In my previous blog I talked about keeping Dad as healthy as possible and away from germs that could be brought into the house while he recovered from his chemotherapy. Sometimes it’s impossible to know how someone was exposed to germs that makes them sick, but unfortunately, this past summer that’s exactly what happened to my father. He developed pneumonia and was very quickly on his way to the hospital.
This was a very scary thing to happen to him. It was early June when my mom had to take him to the emergency room because he could not breathe, and he was having very violent coughing attacks. He was also at the very end of his chemotherapy treatment when he landed himself in the hospital, so his immune system was already suppressed and he was very weak.
I received the phone call from my mother on a Friday to let me know they were at the hospital, but at that exact time they did not even know what was going on. She told me to stay put and she would keep me updated. I kept in contact the entire weekend while simultaneously training for my new summer job at the local yacht club – all the while hiding how upset I was. Sunday morning I got a call from my mom, and the doctor had requested I come home to see him.
I was very scared to hear this from his doctor in the ICU. He had said that they were going to have to intubate Dad, and I might not be able to talk to him again. This was serious, and they did not know if he would recover because of how run down his body was from the chemo treatments.
I raced home first thing and went straight to the hospital. When I got there, the doctors had decided that they were going to be able to get away with not putting Dad on a ventilator after all, which was amazing news. From the time that I left the shore and the time it took me to get home, his vitals were stabilizing and he seemed to be getting a little better. I sat with him all day Sunday and talked to him, with him not responding of course, but it made me feel better and I think it made him feel better that I was there.
Dad was in the hospital for another week or so and was finally released to come home. He had an appointment with his University of Pennsylvania doctors within a few days after he left the local hospital near my parent’s home. His doctors at Penn had told him that he could not finish the chemotherapy because of how sick he got and it was to the point where his body was unable to fight off a sickness by itself. This showed that the chemo totally knocked his white blood cell count to almost nothing and he could no longer fight off germs. His new goal was to get stronger and healthier before the next step: immunotherapy.
Keep reading next week about how Dad and I were able to put mesothelioma on hold, at least for a week, while we enjoyed a vacation at the Shore.