Saturday, October 27, 2007

"Go Straight Then Turn Left"

Well, it' done. A long day for sure. I took Dad in at 6:40 for his 9:30 surgery and that went ahead, as planned, this time. Then the fun part (the waiting) began...

If all things went "smoothly", Dad was due back in the recovery room by 1:30 or so. But we know it doesn't happen that way, don't we?

Gone are the good old days where you waited in a room designed specifically for that until someone came to "update" you on the progress of things. I remember when Mom had surgery many moons ago for her aneurysm (which had burst) - nurses came out several times to give us updates. And then, immediately afterward, the doctor came out to give us the news.

Things aren't quite so efficient these days and noone really communicates at all.

By 1:45 I knew nothing - hadn't seen or heard anything. I'd waited for a period of time in the surgical "daycare" waiting room, the only one available. But there was a grumpy old guy bitching about how long he'd been waiting and I had to leave before I threw my shoe at him. And the lady coughing spewing muffin all over the floor helped with that decision (to leave).

I read the entire Province newspaper, the Georgia Strait, the local rags and a seniors flyer (just for good measure). I did a Canucks and a Crossword scratch and lose, drank 26 "taste like they've sat in a pot all day and burnt on the bottom" Starbucks coffees (which I hate) and then ran out of things to do. So it was then that I went and sat here.....
I decided to make myself useful, as noone else was doing the job. And nobody even caught on that I didn't belong there...I gave out directions all day. There wasn't one damn question I couldn't answer. (And no, I'm not a weirdo who packs her camera to her Dad's surgery - I just happened to have it in my purse and it provided momentary relief from the anxiety and the worry).

It was while I was sitting here that things turned very sad. Now the wheels were already turning, as this spot is directly across from the elevators that took me up to Mom every day. And as I sat staring at them, the doors opened and a friend that I know from work came out with a group of others. I knew that her Mom had recently had some problems - although nothing too serious from what I was aware of. She'd been at home and, although when I'd checked with "M" on how she was doing a few days ago and she said "not good", I'd assumed that meant she'd had a little setback. But I immediately knew...the look on her face and smudged tears told me. I got up and mouthed the words "your Mom?" and she just shook her head yes as she started to bawl and came over and hugged me (hard). Her mother had just passed away. We stood there in the hallway and hugged and cried. For a very long time.

So after that, the sadness was overwhelming. Then I spotted a cousin, who is dying of pancreatic cancer and drug abuse, just to keep things rolling along.

I went in to a reception type room and asked if they could fill me in on what was happening with Dad. A nurse came out and said that Dad would be in surgery for AT LEAST a few more hours. That was it, no explanation as to why, just that it would be at least 4 or 5 before he was done. I asked if there'd been a delay and she told me there hadn't - that he got right in there at 9:30, as scheduled.

It was at that point that I decided I had to get out of there for an hour before my head exploded with worry...I had to drive Linds somewhere anyhow, so I came home for a bit.

I arrived back at the hospital at 3:15 and still no word. I went and told the reception lady that I'd go wait up by the ICU, where Dad was to be taken afterward, as I was getting stir crazy where I was at. It was then that I got the news - they couldn't find a bed in ICU for Dad and didn't know WHERE he'd moved to when he was done. I think I kind of lost it at this point because, before I knew it, I had a "team leader" and a head nurse sitting beside me, trying to assure me that things would work out. They showed me a spot in the surgical daycare recovery room that Dad would be kept in until something became available in ICU. After many questions about equipment and specialized staff, I had to accept that this was all there was. That my foot stamping just wasn't going to change things and that it had to be this way. Yea healthcare system. Screwing people over for years now (I had flashbacks of the fairly recent news story I'd seen of the guy who was actually placed in a broom closet when there was no room for him anywhere else in the hospital. That wasn't going to be my Dad).

At 3:50, the doctor came out to say things were "done" and had gone "fairly well". He then explained that, because it was a doozie (they'd done other things as well while they were "in there"), they were keeping Dad in a semi coma like state and on a ventilator. He also said I could "see" Dad for a second and that they'd come out and tell me when. This was a surprise as, the original plan was that he'd be in ICU for a day or two before we'd get to see him. Now they were letting me in?

Again, I waited another hour or so (back at my information desk). By this time, everyone in the area had "cleared out" of the waiting room, the lights were shut out and staff were locking up and leaving. It became obvious that this was not "the norm" and that Dad should've been transferred somewhere else by now, as this department was obviously just a "daytime" operation. My brother arrived after work and he, too, was concerned about the "arrrangements" being made for Dad.We just really weren't comfortable with "setttling" for anything but the critical care he was scheduled to receive.

It was nearly 5:45 and I was growing increasingly anxious - a woman suggested that I "remind" the nurses that we were waiting to see Dad, as "they probably forgot about you". Yep, they had.

After nearly 12 hours and many tears, we finally got so see Dad for a brief moment. They'd warned us that it would be "shocking" - that he had breathing tubes and all kinds of other stuff in him. But it wasn't. He looked good to me - good color and just like my "Papa". I know how to read some of the charts and it seemed like he was reasonably stable. After Mom's ordeal, preparing for "the worst" has taken on a whole new meaning. I stayed composed and just gave Dad a soft rub on the hand before we left - we didn't want to "jeopardize" his care by "visiting" too early.

I didn't sleep much last night and probably won't tonight...until he's breathing on his own and conscious, it's pins and needles. But the worst is over and I think someone was on our side, looking out for us.

I'm off to the hospital now, so won't be able to respond to comments (that I appreciate more than you could ever know).



Anonymous kelly said...

I don't know whats to say, what a horrible experience. Your recent experiences with the health care system with your mom and your dad must leave you so exhausted and disillusioned with our health care system. I am one of those rare people that (so far) have never had a bad experience with our system). Once when I had a problem and dropped in to make an appointment with my doctor, they squeezed me in and I was at the hospital getting a C.T. scan within 2 hours. I feel so bad for what you and your family have had to deal with. Best wishes to your dad and you.

12:00 PM  
Blogger Gledwood said...

Thank God everything seems to have gone OK!

That photo of the empty desk could have come straight from ... yes! A British hospital!!

You seem to get an amazing "fall" out in Canada... scarlet leaves on the trees! I found a blog with pictures of bright red maple-like leaves just now... and highlighted it on my one... our trees go gold but bearly ever bright red!!

Well I was just looking at a world map on day/night setting and was surprised to see it's still daylight in Vancouver. It's ten past one in the morning here!!

Take care Debs


5:10 PM  
Blogger Toccata said...

Oh, Deb I am so sorry for what you have had to go through not only today but this past year. I'm grateful you were able to finally see your father. Take care and know we're all here rooting for you, your father and your family. By the time you read this an email will have made it your way.

5:45 PM  
Blogger busterp said...

Thinking of you way over here in Illinois. Wish you the best.

7:13 PM  
Blogger Barbara Bruederlin said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to let us know how your dad is doing, Deb. You know that we are all thinking of your family and worrying about him.

What an exhausting and worrisome day for you. How you kept it together for so long, on top of all you have been through this past year or so, is amazing to me and a testiment to your incredible strength.

I'm so very sorry for your friend who lost her mother. Your presence and your support must have been a great comfort to her and could not have come at a better time.

I do love how you manned the information desk (and very well too)! You are my hero!

8:04 AM  
Blogger aka k said...

Like gledwood said. How is it that things like hospitals get worse in our highly developed countries instead of better?

So glad your Dad has come through the op. Hope the recovery is rapid.


7:05 AM  
Blogger TK Kerouac said...

Great to hear your dad has come out of the surgery ok Deb, Take care of yourself, ox

8:30 AM  
Blogger Deb said...'re one of the lucky ones. It's gotten worse since last, post...unbelievably worse. But, what can we do?...we're at their mercy in there so we just have to hope for a speedy recovery. Thanks for the kind words. ;)

gled...sorry I haven't been around to "visit"...things should calm down soon. Thanks for being here.

tc...oh dear, email. I guess I better go check that at some point too (I do that about once a week during a GOOD week!). Thank you, your support means the world to me.

busterp...your face always just has an instant cheering affect. Thanks.

Barb...thank you so much. I figured I might as well do something useful, rather than just sit and worry.

aka...honestly, it sometimes feels like third world care. It's deteriorating to an unbelievably bad state. I'm going to post more on it (when time permits). Thanks for popping by. :)

tk...I'm trying, that's all I can do right now. It's a very trying time right now but I think we'll be o.k.
Thanks for your ongoing support.

10:42 AM  

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