Archive for the ‘father update’ Category

Road To Recovery

It’s been my intention to keep you updated as often as I can as to my going ins and outs here in the Philippines, but alas, I didn’t anticipate that I would be so busy acting as my father’s nurse…. So hold on tight, as this post will be a little long.

Just when I think that I’ve already had enough skills to get me by (:o), then I learn some more that I think my resume should be looking better and better..… that is, IF nursing/care giving skills can be added to it. It should be pretty impressive for someone who didn’t go to nursing school, or had caregiving training. Hahaha… Anyway, here’s some updates on my father since my last post.

My father stayed in the hospital for a total of 16 days. His BKA (below knee amputation, one of the medical jargons I picked up) went well, thank God. His wound is healing good. Another huge praise the Lord right there! However, the doctors felt the need for him to stay a little over a week more in the hospital because of the many other infections his body had developed in the course of his 9-month battle with a gangrenous leg.

In my previous blog, I mentioned about my dad’s low hemoglobin (hematocrete) count despite the 4 bags of blood transfusion he’s had (his remained at 9.8, normal would be 14-15) . Doctors said that the only way this is happening is because of an internal bleeding. The doctors suspected a recurrence of his colon cancer, which would explain the bleeding, that’s why they deemed it necessary to do a colonoscopy procedure. (Well, I watched the procedure and now I can say that I know my father inside and out! )

Anyway, the specialist found only 2 very little flat polyps in his intestines. Those were biopsied and apparently, they were nothing to be alarmed about. But the most important thing is that there is no source of active bleeding found in his intestines and NO sign of cancer! Halleluiah! This was a huge relief for me to know, especially as after my dad’s colon surgery last year, my dad and I decided that he will not do any chemo treatment at all.

But while this was a relief, it still hadn’t solved our original problem: the source of bleeding. And so my father was submitted to another procedure, this time, a gastro-esophageal endoscopy. Doctors said this was also important because cancer can also spread upwards in the stomach and esophagus region. I actually panicked a little when I heard this, especially as my dad completely lost appetite and had difficulty swallowing food in the last 2-3 months. And so the endoscopy was done — with much prayer from me!

Finally, we got the answer, and some. But first of all, there’s NO cancer, thank you Jesus! The endoscopy revealed my father’s badly eroded and swollen stomach (H-pylori disease). Apparently, his ulcers had been bleeding for quite a while now – which was no surprise because he had not been eating properly yet, he was taking so many strong medications. Because of his swollen stomach, his cardia (the entry to the stomach) also shrunk a lot. Along with this, fungi (candidiasis) was also found forming like a plaque attaching themselves to the walls of his throat and esophagus. Plus, he also developed pneumonia.

You may have seen the photo I posted of my dad in one of my earlier entries- he was very malnourished and pale. His immune system was down making him vulnerable to all kinds of infections, thus explaining all those bacteria/fungi that feasted on him.

Needless to say, he was pumped with so much antibiotics, and coupled with his pain killers, my father was in the lala world. For days he was talking in his sleep, sometimes all night, and he was hallucinating so much that at times the things he claimed to have seen would scare us. To witness my father like that was amusing (due to the things he would say or do) but largely disheartening. I thought at one point that my father was in the early stages of senility brought about by all the drugs he was given.

It seemed like an eternity before the doctor gave us the release orders, but finally, my father was cleared to go home on August 27th. He was still very weak then, and we had to continue feeding him through is NGT (nasal gastric tube). Yes, he had to be fed through a tube in his nose to ensure that he gets back proper nutrition along with all the medications he needs to take.

I now know how to prepare food for NGT (which includes blending and sieving, but the real tricky part is counting the calories that go into the mix to make sure my father gets the correct amount of calories required for the day.. so for this, I had to learn the food exchange). The doctor also taught me how to insert the tube through his nose (as it needs to be changed every two weeks), but this I haven’t had the courage to do myself.

Feeding my father through the NGT proved to be very challenging, not just mentally but mostly physically. Because his stomach has shrunk a lot due to lack of food for several months, he cannot be given so much food at one time. Thus, his food needs to be given at 4 hours interval in 6 different times – which included one feeding time at 12 midnight, and another at 4am. And in between, I had to check his blood sugar to determine whether he needs an insulin shot or not, plus he calls out for help when he needs to pee, which was often. I’m not kidding, our house felt like a hospital. So you can just imagine how messed up my sleeping pattern was.

For days I was doing all the feeding, injections, medications by myself, as I had no help. The day my father was admitted to the hospital, my caregiver (the girl I hired) was recalled by her own father to go home; her mother was (still is) also very sick. I have one male cousin staying with us, but I couldn’t trust him to do all the minute details of my father’s medications, especially on the feeding (it’s a female-oriented task, in my opinion). Later on though, a niece of mine became available – and she has been a huge help however, at night, both sleep like a log. I’m the lightest sleeper of us all, so every time my father calls out for something, I’m the one who’s up most of the time! So, since arriving from the US, I was only getting at best 3-4 hours rest, believe me or not.

And you know, our bodies could only take so much exhaustion. Mine finally gave out last weekend. I got sick – I developed tonsillitis, my entire body ached I felt like I had been beaten with a 2×4, and of course, I was running a fever too. Fortunately, this happened just in time when my caregiver finally came back! I was down and out for maybe 3-4 days, but I thank God that my caregiver and my cousins rose up to the challenge and took care of my dad, while I get my needed rest. Finally.

My father is now so much better than 3 weeks ago. As soon as he was off his painkillers and antibiotics, the hallucination went away. Praise the Lord! He looks much better – his normal skin color is back, he has filled out a little bit on his cheeks, and he is much stronger. His pneumonia is gone, he’s no longer coughing and his appetite is back! He is allowed to eat soft foods while still feeding through the NGT. In fact, just this week, the doctor reduced his NGT calorie intake because he has been eating more and more (through the mouth). His NGT is just temporary. It’ll be removed as soon as he can already eat a full meal 3x a day. I pray this will be soon.

Next week, the stitches on his leg stump will be removed. So that’s another thing that I thank God is happening while I will be here. The next thing for my father is rehabilitation. He needs to do some exercises to strengthen his muscles so he can balance himself on one leg; he also needs to learn to walk using the walker/crutches which will also prepare him for a possible prosthesis in the future.

So this is it for now. For all those who have prayed and have helped us in one way or another, I thank you so much from the bottom of my heart. Please continue to help me lift up my father in prayer so that his road to recovery will be easy, his journey swift.

God bless you and thank you for sharing your time with me by reading this post. :oD

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Prayer Request

I’d like to ask for your prayers for my father. He will need to have his leg amputated asap. The wound on his heel from a surgery almost a year ago has gotten a lot worse and the doctors said that the only solution at this point is to have his leg removed, to prevent the wound from getting septic. Once the infection gets into his bloodstream, this would be fatal.

So, I’m again taking an emergency trip to the Philippines. Words escape me right now from exactly expressing to you how I feel. Suffice it to say, we need your help in praying for my father, and for provisions to meet our needs financially and otherwise.

I will try my best to give you an update of his condition while I’m in the Philippines.

Thank you and your prayers are much appreciated. God bless.

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A Heart Thing

It has been a while since I gave you an update about my father. So on this day of HEARTS, I felt that it is just but fitting for me to share with you the greatest burden that I have in my heart – my father.

My father has just gone to another doctor, a Vascular specialist.

It’s been four months (Oct 2007) since his heel/ankle operation (debridement) and still, the wounds on both his feet have not healed at all. He still has the incessant, throbbing pain from his wound, and it has now affected his entire leg. My father has been taking pain medications (along with his other medicines) since the operation, and they are no longer working on him. Night time for my father has become an ordeal to go through. The pain is so bad that he cannot sleep a wink anymore.

It seemed that the Orthopedic doctor whom he was seeing was not doing the right thing as there barely is an improvement on his wound and pain. And so, a friend (a nurse, actually) suggested for him to consult this vascular surgeon whom she knows is very good. This doctor supposedly has handled worse diabetic cases than my father and had been able to successfully help his patients till they got better.

And so my father went to see this doctor today. A vascular specialist, I had been told, would be the best for his case. The doctor reviewed all his medications and gave him new stuff to apply to his wound.

I hope and pray this new doctor would be able to help my father. Due to the pain, my father sometimes gets so tired, frustrated, depressed and all that not-so-good stuff. Just this morning, I was on the phone with him because he is not feeling all too well. I think his trip from the doctor stressed him out. He is feeling a slight pain on his chest and shoulders. And you know how delicate his condition is due to his coronary triple vessel disease. There is a district hospital nearby and he went to the Emergency to have his blood pressure taken. His pressure is high – 120/100.

I fear for my father’s life, to be honest. I must confess that it stresses me out thinking of him and it affects me a whole lot. His condition to me feels like an ax hanging over my head that can fall anytime.

So, this post comes with a request for a prayer. Please help me pray for my father, and for Joseph and I as well. Pray for a miracle of healing, for provision, strength and peace for all of us.

I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
Psamls 121:1-2

Happy Valentines.

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