it. Speaking of eyes, Dad's left eye was swollen on the bottom and then the next day that had receded, but the eyelid was swollen. Poor guy couldn't win for losing as they say.

He was moved after a couple of days to a private room one floor down from the SICU. He continued to improve over the next few days, the swelling gradually going down. There was some concern about him retaining fluids so they gave him medication to deal with that. I stayed with him for several hours each day, then I would drive 30 miles back to his house for the evening. On Saturday, I decided to stay overnight with him in his room and that was an interesting experience. 

He had fallen asleep in the recliner chair in his room and prior to drifting off he said it was the most comfortable he had been since being admitted to the hospital. I didn't want to ask him to move of course so I slept in the bed. The nurses came in every hour on the hour it seemed and they thought I was him since I was sleeping in the bed. I understand why they thought that, but I got almost no sleep since I was constantly directing them to the chair all night. I went home on Sunday and napped. That helped.
Of course, we were wondering when Dad might be released. The cardiologist and the surgeon were having a disagreement about when they would release him. It was supposed to be the cardiologist's call and he wanted my dad to stay through Tuesday and possibly Wednesday because of the air in his chest. The surgeon was saying he could go home on Monday.

Anyway, Dad was finally released today with several prescriptions to pick up. We stopped by the store and got the meds, then it was time to go home. Dad is resting comfortably in his own bed right now and I am hoping he gets some good sleep tonight. He really needs that after being in the hospital for six days where rest is impossible.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Random thoughts, ideas, and things that have recently occurred. I do not promise logical segues between any of these things:

The other day, I got in my car to go to my practicum site. As I got ready to start the car, I saw a rather furry and scary looking spider on the windshield. Because there was the glass barrier between the spider and I, I got an up close and personal look at its anatomy, eyes, etc. Fascinating and creepy at the same time. Now, I am not a person who suffers from arachnophobia, but I didn't want to drive with the spider on my windshield. I have a thing about animals of all kinds - I like to do what I can to keep them safe. 

So I got out of my car and looked on top of it for a small twig or something. My car gets parked under a tree so there is often a twig or something lying on the roof. What I saw on the roof was the shed skin of what looked like a praying mantis. WTF?? Creepy spider and praying mantis skin? Well, you do what you can. I don't even know if praying mantises shed skin, but whatever. I attempted to use the shed skin to scoot the spider away. The spider wasn't having it and ran down into my hood. Hey, I tried. Hopefully, it didn't get cooked by the engine.

My practicum supervisor has a reputation for leaving long, rambling voice mail messages telling the therapists/students what to do that day. We need to know what she wants, but these are long messages. Anyway, the other day, she left me the requisite long voice mail. About a minute later, she sent a text saying "Listen to voice mail." Uh. Yeah. I'll do that.

My dad is having bypass surgery today. Yesterday, we went to do pre-registration for him and I noticed that the TVs in the waiting room had the news channel on. It wasn't possible to change it as far as I could see. Seriously? People are there for heart issues, which is a stressful thing already and they have the news playing 24/7 in their waiting rooms? Well sure because more stress never hurt anyone. Maybe it's their way of making sure they stay in business.

And that is today's RanDAMNess.

Friday, August 13, 2010


Last Saturday, Aug. 7, I awoke to find six missed calls on my cell phone from my Dad. He lives in San Antonio, which is about four hours from me. He never calls me that many times in one day unless it's really important. He also left two text messages saying he was in the hospital and to call him. Of course, I did so.

The short version of the story is that he thought he'd been having gas pain, but it moved into his chest so his doctor sent him to the hospital to have an angiography. That showed blockages in his heart so on Tuesday, Aug. 24, he will undergo a quadruple heart bypass surgery.
This news was shocking in many ways. My father is overweight, but despite that he has always been healthy. He takes vitamins, he sees his doctor on schedule every year for checkups, he has colonoscopies and other medical tests done as needed according to the schedule his doctor gives him. He is not one of those men who will never see a doctor. He's diligent about his health needs.

He was supposed to have a colonoscopy today (Friday) so I had planned to come up on Wednesday so I'd be here to take him to and from the hospital for that. Because of the impending heart surgery, the colonoscopy was canceled, but I still came up and will stay through Monday when Dad and I will see his cardiologist. I brought Peanut with me, which has been very helpful for both Dad and me. She gives tons of doggy love whenever needed.

I will go back to Houston on Monday. On Saturday, Aug. 21, I have to be in Victoria for a mandatory psychology seminar. I thought I wouldn't have to drive there again, but then I got the e-mail about having to attend that seminar. Le sigh. Anyway, I will go from Victoria to my Dad's house in San Antonio and the surgery will take place the following Tuesday.

I will be staying with him for at least two weeks following the surgery. I am lucky in that I can take this time off from my practicum site and still get the needed hours. There is never a good time for this sort of thing to happen, but if it had to happen, now worked out well for me in terms of being able to be here and take care of my Dad.

I am scared and so is he, but I am reassuring him and my friends are reassuring me so that works out well. All prayers and good thoughts are appreciated. My Dad is not only my parent, but also a best friend, confidante, savior, comforter...I love him so much.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Off Road

I finished my classes this week, which means no more driving to Victoria twice a week! Over the course of the term, which is eight weeks long, I drove 4180 miles just going to school. The cost of gas was, well let's just say more than I might have liked it to be. I started thinking about buying a net and just driving out to the Gulf to collect some oil and make my own. I hear the Gulf has a lot of oil...

I have been pursuing my M.A. in Counseling Psychology since August 2007. In that time, I've had four semesters where I've had to drive to Victoria. It was always just once a week until this last semester, when I was doing it twice a week. The worst part of doing the drive twice a week was how wiped out I'd get. Driving to and from school on Mondays and Wednesdays and going to class would take up about eight hours. I had other things to do on those days as well so it made it very difficult. 

I was lucky that I was able to carpool with a friend so that I drove to her on Mondays (110 miles round-trip) and she drove the rest of the way (190 miles round-trip) and then I would drive the whole way on Wednesdays after picking her up. That helped a lot, but it would still wipe me out to be gone that long and then have to get up the next day and get things done. I would get home at midnight and just be exhausted.   

Now, that is done. I will have to drive to Victoria once this fall to take my comprehensive exam, which must be done on-site. I still have my practicum hours to complete for the summer term and then I will do a practicum in the fall and spring. That will finish the degree. WOO!! Looking forward to that.