On Tuesday my dad had his triple heart bypass. After it had been cancelled twice, the second time only an hour before he was due to go into surgery, we were all relieved it was finally happening. Little did we all know what a rollercoaster ride it would be for all of us. Here is my story.
My mum, sister and I went to visit dad today on Intensive Care. It was truly awful and I can easily say the worst day of my life. As we approached his bed, after walking past other patients in various comatose states with machines beeping all around them and breathing for them, I was already somewhat unnerved. I saw him in the distance with a big black mask over his face, slouched down in his chair looking so small and frail. I nearly turned away right there and then, but the need to just see him and touch him kept me walking forward. He was asleep when we got to his bed but stirred when we sat down. The nurse took the oxygen mask from his face and put a smaller one on so he could speak to us, but he was so drowsy from the morphine he drifted in and out and couldn’t really keep up much of a conversation. They told us his left lung had collapsed that morning and we already knew he’d had a bad night due to pain from the chest drains.
It was so hard to seem my dad, who has always been a very strong and proud man, looking so ill. It is an image I will carry around with me for a long time to come.
This afternoon I returned back to Yorkshire to see dad. He is still in intensive care as his oxygen levels have remained low and in the end we were told it was not that his lung had collapsed bit that neither lung had properly inflated after surgery. Also his stomach was full of bile and not leaving his lungs enough room to inflate. It seems like all we keep hearing is bad news.
He actually looked a lot better though and although he’d had the big oxygen mask on most of the day, it had been taken off by now. He’d also had a tube down his throat earlier in the day which had also bee removed, I was relieved to see. However he is obviously finding it hard and at one point welled up as he said ‘I just want to go home.’ I just wanted to give him a big cuddle and whisk him away with us. He is obviously in the best possible place, but I find it hard every day leaving him there, on his own.
This mornings phone call to the hospital wasn’t a good one and mum came off the phone really upset. They said he’d not really slept, despite a sleeping tablet, and due to lack of oxygen, sleep and the strong drugs he’d been on he had started to get what they call ICU psychosis. He’d to refuse to let them do things so wouldn’t wear his oxygen mask and tried to get out of bed and leave. We then worried all morning and wished we could go see him earlier, but had to wait until visiting at 2pm.
When we arrived he was still in bed and they said he was a danger to himself as he keeps trying to get up so he cannot get out and into his chair at the moment. He was very angry with everything and everyone and although he let them put the oxygen mask on he kept trying to take it off. He barely spoke to us, apart from to say he thought they were all fobbing him off and couldn’t understand why he was still in ICU and didn’t believe that he’d refused to keep his mask on through the night. In the end he has set himself back significantly as his oxygen levels have dropped again.
After very little interaction we returned home even more worried than we had been previously. His body on the whole is fine and he is recovering from surgery well, but all this refusal to let them do anything means his lungs are not healing like they should. He doesn’t seem to understand that if he lets them do what they need to do he will get to the ward quicker. I’m finding it really hard to understand how he is thinking and sometimes get angry that he doesn’t see what we are going through either. And yet on the other side of things I am so worried for him and sad to see him like this. We never prepared ourselves that it could be like this and all thought he would sail through recovery and be home by the weekend. At the moment we are looking like it will be at least another week, and I am concerned what his mental state will be like by then.
After returning to Manchester last night, Mr H, the kids and I are preparing to return this afternoon, in time for evening visiting. My mum spoke to the hospital this morning and they said he’d had a better night sleep-wise, but his levels are still low so he is still on oxygen. They are hoping he might get onto the ward, though, which has made us all feel so much better. He will go onto High Dependancy when he does, but at least he won’t be on his own, with only his thoughts. My mum and sisters are going this afternoon and we are all hoping with our every being that things are finally looking up.
To be continued…