At 11.45am dad's room was full of people. The meeting had been arranged for 11am, but life on Critical Care is always a best guess rather than an absolute. Things got underway with talk of physiotherapy for the body and for speech and swallowing. The dietician addressed issues concerning the NG tube and the PEG insertion surgery which is scheduled for Monday. The pharmacist spoke about neuropathic drugs, new drug plans and changes to certain medications. Then the consultant spoke very clearly and concisely about the next phase. Or, indeed, the lack thereof. He told dad that in cases like his they expect to see some signs of recovery around the thirty day mark. In his opinion, dad hasn't made any. Essentially, he believes that dad won't get any better than he currently is.

I disagree.


slightly slanted

I've managed to pick up a virus from spending three weeks inside a hospital. This means that I'm not allowed to visit dad until I'm bug free. Naturally, on the only day that I've missed seeing him the physiotherapists go and stand him upright (albeit at 60 degrees and supported by a belt hoist), and he goes and defies all odds and expectations and supports his own weight. His feet were straight and his legs didn't buckle, at all.

When mum called me she was crying. I expected to hear something horrific, but given the noise in the background I soon realised that it was quite the opposite. The entire team are stunned.

Almost as stunned as when dad spelt out 'NO MORE PIPES UP MY ASS'.


Sunday morning we received a phone call from my dad's ward at the hospital. They told us that dad was displaying the symptoms of a lung infection, and that his lung appeared to have partially collapsed. As a result, he was being moved back to Critical Care. Sunday was a difficult day.

Come Monday morning dad was once again stabilized. The Critical Care team told us that the samples taken from his lungs had come back clear of any infection. However, he was still heavily reliant on the ventilator. Until that changes he will remain in Critical Care.

Dad seems a little more upbeat about the whole situation. We've adopted the method of communication seen in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. His input into the conversation is just as tasteless as ever. We were talking about his sister being a qualified masseuse, and how she'd offered to work on his legs. He immediately made the eye gesture that lets me know that he wants to say something. This is what we got, "Does massage have happy ending?". Naturally, I was all, "Eww, that's your sister!". His response, "I'm on drugs!".

Worst part: having to explain to my mother what a happy ending is.



I got my second trip in an ambulance today. Our local doctor thought that my mum was having a heart attack and thus we spent seven hours in the ER. She's fine though. Just extremely stressed and burnt out.

As for my dad, he's been spelling out words tonight. He spelt out 'kill'. He's also refused his feeding tube.

Not the greatest day.



My dad's central and arterial lines are out. His remaining lines are food, insulin and oxygen. This sudden freedom meant that we could go outside for the first time! It was an ordeal, but with a specially modified chair, a drip stand and an oxygen cylinder we spent a good half-an-hour in one of the hospital's gardens.

It was very cold and the skies were grey, but my dad was happy. Happier still when my niece turned up! It took her a few seconds to adjust to the chair and the tubes, and few more to grasp that eyes up meant yes and eyes down meant no. Thirty seconds in, though, and they were back to the same old banter. Mostly involving poo and who was the smelliest.



My dad had his tracheostomy this afternoon. This morning we were told that it had been cancelled, and that it wouldn't be taking place for at least another day. Fortunately, my dad's nurse kicked up a minor shit-storm. The miscommunication made her seem inept and she wasn't having any of it. Lo and behold, four hours later my dad was out of surgery and resting a whole lot easier.



My dad was transferred to the Critical Care Department at the City Hospital today. It means a long journey each day, but after visiting him this evening I feel so much better. After spending a week in ICU at The Queen's Medical, the silence in the CCD is staggering. He's in a private, air-conditioned room where the heat and lighting is moderated to my dad's exact wishes. Even better, David, the chap looking after my dad tonight is great. It's hard to describe how much of a difference that makes.

Lock In


My dad's stroke has left him unable to move any part of his body other than his eyes. He is fully aware and fully conscious of everything around him and everything happening to him, but he is unable to respond with anything other than eye blinks. He has all the classic symptoms of Locked-In Syndrome.

Over the next few days his care team will remove his breathing tube and, in its place, perform a tracheostomy. Doing so will make him more comfortable and will also allow for further assessment of his condition.

The doctors did their best to prepare us for the future. They spoke of infections, bacteria, clots and potential organ failure. It's a horrible thing to hear, but it's also vital to know. That said, I'm still resolutely living in the 'now'. Those things may happen, but I'm not devoting any of my brain power to them just yet.

Just before we left my dad was trying to communicate with me, but it was impossible to determine his meaning. His eye blinks are often accompanied by eye-lid twitches and spasms, which make his true intent unclear. It's frustrating for me being unable to understand him, and I can't even begin to imagine how it must be for him. Although I suspect he may be thinking "for fuck's sake" quite a lot.


Don`t reckon much to the view

Following the MRI scan this afternoon my Dad's doctor confirmed a stroke. The type wasn't specified, but the epicenter appears to be the brain stem. The severity of the stroke and the effects it has had on his brain won't become apparent until he is brought out of his induced coma. Something which will begin tomorrow morning.

Again, it's a matter of waiting. If he responds well tomorrow then he may be kept conscious, if not he'll be sedated again.


Waiting Room - A Room for Waiting

It's true what they say about best-laid plans and their tendency to go awry. This afternoon I was supposed to be going for a walk with my parents. My dad, recently home from Ghana, had been complaining about feeling 'a bit off' and so we settled on watching Antiques Road Trip instead.

Ten minutes in, he complained about pain in his eyes and said he felt nauseated. When he said that his hands were feeling numb we phoned for a paramedic. He began vomiting whilst I was speaking to the emergency operator. The ambulance took twenty minutes to arrive. In that short space of time he lost the ability to walk, to talk and ultimately to support himself.

My dad isn't a slight chap, so moving him to lie flat to aid his respiration was done on pure adrenaline. I also had to aid the paramedics in lifting him onto their trolley. Again, I have no idea how we did it. I can only assume it was one of those moments of hysterical strength.

The hospital don't know what's wrong with him. They've placed him into an induced coma until they can figure it out. The CT scans of his brain don't suggest a stroke or a bleed. His heart is also fine. His white blood cell levels don't indicate that he's fighting an infection. But he remains unable to breathe without support and unable to speak; although he did squeeze my hand when I spoke to him.

They suspect it may be malaria related, or possibly meningitis. He is scheduled for a lumber puncture, and resulting fluid tests will occur overnight. He also had gallons of blood drawn for tests. But, essentially, it's a mystery.
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