Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My Patchwork Life

Have you ever thought about how much your life is like a patchwork quilt? Pieces of life that fit and don't fit that would make up more of a "Patchwork Porridge" instead of a quilt.

**Thanks Trish for coming up with this blog title. It fits so well.

This is one of those moments that is not meant to be a morbid post, just informative.

My father-in-law went into the VA clinic because he wasn't feeling well. They sent him to the local hospital and they admitted him and kept him for a little less than 48 hours and shipped him to a heart specializing hospital about 60 miles away. At this hospital they decided to do surgery the very next morning because they had found a lot of fluid around his heart. They do the procedure and we wait. Afterwards he is admitted to ICU and we are then told that he had more fluid removed than any other patient that this hospital (being a specialty hospital in this area) has ever removed from one patient, 1 pint + 200 cc's. That is a lot of fluid!! They left the chest tube in and he was on the ventilator machine. After a few hours they tried to remove him from the ventilator and ran into problems. They have to bring you out of a coma state and you have to take a deep breath on your own while they remove the tube. Well, it didn't work so well. Every time that they tried to bring him to, to remove the tube, he wouldn't co-operate. He became very combative every time that they tried to bring him out of the comatose state so they had to continually put him back under. The next night they brought in a "Special Team" that works with people that have problems coming off of the machine. The next morning when my husband checks, he is still on the machine and VA wants him transferred to their hospital, insurance issues. I have already questions a few concerns and my husband and his only brother have thought them through and found them valid enough to question the hospitals about them. This is another one of those concerns. However, they brought another "Specialty Team" in and ambulance to transport him while on the ventilator and it went very well. So he is transferred to the VA ICU unit. We are driving daily to the hospitals and this one was only a few miles from the one that had performed the surgery so we are still about 60 miles one way per day. Thank goodness for homeschooling!! The next day VA gets news from the previous hospital that the fluid results have come back and there are cancer cells in the fluid that was removed from around his heart. My husband calls to check on his dad before we make the drive, as usual and everything is okay. We are running errands before leaving and all of a sudden he comes into a business where I was chatting and states that we need to go, now! The doctor had called and told him about the fluid and informed him that the heart is the last place that cancer travels so they are going to perform many more test and they are no longer concerned about taking him off of the machine right now, that the cancer has moved to the #1 concern. After performing numerous tests they find out that one of his lungs is collapsed and has been for sometime. Okay, I have worked in a hospital and nursing home as well as done private duty nursing for more years than I would like to admit. This is 3 hospitals and 1 clinic and they just found out he had a collapsed lung. Why had no one caught that there were no breath sounds there before?? My concerns are growing but I am trying to remain calm because the diagnosis is growing and my husband is worrying enough. After two more days they bring another team into this hospital and decide to "aggressively" remove him from the machines and let him know what is going on so that he can now make his final decisions because he has been given only a month to live and that is with chemo. People, I don't mean to be morbid but you MUST be prepared, you never know when something will happen and your family really needs to know your wishes. There are only 2 children and their mother and he have been divorced for many years but he has several brothers and sisters and of course some of them want their say so in the matter which only makes a bad situation worse. Moving on....They wake him but leave the tubes in (while using restraints for his safety) for most of the day and have him shake his head if he understands things and to answer the boys questions. Later they remove the tube and later that night remove the feeding tube as well. He is given the news by the doctors and it doesn't seem to even faze him. Did he know? The next 2 days are kind of odd. The tests continue while he gains strength and still isn't asking too many questions or addressing the new found "shortened life span" news and you still can't really understand what he is saying. Another day rolls around and he seems to be improving by leaps and bounds. He now is able to walk, with assistance, and is talking and flirting with the nurses. The boys go in to talk to him, as usual. But they are a bit surprised. He doesn't really know what hospital he is in. He knows the town but that is about it. He doesn't remember the VA Clinic, the surgery, the move or the doctor telling him the news. He wants the boys to fill him in on what in the world has been going on. They begin to fill in the information and tell him about the cancer and that they are performing more tests. We have had everyone praying since the beginning of all of this craziness and he looks up at my husband and his brother and announces that he isn't dying any time soon. He does answer their questions as to final arrangement plans, just in case. This is now three days later and he is in a regular room and awaiting a lung biopsy as well as a few more tests that have been postponed until today. Here is another "odd" part. They can not find the cancer!! Yes, they are sure that there are cancer cells in the fluid and the chest tube is still in and still draining so they can continue to test on it but they are stumped as to where the cancer cells are coming from. This entire experience, be it far from over, has been one of faith and patience which is what the Lord tells us to have.

So are the days of my families "Patchwork Porridge" life. But I have told this story to get it out there that the Lord does work in very mysterious ways and that hopefully my FIL will change his ways and become a much better man from this experience and we will continue to pray that he has a longer than predicted life as well as to plead with you all that you do take that step and write down your final wishes. My mother, who will be offended when she reads this, sorry mom, has not taken that step. Think about this; what do you want when you are gone? Do you want just anyone to make your final arrangements? What will happen with your kids? Home? Pets? Belongings? Do you have life insurance or burial insurance? Does your family know where these very important policies are kept? Do you have a preference as to your final resting place? Do you have a safety deposit box that no one knows about? What about your bills, are they in order? Does your property have a reverse mortgage attached? These are just the tip of the iceberg when something does happen but putting those final arrangements in place is not signing your death warrant. I have found that many people fall into 1 of 3 categories when it comes to these plans.
1. These people have made their arrangements and are at peace with it. Their families are at piece knowing that this has been done and are aware of what needs to take place when something does happen.
2. This is the younger generation or the procrastinators that think that it can not happen to them or that they can put it off until later. When is later exactly??
3. These are the people who believe that if they perform this highly important act that it somehow places an expiration date on their life. I am sure that the people in #1 have looked at the bottom of their foot and there isn't an expiration date that appeared when they made these very necessary decisions and put them on paper.
These are very serious times and you never know what is going to happen when you get into a car or go to the mail box. These are very important decisions that need to be made and your family (at least one - two members) needs to know where your papers are when that time comes. It is not something that any of us want to face and thinking about your demise is not the most pleasant of topics but it is a very real and a true fact of life that needs to be taken seriously and needs to be handled accordingly.
If you are wondering if I have made my final decisions, I have not. However, this experience has been an eye opener for me as well and I am going to begin looking into things today. I do have life insurance and it is enough to take care of my final arrangements, regardless of what they might be and I have given it much thought previously and have a rough sketch in my head of what I want done and where I want to be laid to rest but I do need to put it on paper and let it be known to my loved ones that my final wishes are in a sealed envelope in my safe and that they are to remain sealed until my life here on Earth has come to an end. Some County Clerk's offices hold these papers for safe keeping free of charge and are not open to the public. Others may decide to hire an attorney and their office will keep and store their final wishes at their office for safe keeping. There are "Will" kits and "Living Will" kits all over the internet as well as in office supply stores. Please take advantage of these and take charge of your own decisions. It is never too early to take this step. In my personal opinion if you have children you need to take this step. You need to look out after those precious jewels and decide what will happen to them if you are taken suddenly.
It is now time to check on my FIL today and see how he is doing and if they are going to be able to perform his test today and get a time frame. This post is not meant to be a gloomy one. My FIL now has the opportunity that he didn't have a few days ago and I really want to stress to you all that sometimes you are not given that second chance to make your final decisions. I do hope that we all live long and happy, prosperous lives but just give it a serious thought. God Bless you all.


Sew Practical said...

He he!! I missed this one too! I love reading your blog!