Apr. 26th, 2011

breath

Apr. 26th, 2011 01:36 pm
noabsolutes: (Default)
So here's the deal: I guess on Friday Grandpa aspirated something he ate and it triggered a catastrophic event that put him in total system failure. His heart, his lungs, his liver, his kidneys. His potassium levels plummeted and his sodium levels soared, or maybe it's the other way around, but that's real bad. His pH was almost fatally low; he was in acidosis. His feet were blue. His skin was mottled with the little red dots that indicate circulation has shut down. He was not expected to last the night.

My dad and uncle sat vigil with him all night, holding his hands and talking to him. They needed to hold his hands, actually - even at the knife's edge of death, my grandpa was a powerful dude and his judgment (as dad put it), is "not what it once was" and at some point he decided he no longer wanted the ventilator and kept trying to extubate himself.

At some point he asked what had happened to him and Dad, who does not believe in lying to his father, told him what had happened and that it seemed to be the end. Grandpa took it well, I guess. He made some clarifications about what he wanted to have happen to the trucks and talked with Dad & my uncle as well as he could with the ventilator.

My aunt drove through the night to be with him. My cousin flew in - arriving at 8 Saturday morning - and I picked him up at the airport.

At some point during the night the nurses came in, drew more blood for another panel (despite dad's protests - couldn't they just leave him in peace?) and determined that - astonishingly - his potassium and sodium levels were returning to normal, his blood oxygen level was actually way too high (they turned down the ventilator - when I left at 3 am Saturday morning, the vent was doing 90% of his breathing work; when I arrived the next morning it was doing 10% of the work for him and the O2 level was lower), his pH had returned to normal, his liver function was up. His kidneys were still not working very well but the nephrologist said that sometimes they bounce back after a few days.

Grandpa was, predictably, really excited about not being dead. He stayed up all night Friday night (reasonable - he was at death's door, why waste the last hours of your life sleeping?) and was wired on oxygen and euphoria Saturday. He was so wired he flunked the respiration test Saturday morning when they were trying to decide whether to extubate or nor - Grandpa solved that problem by extubating himself Saturday afternoon while nobody was in the room. (He was restrained at the time - that was a first for the nurse. My Grandpa is wily.) They put him on a CPAP machine - by Saturday night he had graduated to a nasal cannula.

We've been at the hospital pretty much nonstop since.

As of last night he was pretty much in the clear except for his kidneys. They have GOT to start working again or this is it. Today he is making urine but his creatinine level is worse than yesterday.

I don't want to go to Florida on Thursday.

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