Warning: Long post ahead. Read at your own caution. Hey Everybody, Ryan here. I thought I would give everyone an update on my Dad’s progress today. It’s been a long and eventful day. Me, Jeff, Sean and Greg spent the night at the hospital with Dad and enjoyed a “boys night out”. It pretty much consisted of us watching Dad sleep while enjoying the peace of the ICU wing of the hospital. We kept an eye on his heart rate monitor to see how low his heart beat would go. The doctor’s have been thoroughly impressed with how healthy Dad’s heart is. That obviously comes with all his years of triathlons and marathons. His resting heart rate mostly hovers right about 40-41 beats per minute. The lowest we saw was 36 and we snapped a picture at 37. Pretty dang impressive if you ask me. That’s what you get when you’re an Ironman!
(Top right number)
Anyway, we’ve all pretty much been at the hospital 24/7 so it was also nice to give my Mom a much needed break and let her go home to sleep. She certainly deserved it since she’d pretty much been awake since Thursday morning through Saturday night. She’s been our rock and an amazing example of faith and PMA (Positive-Mental Attitude)
At about 5:00am the nurses came in to take Dad in for a post-op CT scan. They take him in early so when the Doctor comes in to make rounds he can have the new scans available for review. At around 6:00 am his surgeon, Dr. Gaufin (pronounce Guh-Fain) came in the room to check on his progress. He was dressed in his Sunday best and was checking on his patients before heading off to church. He was impressed by how well Dad had responded. He had some swelling on the left side of his face below where the incision was made but we’d taken care of that in the night with a couple of well placed ice packs. Dad had made so much progress that Dr. Gaufin recommended that he be released from the ICU and moved to the regular floor of the hospital where he wouldn’t be hooked up to nearly as many machines and would be a bit more comfortable.
There is a nice close up of his shiner!
After talking to the Doctor he went back to sleep and woke up a couple hours later with a craving for some good old hospital food. During the night Dad only sipped on a bit of water and nibbled on a Graham cracker. He pounded a ham and cheese omelet, fruit and OJ. He was talking to us and able to carry on a simple conversation and answer questions from his memory. He was able to do this right after the surgery but the doctor told us not to expect too much today because his brain had obviously been through a traumatic experience and it was going need some time to rest and heal itself.
Soon after breakfast we had the neat opportunity to take the sacrament in the hospital. Apparently they have a branch set up at the hospital and the branch president and his counselors travel around the hospital asking church members if they would like to take the sacrament. Sean and I got to each do a blessing and Jeff and Greg got to pass it. It was a great experience. The branch president shared a small message of hope, faith and fear. It was uplifting and appropriate for our situation.
At around 11:00, right before they released him from the ICU, his second doctor, Dr. Reichman, came into check on his progress. He was also impressed by how well he looked and how well he was able to function. Dr. Reichman showed us a copy of the CT scan.
As you can see from the picture they took out a pretty large chunk of his left frontal lobe (the CT is showing a view looking into the head from below so that’s why it is reversed and looks like the right side) The black area near the front is air and the darker grey area is cerebralspinal fluid. You can even see the swelling on his face on the outside of his skull. Dr. Reichman said he was confident they got all the tumor. He said it was a very large tumor but that he was brought into the surgery because he spent 10 years removing large parts of people’s brains who suffered from epilepsy. We were sure glad to hear that he was confident that the tumor was fully removed.
He did caution that even though the tumor itself was removed it was impossible to remove all the cancerous cells. He says that a tumor of this type, which they believe is a Glioma, releases cells which travel down the cranial nerves and attach further into the brain. He said depending on the pathology of the cell, which will be completed in about 10 days or so, the Oncologist would be able to recommend a treatment plan. He said while they did believe the tumor was cancerous becasuse of its aggressive growth and appearance, he said he wouldn’t hang his hat on the intial diagnosis because they’ve been wrong before. We are sure hoping they are wrong with this one, but even if they are not, we are confident and have faith that our Heavenly Father is watching over our Dad and is in control of the situation.
Soon after our visit with Dr. Reichman Dad was given a nice little sponge bath from Mom and we moved him up to his new room on the fourth floor. They gave him a sweet corner room with a view of the roof. Ha Ha. We were hoping they would give us a big room since there are usually minimum of 4-8 people in the room at once just sitting and visiting. I kind of feel bad, well actually I feel terrible, for my Dad because everytime he wakes up he’s got 10 pairs of eyes watching his every move and jumping at the chance to arrange his pillow or fix his ice packs. Anyone who knows my Dad knows that he’s never been one to ask for help from anyone and is always the first to jump at the chance to give a helping hand to someone else. I think this situation is just killing him because he feels so helpless and doesn’t want all of us waiting on him. He’s slowly beginning to accept our help instead of telling us that he is fine each time he needs something.
Dad’s made more great progress up here on the Neuro floor. He ate a great dinner and although he’s had some trouble with names and memory this afternoon and evening his doctors say it is completely normal and he is doing much better than expected.
One of his nurses told us that she wanted him up and walking several times a day. We got him out of bed tonight and did a couple of laps around the hall. It was just the beginning of his training for this Ironman and he got through it like it was nothing. He got through one lap and me and Jeff challenged him to another and he thought about it for a second and of course accepted. He’s never one to turn down a competition from his sons and he took it on and conquered it just like he will with this new challenge.
We are so grateful for all the love and support that we have received from countless friends, neightbors, ward members, running group friends, family and loved ones. We feel so blessed to know such great people. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Like Sean said, Thank you doesn’t seem like enough especially in trying times like these but we truly feel the strengthening and uplifting power of your prayers and faith. We know that the divine hand of our Heavnely father guided the doctors during the surgery and that he will guide us and our Dad on this journey to conquer this new challenge.
GO Team IronDean!