My dad’s been in and out of the hospital since last week (around 11/22). The issue (according to my mother): a gallstone had lodged in his bile duct and began backing up bile. My dad already takes a lot of painkillers for his feet; the nerves of his feet and legs were damaged over 20 years ago due to a lack of blood flow (and a wrong diagnosis from a doctor, but that’s a whole other story). So the pain, he thought at first, was indigestion, as he was dealing with nausea and vomiting. But it got worse and eventually he had to go to the hospital, where the discovered and subsequently removed said gallstone. Just one, it seems, plus a “lot of gunk,” which refers to inflammation from infection. See, the bile had backed up so much that it was seeping back into his liver. That’s not good. There was so much that they had to install a drain to get it out. Doing so caused his gallbladder to spasm as it returned to its normal shape, which my dad was not a fan of.
Since then, he’s had some issues with his blood pressure and some fluid collecting in his lungs and around his heart. It sounds mostly like his body just working to get itself right after the gallbladder draining. The fluid’s been drained and his BP has returned to normal. He also had a water leak in his hospital room, an errant fire alarm, and a woman in a nearby room whose fall protection alarm kept going off. Plus having to wait to even get into the hospital due to the rampant RSV infections around the country. The American healthcare system in action.
He’s doing better since and my mom believes he’ll be able to go home today (haven’t heard from her yet). My understanding is that he’ll have to keep wearing the gallbladder drain (which, I think, it’s kind of like a smaller ostomy bag for his gallbladder–a gallostomy bag, we’ll say) until his gallbladder is healed enough for them to remove it. Dad is vehemently against surgery, and I don’t blame him, he’s been through some big ones. But it’s either that or a constant concern that his gallbladder will back up and become infected again.
My dad is 80 years old, my mom 75. They’ve been married for 56 years. Back then, you got married in your late teens/early 20s. During that half a century they’ve experienced all the ups and downs and trials and tribulations. And that’s not even mentioning me and my two brothers compounding those trials x10. Eventually everyone and everything dies. It’s the only constant in the universe. It’s inevitable, and yet completely unique each time. My dad’s told me numerous times that he’s at peace with dying. He knows it’s coming. But in moments like this I realize that there’s a difference between being at peace with the concept of dying, and actually dying, which I think, no matter what, is going to be scary. But it’s not a contrast; it’s a complement. The peace and the fear. There’s something kind of depressing about not being afraid to die, you know? Life is so weird and miraculous, and then you’re just going to leave it at some point. Why wouldn’t you have some trepidation about that?
In all honesty it’s a miracle that my dad’s been alive as long as he has. Or rather, it’s a miracle of medicine and doctors and surgery. It’s no miracle of God. If anything, God had his grubby paws out, waiting to snatch him up over 20 years ago. Or when he had throat cancer about a decade later. Science is the thing that keeps him around. I’m more thankful for science than I am for some deity in the sky.
Anyway, that’s an update on that. Dad’s doing alright, mom’s hanging in there. Still waiting to hear on if he’ll be released from the hospital today. It sounds likely.