Monday, April 29, 2013

Patient Number 5,896

My family and I had to let go of someone we loved last week. Taking him off life support was somewhat like putting your favorite cat or dog to sleep, except much worse.

This was my father.

 At the funeral, my cousin Wendell told me that it will be the hardest thing I'll ever have to do. I believe him for two reasons: 1) He's older than me, and 2) He's a minister. I do not think this was his first removing-someone-from-life-support experience.
  There are a few things I wish I could change about the events that occurred during my father's 17-day hospital stay. Having him walk away from his ordeal would of course be at the top of my list. Number Two would be having him sent back to the Huntsville Hospital Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU) instead of the Huntsville Hospital Surgical Intensive Care Unit (SICU.) The nurses Dad had in MICU were phenomenal. He commented on how sharp they were. These people were really taking care of him, and I could tell how much he appreciated it. He talked about them using their first names. He spoke of them as though they were his new friends. He gradually showed enough improvement that he was put in a regular hospital room (out of intensive care) for a while. I don't really know what happened next. I don't think the medical staff could give a good explanation, either. Dad looked to me like he was on the mend. He had asked me to go buy him an iPad and some pens and notepads. He wanted to write stuff down. He had plans. He was alert and witty because he was fully oxygenated. But then he started crashing again, and he was put in SICU because there weren't any beds open with his old friends in MICU. He needed oxygen, he needed vasoconstrictors to keep his blood pressure up, he had a blood clot in his leg, he was retaining fluid, he was having seizures...

Jesus. CHRIST. I couldn't sleep that night. And I didn't really want to. I was scared he would be gone when I woke up. I flew back to Huntsville. By the time I was allowed in to see him again, I found my Dad tied to a bed in SICU, looking all bruised and discolored, swollen and puffy, mildly sedated and on a ventilator.

The next saddest thing I've ever seen in my life was my Mom walking into her house with baggies full of Dad's spare clothes, his glasses, his new iPad that he never used, his little TV radio that he had to have on his bedside tray.

I keep getting angry when I think about some of the medical personnel in SICU. Do you know how I found out they had given up on my Dad? I could tell by the way they talking in front of him. They weren't talking to him, they were talking about him as though he wasn't there. But he was there. He was awake. I knew he could hear them. He couldn't say anything back because he had a ventilator tube down his throat and his hands were tied to the bed rails. Dad's new day nurse and kidney doctor were displaying the same level of psycho-social competence as someone who decides to dump his girlfriend by changing his Facebook status to "single."

I was in that room, cheering for my Dad every time I was allowed to see him. I was bragging about the baby steps of progress I thought he was making, and those inglorious bastards had already determined that patient number 5,896 was doomed but did not take the time to tell his family.

 I feel like an asshole, friends. I lied to my Daddy while he was on his deathbed.

No comments:

Post a Comment