Sunday, May 31, 2009

An Interruption...

I’ve too busy this last two weeks and have not been posting!

My 75 year old father-in-law had to go into hospital. Mr. Ghazali (by coincidence we share the same name)  had had a long history of high blood pressure and asthma, and for a couple of weeks beforehand, suffered from, what were to me, vague symptoms  -  anxiety, shallow breathing, water retention in the legs, sleepiness...

When finally it was decided to take him to hospital, he fell asleep on the way, and finally when he arrived at the hospital, did not wake up. By then his fingers had turned blue.

The immediate cause of the passing out was the high level of carbon dioxide in the blood. This showed in blood tests; drowsiness and bluishness in fingers and toes are common symptoms of CO2 poisoning.

He was put onto a ventilator to help with his breathing.

His other main symptom was difficulty in passing water, coupled with water retention (or oedema). So the doctors put on a catheter to drain away the urine and excess fluids from the body.

Ghazali’s condition looked bleak on the Saturday he was admitted. He was unconscious, was on a ventilator, and his whole body was swollen with oedema. But he responded to the most immediate treatment – the blood CO2 level came down and his swelling subsided and you could see his face and hands becoming wrinkly again. He could have woken up earlier but the doctors thought it better to keep him sedated – the ventilator worked better with the patient in this condition.

By Tuesday he was allowed to wake up and had a brain scan. They found that he had had a stroke!

But in the few days that followed it became apparent that the effects are turning out to be relatively minor. There doesn’t seem to be any sign of incapacity – my father-in-law can still speak and easily move both sides of his face and limbs. This is not what happens in severe cases of stroke. Thank God!

Ghazali can count himself lucky and he can look forward to coming back to our home. But his chronic high blood pressure stays with him. The latest reading was something like 167/65 (against 120/80 normal count). Such a big difference in the systolic (upper) and diastolic (lower) figures is symptomatic of hardened arteries. My wife has high blood pressure too, so I’m pestering her to get it down with diet and exercise, or else she should take medication.

This isn’t architectural blogging as usual, but often life (and death) has a way of intruding.


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