Sunday, November 09, 2008

Dad's Condition

My father's in "guarded" condition (better than "serious," but not as good as "stable") in the ICU. He has low blood pressure, and his kidneys aren't working right, and the meds that would raise his blood pressure would also "nuke his kidneys," to quote the doctor's colorful phrase.

Ideally, the next step will be a cardiac catheterization to see what's going on other than the bad valve (which they know he has, and which could have caused the heart attack). However, at the moment his BP's too low for him to tolerate that procedure, so they can't go in until both the BP and the kidney issues have improved.

After he goes to the cath lab, the ideal next step would be valve replacement -- open-heart surgery -- which the doctor estimates he'd have a seventy percent chance of surviving. The problem with that, of course, is that they'd have to crack open his chest. He had a really tough time recovering from his four-way bypass seven years ago, and he's frailer now than he was then.

If they do the surgery, he'll be care-flighted to the San Francisco VA for it, since Reno doesn't have the proper facilities. But there are a lot of "ifs" floating around here, and the doctors have no idea what will happen. We're taking it day by day.

He was in excellent spirits this morning. This afternoon, he conked out and slept so deeply that neither the nurse nor I could rouse him when it was time to take his meds (the nurse was less worried about that than I'd have been if she hadn't been there). I like the medical staff, and I think he's getting good and appropriate care.

This morning, he decided that he wants to be DNR ("Do Not Resuscitate," medicalese for "if my heart stops, let me go"), so he's now wearing a bright blue bracelet announcing his code status. While the doctor, intern and resident were briefing him and me and Fran on all the steps and permutations and complications, Dad kept waving at the ceiling and saying cheerfully, "Hi, heaven, I'm on my way!"

This was purely a figure of speech; he's a devout atheist who believes neither in heaven nor hell. But later, when one of the doctors told me that he wasn't sure Dad understood his situation, I said, "He understands his situation exactly. That's why he was saying hello to heaven." (Don't these people listen?)

But with any luck, we can delay that for a little while.


  1. Thank you for the update, Susan. Prayers are being said and by more than just me. How is Fran handling this?

    Peace! & Hope!

  2. This must be so very hard. Prayers for you all.

  3. Medical roller coaster rides are never fun, and you're getting one right after the other again and again. Yikes.

    My thoughts and best wishes are with you all. Thank goodness for the good and appropriate care at the Reno VA. Here's hoping your father's condition improves soon.

  4. If you go to the SLC VA instead of the SF VA, I'll bring you Jamba Juices in the waiting room. Seriously, though- I'm so sorry that this is happening to you. Please make sure that you get enough rest time for your back (and your heart) to do okay.

  5. Anonymous4:08 AM

    Dear Susan,

    Thank you for all your updates in the middle of everything you have going on these days. How glad I am that your father is getting such good care - how sorry I am that he needs so much of it these days. Please don't forget to take care of yourself while you are taking care of everyone else - if you need a day off, take it! heck, take two!!

    Prayers ascending, as one of your faithful correspondents often says in a phrase I like a lot,


  6. Thanks so much, everybody! These comments are a lifeline for me. Please keep those prayers coming!

  7. Will pray for him.

  8. Add my prayers to the list, please.

  9. Anonymous10:42 AM

    Wow, Susan, I'm exhausted just reading all this. I can't begin to imagine how difficult it all is for you. The tone of your posts indicate you're doing OK--I hope that's true.

    My parents are elderly, too. My Dad's in the VA home w/ dementia. But my situation's a cakewalk compared to yours!

    Jeff P.


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