In August last year, my father was admitted to St Vincent’s Hospital after complaining of feeling very lethargic and finding some blood in his urine. At the age of eighty-four, we weren’t taking any chances. My father rarely complains, so when he says he is not feeling well, everyone knows it’s serious. After about a week in hospital, he was feeling better and they couldn’t find anything wrong, so they discharged him.
About two weeks later, I received a phone call from my mother. The first thing she said was that I was not to worry. However, she told me that Dad was back in hospital, this time at the Prince of Wales. I went to pick her up so we could visit him. She was getting dressed in her bedroom while I waited nervously in the lounge room. I felt a light tap on my shoulder and turned to see who it was (expecting it to be my mother) but there was no one there. Then I remembered that, apart from the dog, I was the only one in that part of the house. I sincerely hoped it was an angel telling me it would all work out and my father would be well again. I felt an immense wave of gratitude sweep over me.
When we got to the hospital, we found him looking very grey and tired. He could hardly hold his head up and had trouble staying awake. The doctor told us that my father had a blood clot at the base of his skull, pressing on his brain. He told us they could not operate, that he might have a stroke, or, worst case scenario, he could die as a result. Other doctors were called in and they seemed quite befuddled by the situation, so we gathered that it was a fairly unusual situation. The only thing they could think of doing was to take him off his prescription Warfarin (which, given Dad’s earlier by-pass operation, was a great risk in itself) and see what happens. It all sounded totally experimental and that’s because it was.
We were all very worried and feeling helpless; my mother, sister and myself, sitting there in that hospital room, not being able to do anything besides twiddle our thumbs. My mother announced that she was feeling positive and refused to entertain any negative feelings. She said that while getting dressed earlier, she had felt a light tap on the shoulder and thought that someone was trying to get her attention. She thought it strange that anyone could have entered the room without her noticing. However, when she had turned to see who it was, there was, oddly, no one there. On hearing this, my body froze and I felt goosebumps all over. I could have fallen off my chair. That was the exact same time that had I felt someone had touched my shoulder. I described my experience and we all felt strongly then that we’d be protected from the worst.
We visited the hospital every day. I would pick up my mother after leaving school and my sister came when she closed up the shop. At first, the visits weren’t very promising. My father wasn’t eating anything and couldn’t seem to stay awake; sometimes he’d sleep through our entire visit. I kept thinking back to the time I visited him in Intensive Care after his bypass operation - his initiation into ‘The Zipper Club’. I had been totally shocked and devastated at how ashen-faced he was and was just about to shout to the nurses that he was dead, when he slowly opened his eyes and made some sort of lame joke. I had to fight to keep back the tears, desperate that he not see me cry. There’s something very scary about seeing your own father, the strongest and most dependable male role model in your life, looking so completely grey, frail and weak with an endless number of tubes leading into and out of his body.
I think most children grow up believing that there parents are invincible and will be around forever. During this most recent illness, Dad was at Prince of Wales Hospital for what seemed like an eternity. Then one day, the doctors announced that the treatment seemed to be working and the clot was getting smaller. After a few days, he could hold his head up and was sitting up in bed. He even had his appetite back and my mother started smuggling food in for him. He was almost back to his old jovial self. A few more days passed and we were taking him for short walks up and down the corridors. The walks became longer and longer and soon our worry turned to immeasurable relief as he was discharged.
My father made a full recovery and has maintained excellent health to this day, thanks to the wonderful doctors, nurses and staff at St.Vincent’s and POW Hospitals and a great deal of giving thanks, positive affirming and visualising by his immediate family. Oh, and a little divine intervention.