October 31, 2008


Happy Halloween, all! We had twelve tricker-treaters this year, plus one rather tired barfly. That means lots of candy left over for those of us in the house that have not recently had heart surgery.

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October 30, 2008


This morning wasn't that great, Dad didn't sleep very comfortably. Or rather, he slept fine for six hours, then woke up and had trouble getting back to sleep. We were thinking it might be because he's now sleeping on a flat bed again, and it's clogging his lungs a bit more than the inclined hospital bed. My pet theory is that his brain woke him after his normal six hours of sleep, but his body still ached for more healing rest.

Once some oatmeal and a batch of pills were poured down his gullet, he felt better. Most of today he spend sitting in the easy chair, answering phone calls and sorting mail. The neighbors had seen an ambulance carting him away, and via the grapevine had discovered about his heart attack. So there were a number of sympathy calls and expressions of goodwill.

Today a nurse came to visit, she spent about an hour talking with him; I'm told she'll be back on the weekend. She suggested yet a third theory as to his disorientation the one morning in the hospital: "Narcotic Naiveté." He's never been on narcotics before, and he's never been a drinker of alcohol. So he had no experience with altered conciousness and paniced. We'll add that to the drug interaction theory and the low blood oxygenation theory.

Today I mowed the lawn, vacuuming up all the leaves as a convenient side benefit. Then I built my new computer from the parts that arrived via UPS while Dad was in the hospital. In fact, I'm typing this up on my new computer as we speak. Following my theme of naming computers after nearby trees, this one is "Oak" for the tree right outside the window. (Previous computers have been Cypress, Palm, and Maple).

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October 29, 2008


We all met at my Dad's bedside this morning at 10, and by "we" I mean myself, my sister, brother-in-law, Uncle Bob and Aunt Jean. The nurse that came in to give the outbrief seemed impressed by the size of the crowd.

Near noon, we loaded Dad into the front seat of sis's minivan for the cavalcade home. I broke off to get gas at cheap Pennsylvania prices, so I was the last one home. We got Dad situated in a living room easy chair and moved a small table next to it, where he could put a phone, books, cups of tea, and whatnot. The table we're using is the one that's destined for me, as my sisters took the associated doll-beds. If memory serves, Grandpa H built all three.

Over the course of the day, Dad improved tremendously. He's supposed to be walking for twenty minutes a day in short spurts for the first day. We didn't bother to time him, because he got that much in just walking around the house. It was snowing today, so walks outside are perhaps not a good idea yet anyway.

Sis and BIL got Dad his medication; he's taking five daily pills, plus a pain pill every four hours. In addition he needs to weigh himself and take his temperature daily. At his insistence, I created a spreadsheet to keep track of all that. It's a rather crude spreadsheet at this point, but I think it acceptable for a first draft.

He went to bed earlier than he used to, but his color is wonderfully improved, he ate a reasonable quantity of food at lunch and dinner, and after the first few times I stopped following him as he walked; he seemed stable enough on his feet to be at no risk of falling. His stamina is still quite low, and he never walked for more than sixty seconds at a time. That's about where we should be, according to the nurse.

Tomorrow I've got some shopping to do. With Bob and Jean visiting, we'll certainly need more food. Also, Halloween is only two days away, so I feel obliged to get some candy for visiting children. I've no idea how many children are likely to show up, although I know Dad keeps track every year. I could ask him, but I don't think I'll bother him over such a minor issue, especially since maintaining ignorance of the issue gives me a fine excuse to buy a substantial pile of candy. Lastly, his required daily shower uses five washcloths, so unless we want to do a small load of laundry every day, I'll be buying some more of them. They must be on sale somewhere.

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October 28, 2008

Don't Let the Door Hit You Where the Good Lord Split You

Dad's doing better all the time. We're going to be taking him home tomorrow at about noon or one o'clock. That is, we're to show up at 10 AM and get briefed on the home care he'll need, then we must do all the paperwork involved in a hospital discharge.

My Uncle Bob and Aunt Jean showed up today, they'll be part of the cavalcade getting Dad home. They'll be spending the night alone at Dad's tonight (I'm still at Mom's); I set them up with clean towels and clean bedsheets, and I expect that they can manage to find the plates in the cabinets. Finding the food in the fridge is probably superfluous, as they brought a cooler and a couple of bags full of groceries with them from Pennsylvania.

The circumstances aren't ideal, but it'll still be nice to visit with them.

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Laptop Woes

When I dropped off my laptop at a local computer shop yesterday, the clerk said that it might be done as soon as this afternoon, seeing as how they had the correct replacement hard drive right on the shelf.

So I called them this afternoon, and the clerk I talked to said that they had a normal five-to-ten day turnaround time, that my computer was still waiting to be see, and that they'd certainly call me as soon as it was ready.

I took it to this local place out of some loyalty to them: they built my first computer. But this is not a complicated repair job, and I see no reason to wait a week. If I get a chance tomorrow I'll stop by Best Buy and see how long their repair desk says it'd take them. If it's faster, I'll take it back from the local place and give it to the big evil megacorporation. Customer service is how the little guys can beat the monoliths, but I'm not feeling well served thus far.

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October 27, 2008

Now Only Draining the Old-Fashioned Way

This afternoon the tubes that drain Dad's chest cavity were pulled out. Sorry, brother-in-law, but I didn't document the procedure with any photos.

With the tubes out, Dad can sit upright, and move about much more comfortably. He can walk around the ward without having to drag along a cart that the drain tubes connected to. More excercise means faster healing means going home soon. We're thinking Wednesday, but we shall see.

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October 26, 2008


I skipped lunch and rushed to the hospital again today, following a distressing call from my brother-in-law. When he and my sister arrived, they found Dad confused, unaware of his location, and unsure of what was real and what was not. By the time I arrived (with some good tea that he'd been demanding), he had calmed down and was well-oriented again.

After we'd been there a few hours, they decided he was doing well enough to leave the ICU and go back to the regular cardiac ward. They pulled out more plumbing, so now he's down to just a chest drain and two IV ports in his arm, which are not currently being used. He's still in pain and not breathing comfortably, but that's to be expected. We're now hoping to take him home in the middle of this upcoming week.

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October 25, 2008

My Sympathy

Almost forgot, during his conversation with Grandma, Dad learned that cousin Topher's grandmother had just died. She was 100 years old, which means it couldn't have been a shock, but is still tragic. I don't recall meeting her (although I suspect I did at Debbie and Topher's wedding), someone in that family could not be other than charming.

My deepest sympathy at their loss.

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Sitting Around

I went to visit Dad at around noon. I found him eating lunch sitting up; he'd moved (with help) to a chair for breakfast, and stayed there until after lunch. Eating solid food is a good thing, but he needed blood again today, so he's staying in the ICU overnight again. Perhaps tomorrow he can move to a normal room.

While there, I received a strict order from my older sister that I was to get Dad to call his parents. I think both he and his mom were happy to be talking.

I stayed for perhaps an hour and a half, then Dad chased me off so he could get a nap before the next batch of visitors arrived. When I got to the parking lot, I discovered that I had left my keys in the ignition and locked the car. Whoops. While I was waiting for Mom to arrive and rescue me, the Meekers showed up, followed by my sister and brother-in-law. When I finally got into my car, it was off to do a little necessary shopping and some laundry. I'm still living out of a suitcase, which is annoying. Still, beats having my chest hacked open.

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October 24, 2008

Recovery Time

I apologize for the delay in progress updates. I dropped my laptop while in the ICU waiting room. Whoops. Luckily, all that it needs is a new hard drive. I might even be able to recover some of my photos, the last two months of which have not been backed up.

My father is recovering. It'd be a stretch to say he's doing well, but for a guy who had his chest chopped open and his heart stopped for a couple of hours, he's downright peachy.

The surgery itself was not without complications. Just as they were starting, his heart stopped. Rather than try to restart it, they just rushed through opening the chest and hooking him into the heart-lung machine, which had been part of the original plan. The head surgeon told me "If you're going to have your heart stop, the best place in the world would be on the table in a cardiac OR with a team assembled. Still, if he'd waited ten more minutes, it would have saved me a lot of sweat."

When we got to see him, he had been extubated, although he's got a mask on and lots of plumbing hooked into his neck and arm. He was loopy from the drugs, making him rather more argumentative than normal. He was also having some issues with bleeding, so he got blood, plasma, and platelets crammed into his veins. He tired quickly, so we went to a late lunch/early dinner at a Sayre restraunt.

We went back again later in the afternoon, and he was looking better; much less pale, better vital signs, more coherent in conversation. He had a list of things for his childen to do (pay bills, teach a class for 6th-graders, see about an absentee ballot…), and talked on the phone for a little bit. He was also concerned with how his parents were taking this, to his credit.

So, he's doing all right for now. I'll be back at the hospital tomorrow, perhaps after dropping my laptop off for repairs in Corning. So email and web updates may not be quite as frequent.

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