Sunday, 31 July 2011
A tough few days...
In the early hours of Thursday morning my Dad had a massive cardiac arrest. My Mum did CPR until the ambulances (there were three) arrived (watching all those medical dramas on TV wasn't wasted time it seems), at which point he had no pulse. They defibrillated him several times (with the electric paddles, just like on TV - "clear....doof!") and gave him a cocktail of drugs including amiodarone and adrenaline. They managed to get a heart rhythm again but estimated he had been without a pulse for approximately 30 minutes. Mum phoned Matt and I, and we met them at the emergency department of the hospital. He was lying almost naked on a table, while about seven doctors nurses and paramedics worked on him - bagging him, intubating him, giving him more drugs, checking his pupils...
Once his heart was beating regularly, they put him on a ventilator, took him to ICU, cooled him down to 33 degrees and put him in a coma for a day or so to give his body some time-out. We had the chat with the doctors about brain injury and quality of life. I recognised the tone the doctor was taking - I have used it myself. It was preparing us for his hunch - that Dad wasn't going to wake, or if he did, he would be permanently altered.
They slowly woke him yesterday. As the sedation wore off he started frowning. We asked him questions (Are you in pain? Do you know where you are?) and he shook his head. He opened his eyes slightly and looked around then frowned. We kept telling him he'd had a heart attack, he was in hospital, and he kept frowning. He was still on a ventilator so couldn't speak, but was gesturing with his right hand - we asked if he wanted to write and he nodded furiously. We were amazed he could understand us at all, we had been prepared for the worst. We gave him a pen and held up a piece of paper and this is what he wrote:
A reasonable question.
He seems to be totally neurologically intact. He is being transferred out of ICU tomorrow, to a ward, where they will start some imaging to work out exactly what happened.