Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Dad's Home

First off, for those of you outside of Ottawa, you would not believe how much snow is on the ground. I gotta take a picture... the photo to the right is outside my front step. Click on the photo for a closer inspection.

Anyhow, dad's out of the hospital and back home. They drained his abdomen and gave him some pain medication. It was nothing serious. It almost seems that these visits to ER are becoming routine - but still very necessary.

My dad's in good spirits - can't wait for his new liver. Mom is feeling the heaviness of the situation. Please pray that God will give her strength, patience and wisdom.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Assessment Dates Booked!!!

Just received an email confirming my assessment appointments in Toronto.

Monday November 10, 2008
11:00am - Cailin Macleod, Transplant Coordinator
11:30am - Abdominal CT
12:30pm - Chest X-Ray
1:30pm - Blood Work / ECG

Tuesday November 11, 2008
9:00am - 1st Surgical Consultation, Dr. Ghanekar
10:30am - Dr. Adcock
12:30pm - MRI

Wednesday November 12, 2008
7:45am - Abdominal Ultrasound
9:00am - Medical Consultation
11:00am - Psychiatric Consultation

I have to fast for a bunch of the appointments... not fun.

This whole transplant thing is starting to feel more real and I'm starting to get just a little more stressed. Its getting harder to put it out of my mind.

BTW, dad is out of ER and has his own room now - Floor 5, room A562, Civic.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Get a new job

Just got back from visiting dad. He's still in ER, observation, bed 15. He's number 5 on the waiting list for a bed.

He's up and walking around, but in short spurts. His stomach is huge. He looks like he's about to go into labour. And with his plad shirt and suspenders, he looks like he's in full redneck apparel.

Mentally, he's doing a bit better today. But on the whole, he's really growing impatient - as any one would. He just wants this whole thing done and over with.

He's constantly complaining about how cold he is. He loves my sweaters so I always offer them to him each time I visit.


One thing we're finding is that the nurses at the Ottawa hospital are very touch and go. I'd say 1 out of 3 nurses are actually kind and courteous. The rest lack any kind of tact or patience - qualities that, in my opinion, are key given their job description. My mom stepped into my dad's observation room. The moment she stepped in, a nurse hollered, "two visitors at a time please!".

My mom responded with, "But I just got here."

"Well..." the nurse remarked so freakin' rudely, rolling her eyes like we were idiots.

Well what!?! Jeeze louize lady! There's three people in a cubicle observation room for 7 seconds and your going to have a conniption over it? I understand that there are rules, but there are more respectful and tactful ways of communicating them. Get a new job!

I didn't actually say any of that. But I was thinking it!

On top of that, a rent-a-cop who saw my camera pulled me aside a few minutes later and said, "Excuse me - your not permitted to take photographs in the hospital. If I see you taking pictures, I'm going to have to confiscate your camera."

"So, I'm not allowed taking any pictures anywhere in the hospital? Even in my dad's room once he is admitted?" I said.

"No sir. Hospital policy."

I hate douche bag power trippers. I've really had enough of them. 3 most common power trippers: rent-a-cops; retail clothing store managers; IT managers.


Dad's waiting in ER until he gets a room. Until he gets a room, he's supposed to have a visit with the Ottawa liver doctor and have a few extra tests done to make sure everything is okay.

The tentative plan is to get well enough to ship back down to Toronto. My dad wants to be in the Toronto ER, not the Ottawa ER. It may help speed up the donor process.

Please drop in and visit while you can! He'd love your company. Only two at a time though.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

'Its one big vicious circle...'

Everytime I see my dad's caller ID on my phone, I know its always one of two things: a random call from dad to say hi or a call from mom that he's on his way to the ER again. My gut drops everytime the phone rings.

He's on his way to the ER again. He's complaining about heaviness in his chest and liver pain. The ambulance arrived about 10min ago and took my dad's vitals. Everything is fine including his blood pressure and his oxygen levels. They let my dad know that because he's stable, he is not a high priority case and will most likely lie in the stretcher in ER for a few hours before anything is taken care of.

I haven't shared this on the blog previously... but the day after my dad returned from Toronto, I got really sick. And there was no way I was going to risk getting him sick, so I haven't visited him since he got back. I'm still not 100% better so I'd rather wait to see him. It's so hard not seeing him... especially now. I know all he wants is some company and some encouragement.

Anyway... here we are again in the Ottawa Hospital... a vicious circle I am determined to bring to an end in a few weeks.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Step 1 and 2... Done.

Last night, our dog got sick and we had to take him to the Animal Hospital ER. After stealing my money, they made us wait in a waiting room for an hour. Perfect time to read through and fill out my living donor documentation.

Mercy - this whole ordeal is much more serious for me then I thought. The Toronto hospital will be very thorough in their assessment of me. Currently only 20% of people who wish to donate their liver actually go under the knife because they are found to be an unsuitable donor. The most common issues include:

- unsuitable blood vessel structure
- abnormal blood tests and medical issues not previously diagnosed (ie. diabetes)

There are also quite a few risks involved for a living donor. These include:

- bile duct leak
- infection
- clotting
- mental health issues

I read a few other unpleasant statistics. It started to freak me out a little. However, I then read that over 300 living donor transplants have been done in Toronto with no deaths and no persistent long-term effects. How fantastic is it that we only live five hours away from the only hospital in Canada that performs living donor transplants and the have an immaculate record! Amazing!

The surgery should be around six hours long. I go into surgery before my dad. At the beginning of my surgery, they will put a tube through my nose into my stomach to keep my stomach empty. They'll also stick a tube into my you-who - deep into my you-who - to keep my bladder empty. Both will be removed around the second day after surgery. I'll be awake when they pull the tube out of my you-who.

Enough about the you-who already.

After they stick the tubes into my you-who, they'll slice me open and check stuff out - even do an x-ray or two. They have to be sure that my bile duct is good to go. As soon as they deem me good to go, they'll wheel my dad in for surgery. Then my dad will probably get something in his you-who too... as well as a new liver.

Anyway, there's a ton more interesting info in the living donor transplant information kit. And since there still exists a slight chance that I may not be able to give my liver, I'm making the information kit and health questionnaire available to download online. Read it - its cool!

Living Donor Information Kit -

Health History Questionnaire -

Please pray that my assessment will go well and I'll be a suitable donor.

By the way. Our dog (Dolce) is fine. He has back problems... nothing some canine-advil couldn't fix.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The donor journey begins...

Finally received all the paper work necessary to start down the road of donating my liver to dad. Here's what I have to do asap:

1) I have to read through an information booklet.
2) I need to fill out a medical history questionnaire.
3) I have to fax/email proof of my blood type (from an official lab result) along with the filled out questionnaire to the transplant coordinator in Toronto.

Once I've done the above, the transplant coordinator will confirm that my dad is on the transplant list (which we already know he is!). If my dad wasn't on the list, apparently the transplant coordinator has the power to inform the transplant assessment team that Brian has a potential donor. In this case, the assessment team would have sped up the assessment process, getting him on the list a bit quicker, if possible.

I feel so frustrated/betrayed that I was told time and time again by different people (including Ottawa doctors) that I'm not supposed to call Toronto until my dad is confirmed. It was NOT TRUE! I could have called at any point. Heck - my dad could be in surgery by now if I had called back in June when this all started going down.

Once my questionnaire is approved and my dad is confirmed as an eligible recipient, my assessments will begin. The assessments must be done in Toronto. And, because I'm an out of town patient, the team will actually book three consecutive days of tests so that in a single visit to Toronto, I'll be able to have 90% of my assessments complete.

Once the 90% of the assessments are complete, a surgery date is booked. The remaining 10% of my assessment is done closer to the surgery date.

My nerves are going crazy. Its so hard to explain the mixed emotions. As I mentioned before - I hate needles, tests, blah blah blah... but at the same time, I'm feeling so excited that my dad is going to have a brand new liver soon! It feels like Christmas but then finding out that you have to get stitches up your nose and your toe nail bent backwards.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Come on! I'm on!


Toronto JUST called my dad (like 2min ago). He's officially on the liver transplant list!

Remember - that means that my dad can go into surgery as soon as a liver becomes available or until I'm confirmed as a donor.

Thank you sooo much God! You had me slightly worried - not gonna lie.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Transplant status update

As mentioned before, my dad is waiting for the results of an ultrasound before he's given the official notice that he is on the transplant list. Once he is on the transplant list, he'll wait for a call to go into surgery. That could happen at any point a liver becomes available.

I start my interviews and testing sometime in the next two weeks. My first interview hasn't been confirmed yet. I have to wait until my dad is officially on the transplant list before I can start my interviews. If I try to start before hand, I'll be put through a general interviewing process (with a group of other candidates) - more like an information session.

Mom brought home a massive packet for me to read all about "The Living Donor". I need to read the whole thing.

Apparently, it will take 8 weeks of tests and interviews before I'm confirmed as an eligible donor. If by that time my dad still needs a liver (he didn't already get one from a deceased donor), as soon as I'm confirmed, my dad and I will go into surgery.

What are the chances a liver will become available during the 8 weeks Josh is testing? Where is Brian on the transplant list?

Glad you asked! I have no idea.

So - it looks like we still have a long road ahead of us. Its likely that my dad will get sick again in the next 8 weeks and end up couped up in the hospital once again.

Until then, my mom says dad is doing very well! He's been walking all over the house, up and down the stairs and eating a ton of food! None of that was possible 8 days ago.

Thank you God so much that your blessing dad with some much needed rest and relaxation! I pray that during this time, you'd renew his faith in your promise - your promise that you'll take great care of him and he'll be a better man for it.

Safe at Home

Sorry for the delay.

Dad got home safely on Friday night. He's so happy to be home. He's sounding a bit better than he did last week in Toronto. You can hear it in his voice. His voice sounds more like Brian again.

I'm just waiting to get instructions from mom on who to call to reschedule my donor appointment. We're still waiting for the official confirmation that my dad is in-fact on the organ transplant list.

Friday, October 17, 2008

In the car

Dad's on his way home. He said the ultra sound went horrible today. Very painful. He's still in a quite a bit of pain in the car.

When I asked if he was on the tansplant list yet, he said he hasn't been given the 100% yet. He'll know early next week. Again, they are pretty confident he'll make the cut.

More info to come when I'm off work.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Home Sweet Home

My dad has his last appointment tomorrow afternoon. Shortly after the appointment, he'll know whether he'll be on the transplant (again, the doctors are 99.99997% sure he'll be on the list). As soon as my dad has official confirmation, the doctors told him to head home.

So, my parents will be on their way home tomorrow afternoon and will be home by tomorrow evening. We're supposed to have a much needed family dinner on Saturday night to celebrate. I'll be sure to take a few pictures and post to the blog.

Thanks so much again to all of you for keeping yourself in-the-know on the blog and praying for us. Its so great that I can inform you all in one single location and not have to field a million and a half questions from a million and a half people all the time.

You all mean so much to my family. My dad will be reading the blog this weekend. I'll let you know what he says.

If you want to say anything to him, maybe just comment on this blog entry for him to read!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Just heard from Dad.

He was released from ER midway through the day. The tests and x-rays showed that nothing at all was wrong with dad, except a belly full of fluid which is nothing to worry about as long as my dad is careful with his medication and diet.

They made both their appointments today and both went very well. My dad is so excited!

The head doctor himself said that after the last test on Friday, my dad will 99.99% be on the transplant list. He'll know for sure on Monday of next week. Once dad gets the official notice, he's allowed to come home to Ottawa. The Toronto doctors will airlift him back to TO as soon as the surgery is booked.

Dad said, "We cancelled your [Josh's] appointment on November 12. We have a number you have to call 'immeditosisly' to reschedule for a much earlier time."

'Immeditosisly' now joins 'I have no ass hole' in the vocabulary of a dying Bloomfield.

PEOPLE. I'm starting to get a little anxious about this. Of course I'll give dad half my liver. I'm kind of obliged to as he's my dad - and the most awesomest dad ever - with or without an ass hole. But it's so much easier said then done. I hate hospitals, needles, IVs, short-fat-indian nurses (see 'Nurses Who Suck' on the left bar)...

Straight up - I don't want to talk about it until the moments I'm being wheeled in. So don't mention it to me - unless you want to pray for me.

I'm assuming that my appointment will be bumped up to be sometime in the next two weeks. If I get approved as a donor, I'm assuming it will only be a matter of days before the surgery. Oh boy. This is so awesome for dad.

Shortly, I feel this blog will transforming from 'the story of my dying dad' to 'confessions of a dying dad's wimpy son'.

If I actually do this surgery, I'm totally getting a sweet tattoo... a dotted line outlining the scar with the little scissor icon near the bottom of the outline with the text, "For dad's liver, cut here."

In the ER

Mom just called. She took dad to the Toronto General ER. He has an awful pain in his chest and in his stomach. Most likely, the fluid has started to accumulate in his lungs and abdomen and is becoming unbearable for him.

I feel so bad for my dad... he's trying so hard to just live a normal life just for a few days... but he just can't escape the reality of his situation.

ER said they were going to take some chest x-rays and see whats going on. I'd hate for my dad to end up in a hospital room alone in TO. I really miss him.

This could be it for dad - he could be in the hospital 'till the surgery. This is huge because the recovery is 3-6months - most of which is spent in quarantine while his immune system is eradicated.

If you know my dad at all, you know how unnatural it is for my dad to stay still for 2 minutes - let alone 6 months. This is going to be so difficult for him.

Please pray that my dad's health stays good enough for him to make the rest of his appointments this week, that we'll be able to get this transplant started in the next couple weeks, and that my dad will have a miraculous recovery.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

They made some magic for us!

Great news! Dad met with the doctor and the appointment went really really well. My mom says, "They made some magic for us!"

They had their appointment today at 1:45pm with Dr Renner - the head transplant doctor. When my parents arrived for their appointment they were greeted by two nurses who were very happy to see Brian again. They said, "If we knew you were coming, we would have arranged more appointments for your during the week. Lets see what we can do..."

The nurses went to work and were about to book three more appointments for my dad.

Wednesday, Oct 15, 12:30pm - Transplant Coordinator
Wednesday, Oct 15, 2:00pm - Social Worker
Friday, Oct 17 - Ultrasound

By Tuesday of next week, Dr Renner is confident that my dad will be on the official transplant list! This means that as soon as a liver is available, my dad's surgery can be arranged.

Their appointment today was with the head doctor and with the anesthesiologist. The anesthesiologist has a few very minor concerns about performing major surgery on my dad. They found a minor issue with his heart (a leaking valve? - apparently very common in liver patients) and mentioned some concern about his Kidney's. But all in all, they were both confident that my dad will do just fine!

Next week, I head to Toronto to relieve my mom of dad-duty for a few days. Hopefully, my appointment (scheduled for Nov 12) can be bumped up to sometime next week. As soon as I'm confirmed as a donor (which shouldn't be long, though I'm not sure of the timeline), I'm hoping we can be in surgery within a couple weeks.

Mom says, "Tell everyone on the blog I say hi!"

Nothing yet

Just called mom for an update. No answer.

I'm assuming that they are at the hotel getting ready to head over to Toronto General for their appointment. Or, they are there already and can't answer the phone.

And just to clear up some confusion about my eligibility as a donor. I've been confirmed as a compatible blood match for the transplant. However, this does not mean that I am 100% compatible. There are a few other minor factors that must be reviewed including my body mass, physical condition, and mental condition. Once those reviews are done, I will be confirmed as the donor. I'm pretty confident that everything will go well. My first appointment is Nov 12. More about my eligibility will be available then.

Monday, October 13, 2008

No ER yet

Turns out my parents never made it to the Toronto General. My dad was given some pain medication at the 'hairy canary' hospital in Scarborough. He was feeling much better.

My parents checked out of their suite in Scarborough and found a hotel that's only a few minutes walking distance from the Toronto General ER (which they should have done in the first place). There, they'll stay until their appointment tomorrow at 1:45pm with the head doctor of the liver transplant unit. Exciting!

Hairy canary hospital

Last night (Oct 12) at 11:54pm, I received a call from my mom letting me know that her and dad decided it was finally time to call an ambulance and get him back in the hospital. My dad was complaining about a lot of pain in his belly which has expanded even more (because of an accumulation of fluid in his abdomen, not his chest).

My mom should have driven dad herself to the Toronto General ER instead of calling an ambulance. But she gets really anxious driving in big cities - especially at night - even more so with a sick husband she is worrying about.

When the ambulance arrived, the attendant informed my parents that because of their geographical location in the GTA, they were prohibited from driving them to the Toronto General. Instead, they took dad to some 'hairy canary' (as my dad later put it) hospital in Scarborough. My mom left him there for the evening and went back to the hotel to get some rest.

My dad was treated by three different doctors - two of which recommended he call his wife or a cab and jump on over to Toronto General, where he should have been taken in the first place.

Dad called me this morning at 7:45am asking me to call mom to tell her he needed to be picked up at 9am and transferred to the Toronto General ER.

I just tried calling their cell to get another update but there was no answer. I assume they probably grabbed some breakfast, then headed over to the Toronto General.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I now pump gas

I called mom this morning to see how things were going. She didn't sound so happy this time.

The doctors in Ottawa recommended that he be brought to Toronto ER as soon as they arrived in Toronto. So the very fact that he's been on his own for a few days is a miracle. He even walked quite a distance the first day they arrived which must have felt great for my dad.

One of the prescriptions my dad is on (some intense laxative) helps keep my dad more regular than normal. With liver failure, there is an increased amount of toxins in your digestive system. If he doesn't stay very regular, there is a chance the toxins can build up and cause other problems. Its been a messy weekend for my mom.

I can tell my mom is feeling pretty discouraged. She tries not to bring attention to herself during a difficult situation, but I can read between the lines that she feels very alone - especially during Thanksgiving weekend.


Our emotions - you can't live with 'em and you can't live without 'em. The very same mechanism that causes us to feel joy and euphoria can also deliver such negative feelings that it pushes us out of reality. My mom's feeling like no one cares and my dad is feeling like he's not going to make it. Well, just because you feel it certainly doesn't make it so.

Reality check! My mom isn't alone at all. She has tons of family and friends who love and support them - some who are even on their way to visit in the next few days. Furthermore, they are closer then they've ever been before to actually having this transplant take place - which it most definitely will.

More over, if reality weren't enough to combat their emotional negativity, they should take comfort knowing that whatever happens, God is in control! And he only thinks of good and awesome things for us/them! That's all he does. So what is there to worry about?

I can't stand emotions. They cloud judgement - cloud reality - cloud faith. I'd even argue that your emotional state can have an affect on your physical health. My parents, my dad especially, need to keep their emotions in check or things could get much worse.

I know how difficult it must be - especially after being couped up in the hospital for weeks on end. But, its what life has dished out for you. I can say this because I've been through my fair share of shitaki mushrooms as well. Sure, I spent the first few days wondering, Why me? Why do I have to be the bigger man? Why do I have to go through this? But you can't ask those questions. You can't compare yourself to others.

I don't know why this is happening - and frankly - I've learned the answer to that question is irrelevant. Its the cards you've been dealt. Be excited about how this situation is going to bring Glory to God. Think about whose lives will change for the better because of how you handled it. Think about how your life will be changed because of how you handle it.

Time - time is something else us humans must deal with that can be so cruel to us. Sure it seems like this has been going on forever. But in reality, its only been 6 months that Dad has been really really sick. And this whole thing will be over and done with in another 8 months. Sure, it sounds like a long time. But, when my dad is 78, and he takes a moment while laying back in his beach chair in the shores of Fiji to reflect back on his life, I'm sure he'll say, 'Man, that 2008 was a tough one - but so worth it!'

Am I being to harsh? I don't know if any of what I just typed is even relevant... its just how I feel.


On the flip side, mom is a very difficult person to get out of her comfort zone. And there are a few huge accomplishments that have taken place for her. Like driving in a big city - she hates that! She's never really done it. And when she finally did do it (yesterday trying to find the ER just so she knows the way), she did mess up a few times. But she got there eventually and she feels great!

When describing some of the great things that were going on, she exclaimed, "Josh - I now pump gas! I never did that before! And I'm getting so good at it!"

Good for you mom! You pump that gas!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Vacate the pool!

Just called my dad's cell and was greeted with an enthusiastic, "Heeelllo!" It was mom. She sounded amazing. I can't tell you how great it is to hear joy in my parents voice for once. The tone in both their voices for the past few weeks (and understandably so) had undertones of hopelessness and surrender. But not this time!

My mom said they had just walked from their beautiful hotel to the 'Scarborough Town Centre Mall'. My dad couldn't walk back (because he gets tired quickly) so my mom walked back to the hotel to grab the truck.

When my dad got on the line, I asked him how he was doing.

"Oh great, son! We had dinner last night but I threw it up 5min later which wasn't good. It didn't even smell bad. Just smelled like dinner. But, I was unconscious all night [embellishing]. I slept like a rock - first time in a while. Mom was so happy. This morning, we took a trip to the hospital to make sure we could get there. We're about 30min away. I woke up feeling great this morning. I wanted to go swimming, but I was afraid to go in. If anyone saw me in the pool right now they'd probably freak out. I'm full of scars, I'm skin and bone, and I have no ass hole! They'd probably start yelling, vacate the pool!"

I laughed hysterically. I'm not sure why my dad's ass hole (or lack of one) would be exposed to the general public when he's swimming. How does one even lose one's ass hole? I think he's talking about how because he's skin and bone, he doesn't have a bum anymore - just lots of flabby skin.

Scary comparison, I know, but a few months ago, mom said, "He looks like a concentration camp prisoner... I have to look away when he takes off his clothes and gets into bed. I get scared if I look."

Anyway, mom and dad are in good spirits and enjoying what I'm sure we'll be short-lived, but well deserved, time alone.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Bon Voyage

Mom and dad just left minutes ago for their trip to Toronto. It was so great to see my dad in good spirits. It was also amusing to see him in 3 sweaters, a toque, and 2 pairs of gloves. He's always cold.

They should be in their hotel by noonish. More updates to come.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Dad's Home... for 18hrs...

It was so great to get a call from Dad today - especially when the caller ID read, "Bloomfield, Brian" instead of "Ottawa Hospital". Dad is home!

Now, that doesn't mean his condition has changed much. When I stopped in to visit him, he was in his bed covered in 3 different blankets complaining about how cold it was. I took one of the blankets off and threw it into the dryer, even with my dad protesting. He thanked me 7min later when he had a fresh, hot blanket covering him insulated by 2 blankets.


I can't imagine how much a situation like this could change someone. My dad is a completely different person. As soon as he complained about how cold it was, before I heated up a blanket, I pulled his feet out of the blankets and started rubbing them with my hands to keep them warm. He enthusiastically thanked me as tears welled up in his eyes! He was so thankful that someone was willing to help keep him warm by rubbing his feet. I can't imagine being that broken... being that humbled. Know what I mean? Its almost like part of his character has had the reset button pushed. Makes me wonder if we should all be so broken.


The visit home is going to be short lived. My parents leave tomorrow morning at 8am for a Best Western in Scarborough. He has an appointment at Toronto General on Tuesday. The reason why my parents have to leave so early is because my dad is still very sick. If an emergency situation takes place in the next 48 hrs when he's still in Ottawa, he will just end up back in the Ottawa Hospital - which is the last place my dad needs to be. He needs to be in the Toronto Hospital where the doctors are able to conduct the transplant.

So the plan is for my parents to enjoy some time together in Scarborough until the appointment on Tuesday. If anything goes wrong between when they arrive and Tuesday, my dad will be in the Toronto General ER and in the system! Otherwise, his appointment on Tuesday may result in him becoming an inpatient in TO. If that doesn't work, my parents are staying in Toronto until he's either sick enough to go to ER or the transplant is booked. Realistically, the Ottawa doctors give my dad 2-5 days max on his own before he needs emergency medical attention again. He's very vulnerable.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Good news - for once!

Just got in from visiting pops.

First things first... I told my dad about all the overwhelming emails/messages we've been receiving about the blog and my dad's situation. I wish so badly that you all could experience his emotional response. As I was telling him, his whole demeanor relaxed, his eyes glistened and his chin twitched. Then he turned his head away to collect himself. All he could say was, "Wow... isn't that amazing!" He was soo overwhelmed and so encouraged by all your kind thoughts and words! Thank you so much!

If you all don't mind, I'd like to post a blog entry of all the kind emails and thoughts we've received so you can all share in the encouragement. I'm also going to print it and share it with my dad. I'm sure its something that he will keep close as he progresses through this battle.

Finally! Good news! On Oct 6, my dad began to receive visits from a man only known to us as, "the lung doctor". Whoever this guy is, he's a freakin legend. First thing he said when he walked in the room was, "What the? They've hooked this [referring to the chest tube] up all wrong!" I was a little angered at first. Who hooked what up wrong? But it became obvious over the next couple minutes that this dude knows his stuff and he was here to correct mistakes and give my dad some proper treatment. He quickly reconnected my dad properly and started draining his chest.

He explained, "Someone screwed up and drained way to much from your dad's chest a few nights ago. In the process, somehow, his chest cavity has filled back up with air and more water. So, I've hooked this device up properly and we'll be suctioning 400-500 units of fluid/air from his chest every 4 hours until he's empty."

Today (2 days later), the lung doctor confirmed that there hasn't been a single trace of fluid or air in my dad's chest cavity since that procedure on Monday. Furthermore, he says that if the chest cavity is still clean by tomorrow, they are going to remove the chest tube and send him home for Thanksgiving Dinner! How incredible is that! My dad is so excited.

The catch (of course) is that we'll have to drive him to the ER in Toronto first thing after Thanksgiving dinner. Heck - there's even a chance we'll have to take him before Thanksgiving even arrives. Once we're in Toronto, a new chapter begins!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Operation: Front of the Line

As mentioned in the previous post, Chelsea and I have been swamped the past week. We felt terrible that we wouldn't be able to visit my dad on Saturday as a close friend was getting married. We thought we'd stop by on Friday night (Oct 3) and drop off flowers, some photos, and lots of fruit (his favorite) to last him 'till Sunday.

When we arrived, my dad was acting quite strange. He's usually weak and lathargic. This time, he was panicy... energetic and scared. It was really disturbing to see. Kicking the bed. Grabbing his hair. Yelling that he can't breathe. At first, I thought it was very legitamite. I started to panic as well. I quickly realized something wasn't right when his vitals were reading completely normally. It turns out that the toxins that should be making there way out of his body in the bathroom are instead collecting in his brain. Furthermore, the high doses of narcotic pain medications and lack of sleep for over 3 days wasn't helping his situation.

I couldn't do much. I just sat at the end of his bed singing Amazing Grace - gently massaging his legs while he paniced. He finally started to calm down.

He sat up and cried on my shoulders. He's so scared. He apologized for scaring me. He scared himself. He's not sure why he panics like that... but aparently its just another symptom of his liver failure.

I was so glad he had calmed down. It got much better when some relatives drove from Sault St Marie (the Dempsters) to pay my dad a visit. His spirits were lifted by their visit! It was so good to hear my dad laugh - see him smile.

But it wasn't long after they left that things started to go down hill again. Almost as soon as he layed back down in his bed, he was panicing again. It got much worse. It got very messy (enough said). Chelsea was really upset by the situation. She asked how I wasn't crying - how I could be so strong. I didn't really have an answer.

One x-ray, 3 nurses, and 1 doctor later, my dad finally calmed down. It was great to see him laying still and calm. I kissed him on the forehead, prayed, and told him he needed to sleep. I knew I wouldn't see him 'till Sunday, so I decided to tell my dad I was leaving, but stick around in the lobby to make sure he actually did get to sleep.

I walked in 15min later and he was still awake... but very eager to sleep. He convinced me he was just about to sleep. I turned off a few extra lights in the room and made sure he was comfy and I left.

I didn't want to leave. At all. I was so nervous he was going to have another panic attack and no family would be there for him.


I showed up at the hospital today just to visit. I walked into my dad's room and someone else was in his bed. That through my for a loop. I walked down the hall and was greeted by my mom who looked like she had been crying, sitting infront of the acute care unit. "Dad's taken a turn..."

Turns out that last night, while I was partying at my buddy's wedding, my dad had another panic attack - complaining that he can't breathe. The doctors decided to drain 500 units of the fluid from his chest. So, some idiot nurse opened the valve to drain my dad and left the room. My dad quickly realized that the 500 units had drained... and much, much more. After 3000 units, the fluid started overflowing onto the floor. (Draining too much fluid at once can have adverse affects on your respiratory system). After repeatedly pressing the call button next to his bed and yelling for a nurse, my dad got up, and walked to the door of his room dragging his chest tube and overflowing fluid receptical behind him! After that, my dad somehow ended up back in his bed, covered in fluid and blood... and that's all he remembers.

When reciting what he remembers, he says, "I was covered in fluid... and... now your telling me its noon on Sunday!"

My dad is currently in the acute care unit A, floor 5, bed 1. His speach is stuttered and slurred. When I left, the nurses where trying desperately to find a vein to use for an IV because my dad is desperately low in something - I'm not sure what. I just couldn't handle it. I left to update the blog, square up some side-project work, and sleep so I can get back to focusing on spending time with dad and encouraging him through this tough time.

While visiting my dad, one of the lead doctors was able to visit with him and help answer some questions. I found out that I have an appointment Nov 12 at noon in Toronto to discuss transplanting my liver. We also found out that Toronto is having a hard time making room for my dad through a hospital-to-hospital transfer. The doctor then went on to layout a great plan to get my dad into the Toronto General ASAP... Operation: Front of the Line.

The goal is to get my dad well enough that he can leave the hospital for 5-10 hours. In that 5-10hrs, I will drive my dad to Toronto just to drop him off again in ER of the Toronto General. Once in the ER, Toronto General will have to except him as a patient - whether they like it or not.

So, for the next week, Chel and I will be waiting for that opportunity.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

If there's a question mark at the end of it, I don't want to hear it.

First off - huge apologies for not posting in so long.

My dad is back in the hospital again... but this time he says its for good. He can feel it in his body. He doesn't think there's too much time left.

On Sept 19, my dad began to notice his feet were swelling which was a sign that water had begun to collect in his body again. He was also having a bit of trouble breathing. It eventually got the point where my dad was afraid to sleep because he was afraid he wouldn't wake up. That's when he asked Mom to take him to ER.

By the time he reached the ER, my dad got significantly worse. Previous visits to the hospital saw my dad relatively comfortable in a semi-private room on a mild amount of O2. They would only drain about 1.5 liters of fluid from his abdomen. This time, my dad was admitted to Acute Monitoring - a very public room with many monitors, lots of nurses, and lots of other patients moaning. My dad was completely lethargic - to the point where he couldn't feed himself. Instead of tapping his abdomen once for fluid, they inserted a permanent catheter attached to a bag which would constantly drain the fluid collecting in his body. They would drain 1.5 liters each day. One day, they accidentally drained over 3 liters of fluid!

Physically, my dad's condition is deteriorating. When I last visited, he admitted that he can't go home. Its that bad.

However, the fact that my dad is doing so bad actually has a silver lining. He has moved much higher on the priority list (4 in all of Ontario - which means there are 3 people who are closer to death than my dad is). Also - I've been confirmed as a compatible donor! There are still some physical and psychological tests that will confirm that I'm the donor. But they should be a breeze.

Despite all this positive news, my dad's spirits are at their lowest. I was sharing with a friend today how difficult it is to see my dad physically ill - but how much more difficult it is to hear your dad try to admit defeat. He's had it. No more tests. No more hospital food. No more nurses. No more smelly dying people in the bed beside him.

At my last visit - you could sense just how depressed he was. It was tangible. You could feel it almost as if it were a temperature. When a nurse came in to take my dad's blood, he started sobbing. Not crying - sobbing. Like a defenseless baby. It was so difficult to watch.

Why is it that our human nature finds it so hard to be positive and focus on truth in a difficult situation? The truth is that my dad's emotions have got the best of him.


Dad - of course your down! You've had a pretty crappy few weeks. But the truth is that God is in full control. He has never once left your side - never once said, "my child, you're a failure and I've forgotten about you".

On the contrary. God has been with you this entire time. He choose every nurse to watch over you. He's blessed each doctor whose monitored you. Furthermore, he's got a plan to heal you and see you live a wonderful life! This situation is so temporary! I'm a match! The Toronto Hospital is just about ready to accept you as an inpatient case! It's just a matter of weeks!


I said something to that affect when I last saw him and he LOVED it! People - if you visit my dad, you've got to speak truth and love into his life! He is an empty jar. He's spent his life filling everyone else's jar. He needs us more than ever!

Chelsea had a great idea. Tomorrow, we're going to drop of some picture frames and some photos of the family. Also, I'm going to write a letter of encouragement in big writing on the wall that repeats a lot of what I wrote above. We need to change the atmosphere from a somber, death row cell to a room brimming with life, love, faith, and hope!

Anyway - not much else to say. In summary, my dad is currently at the Civic Hospital, floor 5, room A535, bed on the right by the window. He's there until Toronto says, "come be our patient".

My mom is looking for an apartment in Toronto. If anyone has any thoughts or connections, please fire me an email (

Also - please keep my parents finances in prayer. They'll be needing money to cover living expenses and drug expenses in TO after the surgery.

As for Chelsea and I, we're so swamped. I work 8am-4pm, then we're at the hospital each night from 4pm-8pm, work some more from 9-11pm, then get up and do it all over again. Meanwhile, Chelsea is fielding questions, calls, emails about Dad, the Singing Christmas Tree, New Kids on the Block, weddings, blah blah blah. We're both reaching our limit but still trying very hard to put dad first. Chelsea summed up how I feel quite well when she said, "If your sentence has a question mark at the end of it, I don't want to hear it!" Epic. Its funny how a situation like this puts life into perspective. When your dad's dying, you suddenly don't care about spilled milk - no matter how much was spilled.

Thanks so much all of you for your thoughts and prayers! And to all those people who just randomly tune into this blog because you knew me from High School or music or know Chelsea, you're a legend!