Sodium - I think I've said that word more than a thousand times this week.
Here's what happened. I came back home from my Polaris interview on the 20'th. At around 7:30 PM when my dad was eating his dinner, he started behaving in an extremely odd fashion. He seemed to have no control over his spoon and he was spilling his food all over himself without even being aware of it. His responses to our questions were slow and sluggish. We decided to take him to the hospital immediately. Everything was delayed a bit because my dad refused to come to the hospital. We cried, pleaded, threatened and cajoled but he just sat in his chair and refused.Finally we had no choice, we carried him with the chair into the car.
He spent 2 days in the normal ward and was then transferred to the ICU because his sodium levels had fallen to 116. Its around 135 for a normal person. The ordinary saline given wasnt being absorbed by his body so a special 3% hypertonic saline solution had to be given via the jugular vein. The insertion of the drip in the jugular vein has to be done very very carefully. So my dad spent 4 days in the ICU until his sodium level came upto 127. On monday, he as shifted to a room opposite the ICU.
His sodium level dropped again to 120, but the doctor said he didnt want to give drips anymore and said we had to bring it up only with a special diet. So far his sodium levels have gone up by 1 point a day. The real complication is that his kidney has been affected by his high BP and diabetes, hence it is not able to absorb the sodium.Instead it is sending it out through the urine. Now due to low sodim levels he's pretty groggy. His facial muscles on one side have become weak and he slurs whenever he talks.
Handling my father has been really tough in these 8 days. When he was in the general ward, he'd keep pulling the IV out of his arm. One morning when my mother and I fell asleep from sheer exhaustion, he got off the bed on his own, took two steps and fell right on top of me. I woke up just to see my dad falling and caught him, badly spraining my left shoulder in the process.
After he spent 2 days in the ICU, he pulled the IV right out of the jugular vein, something really really dangerous. They had to tie him up to prevent him from injuring himself further, something which really insulted my father.
He's like a big baby now. Every move of his needs watching. He's developed a fever and whenever he feels hot he pulls all his clothes off. Everyday we wonder what his sodium level is. We've also learnt the hard way that we cannot expect him to improve from one day to the next. One day he's quite sharp mentally and the next day its difficult to wake him. For the last week we've had our hopes repeatedly raised and dashed to the ground. We just have to be patient and wait for the kidney to heal itself.
When he talks, its so crazy at times, we dont know whether to laugh or to cry. As he kept trying to take his clothes off when he felt hot, my sister held his hand and said " How can you be naked when I'm the room. You think its right for me to see you this way? ". To which he said " Of course, you are my daughter after all".
My sister seems to be at the recieving end for all his answers. A couple of days back we made him sit in the chair and talk to us. We asked him to give our birth dates. He got everybody's right but my sister's wrong. When asked if we should buy my sister some nice jewellery, he said " Let her get pregnant and then we'll get her jewellery". Needless to say, my sister wasnt the least bit pleased.
His higher faculties do seem to be in good shape though. He remembers everything about the university and his job. He remembers what he last taught my cousin last in physics. Its just his day to day behaviour that is upsetting.
In a way its a good thing I dont have a job now because I'm there to look after him. We dont know how long it will take and by the looks of it, its going to be a looong time. Guess I just have to be patient.