On July 30, 1999 my dad had an AAA the size of 10cm. They had to do an emergency operation at the small community hospital he was taken to due to the size and risk of rupture. During the surgery the aneurysm started to rupture causing what doctors call aortic spray. The vascular surgeon came out after approximately. 45 min. and told us he did survive and would be in ICU to monitor what the spray had effected.
Well this was the beginning of the complication nightmare. On August 1, two days later his kidneys were not functioning and had to be transferred to the hospital in the city for dialysis. This was a Sunday and that night the surgeon there needed to perform another surgery to make sure the intestines had not been affected. My Dad was talking like himself and understanding everything before this surgery and agreed to this. After about 30 minutes the surgeon returned and told us his intestines were spotted with dead spots but thought the massive medicines to increase blood flow to them could save them because having to take out all that intestines would mean his life would be drastically altered and some people would not like to live this way. So we accepted and hoped the medicine would work. The surgeon told us we would know within a week or so if the medicines would work.
After dad returned from this surgery things were very different. He was on a ventilator and massive and various kinds of drugs. He was unresponsive for a week and then woke up in a state of psychosis which lasted about 5 days. He was doing better, taken off the ventilator and moved down to the step down unit.
At this time we were dealing with the many problems that my father was facing one being his toes were black from lack of blood supply to them, kidney failure and the bowel problems. However, with all of this the doctors gave us every indication he would survive! We never lost hope even though he would go to dialysis every third day, have uncontrolled bowel movements and feet that were terrible looking.
During the next few days he developed pneumonia (which was expected according to ICU) and recovered and was transferred to a private room because an aid was mean to him and we demanded explanations for this behavior. After moving to the private room he seemed to get better he was eating, talking, getting physical therapy and it seemed as though we would be taking back to our community hospital for rehab soon.
Then things started to happen, he started to have serious pain in his stomach and we had every doctor and X-ray to find out what was causing this, finally it was determined it was ulcers of the intestines and he was given medicine and taken off of all food for days. Things seemed to get crazy after this, then he was having a fever every day for weeks, the doctors were stumped and I asked for the infection control team to be called in. The infection control team came in, took him off of all the antibiotics he was on and everything else including IV's to get good blood cultures to find the problem. This found the problem for Vancomycin Resistance Endococci or VRE , the most serious case of staph infection you can get. We now had to wear gloves and masks when going into his room. We are now into the first couple of weeks of September and wondering if Dad will ever go home?
After this it was one thing after another, he got pancreatitis, and put back on TPN, he was receiving blood transfusion every other day after dialysis I started noticing his skin turning yellow but refused to give up on my dad. He started having pain again in his stomach and they wanted to do another CT scan. This was September 21, I had walked into my dad's room that morning and he was showing signs of dying (although I did not realize this until after he was gone) his lungs were filling up with fluid and the respiration therapist came and had him put back into ICU. During this day he had the CT scan which revealed the worst news, he intestines were perforated and must be removed or he would die in 24 hours. That night (Tuesday night) he had yet another surgery to save his life. During that surgery he lost all but 5 pints of blood and came out on a respirator and blood pressure medicine to keep him alive. Even though my father had technically died on the operating table the doctors were not open with us even to tell us he was going to die. I found this out after talking with the nurses even though they won't tell you, it is how they look at you!
On Thursday, September 23, 1999, I was called to hospital, by my mother. After putting my father on no resuscitate we decided my father had had enough suffering. At 11:45 am we took him off the blood pressure medicines keeping him alive and lowered the respirator to the lowest setting. Within 1/2 hour he was gone. He died at 12:15 p.m . almost two months after entering the hospital.
I would like to tell you that the Friday before he died we asked the Vascular Surgeon if he was going to die, and he told us my dad had been through the worst and said he was not going to DIE! I will never understand that! They had to know!
My Dad died basically organ by organ, even though his last two months were terrible, he did have good days and we thank God we were given those weeks. Even though the hospital bills are in the hundred of thousands we can say we tried everything to save him but it wasn't meant to be.
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