Tuesday, July 5, 2011

It was about two years ago that my Dad started to develop issues with his kidneys. Originally he thought it was a slow deterioration and that by the time dialysis was needed, he would have a kidney donor all lined up. That kidney donor was hopefully to be my stepmom.
Unfortunately, his kidney failure progressed faster than expected and he was put onto dialysis about six months later. Dad also had surgery to create a fistula in his left arm for dialysis purposes (he enjoys letting people feel it and listen to the gentle “wurr wurr wurr” of blood flowing).
As it is now, Dad has been on dialysis for over a year. He’s been able to do it at home instead of a center for about six months now (he much prefers being able to be at home for this).
The approval for my stepmom to be a living donor has been a slow journey and marked with disapprovals, different hospitals, and tentative green lights. Currently if she is able to meet and maintain criteria set out, she’ll be able to donate. I think the only thing that is stopping her from full approval is she needs to lose about twenty-five healthy pounds (meaning no crash diets, and it needs to be a maintained loss). It may not seem like a big deal to some to shed a few pounds, but with a high-stress job and a sick husband, plus a recent move for the high-stress job, it’s been a tough road to travel.
About seven weeks ago Dad hurt his back when he twisted wrong getting up out of his chair. We all thought it was just your typical strained back and a few days of rest and all would be well. Within four days of the initial back injury, my Dad was in the ER because it hadn’t gotten better and he was in agony. They performed an MRI and a series of blood work to see what may have happened. The MRI didn’t reveal any damage but the blood work showed he had a serious infection in his body. Unfortunately, they had no idea where it was.
A course of IV antibiotics was ordered for three times a week for four weeks. The doctors originally wanted Dad to come back into a dialysis center for dialysis and antibiotics, but Dad convinced them to continue home dialysis with a visit to the center for the antibiotics.
A couple of weeks on the antibiotics showed that the infection was slowly going away, but they wanted another two weeks added on. The doctors also decided they wanted to scan Dad’s heart to see if this is where the infection started or at least where it is hanging out. They scheduled a TEE (trans-esophageal echocardiogram) for the week after my cousin’s wedding reception.
My stepmom called last week, two days before our family vacation to the Outer Banks, and said that Dad needed heart surgery. The infection, while not in his heart any longer, had damaged the valves and they needed immediate replacing.
We quickly changed our plans (we were all supposed to be heading to the Outer Banks) and headed for Delaware instead.
Overall, Dad is in rather good spirits. He’s able to joke about all of this and that puts us all at ease. Wednesday they are going in to replace valves and do a possible bypass (the theory is if they’re in there already and it needs to be done, then they’ll do it). He’ll be in the hospital for a week to recover, then home again (recovery time is about four weeks from that point). I know that the breathing problems he’s experiencing now are related to the heart issues.
Dad and my stepmom are determined the beach trip is going to happen, but we’re now looking at middle to late August. Apparently Dad was really annoyed with the cardiologist for this “heart issue” interrupting his summer plans. He tried to convince the cardiologist that he could still go down to the Outer Banks and just come back up the Tuesday before surgery. No such luck.
Today he was whisked off to the cath lab in preparation for tomorrow’s surgery.  They may decide afterward to just keep him overnight for tomorrow, but he is hopeful they will let him come home for the night (we all figure he won’t be released tonight).
Last night while he was going through his nightly dialysis, he and Chase were working on an Erector set that my stepmom had picked up for Chase earlier this week. Steve and I went to bed after ten and Chase was still up. I just could not enforce a bed time for him last night. This morning when I woke up and my Dad and stepmom were long gone to the hospital, I came downstairs and Chase was awake, stressed. I told him that at least he had some quality time last night with my Dad and that he’ll get to see him once he’s had his surgery.
For now we’re all sitting around the house keeping it low key. Steve and I are planning on taking Chase out today to explore the area. I think tomorrow we all will stay close by.
Hope everyone has a good Tuesday.


  1. Emily, you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. Glad to hear you are getting Chase out and about so he can de-stress a little. It is so hard on kid's to deal with all of this. xx

  2. Praying for your dad and your family! Sounds like a stressful time and hopefully this surgery will put him on the road to recovery.

  3. @Tracey

    Thank you for your thoughts and prayers -- we all appreciate them.

    I always hate waiting around and feel the best thing to do is distract. Chase was very upset yesterday morning (I'm guessing he was awake when they left for the hospital), but he was pretty good throughout the day.

  4. @Swanski

    Thank you for your prayers! -- we're extremely grateful.

    I know we're all hoping that if this heart issue gets under control that there might be a rest period for health concerns with my Dad. The infection they think has settled in the pockets between the discs in his spine. If the antibiotics don't work to clear it out, they'll go in and draw the fluids out (which he is not looking forward to).

  5. Oh, Emily! What a hard time you must be going through. You are so strong. Know that you're in my thoughts.