“A father’s tears and fears are unseen, his love unexpressed, but his care and protection remains as a pillar of strength throughout our lives.” ~Ama H. Vanniarachchy
I just want to yell, and scream, and rage against the world! I want to know WHO thought it would be a good idea. I want to know WHAT happened at the moment this time bomb was assigned. I want to know WHEN the designated countdown began. I want to know WHERE it is going to end. I want to know WHY bad things happen to good people. I want to know HOW to cope at the moment the countdown reaches zero.
The above paragraph was written back on February 3rd, scratched on a paper towel, when I had to take my Paternal Half of the Parental Unit (Dad) to the emergency room due to some bladder issues. We had been going to my Dad’s radiation treatments and only had one more to go to finish the grueling 30-day program to help shrink the Cancer tumor in his Prostate and extend his life a bit longer when the bladder issue reared its ugly head.
In my previous post, A Daughter’s Journey with Her Dad: The Battle, I talked about some major issues he is facing from his exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. When we were told his Cancer has metastasized and is in stage 4, it devastated me. I am the closest one to my Dad and the one most like him. We began the journey of fighting the Cancer as best we could because he cannot have surgery. This was our battle, Cancer was the face of the enemy sent to take my Father’s life. Then, February 3rd happened. The twist that is tripping up our battle.
*Warning: semi-graphic details & language
Wednesday, the 3rd started off like our regular Radiation Day always did: me driving Dad to the hospital to do his treatments. Well, this day he noticed blood in his urine when it came out of his catheter he has had for two months. We had our regular meetings with his Radiation Doc and asked him about it. The doctor said it was probably a side effect from the radiation in Dad’s system and the blood should go away after two weeks once his treatments were finished.
With that in mind, Dad and I head back home. Around 3pm that afternoon, I get a phone call from Dad saying that there was no more blood in his urine. Woo Hooo! Great News! Two and a half hours later, I receive another call from Dad saying he was not getting any blood but now he is not even getting urine from the catheter tube.
Dad said it was probably kidney stones (which he is known to pass from time to time). I told him to keep me posted. Within the hour we were in the emergency room because of the pain my Father was in. He started having bladder spasms that shook his whole body as if he was in the throes of an Epileptic seizure. As we waited for them to call my Father back to be seen by a doctor, his pain only increased. I will forever have the image burned in to my memory of one moment, when a spasm was hitting Dad, of the look in his eyes.
As a spasm was hitting, I watched my Dad’s body convulse from the pain and when I looked into his baby blue eyes I saw tears glistening in them with a painful pleading look that said, “Please help me! I don’t understand. Why is this happening to me? Make it stop! Take it away!”
My heart shattered into pieces because I stood helpless by his side unable to alleviate one simple iota of pain for my Father; my Paternal Half; the Indestructible Soldier and All-Around Superman in his daughter’s eyes. 7 of 7, me, “Miss Fix It”, the one who makes all things better, was unable to do anything except stand silently by his side, holding his hand and telling him to breathe through the spasm.
All night, the scene above played out, over and over. The nurses went through two different catheters, causing additional pain, and still only minimal urine came out. His Urologist, whom has been with Dad from Day 1 dealing with Dad’s prostate issues, was not on call the night we went into the ER. We only had the nursing staff and doctor on duty to help. They took a CAT Scan of Dad’s bladder and saw that his prostate was so enlarged it was pushing up on his bladder and was cutting off the ureters (this explained the loss of urination). The results of the scan did not explain why only minimal urine was coming out of the new catheter.
The next morning, Thursday the 4th, Dad’s Urologist came into his room. He was on fire! The catheters put in by the ER staff were done improperly and with one catheter they filled up the balloon in my Father’s urethra in the penis! The blockage issue was already present, but the improper placement of the catheters aggravated the issue with my Dad’s bladder.
The Urologist told me we are now on the downhill slope for Dad. The doctor said that this situation is not going to be a few days but several weeks to potentially find the issue and for us not to get our hopes up because all we can do now is take it day by day.
Doc stated that Dad’s bladder issue has nothing to do with his Cancer, however, the radiation treatments will delay the healing process. Doc said he was removing the improper catheter and was going to put a scope up through the penis to see into Dad’s bladder and gauge what is going on. My thoughts circled around two things: 1. Downhill Slope-Dad is dying, but not from the Cancer? & 2. More Pain for Dad-weeks of pain.
The Urologist goes into Dad’s room and proceeds to try and scope him. YES, you read that sentence right-TRY. A few minutes later, Doc comes out with a grim look on his face (my brain kept repeating-Downhill Slope, Downhill Slope-in my head). The doctor says, “There is an obstruction in your Dad’s penis. I cannot get the scope to his bladder. We are going to have to put a suprapubic catheter into your Dad’s belly. If that does not work, I will have to put a tube running from each of his kidneys out of his body to get the urine out of his bladder. If that does not work, I will have to take your Dad to the operating room and you know what that means.”
Stunned, I said, “Yes. Broken neck to intubate. Paralysis or Death.” (Read 1st blog here to understand about the broken neck part)
I asked the doctor what was going on with my Father. The doctor said, “I don’t know. We have too many unknown variables. Until I can get into your Dad’s bladder, we can only take it day-to-day. Today, right now, I have to figure out a way to reroute the urine in the bladder or else your Dad will go into kidney failure.”
I said to the doctor, “I understand. Do what you need to do to help Dad.”
(My mind was yelling, “SH*T! F*CK! MY DAD COULD BE DYING AND IT IS NOT EVEN THE F*CKING CANCER THAT WILL KILL HIM!”)
The suprapubic catheter worked, however, my Dad was touch and go the rest of the day and night on Thursday. Dad was disoriented and confused. He thought it was 1965 during the procedure and he was looking for his wife (Mom, the Maternal Half of the Parental Unit).
After the procedure it was still 1965 and when Mom asked Dad if he found her, he said, “I caught you.” Throughout the night, I had to be the Reaper of Doom to all the Sub-Units (siblings/kids) retelling and reliving my conversation with the doctor.
We listened to Dad’s incoherent babble all night as well: he said my sister, Debbie (4 of 7), had to fix the blender; he and Mom were going for a ride to see Frannie (his sister who died of Cancer last year in Philadelphia) and Joey (his brother who is alive and in Tennessee) which will take an hour; he informed us ‘Ch’ahlie (Charlie) will take care of it (Vietnam flashback); he also wanted to go talk to those people “over there” whom he did not know (to this I informed him he is in no way, shape, or form to go talk to those people).
We all survived that scary night. Dad’s doctor came to check on him the next day making sure they were irrigating (flushing) Dad’s bladder every two hours. I told the doc that Dad was in his “right mind” again and appears to be doing well.
The doc looked at me and said, “He is no way out of the woods. I don’t believe in sugar coating information. That is why many people hate me. I believe in total honesty in all situations.” (Side-note: this is why my Dad and I love this doctor)
The doc continued saying, “I told you yesterday this is a long-term temporary situation with the suprapubic catheter. He cannot be alone again once he goes home. Your Dad will need to be watched and cared for 24/7 and your Mom cannot do it. Until his penis heals, if it heals, and the obstruction goes away for me to look into the bladder, we can only take it day-by-day. Tell the family that I do not want to hear any questions about three months from now because I don’t even know if he will be here in three months.”
(“SH*T! SH*T! F*CK, F*CK, F*CK!” says my brain)
“I understand and appreciate your honesty. That is why we love you.” I said to the doctor.
Two weeks have gone by now. We have had some good days, but more bad days over the good. My brain is still trying to process it all and my lack of sleep does not help. We go see the Doc on Thursday the 18th to see what is in store for Dad.
I have been my Paternal Half’s constant companion with the assistance of the Sub-Units: 1 of 7, 2 of 7, 4 of 7, 5 of 7, and 6 of 7 respectively (3 of 7-Ray-is squaring things away in Cali then he will be here to assist as well).
2 of 7 (Glory) left Sunday to go back to Georgia. 1 of 7 (Kathy) will go back to her home in the Houston area on Friday. 4 of 7 (Debbie), 5 of 7 (Nancy), 6 of 7 (James), and yours truly, 7 of 7, will keep watch 24/7 over our Parental Units until it is all said and done.