My Dad Has Cysts in his Liver

1 Jan

In the past week, my mother has texted a couple times, saying that my dad is coughing and choking. I felt very angry at her, thinking of her cigarettes and knowing full well that she’s undoubtedly smoking in the house. And here she is saying that he’s coughing and choking. Of course he’s coughing and choking!

Yesterday she texted saying that my dad was in the hospital. This really shocked me. I asked for a phone number so that I could talk to my dad, and she texted me the phone number for the nurses station and said to ask for the room number. Next she texted, “They are sending him to Loyola. Something wrong with his liver.” She gave me the address and phone number and room number for the Loyola hospital and then texted that it was currently eight and they’d be sending him at 9:30 (p. m.).

After a brief, panicky crying fit, I calmed down enough to call my dad at Porter County Hospital. He said he had a catscan and that the problem is with his liver. He has low hemoglobin levels and mentioned a blood transfusion. He sounded like he was probably drugged, and he was a bit hoarse. He said that he needs a specialist and would be riding an ambulance to Loyola (maybe my mother said that via texting before my dad told me). I recognized the name and immediately thought it was a hospital affiliated with a university, which it is.

He said, “Let your brother and sister know, but be vague.” This was after he said that a doctor bluntly stated that he’s in “critical condition.” He said that usually nurses tell patients stuff like that, and nurses are gentler about how they break the news.

Toward the end of the phone conversation, he mentioned Charlie and I realized that he thought I was my sister Sally (I had said, “This is your daughter” when he answered the phone, and of course the call was transferred from the nurses station, so he didn’t have caller ID). I didn’t feel like correcting him.

I called my dad again this afternoon, this time at the second hospital.

Francis called the Loyola hospital before my dad even left Valparaiso, Indiana. My dad hasn’t heard from Francis yet (actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re on the phone right now).

That was his first ambulance ride ever. This surprised me, since he’s seventy-two years old—almost seventy-three. The road at some point in Illinois was very rough. He could see through a window in the ambulance, and everything was backwards—I think this means he was facing a back door that had a window. (I don’t remember seeing through a window when I was in an ambulance, but then my neck was in a brace because I’d just been the victim of a car accident.) Throughout the ride, he chitchatted with the driver and the paramedic. He arrived in the ambulance at about midnight. It took about two hours because of the snow; normally it would only take one hour.

When they got to the hospital at about midnight, they each yelled, “Happy New Year!”

The hospital has an ambulance supplies room, for towels and such. You push a key code, 911, and you can get into the supply room. My dad thought the key code was funny.

The hospital is in a very high crime area but is an excellent quality hospital affiliated with a major (Catholic) university. It is the Loyola University Medical Center, and my dad is in the ICU. This hospital is huge and each nurse has four or five patients, so they don’t have someone assigned to his room; he has to push a button to get a nurse to come. He described the hospital as very large, the size of the hospital I went to because of my appendix. It has six hundred beds. This hospital is in a high-crime suburb of Chicago and has a great many security guards. He said, “I’ve never seen so many security guards!” You have to push security buttons to get inside, and his wallet and such were put into a locked space.

He’s been having acid reflex and breathing problems; I think he was referring to issues he’s had since the heart surgery. He gets the hiccups or has trouble breathing. Hiccups cut his breath off, he gasps, and it’s getting worse. He thinks it’s probably related to his liver.

He’s had about fifteen blood transfusions since last night.

He has a critical situation, according to a doctor. There’s a tumor on his liver, and they’ll be cutting away a large mass of his liver. They want to save at least part of his liver, because otherwise he’d need a transplant. A younger doctor acted positive and said that the bleeding has stopped, but an older and less friendly doctor wasn’t as positive.

He had a cat-scan in Valpo and has since had two cat-scans at Loyola.

He’s living on ice chips and isn’t allowed to otherwise eat. Can’t get back to bed without help walking. His liver is precarious, and he can’t walk around currently and has to stay in bed for right now.  And of course he gets hiccups, and they have no way of controlling that. He keeps sucking on ice chips.

He woke up at 5 am and fell back to sleep later. 6 am cat-scan.

He has his cell phone but doesn’t have his charger because he didn’t get to go home from the Porter County Hospital (Indiana) and get his charger. So I’ll stick with the hospital number. He has to wait for us to call him, rather than him calling us.

What he called the most painful thing yet was a catheter tube stuck in him. They have to lubricate the tube. He can’t get out of bed at all, including to use the bathroom, because they want to keep his liver steady.

He has things on his legs that massage them to prevent blood clots in his legs, because he’s lying in bed all the time. They also gave him shots for it. They just gave him another echocardiogram. Apparently it’s a big mass.

Sally has called and offered to come down, but Dad discouraged it because of the weather. It’s been snowing, and they’re supposed to have another twelve inches of snow (in Morgan Township). The weather is actually the reason he wasn’t flown to Chicago and instead rode an ambulance.

My dad said, “Don’t panic.” Yet he’s talking as if he seriously isn’t sure he’ll survive this.

I’m thinking I’ll reread the Paranirvana Sutra today and read some of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, which I’ve never gotten through (I have a huge unabridged translation).

I found a local florist (Grand Avenue Florist) and ordered a vase full of flowers (including orange roses) that will be sent to my dad’s hospital room. I chose tomorrow as the delivery date, but since the florist is undoubtedly closed today, I figure it will probably get to him on Friday.


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