Monday, July 14, 2008

Water in the lungs

My dad knew it as soon as he woke up - his time was drawing near. He was extremely lethargic - had a real tough time breathing. So what does my dad do? He goes to... (dramatic pause)... his camp site. Yes that's right - good ol' OVPC, Cobden, On. Unsure of how the next few weeks would play out, he knew it might be the last chance he had to see his pride and joy. I'm not sure why he loves his camp site so much. I think it represents a lot of great things for him - relaxation, salvation, he met my mom there...

After a short day at camp, he head back home to Ottawa, packed some belongings, and headed to ER. He knew the situation was bad enough that they wouldn't let him leave. In fact, he was determined to stay at the hospital for observation. He feels safe there.

Turns out that my dad's situation had gotten much worse. X-Rays revealed a massive amount of fluid gathering around his lungs (not in his lungs). The fluid was constricting his lungs and making it difficult for him to breathe. A lung tap was necessary to drain the fluid.

After the lung tap, the doctors made the decision to keep him in observation. Observation turned into a semi-private room. 1 week became 2 weeks which became 3 weeks. My dad's roommate changed twice. It was necessary to keep him in the hospital because he needed to be on oxygen.

For myself, this was one of the most difficult times. At my dad's worst, he was skin and bone, dependant on oxygen, confined to a walker, and each step he took was 5-6 inches. He looked like an old, frail man - but he's much too young for that. I wouldn't wish that on anyone. Dad's are strong - not vulnerable.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Visit with the family doctor

My dad knows his body very well. He knows when something is wrong - when something isn't working the way it was designed. He's felt this way for a few weeks now. So much so that he's seriously afraid he's going to go to bed one night and never wake up. This attitude has turned my dad into a different person.


I'm not sure how old I was - maybe 12. Lets go with 12. Nor am I sure where my dad and I were driving. But I remember we were on Old Highway 16 - talk radio playing in the background. My dad loved listening to talk radio back then. I had started sharing with my dad how scared I was of the dentist. I hated the dentist. I'd literally have a fit before each visit. I'll never forget my dad's response. "Son, did you know it says in the Bible that you shouldn't worry about anything? God's in control. Matthew 6:25-27 says, "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"

That moment - right there - was a bench mark in my life. A defining moment. From then on, with prayer and some help from upstairs, I began to kick my worry and fear driven life. Wow - was the ever freeing. Ever since that bench mark, I've always looked at my dad as a fearless man of God.


It was around this time that my dad started acting a little out-of-the-ordinary. For example, he insisted that we not accompany him to his appointment with his family doctor. I thought that was a little irrational. And the last time my dad was irrational, he left the house and didn't come home for almost a year.

I'm embarrassed to say that my suspicions drove me to call and confirm that he did in fact have an appointment with his family doctor. When the receptionist on the other end of the phone confirmed that he did have the appointment, you'd think I would have taken a sigh of relief. Instead, my heart broke.

He later admitted that the reason he insisted we not go is because he doesn't want to be a burden on his kids. Like any other dad, he doesn't want to be the reason why his children's hearts ache. He just wants to take care of this business behind closed doors and get better. In the end, I know my dad appreciates that we've insisted on being their with him through all his hospital visits and treatments.

I see right through you, dad.

During the appointment with his family doctor, Becky and I learned more about what was taking place inside my dad's body. The most detrimental symptom my dad was dealing with was the build up of fluid in his body. From my limited understanding, the liver produces a protein that absorbs water in your body. This protein is longer being produced in sufficient quantities because his liver is failing. As a result, fluid is building up throughout.

It started in his feet. They became very swollen. At one point, my dad was able to push his fingers into his swollen ankle and his ankle retained the shape of his fingers for a few minutes... 3 massive finger craters in his ankle... similar to silly pudding keeping its shape.

The family doctor prescribed more diuretics to try and flush the fluid out of his system. Fluid in your ankles wasn't such a bad thing. Fluid in your lungs, however...