Dad and I are now at the hemodialysis center at the NKTI. He's got 3 hours and 20 minutes to go, says the magic machine, before we return to his room on the 3rd floor. He's sleeping peacefully in his bed, on the slot next to the window where we could see the firetrees on the parking lot, with its orange blooms flaming like the bright noonday sun. A few hours ago, he was also fired up with a fever that shot up to 39 degrees that would be one of the scariest nights of my life.
It had been Day 9 here at the hospital, with Dad finally agreeing to undergo dialysis to help filter out the toxins from his blood that had been the cause of his fatigue and weakness. It was the second of three sessions that his nephrologist ordered, and we were preparing to sleep. I got out of the shower at 1:30 AM when I heard Dad mumble something. I couldn't understand since he had no dentures on and his cough was really bad. Finally, after a guessing game of context clues he nodded that he wanted to sleep and asked if the aircon could be turned off. I shut down the aircon and decided to put off blog writing for the next day.
After a few minutes of light slumber I felt a poke on my shoulder. Dad's arm went through the bed bars, nudging me awake. I asked what he wanted and he replied with such incoherence that I wanted to call the nurse to check if there was anything stuck in his catheters. As I checked the access point bandage on the side of his neck, I noticed his skin was warmer than usual, and he was shivering. I threw my blanket around him and knew instantly he had a fever. I called for the nurse and when she came she checked his temperature. it was 38.1 degrees Celsius. Yup, he had a fever.
The nurse went back to get paracetamol but I told her Dad's throat was too weak and congested to be able to take medicine orally. She said she had to wait for the doctor's endorsement to allow administration via IV. We waited for 20 minutes. By now Dad's eyes were wide open and he was asking me so many things I couldn't understand. I crept by the side of his bed and curled by his back and hugged him. He resisted at first but eventually moved his back closer to me, shaking with chills.
The nurse came back not with an endorsement but with a rubber tube to use to suction Dad's throat to clear it of all obstructions for oral medication. The annoying intrusion of a long plastic tube down to his throat was too much for Dad that it barely got out anything. The nurse advised his temp was not high enough to make IV administration urgently necessary. I told her to take it again. It rose to 39 degrees. She immediately rushed to the station to inform the doctor on the phone. After another 20 minutes of shivering restlessness, a syringe of paracetamol was injected into Dad's IV access tube. I then decided to call Mom and send an SMS to my siblings and to Joe about what happened.
Within minutes, the fever seemed to break already. Dad was profusely sweating and I lifted all the blankets and towels I swathed him in. I dipped a towel in warm water and wiped his face and limbs. We changed his gown and flipped his sweat-soaked pillow on the drier side. It was almost 5AM. He rested while I waited for Mom and my brother to come but I didn't get to see them as I blacked out in exhaustion.
By the time I awoke, it was already 8 in the morning and Mom was attending to Dad's needs. I felt bad that she had to miss her PT session again because of the emergency, but she told me that she was making arrangements to have it here instead. Eventually she found an available slot, and she told me to look after Dad on the first hour of his dialysis so she could take my place when she's done and I could do some errands for them.
As I was about to go online, Dad opened his eyes to me and I told him to look out the window and see the firetrees and the bright sunshine that had been hiding for the past few days. He glanced nonchalantly and tried to tilt his head to the other side but the nurse stopped him and told him to face the side to the window to allow his dialysis tubes to function properly.
I put down my laptop and got closer so I could catch his words. He is still difficult to understand when he speaks, but his eyes are calmer now. I fed him juice and water as he requested, then he breathed deeply and whispered,
"Could I sleep now, here? I feel tired."
"Yes, Daddy. Sleep all you want."
"OK. Thank you."
My eldest sister came after an hour to tell me I could use her driver for my errands while she watches over Dad. Mom called to say she would be done in half an hour for us to have lunch before we do our separate duties.
Everything seems be back the way it had been for the past week, but we are praying for better weeks to come. We know it will not happen overnight, but we are hoping that Dad will be patient enough to wait, and be willing enough to be healed. After all, even if the rains and cloudy skies of the season have arrived, there will be bright sunny days like this every now and then, with gleaming firetrees waving by the road on the way home.