A Life Changing Dilemma
The phone rang; it was my sister, “Something terrible has happened”. “Dad was rushed to the E.R. this morning and doctors suspect he has a life threatening illness. He’s paralyzed and they say it may impede his breathing”.
Interrupting her next word, I said “I’ll look for a flight and be there as soon as I can”. After ten grueling hours of travel, I arrived at the hospital. My entire family was there; I could see the red puffy eyes and felt the intense emotions that filled the room. I approached the bed in disbelief, as my father lay there completely motionless, I looked directly into his eyes and hugged him, and said “Dad, I love you; I know you’ll be ok”. On a respirator, he looked at me as tears rolled down his cheeks.
Trying to remain strong, I could feel the blurred sensation in my eyes, as I fought back the tears along with the knot in my throat. The brutal heartache, felt like a two ton weight on me, as if I would burst into a million little pieces. Nothing in the world could have prepared me for this.
His diagnosis; Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS), a disorder which affects the body’s immune system and peripheral nervous system. Many cases begin after a viral or bacterial infection. The illness is rare; its prevalence is 1 in 100,000 people. Scientists are researching the immune systems to find which cells are responsible for activating the attack on the nervous system. The symptoms can be varying degrees of weakness to total paralysis. The recovery period can be a few weeks, a few years or sometimes death.
To worsen this stressful situation, the recommended treatment for his symptoms was denied by his HMO. The severity of his symptoms required our family and his doctor to agree in giving him the possible life-saving medications. He was in intensive care, the next 24 hours would be crucial to his recovery.
It was gut-wrenching to see a successful, honorable man, who enjoyed his morning jog, now confined to a hospital bed. The prognosis seemed unfavorable. But, he never faltered; years of therapy provided great progress. He has since regained his ability to walk and perform routine activities, and is a volunteer with the local GBS support group, inspiring other patients with hope of survival.
I believe that we made the right choice in standing by his doctors’ recommendation and not accepting the HMO’s denial. My father is alive today because of our determination. I understand that life is a state of being; however, I knew in my heart that it wasn’t time for my Father to pass.
I believe our faith, love and family unity aided in his healing. This life changing dilemma has changed my perspective of life. I’m thankful for my Dad’s recovery, grateful for being surrounded by people that I love, and happily live each day as if it were my last.