Tuesday, July 15, 2008

hanging on for the ride

Dad's still in the hospital, and will be for the immediate future (best case scenario, end of this week). Latest developments include:

  • Finding out (this morning) that the infection was so bad when they brought him in last Monday he was classified as septic. I'm not sure if that's still the classification, but I do know that he is still on antibiotics to fight the infection.
  • His CA19-9 is elevated, indicating the possibility of cancer (pancreatic or colon are the most likely), but it could also be caused by the infection.
  • His liver is not functioning, and he's received at least one fresh frozen plasma transfusion, as well as Vitamin K. These are to help supplement the functions that his liver would normally be providing.
  • The next test is to be a liver biopsy, to see if the lesions they found during the CT scan are from the infection, or if they're cancer. This test can't be performed until his blood levels (specifically the ability to clot) have improved to safe levels.
  • The doctor is confident that he does not have liver cancer, so if they find cancer in the liver, it's spread from somewhere else.
  • Despite all this, he's been moved out of the critical care step-down unit and into a regular medical unit. I suppose that is a good thing, but I don't really know.

None of us 3 girls have medical power of attorney, so NONE OF US have any ability to make decisions for Dad. And he doesn't want to do anything except go home and sit in his recliner. I don't know what this means as far as his treatment goes, but so far he's agreed (altho not happily) to all of the tests his doctor has wanted. If there is ANYTHING to be learned from this, it is to make sure that you either have your medical wishes documented, or you have the legal paperwork in place to allow someone else to make the decisions for you... ideally, you want both.

Please, learn from my mistake here. My father is not a young man. At 79 years old, and a 2 pack a day smoker for over 65 years, none of this is coming as a surprise. Unfortunate and stressful? Abso-fucking-lutely. But not a surprise. I've been meaning to have a conversation with him about making sure I (or one of my sisters) know what he wants, and that someone has the ability to carry out those wishes for him. Unfortunately, I was too much of a chicken shit to open that dialogue. So now, we wait, and we hope, and we thank God that his doctors have been kind enough to keep us as in the loop as we are.

PS: He did have the foresight to tell me, in the ER on Monday, that he is NOT going to a nursing home. What that means for his eventual (hopefully) release from the hospital... I have no idea.


Kaci said...

(((hugs))) - we're here for you if you need anything.

Meredith said...

((hugs)) You guys are in my prayers!!!