It all started with a fit a month ago.
We brought him to a TCM.
Took some Chinese medicine.
And then a few days later he got worse.
We brought him to the clinic.
Doctor suspected it was cancer.
Did a check.
But dad got weaker by the day.
And his afternoon naps got longer by the day.
Then yesterday morning (Monday), he complained that he couldn’t breathe and was feeling faint.
Suspecting that it could be his heart, we made an appointment to see a heart specialist.
Called at 9am.
Met the doctor at 10.30am.
Did an ECG and discovered that dad had atrial flutter.
Layman explanation: dad’s top heart chamber was beating at 240 bpm (overworked!) while dad’s bottom heart chamber was beating at 60bpm (normal).
Also why his watch didn’t detect any anomaly with his heart.
The specialist gave us three options.
3. Do nothing
Knowing how serious my dad’s situation was, I decided immediately he should go for ops.
While the doctor made arrangements, I updated my sister who was still stuck in KL.
But something my sis said caught me totally off guard.
“I am with you on your decision but you need to make sure mummy is ok too else if anything goes wrong, she will blame you.”
She was right.
In my hurry to solve the problem, I forget to factor in human emotions.
We went back into the room the second time and this time, I got the specialist to share with my parents the pros and cons of each option.
I also asked the specialist to share with us how many times he had done the ops and how confident he is about doing my dad’s surgery.
Only then, did I turn to my parents to ask them what they want to do.
Both understood the gravity of the situation and agreed – though with sadness – to go with option one (surgery).
A lot of times in crisis, we tend to make rash decisions (understandably) without considering the possible consequences.
And I am glad my sister was rational enough to highlight this blind spot.
Fortunately, my dad was well covered by insurance (thank you insurance agents!) so we didn’t have to make difficult decisions like “can we afford the treatment?” or “who will foot the hospital bill?”
So please make sure you get a hospitalisation plan for your parents! If you can afford it, get the best plan with rider and all.
It is the least you can do for them.
Today is only day two in the hospital but dad has already incurred more than S$30K of hospital bill.
And there is talk about having to insert a pace maker (battery) for his heart.
It could cost another S$30K I think.
So do yourself a big favor.
Talk to your insurance agent and make sure you and your parents are well covered.
There were other lessons I learnt too from this unfortunate experience with my dad.
1. Do not ignore a fit. It is a tell-tale sign that something is wrong.
A few months ago, my dad had a fit and we brought him to a TCM.
Turned out dad’s fit was actually Stokes-Adams syndrome and was an indication his heart has a problem.
Don’t make the same mistake as I do.
2. High blood pressure is the bane of many elderly people.
It is the cause of many serious diseases like my dad’s atrial flutter or worse, stroke.
So if your elderly parents are on medication, DO NOT let them stop taking just because their blood pressure looks ok.
It just means the meds are working and they should continue taking.
Again another mistake I made – I didn’t insist that my dad should take and let him be.
Oh side note, even young people can have high blood pressure.
My dad’s doctor told me of a young patient. Only 34 years old with serious heart issues because he took his high blood pressure lightly. DON’T!
3. Know what medications your elderly parents are taking. Also know what allergies they have. Save a record.
It comes in handy if they ever have to be hospitalised.
I get asked so many times about my dad’s allergies.
And they even asked what medications my dad is on, down to the prescription instructions.
It can be really stressful if you don’t have all this information.
I didn’t so I had to call all my dad’s doctors to check.
That’s all the notes for now.
No one ever wish for their parents or loved ones to be hospitalised.
I will never forget the moment when they pushed my dad to the surgery room.
Mum was all teary eyed.
She even filmed the process because she was afraid that this was the last time she would see him.
For me, I tried to be brave.
But later cried in the bathroom because I didn’t want to make my mum sadder.
So yes, adulting is tough.
And I hope all the insights I shared in this email will come in handy in time to come.
Dad is still not out of the woods yet.
Please continue to pray for my dad!
Your #1 fan,