Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Old Friend

One of my dad's friends called today to see how my dad was doing. Unfortunately, my dad couldn't pick up the phone due to his physical and mental status these past few years. I picked up and my dad's friend immediately recognized me. We chatted a good bit and he thanked me for taking care of my dad. He is very impressed by the care that my dad has been receiving from me.

My dad's friend's name is Ông Bảy and he lives in Seattle, Washington. He said he has actually visited us a few times, but I was not home except for the last visit. It was in 2018 at that time, and my dad had his first stroke which affected his speech and most of what he was saying did not make sense even though he could pronounce words clearly. Ông Bảy called a few months ago, but my mom answered the phone.

It's really nice to have friends that still try to keep in touch and check on you even though you are bedridden, cannot speak, and can no longer take in regular food by mouth. I actually was planning to call Ông Bảy this Christmas on my dad's behalf because I had his number saved. I wish I had taken a group picture of my dad's friends visiting him the last time they were here. Ông Bảy is actually two years older than my dad, at 80. He said he would fly to California again to visit his other friends as well in the Little Saigon area, but he is getting older and traveling can get challenging. Even though my dad could not say a word, he was sitting next to me listening to the conversation, and he seemed a bit emotional for a few seconds. I think he recognized his long time friend as they were close friends with similar backgrounds and circumstances.  I hope we see Ông Bảy again soon.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

One Year

One year ago today my father was hospitalized for sepsis. It was during the COVID restrictions so family could not visit him. He was hospitalized for 20 days. I was worried every single day because at home, he was too weak to stand up on his own for nearly two months (I could not figure out why because my dad could not speak as a result of a stroke). Before the two months, I could still help him walk in the neighborhood every single day without his wheelchair for 10 months. He also had not been able to swallow food for one year, so he had a G-tube on.

My dad at 77, was completely bedridden when he was discharged from the hospital and had lost a lot of muscle mass. I could not believe this long list of problems in his discharge diagnosis:

1. severe sepsis with acute organ dysfunction
2. hyperosmolar nonketotic coma in diabetes
3. fungal rash of trunk
4. acute hypoxemic respiratory failure
5. candidal pneumonia
6. ischemia due to increased oxygen demand
7. acute exacerbation of COPD with asthma
8. S/P bronchoalveolar lavage
9. acute uremia, improved
10. elevated LFTs
11. CKD stage 3 due to type 2 diabetes mellitus
12. toxic metabolic encephalopathy
13. hemiparesis affecting nondominant side as late effect of cerebrovascular accident
14. unresolved lobar pneumonia
15. hemiparesis and speech and language deficit as late effect of cerebrovascular accident (CVA)
16. BPH with urinary obstruction
17. attention to gastrostomy tube
18. decubitus ulcer of sacral region, stage 2 from home
19. dysphagia as late effect of cerebrovascular accident (CVA), GT dependent
20. dementia, vascular, mixed
21. benign essential hypertension
22. chronic reflux esophagitis, avoid aspirin
23. bedridden

I had to save my dad. I have been spending 24/7 monitoring and assisting my dad like I always have since his first stroke in April 2018 which left him nonverbal. This time the beginning months was most urgent and most exhausting.

Today, one year later, my dad can give me eye contact, can watch TV for hours, can hear well, can nod or shake his head a bit, can use his legs with assistance, can move his arms, no longer has bedsores, has gained some muscle mass, and does not cough as often anymore compared to when he first came home from the hospital.

Even though he is still not able to sit up or roll over in bed on his own, once in a while I catch him trying and at least that is something.

“The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.”