Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Heart To Heart
Well, what do you know…
I was back in a hospital again today. On Monday, it was for Wifey and today for Dad. I took leave off work the whole day today to accompany Dad for a cardiology follow-up.
Dad was hospitalized late February 2009 due to a blood clot detected in his heart. A CT scan meant for his lungs after his 3rd cycle of chemo, but the Oncologist detect a clot in his heart instead.
His chemo stopped abruptly, and the blood thinning medication was started immediately as soon as he checked-in to Singapore General Hospital. Dad was discharged a week after on 3rd March 2009.
He was on anti-coagulation medicine, Warfarin at full dosage of 5 mg for his age initially and was then reduced a week after that when his International Normal Rate or INR was returning to a non-threatening rate, yet the slight risk of a stroke was still possible.
The next couple of weeks saw Dad back at National Heart Centre checking his progress from the prescribed dosage of 4 mg, a brown and a blue pill every morning. He did well but not well enough, so was on a reduced dosage of 4 mg for the next two weeks until today.
Dad’s appointment was at 9:55AM, but we registered 10 minutes later due to the Swine Flu screening before entering the hospital premises.
The same regime again, the queuing, questions on our recent overseas travel and present health before being issued each with a mask and an OK sticker on our clothes, just after our ID details were keyed into their computers for traceability purposes.
Everyone inside the many specialty clinics was seen donned with a mask on. One old man was seen with his mask worn inside out, making me check my own mask if I had put it on correctly.
Dad was an expert on masks. He pointed out to me to have the top side with the metal wire up and pinch in to follow the nose contour so as that it will stay on without slipping up onto the eye… a lesson he learnt from the same place he went a week ago for his CT scan and heart checks.
Today, after taking his blood test at Room 12 where the Pharmacy was, we returned to Clinic A for Dr. Lim in Room 4.
Dad's assigned Cardiologist, Dr. Victor Lim saw him this morning him good news.
After checking through his present Blood INR for today, CT scan and other tests done a week ago, he said that Dad can now stop taking Warfarin entirely. I smiled the widest, I think. I was so happy to hear it.
Dad has always been a fighter and strong-willed. He takes his medicines religiously and sticks to healthy foods. He likes to keep himself busy with house work until he perspires profusely to stay physically active and does hours of gardening as a therapeutic outlet for the soul.
I think the fact that he was active in sports made him kept a healthy lifestyle. Being an awesome looking bodybuilder back in his twenties, Dad still likes to be physically active even today.
As a child, I remember seeing an only picture of a young and buffed Dad in his posing trunks. He looked awesome then. He once told me before that he shared his passion and volunteered his time coaching his fellow mates at the gym where he trained.
My older brothers also told me stories about Dad’s many trophies he won from his bodybuilding competitions days. The brass trophies however, were sold off at one point to the rag-and-bone man for money to feed our large family back then.
I reckon that is probably why I took up weight training and stuck with it since I first picked up a dumbbell in my teens… well, the fact that I was wafer thin back inspired my to be just like Dad. I have never compete before, much less achieved that awesome physique that had, but what stuck with me until now is to keep myself fit and now my family too for a healthy lifestyle… just like Dad.
Coming back to Dad’s condition…
Dad is given Aspirin as a blood thinning agent but to be taken with Omeprazole to protect his stomach against the gastric side effects of Aspirin and Bisoprolol to reduce his rapid heart rate. All 3 medicines were given for a supply of 3 months that cost S$31.50.
He is it take this medication for life. With this too, Dr. Lim hands over Dad back to his Oncologist, Dr. Loo Soo Kien from the National Cancer Centre urging that Dad should resume his chemo treatment.
The time spent alone with Dad on the journey to and fro the hospital, the lunch at Banquet and the unsuspected longer journey we accidentally took back to his home from the Woodlands Regional Bus Interchange were worth it.
I got to know more about Dad and “reacquainted” with him once again as he refreshed my faded memories with those old but nevertheless interesting stories he once told a long time ago.
It was nice to hear it again from him. It helped me understand and appreciate him more of the instances and decisions made back then that were buried deep in my mind and left forgotten, were explained and clarified in the here present where I am more than old enough to comprehend.
We got home a little later than expected, but fortunately Mom did not fuss over for making her wait in hunger for her lunch. Instead she laughed hard when Dad told her of our wrong and long bus route that took us 20 minutes to my younger brother’s home instead of the their flat that is only 2 bus stops away from the interchange.