Friday, September 18, 2009

Thanks for your patience

Dear friends,

As some of you may know, I haven't really been around for the last month or so. For the last several weeks, I haven't taken any clients, or bothered to update the blog. This time, there is good reason.

At the end of August, my father became extremely ill. Although he is 89 years old, he has been extremely active and incredible shape for his age. He and my mother live independently, and he is able to care for his house and property, and also stay active in the community. That came to an abrupt halt recently, when my father became ill.

It was literally overnight when he went from being very active, to being unable to hold a spoon. He could not dress himself, walk, stand, speak without slurring his words, or do any basic task without help. As a family we were very concerned, and feared that he had suffered a stroke. A trip to the urgent care clinic made things worse when they said his condition was beyond their diagnosis and referred us to the local ER. It was there that my father was treated horribly. It was if they diagnosed his problem as just "really old age", and that it was "just his time". They suggested we take him home, and if he recovers, it would be on his own.

Well, as a family, we weren't going to take that. We involved his primary care physician, who suggested a CAT scan. While waiting for the results of the scan, dad's health continued to decline. It was at this point, my sisters showed me just how strong they really are. One of my older sisters, Ann, browbeat my dad's insurance company and got them to state that dad needed to be admitted to the hospital. Only after that did we see some action.

So, after 4 days of suffering, my dad was finally admitted to the hospital for reduced kidney function and dehydration. It was there he underwent a battery of tests. He had multiple blood draws, X-Rays, more CAT scans, ultrasounds of the carotid artery, EKG tests, and MRI. Everything came back negative. Neurologists were called in, but they couldn't diagnose a problem. Their best guess is that he had an allergic reaction to some medication. He had developed some sores on his back and legs that seemed consistent with that diagnosis, but not all of his symptoms could be explained that way. Dad was in great pain, and the hospital put him on morphine.

As a family, we were worried. We called in family from out of state, and set up around-the-clock vigils in dad's hospital room. After two days in the hospital, my dad was pretty much unconscious the entire time. He couldn't keep his eyes open for more than just a few seconds, and really couldn't talk. The family feared he was slipping into a coma. It was devastating.

As the family was coming to grips that this may be the end, something miraculous happened. The following day, Dad was able to keep awake for up to an hour at a time. He could even talk a bit, but his voice was so strained it was hard to make out the words.

Each day after that, Dad got progressively better. He went from being catheterized to using a bedside urinal. Slowly his strength was returning. He began to sleep well, eat with some help, and move his limbs. Small progress in the big picture, but as a family we were thrilled. The hospital then told us Dad would be discharged to a nursing home, to see if he could recover and eventually go home.

3 days later, dad had a huge setback. In the middle of the night he was rushed to the cardiac ward. His blood pressure was spiking, and his heartbeat was erratic. That lasted for a few more days, while the doctors tried to find a solution. Once again, it miraculously cleared itself up.

Last week, we moved Dad to a nursing home. He began physical and mental therapy. His vision, and hearing, is reduced, and he is not as strong as before. His speech was still slurred, and he couldn't do basic math like counting pocket change. My father, the WWII veteran, father of 14, and a farmer for his adult life, was frustrated. Thankfully, he is a fighter. He continues to push through to recovery.

My mother and I are with him daily. I bring the kids with me when I can, and my sibling show up when they are available. Dad's determination and strength of will is inspiring. After one week in the nursing home, he is almost 100% recovered. His doctors have just told us that he can go home on the 21st.

This whole ordeal has been a massive strain. I've had clients waiting on proofs, and others I couldn't schedule sessions while this was ongoing. I'm so grateful that everyone has been so understanding. It helps far more than I can express to know that I don't have the demands of work while dealing with a stressful family situation.

I thank you all for your patience, and the good will. I'm hoping to restart sessions in October. Don't be surprised if one of my first clients is my father. For some reason, I'm thinking I just don't have enough pictures of him and my mom. :)