Sunday, August 27, 2006

A New Day

I hate having a summer cold. Colds are bad enough in the winter, but when there is so much to do outdoors in the summer, a cold is sheer misery. But, today is a new day!

Dad is doing very good. The doctor removed the ventilator this morning and so far, he is breathing good. For dad, today is a new day! In fact, for dad, every day is a new day.

I have changed the way I do and think about a lot of things lately. I think this is partly due to dad being in the hospital and partly because I am learning from others that things really aren't as bad as we think. For instance, I have learned from Michael Angelo Caruso that Mondays are not the worst days of the week, but the best. There is no better time to address the issues you face. Mondays are a new day. Don't live in the past, keep looking to the future. Keep looking to every new day. The past will only drag you down and make you miserable like a summer cold. Looking ahead gives you a new perspective, a new view, a new chance to make a difference. Strive to be your best every day, even when yesterday was a failure. For dad, each new day brings new struggles; struggles to breathe, to move, to talk or just to live. But, each new day brings new successes; no laboring to get a breath, no pain, no anxiety about the treatment he is undergoing.

Look to each new day with excitement because each new day is a gift from God to use as we see fit. We can make it miserable or we can make it special. So, which will it be for you today; A day filled with misery and dispair or will this be your NEW DAY to live, to love, to succeed and never give up?

Brad Walker

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Realities of Life

From my humble abode in beautiful Pinson, AL --

I experienced one of the most painful things in my life this past weekend. My dad, who has been in the hospital for just over four weeks now, called me in on Sunday to talk to me. I was very ill with a chest cold of my own so I was reluctant to go. Once I got there he was very agitated. The first thing he said to me was that he was giving up. Wow! What an eye opener. I had never really considered the very real possibility of my dad dying at this point. On most of the visits, when he is awake, he is so alive mentally. He knows everyone and he has even asked about Alabama football. How could he be giving up? Such are the realities of life. We all must face our mortality at some point. Hearing this from my dad with so much life left in him; It shot through my heart like a knife. I talked with him about it and I told him how much I didn't want him to leave just yet but if he was sure he was ready to go, I would try to accept that. I did, however, convince him that the nurse couldn’t do anything without his doctor's orders and that we should talk with the doctor before he made his final decision. I think he liked that idea. Once we had that settled, he relaxed and went to sleep. The thought was running through my head "How can I accept his decision to give up when there is so much life left in him?". My heart was still broken at the thought of losing my dad, though I know, one day God will call him home. The Bible tells us that it is appointed once for man to die. I can deal with that. But the thing that comforts me most when I think of losing my dad is in Ecclesiastes 7:1 which says, "...the day of death is better than the day of one's birth". There is a far better place in store for those who have accepted Christ as their Savior. I would encourage each of you reading this to take the time to evaluate your life; If you were to die while reading this message, do you know for sure where you would go? If you have accepted Christ as your Savior you'll be in heaven for all eternity and your death day will be the most beautiful and joyous day you will have experienced. If you don't know the Master as your Savior, I encourage you to seek Him out find a Bible preaching church and go to meet the Master he is waiting for you. If you don't know where to go or how to find Christ, contact me. I will be happy to introduce you to my Jesus so you can make Him your Jesus, too.

Now for some good news about dad. When the doctor talked with him on Monday, she convinced him that he was not ready to give up; dad trusts her very much and values her opinion. She ordered a tracheotomy so it would be more comfortable for him and also so they would not risk damaging his vocal cords. This will also allow them to manage the ventilator treatment. When they are ready to wean him off it is a simple snap and he is off then, if he is not ready another quick snap and he is back on. No more painful tube down his throat, no more discomfort from having that tube in his mouth and he may be able to talk with us a little which will alleviate some of his frustration in trying to communicate with us. I visited him Tuesday night and all of the nurses said he was very much happier without the tube in his mouth. When I went in to see him he was sleeping so peacefully we did not want to wake him. But, when I talked to the nurse about him, I asked her to make sure he knew I had been there. She wouldn’t let me leave until we woke him and he saw me there. He said he was feeling ok but his throat was sore; he was also feeling a little nauseous so the nurse gave him something for it. He seemed oveall in much better spirits and I know he is relieved to have that tube out of his throat. He seemed more ready to fight back now than he did on Sunday. For that I am so happy. I have never known my dad to just give up so I am glad he is willing to get back in the battle and come out of his corner fighting his lung disease until God is ready to take him home.  Make sure you are all ready to face the realities of life. Though your family and friends may be there to help and comfort you, there is only one who can heal the hurts of life. Whether it is the death of a loved one, financial difficulty, your own illness, or maybe a work issue, Jesus will never let you down and he will always give you peace about the issues of life. Turn your life over to him today. He will be your biggest fan, your confidant, your counselor, and best of all, he will be your best friend FOREVER!!

God Bless you all!!!!
John 15:12-13

Brad Walker

Friday, August 18, 2006

Good News

Well, I have some good news. Dad was taken off of the ventilator Thursday. He was doing very well for most of the afternoon. But, while I was visiting at 8pm he was becoming very tired and struggling to breathe since he was doing everything on his own. His oxygen saturation began to drop and the nurses came in and started working on him. They put him on a BiPAP machine, which is similar to the CPAP machine used for sleep apnea patients, but it has different levels of air pressure for inhalation and exhalation. Anyway, they are using this machine to apply assistive air pressure to his lungs when he inhales and exhales with the hope that he will not have to be put back on the ventilator. According to the nurse, they will monitor his blood gases every 30 minutes through the night and hopefully he will be able to tolerate the BiPAP machine long enough to help his lungs strengthen and not depend on any machines, especially the ventilator.

Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers!!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

A Father's Lessons

I just came home from visiting dad and I can't believe what I am about to tell you.

Dad was sleeping when i visited but I was able to talk to the nurse and get some information. Dad is still on the ventilator but he is now on pressure support alone. In other words, dad is breathing on his own but the ventilator is providing positive pressure to help reduce the workload on his lungs and help strengthen them. The nurse said they would begin reducing the pressure as he could tolerate it and if he tolerates it well, he could possibly come off of the ventilator totally early next week.

Early on, the doctor warned that if placed on a ventilator, dad may not be able to live without it. She also mentioned that he has surprised her with his recoveries in the past so she was not going to put any kind of certainty on her assessment of his current condition. The phrase "God is good" keeps running through my mind.

Sometimes we teach people on purpose. Sometimes we teach people without knowing we are teaching. My dad has taught me many lessons over the years. From fishing and hunting to how to build a playhouse, a swing set or a deck. Some lessons were learned just by observing his actions.

Now, for my most recent lessons learned. No one knows the time we have on this earth. So, use your time wisely; make sure those you love know you how much you love them. I think the best way to do that is to use some of that time to plan for your last days so you and your loved ones can enjoy the time you have left without worrying about making arrangements for long term care or even funerals.


Friday, August 11, 2006

Dad Update

Dad seemed much better last night at the 8pm visit. He was alert and knew where he was and who was there. He desperately wanted water but all the nurse could do was wet his mouth. He is still in SICU but the nurse said he has had a very good day. They have started feeding him Ensure (through a tube of course) and he has had a BM which means his intestines are beginning to wake up. I also noticed that his ventilator was set to 4 breaths per minute (down from 8 two days ago). I am very hopeful now that he can overcome this episode in his life and have a little longer to enjoy life.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Just an update

Since I haven't written in a week or so, here is an update.
Dad was taken to the emergency room on July 24th due to problems breathing. His O2 saturation was around 65%, a dangerously low level. The ER doctors determined he was quite anemic and found blood in his stool, so they admitted him. Their thought was that he may have an ulcer or something of that nature and was bleeding internally, thus explaining the loss of blood. On the 25th an upper GI was performed with negative results. On the 26th, a colonoscopy was performed finding two polyps. One was removed that day but the doctor was afraid to remove the second due to their close proximity to each other and the fact that they may have been the source of the bleeding. On Thursday, the 26th, the second polyp was removed. To this point, dad's O2 sat dropped very low twice. It happened once again around 11pm on the 26th and it was decided to move him to CICU for closer observation and care. Due to the previous procedures he had not been able to eat anything and now that he was able to eat he could not keep anything down, not even water. These symptoms indicated some issues with his stomach or bowels. On Tuesday, August 1st, after 4 days in CICU they were able to perform a cat scan which indicated a possible blockage in the small intestine. The surgeon requested a meeting with me and the family on 8/02 to discuss the procedure and options.
Wednesday, August 2nd, 5:45 am -- the surgeon was hesitant to do the surgery without being absolutely sure there was a blockage and the surgery was absolutely necessary. It was decided that at least part of his intestines were not working properly so several tests were run and it was decided to try to remove some of the gas from dad's stomach and intestines and try to allow his intestines to begin working again. On Thursday, August 3rd, since things had not improved from the previous attempts, it was decided that the surgery may well be necessary. Dad was placed on a respirator early because the doctor felt he may stop breathing before they could do anything for his stomach issues. The surgery was performed around 10:30am and they found what is called paralytic ileum. It simply means that his intestines have gone to sleep and are not pushing food, nutrients, etc through the intestinal tract. The cure for this is normally walking, sitting up and general movement, things dad has been unable to do to any extent for quite some time. There is nothing else they can do except medical support to allow his incision to heal and get his strength back and hopefully his body will start to take over the normal intestinal functions again. Also, an even bigger concern is that he will have a difficult time coming off of the ventilator. At this time there are very few options except to pray and wait to see what God can do.