At the age of 49, my father, Donald, had three consecutive strokes. The ER doctor told us that they have never seen scans like his before. The bleed was massive and the swelling was rapidly increasing. 18 hours into the hospital stay, my father was in the OR having his brain flap removed. The severe swelling caused pressure on the brain stem causing major deficits.
Over the next three and a half years, bed side procedures, extensive testing, and 5 additional brain flap surgeries occurred. My father had a very high infection rate and his body rejected almost everything. He also had a penicillin allergy. Having an allergy to one of the biggest classes of medication always complicated things.
After surviving 6 brain surgeries, finding the strength to fight through left sided paralysis and walk again, attend two cousins’ weddings, and always remain hopeful with a smile… he acquired a UTI.
There was blood in his urine. Passing occasional clots. We went multiple times to his PCP. Tried every antibiotic we possibly could. The blood would lessen, the clots would essentially disappear, but the pain remained the same. After many failed attempts at the doctor and urologist…we had to go to the hospital.
Having a compromised immune system, a penicillin allergy, and a non-compliant infection healing only meant one thing. We had to be extremely careful while he was in the ER. He was masked, no one was to touch him without washing their hands in front of us at the bedside, and we were constantly washing his hands.
Despite our efforts, he contracted C-DIFF. His C-Diff quickly turned into Sepsis. The infection and Sepsis was throughout his entire body. He was soon unable to breathe on his own and was placed on a respirator. He promised me “he would be back“… like he said before every procedure and surgery. Except this time, he never came back.
He had emergency surgery in the night removing his large intestine and a part of his small intestines. He was now 52 years old, with a colostomy, an artificial brain flap, and paralysis.
The odds of being able to fight off the infection throughout the body, let alone be sure it was not harvesting under the brain flap, was nearly impossible.
We withdrew all care. All medication. All breathing and support measures. Comfort care was given and within two hours, my father passed away. His body was ready even though our hearts were not.
Not a second goes by that I do not think of him. My heart aches and it will until the end of time.