… Read these first:
I entered the ICU.
The nurse ushered me into the duty doctor room. It had a small desk table, a desk chair and a 2 person sofa for attendants like me. The doctor wasn’t available immediately so I made myself comfortable on the sofa.
A few minutes later he walked in. A roundly built man in his late 40s, the duty doctor (for the life of me I can’t recall his name) turned out to be a very courteous and well spoken man. This was contrary to popular notion that these low paid doctors are rude and don’t really care for anyone.
“I have to tell you the situation is not good”
My heart sank. I was hoping against hope that he told me something else.
“His lungs are badly affected. There is 21% Oxygen in the air we breathe. A normal person’s Oxygen saturation is 100%. In your father’s case he’s on 100% Oxygen through the tube, but his saturation is only 78%. It means his lungs are not able to keep up”
“Additionally he has internal bleeding. His kidneys are failing. We have to put him on ventilator”
Then he discussed the legal disclosures and consent forms about putting dad on the ventilator.
I finally mustered enough courage to ask him “how long does he have doctor?”
That was when he made the chilling statement, “To be very frank with you, he won’t make it through the night”
I managed to nod and ask him if I could see him. I slowly and deliberately walked towards his bed.
He was strapped in, unconscious. He had tubes going in and out of his mouth and nose. There were monitors all around beeping. It was a surreal situation. Here was my father – the healthiest 74 year old I had known, on his last breaths, that too assisted. I touched his left hand and stood there staring at him for a few moments with a blank mind.
I walked slowly back towards the waiting area, not knowing what to answer if my mother asks, “what did the doctor say?”
How should I face her? What should I tell her? Can time stop at 6:45pm? It sure seemed like it to me.
To be continued…