I thought I should explain this before I go for a while.
It’s been a tough year. 2 job changes, a health scare that required a drastic change in diet and lifestyle (a change I’m still struggling with), my first gout attack (one that lasted right through a car review, too) and of course, every parent can empathise with the technical aspects of welcoming a new addition to the family.
The past month, in particular, felt like a lifetime. Four weeks ago, my father started experiencing breathing problems, but resisted going to the hospital to check himself until a week later. When he finally did, doctors found his difficulty in breathing was caused by a “sizeable” heart attack. And because my father also had weak kidneys, an angiography (balloon stent) was risky because the iodine that would be injected into his system for the operation would wreak havoc with his kidneys and possibly tie him to dialysis for the rest of his life.
The family got together to deliberate. I initially, my father was resistant; he’d seen many of his peers suffer through failed kidneys, and he felt it better to protect his kidneys rather than his heart. Besides, he said, “I consider myself very lucky already. My father died at 62, my eldest brother at 68. I survived cancer and bargained myself another 24 years of life, and I’m 70 now. I’m ready to go.”
I respected his position, but my sisters doubted it. My dad is a fighter, an aggressive man that wouldn’t take any bulls hit from anyone or anything, even from cancer. A few one-on-ones and a family get-together at his ward later, he decided to do the angiography.
A day or two after the decision was made, 2 hours after he went in to do the procedure, I received a phone call while I was in the office. An angiogram was done, and the clogged arteries were too severe for ballooning to be done. He would need to do a triple bypass.
When I next see my father, he was in a sombre mood. It was a tedious process: the hospital he was currently in didn’t have the facilities to perform bypass surgeries, so he would have to be transferred. And the islandwide hospital bed crunch that the nation had by now grown quite accustomed to meant we had to wait more than a couple of days for it to happen.
He finally had his bypass last Wednesday. It was reduced to a double bypass because the surgeon determined that one of his arteries was open enough not to require one, and it was done in about 5 hours.
My father began the recovery process well. He was eating, moving, and his usual surly self, except he had constant high blood pressure and irregular heartbeat. At one point the doctors thought he was well enough to be shifted from the high dependency ward to a general ward, but he only spent a few hours up in C-class before they had to shift him back to ICU in the middle of the night due to a dangerously low heart rate.
Then yesterday, he suffered a stroke – a blood clot on the left side of his brain.
It happened at 8.30am, when he suddenly passed out just after breakfast. Since then, he hasn’t gotten worse. That’s the only good news they can give us.
As of now, we aren’t even sure if he can understand what is going on. I think he knows we’re around him, but he can’t talk and he can’t move his right side. He’s also moving around involuntarily.
Doctors can’t say for certain how this will pan out. He can either get better or he can get worse fast, but they will only know after 3-4 days. Initially they were contemplating experimental procedures because he just came out of the bypass and his recovery process doesn’t allow for standard procedures to apply, but in his current state the best they can do for him now is to continue with current treatment and see if he gets better.
My sisters are taking turns keeping vigil at the hospital. My mother is bracing herself for the worst. I tried to remain strong, but my limit was breached when my mother quietly said to me in a shaking voice, “He doesn’t have a suit.”
I now find myself juggling a new job that I started not one month ago (which thankfully I now realise I fit very comfortably in), keeping track of my own father’s progress and grappling with all the possible outcomes being presented to us right now as a family, and my commitment as a husband to the Mother of Xander and father to the two kids, because as I try to remain a pillar to my wife and children, right now my wife and kids are my strongest pillar of emotional support.
I write this now because writing has always helped me process my thoughts and emotions in my times of need, and also I committed to keeping The Blogfather true in words to the person I am in real life. But now, the blogs have to take a hiatus, to be dusted off and revisited at a better time.
I’ll see you soon. Hopefully.