Yesterday I was expecting my Dad to come home from the hospital. Actually, we were expecting him to go home on Saturday morning, but amongst other things, he ended up staying over the weekend. We had plans for a visiting nurse to come out the day after his discharge and were just waiting for his “walking papers.”
Yesterday morning, I went into work thinking I’d work only until I got the call from my Dad saying that his discharge orders had been written. My mom called me in the morning to tell me she was heading to Mass and then to the hospital afterwards. She had told me that she would call me once the orders were written so that I could drive over to the hospital and go over all the discharge instructions together.
About 10:15 am, I got a call on my cell phone. I looked down at the caller ID and saw that it was my Mom. But when I picked up the phone, it was a different voice on the other end. One of the nurses on the floor he was on was calling me to tell me that my Dad was having some difficulties right now and that it was best that I come join my Mom at the hospital right now.
I was up on the floor sitting next to my Mom outside of my Dad’s room within ten minutes of getting that phone call. Inside his room, I saw him surrounded by quite a few people who were either putting meds through his IV’s or performing chest compressions while “bagging” him (medical term for “breathing” for him). Basically, they were performing CPR on him.
I turned to my Mom, who was in tears. She told me that she had come up to the floor and ran into the RN Discharge Planner who just came out of the room. That nurse told her that it looked like my Dad was having difficulty breathing, so she was just headed out to get the RN that was assigned to him that morning. While walking towards the room, my Mom ran into his RN and both of them walked into his room together. It’s at that time that my Mom said she saw my Dad having some difficulty breathing and that he looked ashened and grey. Both the RN and my Mom got him into bed when he suddenly lost consciousness and his lips started to turn blue. The RN was smart enough to call for the CPR team and, according to my mom, more than 15 people suddenly appeared in his room.
Having worked in this same hospital in the beginning of my Nursing career, I know exactly how quick things happen once the CPR team is called. So it was no surprise that, once my Dad was stabilized (Thank God!), he was going to be transferred back down to the ICU once again. And yes, THE TUBE was once again back in.
After what seems like a few hours of being told to wait in the ICU waiting room, we were told we could finally go in to see him. He was sedated, but my Mom said he looked much much more better than he did when she walked in this morning. The afternoon was then filled with the ICU nurses coming in and out as well as all his doctors. Both the cardiologist and the pulmonologist thought that this was a “fluke” incident; that my Dad was trying to cough up some gunk in his lungs and then ended up “gagging” on it. From that, his heart then dropped to 10-12 beats per minute (normal is 60-100 bpm) which then caused him to lose consciousness.
The surgeon who did his bypass surgery thought different. He felt that given his incident of respiratory distress three days after his original surgery and now this recent episode, he didn’t want to take any chances that something would happen again. So he recommended placing a pacemaker so that it might “shock” his heart if it should ever get so slow again.
Today, THE TUBE came out. The most recent chest x-ray showed improvement in his lungs. And tomorrow, he has the procedure to place the pacemaker. And in these next days we need to make sure he gets aggressive treatment to get all that thick gooey gunk (resulting from years of smoking, by the way) up and out of his lungs.
And although we were so close to getting home, I’m glad that Dad was in the hospital when this incident happened. I know that my Mom, who was already quite anxious about his discharge, would have totally freaked out if this happened at home. And given that I hit every single green traffic light and managed to find a prime parking spot in the parking deck while trying to get to the hospital yesterday, I truly believe that someone up there was watching out for us.
Whew … next step …. HOME. (At least I hope so …)