Friday, November 7, 2014

The Night My Dad Was Saved From Zombies By C.P. Stringham

Looks as if my Broads of a Feather blog post will be on the shorter-side this week. So many events came up since my last post that I figured I’d have numerous topics to write about. But I got nothin’. Maybe everything is all log-jammed up. So much going on that I wouldn’t know where to start—or end for that matter. I’ll wedge one of those metaphorical logs free and see which topic wins out…
Christmas past with my parents.

My dad recently spent two weeks in the hospital. What started as a nasty bout of pneumonia (which can be life-threatening to those of advanced age and diabetic), turned into something else entirely within the blink of an eye. His initial ER blood tests revealed elevated cardiac blood enzymes. The doctor said they were in what they referred to as “the gray area” between normal and heart attack. Further tests revealed it was the infection that caused irreversible damage to his heart. Monitoring also revealed he was in arterial fibrillation or A-Fib. From the Cleveland Clinic Webpage:
 What happens during AFib?
Normally, your heart contracts and relaxes to a regular beat. In atrial fibrillation, the upper chambers of the heart (the atria) beat irregularly (quiver) instead of beating effectively to move blood into the ventricles. About 15–20 percent of people who have strokes have this heart arrhythmia.
It’s possible my father was having symptoms of A-Fib for at least two months before he developed pneumonia. He had complained about being tired all the time which led to inactivity and brought the onset of infection. While in the hospital, he told my mother he had felt winded lately. Hindsight. The pneumonia left relatively quickly after juggling IV antibiotics. However, the medication prescribed to regulate his heart rate was unsuccessful. His team of cardiologists recommended electrical cardioversion, but a transesophageal echocardiogram revealed a blood clot in his heart, so they couldn’t do the procedure at that juncture.
He’s home now. My mother is monitoring his medication vigilantly since he has a habit of forgetting whether he’s taken things or not—which can’t happen anymore. His blood sugar is another issue. They are working with an endocrinologist to regulate his insulin intake. In four to six weeks, they will have him in again for another TEE to see if the medication he was prescribed eliminated the blood clot while trying to regulate his heart rate the best they can.

My kind of hospital stay! Web photo.
Dad’s hospital stay didn’t go without incident. The normal hospital-related stuff went on. Getting the family all on board, making potentially dangerous decisions for treatment, and just the normal grind of everyone’s life being disrupted from commuting back and forth to the hospital. The most bizarre incident came about with my dad’s first roommate on the cardiac floor. He’d had open heart surgery to repair a heart valve. Nice guy. Loved reading. Although we don’t share an interest in the same genres, we talked books. He loves horror and, more specifically, all of the zombie-based stories that are out. All in all, he was a nice guy. My dad’s second night of sleep was interrupted around 2am when his roommate had a night terror. Scared the hell out of both of them. By the third day, as my husband and I were leaving before lunch, he said to me, “Your dad’s roommate is going through withdrawal.” I didn’t see it, but my husband has seen addiction behavior before in a family member. He told me about everything he’d witnessed that helped him draw his conclusion. All of which made sense. That evening, after a particularly hard afternoon at the hospital, my mom stopped in on her way home. Part of her anxiety was explained as she told us how Dad’s roommate was brought beer because the surgeon “prescribed” it with his lunch. The patient had apparently revealed to his nurse that he was an alcoholic and having a difficult time with it as he convalesced. That meant he was detoxing while recovering from heart surgery. He was given another beer with his dinner. At one point, since he wasn't eating and had only drunk his medicine, he started falling and my mother had to rush to catch him. Otherwise, he would have fallen against his bed's footboard. God forbid he crack open his chest! What my mother described sounded like something from an episode of House, MD.  My mom didn’t get the reference because she’s never watched the TV series. As my husband and I explained to her, the medical team had to treat his heart recovery and that couldn’t be done while he was detoxing. Withdrawal would make everything more difficult. From a Huffington Post article:  
"Doctors sometimes order beers for patients who are going through withdrawal. The kitchen staff places on the trays whatever doctors order, and sometimes they order beer. A lot of patients get it, said the staffer, because doctors think they need it. Not usually throughout their whole stays, but at least at first."

Meme based off of The Walking Dead from The Nerdy Nurse Webpage
The next morning, we arrived early so we could see my dad off before his TEE since the game plan was, if the TEE revealed no clots, he’d receive the electrical cardioversion. Only, when my mom, who got to the hospital ten minutes ahead of my husband and I, found my dad’s hospital room was empty. My dad’s bed was even missing. Panicked, she searched for a nurse. The nurse told her my dad had to be moved to another room and took my mother to him. After the nurse left, my dad proceeded to tell her how his roommate had a very bad night. Fact of the matter was, his roommate was almost delusional. At 11pm, he woke my dad up to tell him that he was going to save both of them and that there was nothing really wrong with them. The hospital was holding them there and they were going to be sacrificed in the morning. They were going to throw them into a fire and burn them. He assured my dad again that he would save him because he knew what to do. Then, he began sneaking around the room to look for zombies. Checking behind curtains, in closets, and the bathroom before locking himself inside. Dad said his roommate was so sincere that, at one point, he was starting to question the whole zombie thing. My dad is always able to joke in a time of crisis. He rang for the nurse, told her what was going on, and then she got others to come and help coax his roommate from the bathroom—although it took forever. Meanwhile, two nurses came in, grabbed Dad, bed and all, and wheeled him into another room. Preferably, one that was zombie-free. What a night!
                           (Video clips from Fox TV's House, MD)

I know what you’re thinking; I made it up. I assure you, this really happened. Truth is stranger than fiction as the old cliché goes. Do any of our Broads of a Feather readers have a crazy hospital stay story? Robin and I would love to hear about it in the comments section below!


  1. omg - I love House....especially Wilson <3

    My father was in and out of the hospital all the time when I was growing up. One night he called home in the middle of the night to tell Mom she had to come get him because a tornado had gone through and torn up the hospital (not sure if I remember this on my own, or just my mother's retelling) Needless to say she told him to go back to bed and hung up on him!