Categories
Reflections and Poetry

Heart Attack: limited communication, limited effectiveness – the first phase of Covid – p2

When communication between a couple is daily, no matter the distance, and that is abruptly interrupted, it’s hard. At least I found it hard. 

The first day Alan was in hospital, he found it hard to speak, so we texted. I took his lead so as not to trouble him or tax his strength. When I mentioned pneumonia to Alan he was surprised. They’d told him he had Covid but no one had mentioned pneumonia. He found it a bit agitating, I think, to hear from me that he had pneumonia. 

In hospital the first few days, communication was sporadic. I found the silence heart-breaking but I put my trust in GOD’s sovereignty and remembered continually His word to me that “Alan will recover” and that carried me through the scary days, as I experienced a sense of powerlessness and a feeling like being in a washing machine — constantly turned and twisted, having very little air or peace.

Each day I’d speak to a nurse who would give me Alan’s oxygen level (which I only understood relative to ‘normal’ or the level told me the day before) and his blood pressure.

“What is he receiving the oxygen through?” I’d ask, wary whether it be a C-Pap or a light mask. 

“A light tube” one nurse would say. One night, overnight, they lay him on his stomach and he didn’t need oxygen support at all. That’s a good sign, I thought.

When someone is in hospital, moving back and forth from a high intensity ward to a short term unit and back again, it’s impossible not to read into every change something significant, even though it’s all guess work from a family member’s point of view. With no personal visitation allowed due to the Covid pandemic, and very sparse comment from Alan, every word a stranger said was filtered through my analytical brain and taken to GOD with prayer, hope and a seeking as to what to do next. 

I had told my son in person, then my step daughter by phone, and lastly Alan’s siblings by group text, that first day, after Alan was admitted into hospital with Covid. No one panicked, probably in part because I didn’t panic, because the LORD gave me wisdom, assurance and faith to hold on, trust Him and remain calm. 

Looking back, in spite of huge effort on the part of the hospital to be vigilant towards Alan’s recovery right from Day 1, I think the lack of communication contributed to the increase of illness and ultimately, to the end of Alan’s life. Had I known some things sooner, I could have prayed more effectively. Had doctors learned from me sooner about Alan’s disposition and personality, they may have read rather than misread some signs and perhaps medicated less vigorously. But do I suggest lack of communication caused his death? Not directly, no, I don’t think so. Rather, communication and visitation would have given Alan better quality of life while in hospital, and I may have had more influence upon doctors perhaps, and sooner. It is my view that a patient’s family should have more voice in their treatment because they know the patient best and can focus on this one patient when doctors are devoted to many all at once. A family member can detect things perhaps better than doctors when they are with the patient in person. But in the final analysis, the circumstances were as they were, and GOD orchestrated a fine symphony which brought to the attention of all parties involved, His power and presence in the life of Alan and me. He brought the entire team of medics to the point of focus on Alan’s definite recovery just days or even hours before the LORD released him back to Himself. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

I began to share with close praying friends the situation with Alan: Covid pneumonia, in hospital, needing just a little air support. I told the pastor, who shared with the church. I didn’t share on line — it was a private matter and Alan is known in the Christian community; I sought prayer but not panic or rumour or distracting phone calls. I believe GOD led me each step, as to with whom to share the news and to whom I would request prayer support. Each person I told was vigilant, I believe, and keen to pray for Alan’s recovery.

And so began a purpose-driven strategy to pray Alan back to full health and home.

*Photo courtesy of Revelation TV

Categories
Reflections and Poetry

Heart Attack: the first phase of Covid pt 1

The Life is in the Blood aka When the Music Fades (manuscript beginnings about the hospitalisation of Alan Tun)

One morning recently, I awoke to the memory of learning of Alan’s heart attack. Never was I so relieved to hear such bad news.

At the time, my son Jordan and I were joyful at the news of Alan having incurred and overcome a heart attack, because to us, it meant that the doctors had finally found the source of the continual fatigue and lack of healing in Alan since he had been admitted, even and though he’d been getting great care and all the oxygen he needed. Cardiologists dealt with the heart attack by putting two stents in the artery that had been blocked and Alan — conditional on respiration recovery — would soon be home.

So we thought. We all thought: family, doctors, Alan.

It was instead, the beginning of a decline that would be relentless leading to induced coma.

So, the saga of Alans illness and ultimate journey into his glorious destiny with Jesus continues from last week’s introduction, for those who are interested.

I am not one to dwell on the past. One of my favourite scriptures is from Philippians 3, “Forgetting what is behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on…” Paul says. And I am like that in my general attitude to life.

The idea of rehashing what happened to Alan is not what’s on my heart. There is no blame to attach because everyone, from prayerful friends to family and relatives, to doctors and nurses on the wards, worked painfully hard to bring Alan to health, and yet he died. GOD is sovereign, and so couldn’t He have saved Alan? These are not the points spurring on my writing about his time in hospital. So why do it then? It isn’t for catharsis. I suppose I document this because I think it is an interesting story, quite intense and full of scripture and prayer and spiritual warfare, and honouring to a man who fought beyond physical strength to stay in this world for the sake of his family and friends and all those whom he taught… even though he had no fear of death whatsoever and knew he would go to a safer, happier, holier place when ever he did finish here on earth.

The story begins

Alan had been ill since the 19th of December. He’d had a nasty ongoing headache, aches, and enough nausea to mean he had virtually no appetite. I gave him hot echenacia and lemon, vitamins: especially C, D and Zinc (though he refused to take them all daily). He had no fever, no continuous cough, no shortness of breath, no change in taste or smell (except one bad tasting banana, which should have put us on high alert). I’d had the same headache and pains which turned into a cold, and fully recovered after 4 days. Jordan had had a headache a few days before me. We all thought we had the flu of a sort and were taking it in turn.

But one evening, on day 11, I awoke in the night and Alan was on the floor. He told me it was the second time he’d collapsed in the night, even though he said he didn’t feel short of breath or dizzy. Why didn’t I call the emergency straight away?

I phoned the doctor the next day but couldn’t get our own so I left it one more day. On day 13 we spoke with our doctor who was patient and rather emphatic, saying that “of course you have Covid” and she arranged for a clinic appointment.

It was very cold on 31st of December. We drove to the clinic and parked and walked through the cold outdoors to the clinic. I left him with the nurse, not being permitted inside given the Covid restrictions. I’d come back in 30 minutes to collect Alan.

29 minutes later as I was making my way back to the entrance where we’d parted, my mobile rang. It was a pleasant doctor on the line who said Alan had pneumonia. It was probably Covid as well he said, and Alan would be taken to the hospital by ambulance. The doctor answered all my questions. The main issue had been that although Alan was clearly low on Oxygen, settling at about 88% when anything below 92% is a concern, he was — it seems — one of 10% of people who experience silent hypoxia. The fact that their oxygen level is low just doesn’t register warning symptoms. So apart from him landing on the floor a couple of nights, he’d not had any symptoms of chest pain, difficult breathing or climbing of stairs, which are the typical signposts of low oxygen levels triggered by Covid.

My heart sank.

As I drove home alone I thought, “What am I going to say to Jordan?” our 16 year old son. And I gathered myself up and knew I must be resolutely positive, calm and assured, for there was no point in worrying myself, let alone causing someone else to worry. It was enough of a “message” that Alan would not be home right away because he’d been too ill with pneumonia and had instead been taken to hospital.

About 15 minutes after I arrived home, Alan rang. He sounded rough medically and somewhat dismayed. 

This is not how we thought this day would progress.

Now would begin 18 days of intermittent communication, ups and many medical downs, and an empty canister of oxygen, all which ultimately would lead to his being put into ICU.

More next time for those for whom this is of interest.