Spooky, welcome to the forum. I am sorry to hear about your parents' medical problems. It would seem to me that your dad is a "closet" alcoholic; i.e., able to hide his drinking quite well, but has been drinking a lot over a long period of time to end up in this condition. The "being out of it" that you described is probably hepatic encephalopathy, where ammonia builds up and goes to the brain. They usually prescribe Lactulose or Kristalose for this, which must be taken daily. The ammonia is excreted through bowel movements. The most important thing for him to do is to stop drinking completely. This is absolutely necessary for him to have any chance of survival. If he is unable to stop on his own, he will need to go to AA or to alcohol counseling. Should he need a liver transplant, they will not even evaluate him until he has documented sobriety of 6 mos. Also, if he does not stop drinking, your mom would have to be cared for by someone else. It could be that the stress of caring for her led him to start drinking more than you thought he was.
Try speaking to his doctors or nurses to get a full assessment of his condition. When he gets back home, it would be helpful if he eliminated beef and has a diet rich in fresh fruits and veggies. Also, he should not be taking anti-inflammatory meds like Tylenol on a regular basis, as they are harmful to the liver and kidneys.
The most important thing, though, is that he stop drinking completely. Hopefully, he will have quit in time.
I suggest you read some of the older posts here regarding alcohol and liver disease, and also read the info in the folder at the top of the page entitled Hepatitis Resources. The best thing you can do in this situation is to become educated about liver disease.
Spooky, just from the way you wrote, I knew you were in the UK. Don't know what the time difference is between there and the East Coast of the USA. I am not on here all the time, though.
Your dad probably has ascites, which is fluid in the belly. They will probably try giving him Lasix (a diuretic) for that. He will also need Aldactone or potassium tablets, as diuretics cause loss of potassium. In addition, he needs to be on a very low-salt diet.
We have similar privacy rules here that keep info from relatives and friends. The way around that is to get Power of Attorney or Medical Advocacy. Then they will legally have to make his records available to you and to discuss his condition and plans of treatment with you.
His hernia surgery didn't cause his present problem, but it may have "stirred things up."
Do keep us posted and feel free to ask questions. We will answer if we can.
Thanks, Jan, and remember to take care of yourself, too.
You know I sometimes would feel quilty if I missed am important sign of something going on like I wasnt doing enough! In my heart I knew I gave Doug the best I could and then some but still the could haves and should haves sink in. Today I came across an old e mail of a picture from when he " as Doug would say " got into a fight with a table. He had 2 black eyes,broke his nose, cut open his nose and fractured his leg...... not on my watch he was in the hospital and the table obviously won! One thing I noticed in the pic wasnt all the injuries.. but finally I saw those big blue eyes and that grin I loved so much. it is hard to be the caregiver and not become the nurse.... I beg of you to stop and remember the heart and soul of the person, look in their eyes, touch their face and say I love you!!!
Sue, the nurse, the taxi driver, cook, researcher......many hats but most important the love of his life
Beautifully said, Sue.
And, as we say in AA, "Don't should on yourself!"