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Monday, July 6, 2009

My Father's Surgery Was Successful!

Yes, as the title says, I just got word that my father was operated on successfully on Monday as planned. The surgery lasted a little over 2 hours, and then he was moved to the post-operative Intensive Care Unit (ICU) after that. He is still in sedation, so he is not conscious yet. He will remain in the ICU for 2 days and then be moved into the general ward, into a private room. He will spend probably till the 15th of this month in the hospital.

My brother was in the hospital when the surgery took place and called me as soon as it was done. I had heard from several people that cardiac bypass surgery was so common-place nowadays that the risks from it were virtually down to nothing. In fact, by all accounts, it has become so common that very soon doctors might just ask you to take a bypass and call them in the morning if you call them after hours with any kind of problem or question!

But still, it was a relief to hear that my dad's surgery had been successful. It was not that I was nervous about whether the surgery would be successful. Given that he did not have any complicating factors that might have made the outcome subject to chance, I did not have many doubts about the success of the surgery if and when it took place. My nervousness was more related to the postponement of the surgery on Friday. I wanted the surgery to take place at least on Monday as scheduled, without further delays. Any further delays would put all my plans in jeopardy and cause more last-minute adjustments to travel plans that were already evolving from week to week and day to day.

Already, the 3-day delay in his surgery might mean a 3-day delay in my return from back home. That would be 3 more days my wife manages the home and kids by herself. This would be the longest stretch of time she has been in the home by herself and taken care of everything herself. That probably means that 3 extra days of my being away is probably not going to make a big difference to her. Still it is a consideration as I prepare to depart in a day or two.

I was talking about this to an elderly neighbor yesterday. She mentioned a couple of interesting things I had not given much thought to before. This neighbor's mother-in-law is very old and in failing health. She is bed-ridden, confined to a liquid diet and breathes oxygen through tubes in her nose. She is still conscious and aware of her surroundings though. The neighbor related to me how everyday, when her husband comes back from home, he checks in on his mother first before doing anything else. And his mother stays awake and does not go to sleep until her son has checked in on her, however late he is in getting back home from work.

Now, the son really did not do anything tangible or physical for his mother on a daily basis. But just his presence put the mother's heart at ease and allowed her to go to sleep. The neighbor used that to emphasize that I should be with my parents in their time of need to give them psychological and moral support. I probably won't be of much help there, and given my unfamiliarity with where they live (I haven't lived in my parents' city in over 23 years now), I will probably be more of a hindrance. But my presence there will ease their psychological concerns and enable them to function better. In the case of my father, hopefully, it will speed up his recovery from surgery.

I was also talking to my neighbor about leaving my wife alone to take care of the home, and the neighbor assure me that there would be nothing to worry about that my wife and she could not handle together. I acknowledged that I don't really don't do anything great at home anyways and my wife does not really need me to get in her way on a daily basis, but my neighbor told me something else that was insightful. She acknowledged that, with his work hours, her husband hardly spent time at home and she took care of the home mostly by herself, but the presence of her husband still gave her comfort that there was someone else at home besides herself to handle an emergency if it did occur, however rare such an occurance might be. She used her own case to make the point that nothing can replace the presence of a spouse at home for my wife, even if she could manage by herself forever. I don't know, maybe there is something cultural about it that I am never going to fully understand.

But it does remind me of a conversation I had with one of my fellow karate students after class one day. This student has an old, ailing dog at home. He is 13 years old and suffers from a laundry list of ailments. Her vet bills alone are eye-popping as far as I am concerned. She was wondering what she was going to do about him if his latest tests for bone cancer came back positive. At his age, she wasn't sure it was worth it to spend money on medication on what was probably a lost cause.

I told her that unfortunately turtles and elephants were pretty much the only suitable pets for humans since most other animals did not live as long as us. She agreed with me, and also agreed that if she actually put down her dog, she would be quite relieved since she would no longer have the vet bills, pet-sitting bills and other pet-related bills to worry about. But she felt that it would make for a lonely home with nobody to welcome her home after work. There would no pattering of feet at all times of day and night, assuring her that there was another living soul in the house, even though maintaining that other living soul in the house was costing her an arm and a leg. She said these considerations might prompt her to get a new dog if this one departed from her life.

So, I guess what I am leading to is that I am like a pet to my wife at home. I might be a slob and track muddy paws into the foyer, leave laundry on the floor, never make the bed (it's just going to get unmade again, so why bother!), argue with her at inopportune times and crimp her freedom, but hopefully my wife feels secure knowing I am still there. The sounds of me moving around, clacking away at my computer keyboard, munching on snacks at all times of day and night, etc. hopefully help soothe her mind, so that she does not feel the need to walk around the house every few minutes to make sure everything is as it should be. I know, I have been doing that a lot lately, ever since my wife and kids left me all alone at home!

Is it a grand, world-changing purpose in life? No. But it is better than living with totally no purpose, I suppose!

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