It's been a bit quiet around here, but there's been good reason. As you know, my friend Alex got hit by a car. The next weekend, I sliced my thumb up with a table saw. Well, the weekend after that, the worst of the lot happened: I got a call from one of my brothers telling me that my dad had lost consciousness while returning from a vacation.
They say things happen in threes, and I certainly hope that's true, because after this one I'm ready for a break from hospitals. It turns out that my dad had an abdominal aortic aneurysm (a "triple A"). Briefly, this means that the large artery that leads downward from his heart had weakened and swelled. I saw the CT scan at one point: it was roughly the size of an American football.
My dad got lucky on several counts. To start with, he'd just traded places with my mom when he passed out, so he wasn't driving. That could easily have killed them both. On top of that, even though they were in northern Minnesota (which is basically the middle of nowhere), they happened to be near a hospital, so the ambulance was able to get him to a doctor quickly. And the doctor was good enough to get the diagnosis right and immediately put my dad on a helicopter for a hospital in Duluth. And the vascular surgeon in Duluth managed to repair my dad's artery, saving his life. Dad's blood pressure dropped to zero at one point, so it was a near thing.
The whole family descended on Duluth, of course. Dad was in the ICU for a week, but has since been transferred to the cardiac recovery unit. He's still in Duluth, but the rest of the family has started returning to their homes now that the largest dangers are past. We're all hoping that he'll be home by Christmas when we all return, although it's no sure thing.
One of the worst parts about the whole process was that my dad was so completely looped by the drugs and the shock and the sleep deprivation that he was basically delirious until about nine days after the surgery. And it wasn't until about eight days out that anyone was able to tell us it wasn't a stroke. It was pretty hard on my mom to hear my dad basically babbling nonsense about how he wasn't really in a hospital. Fortunately, sleep and changes of medication fixed that up and dad is now as sharp as ever.
We spent the Thanksgiving holiday there in a hotel. My wife and my brother did a bang-up job of whipping up a first-rate giant meal using only a microwave and what they could find at the grocery store on Thursday afternoon. Still, I can certainly think of better ways to spend the holiday. But I can much more easily think of worse ways.
Here's hoping my next post talks about something boring like what I'm working on over at MSDN.