Monday, December 7, 2015

Some Family Medical Drama

One of the things that has been a distraction to ye olde blogger over the last several days has been some family medical drama. Last Wednesday, my father-in-law Johnnie was admitted to the hospital. 

Here are a few things to share about Johnnie. 

  • After coming out of the Air Force where he saved Greenland from the Communists, Johnnie took up a gig with the National Weather Service where he worked until he retired and sometimes even after he retired. He was dedicated to his job, so much so that when he did retire, he had about a whole year's pay coming to him for all the sick days he didn't take. (By the way, you can't get away with that in the private sector.) 
  • As much as he was dedicated to his career as a meteorologist, he was even more dedicated to the care of his wife, Becky, who was crippled by multiple sclerosis for over two decades and finally succumbed to the ravages of the disease earlier this year.  
  • Johnnie has been a devoted grandfather to Miranda, my daughter. Sometimes, I think, too devoted. There was virtually nothing that he would not get for Miranda. And now we live in a toy box with furniture. Still, Johnnie's helped save my wife and me from some of the considerable challenges that comes from working parents raising a child.  


For a man who has been a stalwart family man to his wife, children and grandchildren, it was most disconcerting to see Johnnie in a hospital bed on Wednesday evening. He was clearly uncomfortable, very much in pain and, even more distressingly so, incoherent. We had seen such behavior before in his wife's last days. It was a grim reminder of the struggles we faced earlier this year, watching her die. But this could not be the same thing. It must not be.  

Johnnie was running a fever of 104 degrees and was in intense pain. The mostly likely culprit was his gall bladder. I've had my own experiences with a gall bladder that decided to go nuclear and it is not a pleasant experience at all. (Perhaps I will relay that story at a later time but today is not my story.) Still, it could be any number of other things. The incoherence suggested he may have had a stroke. 

CT scans were completed and he showed no sign of stroke. And the gall bladder was in fact the culprit for the fever and pain. The gall bladder would have to come out but it couldn't be done while Johnnie was still battling a fever. And it didn't help that a secondary urinary tract infection set in. A procedure was performed to take some pressure off of the gall bladder so that Johnnie's body could shake off the infections and regain strength for surgery later on to take out the gall bladder. It worked but Johnnie was still in a lot of pain and he would call out in agony. Again, the similarities to his wife's condition near the end of her life could not be dismissed even though the circumstances were different. 

The incoherence was attributed to the body's reaction to the fever and pain as well as all the antibiotics and pain killers they were pumping into him. Slowly, he began to recover his wits and was able to communicate more clearly as each day passed. 

I should probably mention the "stomach spore" but that's a post in and of itself.  

As I write this, he is still in the hospital and will likely be for another day or two. After that, he will spend a week in an assisted living center for physical therapy. The ravages his body has gone through has left him weak and he will need assistance and care to fully recover before he can come back to his own home.  

At 78 years old, Johnnie is a remarkable man for all that he has endured and all that he has done for his family. When I married my wife, I was most fortunate that a man like her father came with the deal. 

Good luck, Johnnie, to your continued recovery and may we be blessed to have you in our lives for a very long time.

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Johnnie with my daughter Miranda 




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