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April is the worst month

Well, for the second time this month, I’m back home at my family’s house, staying with my parents. This time, it’s for my dad.

Saturday morning, my dad was burning brush in the backyard (hometown allows burning). He stepped in a hole and fell face forward into the fire. Right now, he’s in the burn unit ICU at St. John’s Mercy hospital in St. Louis with second and third degree burns on the upper half of his body. Basically from his navel up, both arms (one arm has a huge gash along it as well) and hands, shoulders and upper back and his face is burned. It’s mostly second degree burns on his face, luckily. 

The biggest problem the doctors have had is trying to get the fluid balance right because my dad has several other health issues to deal with – the worst for the fluid issues is congestive heart disease. He also has diabetes and emphysema. Doctors were worried at first that he might have had a heart attack either within the past few days, had one that caused him to fall or had an HA as a result of the burns. Best news this morning was hearing that the heart damage wasn’t as bad as the doctor’s feared (meaning probably no HA at all) and his blood pressure is getting better (it was really low for a while). He’s still having arrhythmia, but his pulse is stabilizing somewhat as well.

So while he’s still in critical condition and will be in the burn ward for several weeks, it’s looking a bit better overall. I’m flying home on Thursday (Mike and I drove down yesterday with the dog, he and the dog headed back earlier this afternoon) and once the therapy begins, I’ll probably move home for a while to help my mom and family out. Good thing I can basically work from anywhere; now I really do hope my project gets extended.

So far the whole trip has been interesting. Watching my 85 lb. Golden trying to hump the head of my parent’s 120 lb. Great Dane was hilarious, because he had to hop to hump. Actually, watching two intact male dogs trying to figure out which was in charge was pretty funny. My mom really got a laugh out of that. I think it’s helping her to have me and two of my brothers there, listening to us argue. My youngest brother is driving home from Florida with the stuff from my uncle’s apartment. My mom and bro were in Florida to clean out the apartment after my uncle died Good Friday.

Then there’s the family of hillbillies that seem to have moved into the burn ward waiting room even though they are there for someone in the regular ICU. I’m talking wearing the same clothes since yesterday, having plastic bags of clothes clothes under one of the tables and bringing in snacks and drinks to have on hand. Then they have the gall to give us dirty looks when I’m chatting with my sister-in-law and nephew while my mom and bro are in the ICU.

So basically April is not turning out to be a good month all around for me. It’s going to be a long haul with my dad and his existing health problems aren’t going to help. So best thing I can ask for is any well-wishes for the future. My whole family is just grateful as hell that the neighbor behind my parents heard my dad screaming for help and ran out her house with a phone calling 911, and the neighbor at the end of the street came over to help as well. Even though they aren’t friends per se, they helped a ton with getting my dad taken care of.

I wrote the above last night when I was over at my brother’s house using his computer quick.  Today’s update is still positive, but there’s not been a lot of improvement right now.  They are going to do some tests on my dad’s heart tomorrow and Wednesday and will be doing a tracheotomy eventually as well, since having a tube down your throat for extended periods of time is bad.  The doctors now say that he did have a heart attack but we’re not sure when it was in relation to the accident itself.  Still, since they said the heart damage wasn’t as bad as they feared it might be, I still consider it good news in general.  His blood pressure is a bit low again today, but I guess that’s kinda to be expected.  The doctors have all been real good about making sure we understand everything they tell us even if it’s not all happy news, but I’d rather hear the truth than anything else.

Still no word on when they plan to take him to surgery to work on the burns and start skin grafts, but all that is really dependent on the state of his heart, which is why they are doing the heart tests in the next few days.  Right now I’m abusing the free wifi in the hospital waiting room while my mom spends time in the room.  Since visiting hours don’t start until 1pm here (all patient work is done in the mornings) my mom is going to work then we are heading over here for the afternoon.  It’s not like my dad is completely aware we are here, but it still helps.  I’m going to be here through Thursday evening and then heading home.  At least I can try to keep a semi-normal work schedule down here and then I’ll be home until my dad is finally released from the hospital, maybe in late summer or early fall.  I’ll move home then to help with him so that my mom doesn’t get worn out.  I’m so grateful that my job allows me to pretty much work from anywhere anywhen.

I think I’ll post ongoing updates about his recovery, if only because the writing can be very cathartic.

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