Here’s the part of Dad’s journey that I witnessed. I wish with all my might that I could still be there with him. He’s doing much better. He’s off the ventilator, his vital signs are good. They’ve turned the suction off on the chest tubes & if all goes well, the tubes will be removed tomorrow. They’ve removed the arterial line. Currently he’s detoxing. Yep. My father was over-medicated by the people taking care of him. More on the story as you go through the photos. It’s too hard to write the story out succinctly. I’m so angry… I’m so upset… I’m too emotional to write it all out. But here’s a try.
So Tuesday June 4th at 8:30 in the morning, Dad underwent a lobectomy and thoracotomy. By 2pm he was in his room, very much awake and feeling good. No grogginess or anything. That evening he was eating ice chips and sitting in his chair in the CCU room.
Wednesday morning Dad was drinking Coke. For lunch he was given a full roast beef meal… roast beef, mashed potatoes, carrots (he didn’t eat the carrots). I couldn’t believe it! The skipped over jello and broth, pudding, eggs… They skipped the liquid diet and the soft diet… they jumped from ice chips & coke to a full diet. This seemed quite odd to me… after the crash when I was asking questions I was told this fast progression of food is the new protocol. Pft, I’m not so sure.
The first series of photos are on Wednesday June 5th… about 18 hours post-op.
Shortly after the previous photos were taken, Dad was moved from CCU to a private room on the floor. His IV was disconnected leaving the port for future antibiotics and such. I was a bit miffed about this. He should’ve been on a continuous IV drip. He had an epidural with Fentanyl going. Standard protocol is continuous IV fluids and 1 hour pain management assessments. Neither of these things happened.
His urine was pretty dark at this point. He had a foley in place. I was watching the output and it was minimal. I mentioned something to the nursing staff that it look as if Dad might be a bit dehydrated. These next photos are about an hour or so after he was moved to a private room.
The dietician called for Dad’s dinner & breakfast order: chicken fajitas for dinner, scrambled eggs for breakfast. We all left so he could get some rest. We figured he was in good hands. Up to this point, Dad hadn’t belched or anything. This is what I was waiting for. Belching is an indicator that the digestive system is waking up. He was sipping water, no IV, dark urine. He still had the Fentynal epidural and was receiving oral pain medication as well. I don’t know what the pills were… they wouldn’t tell me when I asked.
Thursday I took the twins to see their Grandpa. Momma J took them swimming and for lunch while I sat with Dad. Some one0-on-one time… just me & my Daddy. It was wonderful. He was very tired and kept flaking off but I didn’t mind. It was a pleasure to sit and watch him sleeping. In between naps Dad would get up in the chair, check email, check facebook… he gave up at one point because he was having trouble concentrating.
Later in the afternoon, he sat up… and he belched. And holy cow! It smelled awful! It was sickly sweet and rotten smelling. His urine was getting darker & darker, thicker & thicker. I continued mentioning that to the nursing staff. It was rare to see a nurse come into the room. It was rare to see an aide come into the room.
I left Dad around 4 that afternoon when Momma J came back with the twins. Dad was belching & his lower system was beginning to work. He was a bit nauseous. About 30 minutes after I left and was on the road back to his house (45 minute drive), Momma J called & said Dad had vomited… amazing amounts of junk coming out of his belly. All of this increased his level of dehydration. She got him cleaned up and settled for the night & went on to her hotel room.
The next morning, Friday, Momma J walked into Dad’s room to finding him laying in his own filth. The surgeon came in right behind her and saw it as well. the surgeon went to the nurses’ station and raised hell. Momma J got him into the bathroom and cleaned up. I arrived a bit before noon to find Dad happy, talking with visitors. He’d just had a dressing change & the surgical site, chest tube site, and spinal site all looked healthy & healing. Dad was still getting Fentynal as well as oral pain pills, in addition to Phenegran pushes in his hep lock.
The surgeon ordered a continuous IV drip to counteract the dehydration. Finally. Three days after I first told the staff his urine was too dark.
I moved him up in the bed when I arrived because he was sort of slouched down deep. When we pulled him up, the bed alarm started going off. A continuous beep…. we retrieved a nurse to help getting the alarm to mute or something. She didn’t know how. We stepped on the brakes and it stopped but as soon as we let up it would beep again. Coach tried taping the brake pedal down by wrapping tape around the pedal and the bed frame while pulling the brake down. It held for a few minutes but the beeping started up again. The nurse went out to call maintenance to come fix the bed.
Everyone left to do their thing while I visited with Dad. I stood on that stupid brake pedal for a while, maintenance never came. I got angry. I went to the foot of the bed and with all my weight, stood up the bar that controls the brakes. I jumped, landing with both feet on the bar and jammed that baby good. I’m sure I permanently damaged the bed…but the beeping stopped. Throughout the day Dad was up in the chair reading email, listening to Jerry Jeff on the computer. and visiting. Momma J returned and I was heading back to their house. She told me they had found her a roll-away bed and she was staying. No way was she going to let him go unattended again over night.
Everything seemed okay.
Saturday morning… 6:53 AM… Momma J called me. She was very upset. She had just stepped out of the shower. As she came out of the bathroom, she found 20 staff members in Dad’s room… he was being intubated. Then she said “Sherri, Oh God, they are starting CPR!”
I got Coach up, we picked up my daughter and hauled ass to the hospital. That was a long 45 minute drive.
When we arrived, Dad was in CCU. He was on a ventilator with a central line, arterial line, Dopamine, Narcan, NorEpi, and some other drugs running IV.
I went in to see him. When I touched his head and talked to him he tried to open his eyes.
I started asking the hard questions. I asked the CCU nurse who told me I needed to step back and be a daughter. I told her I was done doing that. The surgeon came out to see us and I asked him the hard questions. He got irritated and a bit belligerent. He said it was too soon to know what had happened. But I knew what happened. Dad was too dehydrated and that pain medication had built up in his body. He wasn’t able to metabolize it. It was just accumulating. And he crashed.
The oncologist came out to see us and said exactly that. Dad was over-medicated.
I had to come home. I had to take care of myself. I could feel the beast waking up. I had to come home or I was going to end up in the very same hospital. I knew Dad was improving. I hated to leave but I knew he was going to be okay. This is the last time I saw him… terrible images… awful for me to look at. But he as able to nod yes or no, he was reaching out to hold my hand. And he cried when I told him I was going home. Gut wrenching.
The last time I saw my father, he was more awake. They were able to stop some of the blood pressure medications. He was still on the ventilator but taking some breaths on his own.
I just spoke to him on the phone. He’s going to stay in CCU until he goes home. I think the hospital wants to ensure he gets good care after the huge errors made before. They put a recliner in his room. He’s more awake. He’s not hurting… even though he’s getting no pain meds. He continues with the DT’s from the Fentynal but that will stop in another day or so. And maybe they can pull out his chest tubes today.
He’s getting better.