Wednesday 21 February 2007

An update, or from bad to much, much worse

My father went into hospital to be treated for a rare kidney disease that was causing him to retain a terrible amount of fluid--up to forty pounds at one point, and because of an abscess that developed on his upper spine during his stay, that was not caught in spite of his increasing immobility, he may leave fully paralysed, even unable to breathe on his own. How can this be possible?

As the pulmonologist has confirmed that Dad now seems unable to breathe without assistance, there will be a tracheotomy this morning Illinois time and a feeding tube will be installed in the afternoon. Yesterday the pulmonologist spoke to my mother about moving him to a special rehab facility in St. Louis, Chicago, or Indianapolis--hours away from home and family. How long the rehab takes depends on the extent of his paralysis, which we don't know yet. The scary part is that one doctor compared the location and nature of the injury to Dad's spine to Christopher Reeve's injury.

My father is probably the most restless person I know, always moving from errand to errand, task to task, event to event, in and about the house, the yard, the town. The thought of his spending the rest of his life immobile (and he's a very fit 66, cycling 25 miles most days for over a decade) grieves me more than I can express. Of course I still hope, but each passing day seems to bring news of greater debilitation. I stare at nothing and ache.

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