Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Dad's Surgery - 3 month adventure

 Having surgeries in the mist of the covid craziness was totally different than it used to be. This is our story. We decided to take the RV to the base the night before Dad's surgery.  This would make the drive the hospital in Anchorage much easier.  We would not be allowed to visit in the hospital. We would not be allowed to wait during surgery. BUT if things went south we would be able to get to the hospital quickly. It's the best we could do. 

We circled around Dad and prayed as we left the house. 

Benny was praying for "GG's heart owies" - but he was happy to play farkle before GG left. 

After the initial check in visit, they decided they WOULD let me accompany dad until he went back for surgery because he was obviously not able to give them accurate answers to their medical questions and was confused at their instructions.  He had a quadruple bypass. It was his choice. He had been told he'd have 3 months to live without it - and he wanted it.

I left the hospital, and the wait began, it was August 5th. The call that surgery was over was what we expected. HOWEVER, Dad did not wake  up from the anesthesia until August 16th, Stacia's birthday.  By that point the ICU doc was talking about initiating his medical directive and taking him off all life support which he was on. He had been given a week and woke up on Day 5 of the week. 

He woke up. Then came weeks in the ICU as they worked to get him to the point where he could sit up, feed himself was a slow go...and eventually he was released to Maple Springs on September 1st, instead of coming home. At that point he was on oxygen, unable to sit on his own. He was in a wheelchair and couldn't stand or walk.  The hospital and Maple Springs couldn't arrange a time for us to see him....but the transporting company called to let us know when they would be arriving and said that time between institutions was our window to see dad. All felt it would be helpful for him to see us.  Arielle, Benny and a friend from church (with her girls) joined Stacia, Michael and I to greet Dad. 

Our first look at Dad in a month...we had been told we could talk but we couldn't touch him.  

Um...the Chaplain said to heck with THAT and touched Dad and prayed for him. Dad was confused. He needed that. 
Dad thought he was at our house and didn't understand why we weren't coming down to see him. He also thought he was next a man with a horrendous injury (but was alone).  It was a tough time for him. 

I was called for 6 different falls in a month. Alaska is a no restraint state...but Dad kept falling out of beds and chairs...and his dementia was such he wasn't remembering he couldn't get up he fell....and we would rush to the hospital for scans as he's on blood thinner...and he would think he was in Oregon and be upset when he had to go back to the facility. 

We were lucky he was in a room where we could do window visits. The kids, great grands and us all made it over to his window. 
Michael & I


Bella, Gideon and Annie

Stacia and Millie

Our hope was he would be out of here before snow fell - because those visits got colder as the time went on. LOL  They began to get cranky about daily window visits, because they had to move him to the window...and he continued to fall...and wasn't make much progress.  The nurses told me if it were THEIR dad they'd take him home....the heart surgeon thought he would improve at home and may regain some cognitive awareness at home.  Finally, after we discovered he fell and we weren't called...we had a meeting with all over the phone and against the advice of the doctor who was overseeing the facility - we made plans to bring him home. 

We went to the facility and learned how to get him into our van. We found a new bed, boards to help move him, equipment to help move him, oxygen tanks, install a chair lift, contract to build a ramp and BOATLOADS of meds. 

On November 8, 2020 - 3 months after his surgery we brought him home. We had been told he'd be 2 - 3 weeks.... 

The ramp wasn't done but there was no ice yet on the hill down to the back door. Cory, Michael and Krista got him inside. 

Krista is dating Luke. 

The girls made Chicken Pot Pie and Stacia made a welcome home cake. 

Together again - and both are over the moon happy. 

We have a whole lot of new meds to keep track of...but he's home. 

We had not been aware how the surgery could affect Dad's dementia. We were told maybe a step down, but it was way more than that.  Dad is still happy with his choice, though he does NOT have the energy he had 20 years he had been led to believe he would. We actually didn't notice any positive improvement in his energy level....he is now able to get around with a walker. He still falls quite often and needs much more care than he did before the surgery...but he is alive and so he's happy with the choice. 

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