A Series Of Unfortunate — Augh! Copyright Lawers!

Once again, too much going on. June was a hell of a month. Back in mid-May my dad needed emergency surgery to have his gallbladder removed. Apparently it had become gangrenous, and the pain and high fever got him to the ER to have it removed. This is a rare condition which requires immediate attention for the patient to survive. They sucked out all of the gunk that had been bloating his chest, and after a brief hospital stay they sent him home. And everyone lived happily ever after!

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According to WebMD:

The gallbladder is a small pouch that sits just under the liver. The gallbladder stores bile produced by the liver. After meals, the gallbladder is empty and flat, like a deflated balloon. Before a meal, the gallbladder may be full of bile and about the size of a small pear.

In response to signals, the gallbladder squeezes stored bile into the small intestine through a series of tubes called ducts. Bile helps digest fats, but the gallbladder itself is not essential. Removing the gallbladder in an otherwise healthy individual typically causes no observable problems with health or digestion

Normally when the gallbladder is removed, the ducts leading to the other organs seal up on their own. Normally. But my dad is an exceptional man, and apparently his liver is exceptional too. Those ducts didn't close and bile leaked into his abdomen. The bile that digests fats. The fats that are part of what holds a body together. On a weekend a couple of weeks after the initial procedure, he was helping an old friend's widow organize an estate sale when, again, he felt poorly, so he drove the three hours from his (relatively) rural hometown back to my parents' home in Southern California. I think it was the very next day that the pain and fever returned, as did my parents to the ER. This is a rare condition which requires immediate attention for the patient to survive. Like, if he had stayed another day, his hometown hospital almost certainly wouldn't have had the specialist on hand to deal with it. And a medevac flight to a major hospital might have taken too long. But he was at home where the ER is a very short drive away. The surgeon sealed the bile ducts and removed as much bile as he could, and installed a drain in Dad's abdomen so whatever remained could, well, drain. Into a bag that required changing every 4 hours, not because it was full, but so it didn't get full. And after a week or so, the drain was removed, Dad was healed, and everyone lived happily ever after!

 Yeah, we know where this is headed...

Yeah, we know where this is headed...

It's mid-June now, and the pain hits again. This time it's so bad that even with help from Mom and the gardener he can't get into the car. They call the ambulance and at this point they're both just exhausted from all this. The process has taken its toll on both body and mind. This time it's an abscess inside his liver, one that couldn't be seen when the doctors had him in previously. I live 300 miles away and I was exhausted.

Now, bear in mind that, working swing shift, I get everything late. Thursday night all I knew was that he was back in hospital. Friday I got up, made my coffee, and sat down to see what the news was. And it was not great. He'd already had one procedure and was headed in for he next one in a couple hours. He and my mom and my aunt all needed me, and I was (and am) fortunate to be in a position to answer the call. I let work know that I wouldn't be in, that I had a family emergency, and they basically told me to go, and that we'd worry about the paperwork when I returned. (I ended up using up the remainder of my leave and worked a few extra hours to make up the difference.) I had been planning to fly down the 22nd for a major birthday so I changed the ticket to leave that afternoon. I got to the hospital at 9 and Dad was still pretty out of it from the second surgery, but he was resting.

Okay, I'm sorry, but I need to cut this short. I've kept putting it off, and have written it in multiple sittings, because the pain is too fresh for me to handle it easily. Part 2 is coming, and yes – so far at least – we have a happy ending. But right now I just need to post this and hit the hay. Be good to each other out there.