More Strokes & Other News

Hello everyone!  Phew…  In my previous post I told you about my folks visiting and my step-Dad having a stroke while in my backyard.  Well the medical upheaval continued.

Step-Dad was released from the hospital on Saturday, September 24th.  He rested that day and we all went out to dinner (his request) and they attended church with us on Sunday.  He was able to talk with Mr. CR who had lymphoma and was an encouragement to him.  Yes, my step-Dad was diagnosed with cancer about 4 weeks before their annual trip to see us.  His doctor said it wouldn’t be a problem to take the visit.

Monday and Tuesday he and I spent many hours talking about my soap business.  He has been helping me ‘launch’ my business as well as help me stream line the production process where I can, think through establishing a website and all the behind the scenes things that have to happen before the website is ready for the public.  Don’t ask me about domain names… what hard work THAT was!  😉

Also on Tuesday we were supposed to visit some local gift shops in order to find a few that would be willing carry my soaps.  We had stopped at 3 and were on our way to the 4th one when my mom said step-Dad’s tongue sounded “thick” and asked how he was feeling.  We then got to the gift shop and I had gotten out of the car and he had opened his door.  He was sitting in the back with Arrow.  He had started to swing his feet out of the car when he slurred a word.  He had not lost any strength on his right side.  We shut the car door and by the providence of God we were across the street from the firehouse, so we drove there.  Also by God’s providence they were “home”!  My step-Dad walked into the firehouse, and was slurring his words a little and sat in their chair.  The firemen drove the ambulance around and brought the gurney in.  By that time (less than 10 minutes) he had lost strength in his right side and had to be helped onto the gurney.  Off he went to the hospital… again.  We followed… not “followed” but drove along at a safe speed behind the ambulance and actually arrived only a few minutes after them.

Step-Dad was taken to the emergency room.  They were very busy.  He was offered the same drug taken previously (t-PA), but because of his very high blood pressure his risk factor for significant bleeding, possibly leading to death, was significantly higher.  They declined the t-PA this time around.  The doctor ordered Heparin, but then changed his mind and after 20 minutes that was stopped.  He had a CAT scan somewhere in there…

Then we waited… and waited… and waited… and waited some more.

The emergency room nurses were unfriendly, stood around the counter talking and acted like we were an interruption to them if we came out to ask for anything.  Step-Dad was unable to find a comfortable position in the very uncomfortable emergency room bed.  There was also no way to get out of the emergency room to other parts of the hospital without having to go through security doors… and then no way back in… we didn’t have a badge to open those doors.  So we couldn’t leave to get food or water.

After 4 1/2 hours he was sent up to the 5th floor ICU because the doctor was up there.  He hadn’t even been “officially” admitted.  Even the nurse said she had never heard of this before.  She had no orders and couldn’t do anything for him.  We were told that the doctor would see him in about half an hour so we went down to have dinner… at 9:30 PM.  Poor Arrow!  It had now been over 9 hours since he had eaten lunch.  He was a real trooper, but v-e-r-y hungry!  We got back up to Step-Dad’s room 45 minutes later and the doctor came in a little after that.  He explained the treatments options and what tests he was ordering.  Step-Dad was given a blood thinner.

The doctor asked how they wanted to have his care handled if his heart stopped.  Mom told the Dr. that they have a living will and wanted no artificial life support.  Step-Dad agreed with her.  The Doc verified that step-Dad was “Do Not Resuscitate” and they both agreed.  I stopped them to ask if step-Dad’s heart were to stop they really didn’t want the hospital to attempt to restart it at all???  They had not understood what the doctor was asking, for all they wanted was not to be kept alive artificially long term.  And your care options are much more limited with a DNR code… so please be careful!  There is no “life saving” treatments with a DNR… for you have asked for no life saving measures.

Thursday step-Dad had another CAT scan and a Transesophageal Echocardiography (TEE).  The latter is a more in depth scope of the heart from inside the body instead of through the chest wall.  It showed that his heart is fine.  The cancer raises the white cell count in the blood, making the blood thicker.  The thicker blood is what ’caused’ step-Dad’s  strokes.

The CAT scan showed lesions in 4 new areas that were not there on his CAT scan a month ago.  These new areas are the left axillary armpit, left lower neck, right kidney and the liver.  The first biopsy found cancer in the lymph nodes on the right side, in his back, just above the waist.  That is where his pain has consistently been.  The doctors here said these new lesions were suspicious for cancer and they suspect lymphoma.

The folks changed their flight to fly home on Saturday evening.They have already scheduled an appointment with an oncologist for the end of the week.  They were given copies of all Step-Dad’s scans, records, and treatments to give to his doctors in Minnesota.

May the Lord’s will be done and He be given glory through all this.

Fourteen things I am thankful for:

#1 – medical technology that allows doctors to “see” inside our bodies

#2 – the gift of my step-Dad.  He is like a dad to me and he says I am like the daughter he never had.  🙂

#3 – that Arrow & I were able to be there at the hospital with my folks for support and encouragement

#4 – Step-Dad’s positive attitude and generally cheerful disposition, even through all the hospitalizations, ambulance rides, numerous needle pokes, scans, etc

#5 – Step-Dad’s planner – he had his MN doctor’s phone numbers, list of all his medications he was taking, travel info & phone numbers so travel plans could be changed, and his file on my soap business

#6 – the hospital’s free parking & free Valet parking service

#7 – the general cheerful decorating of the hospital building & grounds

#8 – Mrs. GB, who came to visit with her dear children – such a sweet blessing

#9 – AMcD, who works at the hospital Step-Dad was in & stopped by to see him… twice!  Last time to pray with him the day before he was released the second time

#10 – BMcK, who called to talk with Step-Dad & pray with him

#11 – my church family & extended brothers and sisters in Christ who have prayed diligently for Step-Dad since his cancer diagnosis

#12 – the Lord’s gracious arrangement of small details: changing my menu to accommodate being at the hospital, being “right there” at the firehouse, parking spaces right inside the parking garage,

#13 – I didn’t eat out of frustration, or stress during the entire visit

#14 – I was prepared for an emergency: I knew when to call 911, my cell was charged, when I couldn’t eat anything at the hospital cafeteria (very little gf & df) I could easily pack my own food, Arrow could easily grab some games & drawing materials to keep him occupied at the hospital, my gas tank is kept full, I have maps & atlases in the car (GPS might not work!), I had easily prepared food on hand for those late night meals

Blessings, ~Mrs. R

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