Thursday, July 15, 2010

night is day, day is night.

A typical day at the hospital goes like this:

5:00 PM
Dad wakes up and waits for "breakfast". We feed him plain congee and a soup-based dish, preferably fish since he recently misplaced his dentures and could not chew any hard food. He relaxes while the physical therapist stretches his limbs for him and makes him move from side to side while on his bed. He talks a bit with Mom and waits for the news on TV.

7:00 PM
Dad watches the news with Mom and me. Mom starts to pack stuff that needs to be brought home while Dad looks at her intently, as if trying to capture the last moments with her before my Kuya picks her up to bring her home. Sometimes Dad eats dinner while Mom is here, other times he chooses to eat a bit later.

9:00 PM
I've finished eating dinner myself but could not begin my evening ritual yet since Dad is wide awake and subsequently is coughing more often. I channel surf to look for other interesting channels than the usual telenovelas on local fare so Dad won't be bored while Mom isn't around. The hospital nurses do their rounds and give his medicine, change his nappy and do the intermittent catheterization to drain his bladder.

10:00 PM
I try to squeeze in a call to Joe but more often than not it gets interrupted because of Dad's unbearable cough. The pulmotherapist enters the room for Dad's nebulization, which is supposed to ease his discomfort. It ends in about 20 minutes. I try to call Joe again, but I either fail to get a signal or he will have lost his, which means he has already begun his work. I take a bath and brush my teeth, careful to lock the room door lest Dad would call for me while I'm lathering...

12:00 MN
Dad is still wide awake. The nurse gets his last blood glucose reading for the day. He constantly asks for mom and shows no signs of sleepiness. I desperately look for a boring channel but he ends up watching everything from the Asian Food Channel to Euromaxx. Maybe tonight I will try the Manila Jockey Club channel. Makataya na rin sa karera :P

3:00 AM
I have been falling in and out of consciousness for the past 3 hours or so, and I find Dad's eyes open like a baby's, in awe of his surroundings. He asks me what time Mom will be back. I tell him she'll be here once he wakes up, but he has to sleep first. The pulmotherapist returns for another nebulization session, and now Dad is grumpy and I have to hold the vapor mask in front of his face just so he doesn't skip it. He complains of an itch and I see dry bits of talcum powder and dead skin under his back on the bed. He tells me he needs a diaper change and I manage to do it all by myself because the nurses are nowhere to be found at this hour. On "lucky" days when his diaper is full, I draw warm water from the tap, mix it with bath soap in a basin, dip a washcloth and give him a sponge bath to refresh him.

6:00 AM
2 hours of deep sleep is rudely interrupted by the "good morning" courtesy call of the morning shift nurses. They have a litany of reminders about Dad's meds, his meals, his fluid intake, and the nebulization/PT schedules for the day. They leave without remembering to turn off the lights. I get up and shut them off myself. Meanwhile, Dad is awake again and asks if Mom is on her way. I tell him that she will be here soon. He tells me he will wait for her and not sleep anymore. I sigh and hope that she rode with Joy and Mitch so that we don't have to wait too long.

Between 7:00 and 9:00 AM
I will have had my hurried breakfast of bread and Milo while Dad is lightly sleeping. Mom arrives and he suddenly opens his eyes. He is finally relaxed, and will either decide to eat with her or go back to sleep. The morning round of meds, urine catheterization, linen changing and adjustment of his IV access point begins, and he feels as though he had been roused from his evening rest, which is not a happy event. He gets into a fit and the hapless nurse/attendant ultimately makes more mistakes than usual. Mom then goes to her own PT session while I watch over Dad who is finally sleeping soundly after tiring himself out with his tantrums.

12:00 NN
We turn up the volume so Dad could hear Eat Bulaga on TV, which wakes him up. It is time for his heaviest meal of the day, which is lunch for us, but seems like "dinner" for him. This would be our happiest 2 hours, as we are all eating almost at the same time, or at least, very much awake and interacting with each other. The attending doctors do their rounds, and see Dad in a very alert state, confirming that their treatment is going well. Of course, we tell them of his restless nights, his moments of disorientation, and his annoying cough that takes forever to relieve. The doctors respond by reminding Dad that he needs to be awake in the day and asleep at night, to which he agrees with enthusiasm. I wish they would see him a few hours before dawn.

2:00 PM
Just when we think all is well, a violent cough brings out all the food Dad has consumed in the past 2 hours, including a few tablets left unswallowed in his mouth. His gown would need changing, but it will take a while before he agrees. Good thing the most important medicine he needs to take is administered via IV. We decide to let him get a "good night's sleep". I go get myself a cup of black coffee, knowing that my day will begin once more in a few hours.


It's tough adjusting to Dad's new body clock. A few days ago, I thought my own health was already compromised since I was getting chills and bouts of vertigo, and I may have even unconsciously thrown his tissue-wrapped dentures into the trash. A quick checkup by the nurse proved my temperature was normal, and it all may have been due to just fatigue. It seems my body was telling me not to teach my Dad to sleep at night and be awake in the daytime; it was telling me to do as the Romans for the time being.

I realize that he will not get back to his usual rhythm while he is still confined here at NKTI, as nurses would come and go at odd times all day and night, and his pneumonia is bothering his evening sleep too much. I just hope that when we get home, we could ease him back into the regular schedule of active days and restful nights. Till then, I will have my trusty mug with me to perk up my mornings with Milo and energize my evenings with black coffee. I'm crossing my fingers that my extended wakefulness these days would compensate for my painful absence in the UP oval, weight-wise :) I can't wait to run again!


  1. Chrise, your love and devotion blow me away. Seriously. I'll pray for you and your dad. Grabe. Bow talaga ako sa 'yo!

  2. edited yan. di ko nilagay yung times na pinapagalitan ko sya :P but thanks for the prayers, dear. we MUST meet soon -- of course, after i'm cleared of all these disease-causing bacteria. time to ask carlo for a birthday dinner party :)