After being brought out of the coma Dad picked up a lung infection which made recovery slower than normal. He was having a lot of trouble breathing and had to be on oxygen for most of the time. His recovery was very slow and was made worse by the deliums he was having. He could answer questions, but much of what he said made no sense, such as:
- "Lower the bed! They won't charge as much!"
- "We should pay them the $600 to get our advertising on that TV *points at CCTV monitor showing the door to ICU*"
- "I've given Polly to the Taiwanese Ambassador. You need to crate her up and send her to the embassy on Tiwi Island." (Tiwi is a group of Aboriginal lands off the coast of Darwin.)
- *points at green Emergency Exit sign* "The light's green! You have to go!"
- "What was the name of that movie we saw yesterday? You know the one: about that chef who became a police man and let all the bagettes out of jail..."
Most of these passed quickly but the most persistent delusion was getting electrocuted by the O2 sensor which caused blue sparks to shoot out his bum, and electrified his urine. He was convinced we could get $200k from the hospital so he asked the nurse to send a sample of his urine to our friend Arpit at Dubbo Base Hospital. He was quite agitated about this until the nurse took the sample, labelled it and said she would mail it to Dubbo now. Then she went out the back "To send it" and dumped it in a bin. Dad calmed down. Later he told me he did a blue poo.
The ICU docs were worried his recovery was very slow, but al least his was eating and drinking. Then they realised his gastrointestinal tract was paralysed and all the food he was eating - not that there was a lot anyway - was not passing through. The pressure was pressing upwards and constricting his diaphragm and lungs. So he was intubated *again* and left semi conscious while they pumped more drugs in to force the anaesthetic to unbind from the gut wall. After sorting out that problem and expelling all the accumulated gas - the entire ICU stank of fart for half an hour - he condition improved rapidly. His lungs started to clear and he could eat again.
Two days later he was moved to a general ward, and recovery was swift. After 4 weeks in ICU and 7 days in the ward, the doctors were talking about sending Dad back to Dubbo on 5 days for rehab. Then he had a fall; he tried to go to the loo unassisted and his knees gave way. He grabbed the table for support and brought down the table, breakfast plates and food and cutlery with a massive crash. Nurses came running, and later the doc decided a few extra days in General wouldn't hurt.
And it didn't hurt! At the end of that extra time Dad was eating proper solid food and drinking tea and proper liquid water instead of the weird thickened jelly water he'd been eating. Eventually the big day arrived, and Dad was transferred by ambulance from Royal Prince Alfred to Dubbo Base Hospital. He was in Base for 5 days, then transferred to Loudes Hospital for rehab.
And that's where his is now. Twice-daily sessions with a physioterrorist leaves him exhausted, but he is improving every day Mum is meeting with the physio staff to discuss what Dad will need at home, because they are talking about releasing him in 2 weeks. Which is good news.
Let's talk about the evils of socialized medicine. The final bill for for this medical emergency is $Zero. But it's not like my parents pay nothing for 4 weeks in ICU, ambulance x 3, air ambulance x 1, and weeks in hospital. Mum and Dad paid tax their entire working lives, and have contributed the mandatory 1.5% tax to Medicare since the mid 70s. This is why we pay tax for Medicare; it's not for nothing or to give freeloaders a free ride, it's to create a pool of funds to treat those who need it. We have almost zero medical-induced bankruptcies in this country. It's a bloody good system and I hope the conservative government keep their hands off it. Rant over.