In telling the story of how it's gone with Dad, I'll back up four months. New Year's Day was special for Dad and Mom. Every one of their children and grandchildren (all 61 of us!) were together at Lyle and Marji's. Dad was recovering from Covid, but seemed to enjoy being with his family.
As he's done for many years, seeds were ordered, a trip made to KY for supplies, and he began planting in the greenhouse. Grandchildren helped with transplanting and moving trays. The Mule was kept close to the house. Dad took it everywhere around the farm. Each day after school he would pick up Sylvan's son, Trevor, to do the chicken chores. During the winter his left leg bothered him so he went to his local doctor who gave him medicine for cellulitis. With the warm spring weather, Dad was enthused about being outside, and his walking seemed to improve. A Home Health nurse came once a week to clean and bandage an open place on Dad's right leg. This is where they put a pin after Dad's tractor accident 45 years ago. Around the middle of April, the nurse became concerned about his fluid retention and arranged for Dad to see his heart doctor. Tests showed that his kidneys were fine. He was put on a high dose of Lasix for three days. The doctor estimated that Dad had 20 pounds extra fluid.
The nurse came again on April 21 and spent several hours at the house. She was worried about Dad's left leg which was swollen, red, and extremely painful. His oxygen was down to 80% , but she was able to increase that by adjusting the setting on his oxygen machine. She recommended that we take Dad to the ER. Since Dad could not walk, the ambulance was called and he was taken to the Cookeville hospital. The ER doctor diagnosed him with cellulitis and sepsis, and immediately started an IV with antibiotics. He had pneumonia in the left lung. His blood pressure dropped dangerously low. He was also severely dehydrated so his kidneys were not working properly. He has congestive heart failure and his heart was functioning at 30-35%. When they x-rayed his leg, they found he had a fractured knee cap from a fall 6 weeks or so earlier. Dad had to spend the night in ER until a bed was available in ICU the next morning.
Saturday, April 24, a drainage tube was inserted into Dad's chest cavity and 1 1/2 liters of fluid were removed, which made his breathing much easier. The tube was left in, and more fluid drained over the next day or two, making a total of 3 liters or more removed in all. Monday, April 26, he was moved to a regular hospital room and was feeling much better, but still very weak. His kidney function was much improved. Visitors were allowed to be with Dad, one at a time, from 7AM to 7PM. Having family and friends stop in helped pass the time. Mom spent several hours nearly every day with him. By the end of the week it looked hopeful that soon he would be moved to rehab to regain strength to walk again.
Tuesday, May 4 ,when the skin doctor came in, he was very concerned about Dad's leg. It had turned much darker. "He's not going anywhere!" he said, and ordered more antibiotic. Wednesday the results from an ultrasound showed the veins were clear and should allow enough blood flow for the leg to heal. "Hang in there!"
Late Thursday afternoon the doctor came in again. Dad's leg was rapidly deteriorating. Infection was out of control and he feared the infection would move up into the rest of his body. The doctor bluntly told Mom that Dad would not live much longer if the leg was not removed. There was no hope the leg would get better. The decision was made to go ahead with surgery, which was scheduled for the next morning.
Friday, May 7, surgery began at 8:00 AM and 3 hours later the nurse told the family that Dad was in recovery before being moved to ICU. His left leg was removed above the knee.
Saturday, May 8, Dad was awake and talking. Both legs had a good color and he was taken off blood pressure meds.
We are thankful Dad is feeling better, and trust God will continue to heal. The journey is not over yet. He seems to be courageous. Thank you for your prayers, concern, and offers to help. We did not know we had such a huge support group!
Some of you have asked Dad's age. His birthday is December 2, 1943. He and Mom had their 53rd anniversary in March. Their 8 children, 38 grandchildren, and 2 great-grandchildren are spread out in TN, KS, IA, IL, and AR.