Oh my friends ; myheart is breaking right now. :'-( MyUncle was taken to the hospital last night ( the 13th ) because he had fallen and hit his head and thedoctor made him go via ambulance because he suspected bleeding in the brain. He was right. My uncle was soon transported to another hospital that had the necessary equipment/staff to treat someone in his position. Yesterday he went in lucid and talking, just a little bit unsteady on his feet and sometimes drifting out of consciousness for a few moments. Today his symptoms progressed to confusion about the time period he's in ~ he thinks it's WWII still and that he's in the hospital for a war injury to his head. And tonight the really bad signs started appearing. He's delirious for the most part, and the dreaded headache that comes with aneuryisms has shown up and is growing quickly. He is on a morphine drip to try to ease the pain.
They can't operate on him ~ his blood is too thin even after over 24 hours of plasma being pumped into his veins. The Coumadin is the problem; a blood thinner that a lot of elderly patients have to take.He's off of it, but he's elderly and it takes him so much longer to heal and build up his plasma levels and clotting factors. In order to fix the bleed they have to drill sets of holes in his skull, suction the blood out, cauterize the bleed, clean it all, and then wait and hope he pulls through. At earliest he MIGHT be able to have the surgery tomorrow morning…but the longer they wait, the lessthe chance of survival forhim, or any ability to recover meaningfully.
I feel so guilty right now. I didn't go see him today because I was on my own with Zachary and I didn't want to take him into the hospital and frighten him seeing Uncle Dick covered in electrodes and wires and tubes in the ICU. Now I wish I had left him with Aaron at work for a little while and gone by myself. I know there's really nothing I can do, I just hope he knows that I love him. I'm going to try to go tomorrow morning and be there with my Aunt while he's in surgery or still in ICU. My Mom has been there with her the last 2 nights but she's getting up at 4 a.m. to go to work every morning and work a 13 hour waitressing shift afterwards. My Aunt is going to need all the support she can get during this.
I know why I'm so afraid. It sounds completely bizarre, but it's a horrible feeling of knowing what's coming and how this is all going to end. 6 years ago next month my stepdad died. He fell and hit his head extremely hard (as my Uncle has done) and then didn't go to the hospital when he had problems. About a week later I came home (we were moving in with them at that point) with my son, a toddler still, and my stepdad was sitting on a chair outside the front door. He told me he thought he was having a stroke~ it was the worst headache in his life and his hand felt "wrong". By the time the ambulance got there he was beginning to slur his words. The next day he had lost the use of his right side almost completely, and the bleeding in his brain was going unchecked because they couldn't operate on it- too deep in the brain.
For a little while it got better~ he was lucid and joking and loving. Butall of a sudden his blood pressure started spiking and then bottoming out, which opened the bleed again. He developed pneumonia and because he couldn't cough they'd have to suction out his lungs to remove the liquid building up in them. The did tests to see if he could swallow food, and he didn't pass; so they agreed to put in a feeding tube through his abdominal wall to his stomach. They told us all that he would learn to be able to eat again normally with therapy and time.
That never came. I was sitting there with him in ICU with my Mom as he began to drift in and out of conciousness. He could no longer speak, he had ripped out the feeding tube but no one knew if it was intentional or done in a morphine induced haze, and the only way he communicated was through squeezing your hand or leaning his head slightly to the side. He was in agony. It seems so strange now, that I had the insight to buy that card for him that day, to tell him how much I really loved him and that he had been my REAL Dad for most of my life, even though we had so many problems in the past ~ that he'd always been there for me and encouraged me in my music and my education and such. I had to read it to him myself, holding his hand. And when I told him "I love you Dad" with tears rolling down my face, he squeezed my hand as hard as he could, grunting and conveying the same. And then 20 minutes later he started to choke in front of us, breathing in shallow, hiccupping, uneven breaths. We yelled for a nurse and she told us he was aspirating and that we had to leave right then. He was dying before our eyes.
They managed to pull him through it, but the final blow had been dealt. It had caused the bleed to worsen when his blood pressure went up due to the stress of choking, and it was the last time he communicated with us at all. They filled him full of sedatives to keep him calm, and Mom and I sat with him, her holding his hand, me massaging the foot that he could still feel.
Only 2 days later the decision was made to bring Hospice in. He had specified that he didn't want to be kept alive on machines, he wanted to die as normally and as dignified as possible. That choice nearly killed my Mom to make. They took out the feeding tube permanently, took out the oxygen tube into his lungs, and left him only with an oxygen mask over his nose and mouth. He was kept on morphine to keep him as comfortable as possible, and a few nights later he just slipped away. I was the one to answer the phone and get the news. I was the one to have to relay it to my Mom, moments after she'd just gotten home from being there. I think he waited to be alone so as not to hurt Mom any more than she already was.
It feels like the nightmare is happening all over again. It's slowly replaying itself out, bit by bit. I don't know how to cope with this ~ between what's happening now with my Uncle and the very painful memories of my stepdad's passing pelting me like hailstones from hell I just want to hide and take a LOT of sleeping pills. But what I want and what I'll do is two different things. Instead I've got to hold it together, because my Mom is falling apart due to the same issues I'm having with this. It's too similar, too close to home. And my Aunt can't cope either. So I guess that leaves me. And I'm terrified.
Please friends, send positive thoughts and prayers for all of us during this time.God may call him home, and I can accept that if it means and end to suffering or a life of being a vegetable. But please pray for us to find our peace in this and be able to give the support we need to each other and him during this time.
I'm sorry this is such a sad blog, but I don't know what else to do but write about it here. My hands are tied in this, and sitting at the hospital right now does me no good~ he doesn't know/remember who I am. I'm going to try to go to bed so that I can get up and go see him in the morning. Right now he can't have visitors anyhow.