My dad has a medical history like no one I have ever seen. Any non-essential and some essential organs have been removed for various reasons. So many different ailments, surgeries, hospital stays, etc…and through it all, he always followed the doctors’ orders and would somehow pull through without complaints. He would never complain about pain or discomfort and trusted his doctors.
Last summer he began a treatment to cure Hepatitis C, which he contracted from a blood transfusion in 1978 during a procedure for Crohn’s Disease. Given his medical history, there were no test subjects during the drug trails that even came close to him, so it was unknown how his body would react but the knowledge that he could be cured of something was worth a try. He pretty much had every side effect known for this drug…then he began to hemorrhage…a lot…
The doctors performed a surgical procedure to control the bleeding, which was successful because it stopped the bleeding, but during the procedure the doctors used a contrast dye to ensure they fully stopped all the bleeding. This contrast dye has a rare side effect of causing your kidney and liver to begin to fail…there is a cocktail of drugs that can be given to combat it. From my research at the time it was 3 drugs given 3 times a day for up to 15 days. My dad’s Harvard educated doctor administered 2 drugs, once a day, for 2 days…and she did not like me or my research. She offered to simplify it for me by saying “It’s like the smell test, if 100 doctors walked into the room they would all say he was going to die”…they gave him 3 days to live at most. Yeah, that actually happened…and it’s not even the worst fuckup of that summer.
Many other mistakes were made. It was a disaster of epic proportions. The second time they sent him I remember standing in the hallway outside my dad’s room with my mom and around 20 doctors from different teams. The doctors had all just said there was nothing more they could do and they were sending him back to hospice for the second time. I started to argue that they were giving up and pointed to each one while saying “You’re killing my father…you’re killing my father…you’re killing my father…”
Turns out, I was right! Like the badass that he is, my father defied the odds. He made it out of hospice a second time, we got him to a different hospital with doctors willing to give him a change, where he made it through months of intense rehabilitation, and finally moved back home a few months ago. Obviously, there are many more details that I left out, and I will share more in future posts, but my dad is here today. If as his family we hadn’t fought the doctors, and merely accepted their initial plan of action, he would have literally died of starvation within one week of being in hospice the first time.
We fought for him, which gave him the chance to fight for himself in rehabilitation, and now we get more time with him, my kids get more time with their grandfather, which is pretty amazing.
Happy father’s day!