It's nearly 15 past 1 in the morning, and I am beside my dad, who is sleeping.
Written at any other time of my life, the above would not seem like a likely situation in which for me to start writing a blog post, but for now, it is.
For I am writing this in the CCU room no. 201-1, and the CCU is, in laymen terms, an Intensive Care Unit for heart patients. My dad has a huge breathing pipe put through his mouth straight into his lungs, to facilitate a steady flow of oxygen into his body. There are more than 4 drugs being pumped into his body through a mess of small plastic tubes, all functioning to ensure his blood pressure and heart rate is steady enough to sustain his life. It has been this way since the past 72 hours, with my dad lying helplessly on the same bed he is lying on now, fighting and clinging on for dear life. The only reason I only started writing now is because before this, I could barely type the first few paragraphs before tears blurred my vision so much that I could not continue writing. Yes, it has been that painful. Emotionally for me, and physically for him.
It was meant to be a regular minor surgery he was supposed to undergo 3 days ago. He did something similar before, and was out of the hospital in no time. On the day of the surgery, he asked me and my brothers to come see him, which was the first time he made such a request. I had actually pondered visiting him only after the surgery, since work was catching up, but when i got a short message from mom telling me of his wish, I wrapped up whatever i could and made sure I got there before he was pushed to the OT. When me and my siblings were there, he discussed on what he had planned for us for our future, and what hopes he had for our family. It seemed like a normal conversation, one that we had fairly regularly ever since he almost succumbed to a major heart attack just some time back.
When he left for the OT, I had barely enough time to hold his hand, and to wish him luck.
After the surgery, he was weak, but conscious enough to crack a little joke or two when we talked to him. That was enough to make me presume that everything was alright, and after wishing him good night, I left for home, not knowing in a couple of hours, he would be staring death in the face.
The next morning, I heard a sharp knock on the door. " Wake up, dad's in critical condition." Not much details, but more than enough to fill my heart with fear and dread.
Apparently, it was suspected that dad had a minor stroke in the brain, was unconscious, and was having a rapidly deteriorating heart rate and BP. By the time I got to the hospital he was already under the web of tubing that he is now, and his doctors were all doing their best to get him back. One by one family members were informed, and one by one they came and stood outside by dad's CCU room, tears as the obvious proof of their shock and sorrow. It was not the first time we saw dad being seduced by death, yet somehow that does not make it any less heart wrenching.
It is now 1.45 a.m, a good half and hour after I first started typing. Recalling the events for the past few
days and putting it in writing is not fun, but definitely a way to stay awake while i make sure dad stays asleep. Not that I dont' want him to be up and going, but in the state he is in, being conscious only means one thing --- being fully aware of the immense pain that he is in. To roughly quote what the doc said, patients in his condition are usually sedated as the pain is too much to bear. For dad, due to his health conditions, sedation is not an option. Every single time he winces, it is as if i could feel the pain he is going through myself. Yet I am aware I am far, far, far from close from even knowing how torturous it is to him.
His heart doctor is wise and kind man, but not a man of kind words. Not a believer of false hopes, he more often than not gives you the bad news in your face, despite knowing you are desperately seeking any sort of positive feedback from him. We found that out the first time he treated my father, the first time he saved his life. However, when he asked for our family to gather in my dad's normal ward room the same night after he collapsed, his words felt like a thousand sharp blades stabbing my heart, over and over again. " Your dad's is in very bad condition, and I am not happy with what i have seen. If anything were to improve, it would have already." Still naively seeking something to hope for, I asked him what should we look forward to the following few days. Bluntly, he replied without a thought, " I am not sure if your dad HAS a few days." You could hear a pin drop after he uttered those unforgettable words. Immediately after he left the room, family members started to break down. I stormed out of the room, and headed straight towards to the CCU. Somehow, I had to be beside him then, to hold his hand, to stroke his forehead, to tell him to not leave us now. Somehow, that message seemed to get through. For late in the night after that announcement was made, my dad opened his eyes. And showed little responses to our cries. We were ecstatic: Damnit, miracles do happen twice.
It's now an hour after the start of this blog, and thankfully, dad is still sound asleep. It's been a helluva weekend, with a saturday of joy and hope, as dad's condition slowly improved, with him being more responsive and awake. Even the bad news doctor was taken by surprised, as he once more is being shown that my dad is no ordinary man and would not go down without a good fight. But just as fast as the good news came, the bad news followed suit. Sunday morning, his condition took a turn for the worse. Blood pressure fell sharply, and once again, the reality of him leaving us once again set in. The reality of not being able to make up for the times that i made him unhappy, that I argued and got angry with him over the most trivial of matters. To make up for the regret that I did not spend more time with him, for the guilt that I could have been more attentive to his needs. He gave his family his life. He knows we love him, yet I know better that i could have done much more to show him that.
Late Sunday afternoon, most probably exhausted after a sleepless night the evening before, dad was slowly coaxed by my aunt to get some shut eye. Literally, as ever since his trauma, he had somehow unable to fully close his eyes. Gently, she helped him, rubbing and massaging the area above his eyes, and in a gentle voice asking him to try to relax and rest. I recalled of nights before that i saw him sleeping at home with music playing from his Iphone beside him, so I did the same for him this time, trying to re-enact the same environment that he would be comfortable to sleep in. I also remembered the maid constantly being asked to help massage his feet when he started to sleep, so I attempted that as well. I had always known he had lost a lot of weight since he had his kidney problems, but then and there when i massaged his legs, i was still heartbroken at what i felt --- literally just bones wrapped firmly with dried skin. The same pair of legs that belonged to a great sportsman half a century ago, the same pair of legs that carried a 60 year old man who still surprised many with his uncanny shooting on the basketball court, now worn, and weak.
I did not planned on writing this blog, yet I forced myself to. I knew when he woke up, he would want to read it, to know what a fight he went through, and how the battle was fought. I have to admit, negative thoughts do come into my mind at times, but somehow deep inside, I have this feeling my old man would emerge as the victor.
There are lots and lots of things I hope to make correct when he is able to talk to me again. But for now, nearing 3 o clock in the morning, all I can do is make sure he continues to rest, his BP continues to be stable, and hopes for recovery are kept high. Come on, dad, I know you can do it. I know you can! I love you.
Your eldest son, Alvin