As I have mentioned in previous blogs, my father has been ill this year. Last September, fell and broke his neck. He was just walking to his car, and he tripped.
My father was born with cerebral palsy, which means he walks with a limp, and he doesn’t have the use of his right hand. So falling was not unusual. But before you feel sorry for him, know that he has also run over 30 marathons (one of which he won) so his disability did not impede his ability to live his life.
After the fall, he had surgery (thankfully there was no paralysis), and he went back to life as usually. It seemed there was no permanent damage done.
Then in December, he was hospitalized for pneumonia. He recovered, and again went back to his life.
However, the pneumonia recurred in January, and it was then that the doctors discovered that his swallowing reflex was damaged. Every time he would eat or drink some of what he swallowed went into his lungs.
He was no longer allowed to eat or drink on his own, but instead he was fed and hydrated through a tube….boy did that piss him off.
Even with those precautions, he got pneumonia again and again. He would be discharged from the hospital to rehab then he would have to be readmitted for pneumonia. This cycle went on from January to April, during that time he never made it back home.
In April, Dad’s situation looked dire. His kidneys were failing, and he had contracted mrsa. Plus, he was physically and emotionally exhausted. He was ready for an end to this terrible cycle. I flew to Oklahoma to say goodbye to my father.
Just as everything was looking bleak, he doctor who had done the surgery on Dad’s neck stopped by when Mom was there. She told him that since the surgery Dad has lost his ability to swallow and has had many episodes of aspiration pneumonia.
The doctor was certain that another surgery could fix the situation, and for the first time in months we had hope that dad would recover. We all breathed a sigh of relief.