Friday, April 21, 2023

Back to the Hospital We Go

Dad's been hospitalized for the last week, but not for the congestive heart failure that's been consuming him over the last year.  He's grown more and more frail, as one system after another succumbs to the endless march of senescence.

Our concern had been the wounds that were opening up on his feet, pressure wounds that would not heal as his cardiovascular system struggled to get oxygen and nutrients to his extremities.  Two weeks ago, that was my primary concern and the focus of my attention in his care, as the specter of sepsis and gangrene hovered in the shadows.

But then he started complaining of "the runs."  That was mentioned after a couple of days, and I was immediately on alert.  "Oh, it's not great,  but it seems to be getting better," he'd say.  His weight began to slide, as mom noted his appetite declining.  He started sleeping more, as fatigue overwhelmed him.  I was concerned about a gastrointestinal infection, and dehydration, and spent much of an evening waiting for the poop to come, helping him repeatedly to the toilet, where he squatted diligently.  "Wait, here it comes.  Nope, just a fart," he'd laugh.  His bowels seemed empty, so I'd given up and was on my way home when mom called to triumphantly announce that they'd succeeded in my absence.  "We have poop," she crowed.  I sighed, and turned around.

So at slightly after ten that night, I was methodically spooning rank, ashen liquid excrement into a small plastic vial, which I delivered to a 24 hour lab.  The results came back negative.  No infection in the stool.  

That didn't matter, because two days later, he wasn't better, nor had he been able to consume the protein drinks I'd gotten for him.  I contacted his doctor, and she was blunt in the way I appreciate in medical professionals.  

Take him to the emergency room.  Do it now.  Sure, it was Saturday, and sure, a six hour stay in the ER isn't exactly optimal when you've still got final sermon editing to do, but that just goes with the territory.  This is a season of late nights and a deep body weariness that even strong coffee can't quite dispel.

What sort of parent wouldn't stay up with a sick child?  I remember being a little boy with a stomach bug, remember puking into buckets and whimpering piteously as mom and dad sat with me in my illness.   What sort of child wouldn't do the same in return?