Two weeks following my first post, Heart Bypass: A Daughter’s Story (Part I), here is the continuation.
I was hoping that this post would be a more positive one and at least dad might have been on the ward. It wasn’t to be. My mum and sisters told me when I arrived this afternoon he was still in ICU and extremely angry and frustrated, and to top it off they were deep cleaning the ward and had literally taped him into a separate room with only his nurse for company.
We went to see him that evening and it was so uncomfortable. He did not really want to talk so we had the TV on a lot and any time we tried to interact with him he was quite short. He was even worse with the staff and seemed to feel they were all imbeciles. We were told he was refusing paracetamol so they were giving it him intravenously and he was pushing himself up in his bed, which he shouldn’t be doing as it can damage his incision. His oxygen levels are still low but apart from that he is doing well and if there was a bed available he would be on the ward.
It just seems each day there is something else to worry about, first his surgery, then his lungs, now his mental well-being. Every day we leave that hospital with such heavy hearts, not knowing what to do but not wanting to leave him there either.
What a difference a day makes! Mum rang this morning and spoke to a lovely male nurse who told her he had a decent night, his lines are all out of his neck and he had even walked down the ward! They were hoping to let him have a shower at some point and he said dad’s mood was vastly improved.
When we arrived on ICU the ward manager stopped us as we were walking down the corridor to give us an update. Mid-conversation at the other end of the corridor my dad appeared. It was the happiest sight. After last seeing him hooked up to various machines, laid in a bed, an oxygen mask over his face and so miserable, it was like seeing a different man. I cannot express the joy we all felt. We rushed down to see him and were able to give him a little hug and kiss without working our way through a jungle of medical equipment to get to him. After he had sat himself down on his chair we all gathered around him eager to hear how the last few hours had gone. He was quite emotional when he told us how different he felt and how grateful he was for his nurse, Andy, who he really felt had brought him out the other side. He also told us for the first time some of the things he had experienced during the hallucinations caused by the Morphine he had been on, which included watching three patients die in the room across from him – the very room he had been shut in during the ward cleaning. I can only imagine how terrifying that must have been to witness that then be trapped in that room himself. He told us it was the hardest thing he had ever gone through and one he never wanted to go through again.
As we were getting ready to leave the nurse told him he could come downstairs and to the doors to see us off and his eyes seemed to light up. She accompanied him down, just in case, but he was fine and I’m sure after being cooped up for six days it was lovely to see the outside world and breathe in the fresh air.
That evening we returned once more, I was too eager to see him to return home so decided to remain in Yorkshire for a few more days. My older sister was gobsmacked at the difference in him.
They had told my dad that morning that he would remain on ICU another day as there were still no beds but he would definitely get down to the ward tomorrow. I think he was just glad to get out of that room and be able to move around, though. The nurses told us they never have patients walking around ICU as they usually head down to the ward the day after surgery, so it was freaking them out seeing him wandering around, chatting to patients and staff.
The two hours of visiting seemed to fly by and once more he came with us to the doors and then waved to us from his window as we drove out of the car park. It is still hard leaving him there, but I feel so much better knowing he is in such a better state of mind.
Today arrived with a phone call when we’d barely been out of bed. It was my dad and he told me to get my mum ‘now!’ The sense of urgency in his voice panicked me a bit but as I left my mum on the phone I heard her exclaiming ‘you can come home today?!’ I ran back in to her jumping up and down! After all our trauma he was coming only a day after he would have had everything gone to plan! They told him he was the first patient to go straight home from ICU, as everyone else would go home from the normal ward. I just could not stop grinning all morning and when my mum left to collect him at 1pm, the time seemed to drag so much.
After a text to tell me it would be teatime by the time they returned from the hospital I tried to get on with the day, handling two babies and the dog! Eventually I saw the car pull up outside the door and I grabbed H and rushed outside to greet dad. He was so pleased to be home and when I gave him a little get well soon card his emotions overwhelmed him. That evening my sister, her boyfriend and I all gathered around him to hear a little more detail of how he’d found the whole experience – traumatic isn’t the word.
We all know the road to recovery won’t be easy, but I think if nothing else it had made our family unit stronger and maybe made my dad realise how much we are all there for him. If I have one message for anyone who is going through this it is take each day it comes. After all it is major surgery and even without complications it is never easy to watch someone so close to you become so ill. If you can get some advice or support, all the better. I have found the Inspire forum a great source of support and information and am hugely grateful to all those who have offered their advice and shared their experiences with me.
So now we try and return back to normality, and celebrate the new lease of life my dad has been given.
*Myself and my family would like to pass on our eternal gratitude to the doctors who performed my dads surgery and the nurses, or ‘angels,’ on the ICU ward at Sheffield Northern General Hospital.