I am extremely frustrated and more than a little crazy today. And before I can tell you why, I have to explain the circumstances leading up to all the craziness. Which entails telling the story of what happened to my father. Which I have obviously put off doing for as long as I possibly could.
But today, today has changed that. So here goes…
October 7,2009 started out like any other day. I sent Aidan off to school and then went back to sleep with Quinn. We woke up and had breakfast. I needed to go to the grocery store and so did my mother so dad volunteered to watch Quinn. We went to the store and came home. Dad said he was kinda tired and thought he might go and take a nap. Quinn and I said good-bye and walked across the lawn to our house. A nap sounded good to me too!
I don’t think we had been home fifteen minutes and all of this sudden we heard sirens. I thought they were kind of loud and looked out the window and saw them driving down our street. I didn’t really think much about it, but said a quick little prayer for whatever family they were going to help. Little did I know it would be my own.
Quinn and I were just getting ready to lay down when my phone rang. It was my mom. She was hysterical and I could barely understand a word she was saying. She calmed down long enough to tell me that my father wasn’t breathing and to come over right away. I grabbed Quinn and ran out the front door. There, parked right in front of my parent’s house was a fire truck and an ambulance. The front door was wide open and I could hear my mother crying and begging them to help my father. I decided that it would be better for Quinn and I to stay right where we were in the front yard. I didn’t think he should see his Grampy like that. When people say that “time seemed to stop” I had always thought that to be such a cliché, until that very second. I’m sure it didn’t take very long for them to stabilize him, but at that moment it felt like an eternity. They had to defibrillate him. Several times. They brought him out of the house and down the stairs. They stopped on the sidewalk so that Quinn could see that Grampy was okay and then one of the EMT’s asked Quinn if he had checked out the fire truck. He said no and we went over to take a look. They told my mother she could ride over to the ER with them and I told her I would be there as soon as I could. I had to wait for Jimmy to get home. I must have called him half a dozen times, hysterical myself. He finally arrived home and I raced to the hospital.
I made it to the hospital in record time. And to be honest I don’t really remember how. I ran to the ER and found my mom pacing the hallway. One of the EMT’s came out and told us that my father had suffered a massive heart attack and that they were doing everything they could to stabilize him. That he needed to be sent to another hospital. We asked if he could be sent to the VA and were told he wouldn’t survive the trip. It was almost like I was watching it happen from outside of my own body. We were terrified and trying so damn hard to hold it together.
I went home to get Jimmy and tell the kids that Grampy was okay, very sick, but okay for now. My mother-in-law came to be with the kids. And off we went. At some point during all this I had called my brother to tell him what happened. But I couldn’t really say much because I didn’t know anything. It was scary.
We made it to the hospital and went to the Heart Lab to find my mom. They hadn’t really told her anything yet, other than he was being taken care of. We waited for what seemed like hours. A doctor finally came and told us that he had suffered a massive heart attack and they had had to place three stints in one of his arteries to open it. He was on life support and in a medically induced coma to help his body recover. He was going up to the CCU and they didn’t expect him to make it through the night. Every minute that he survived increased his odds of recovering.
We were allowed to see him. It was one of the worst moments of my life. Hands down. He was just kind of grey. And clammy. And he looked so scary with all the wires and tubes they had in and on him. It was truly terrifying. We were told to go home and get some rest. That if anything changed they would let us know. But for now, they had done all they could.
I’m kind of going to fast forward through the next four days to what happened next. My brother flew out and they started weaning dad off life support. He came out of it okay, very groggy and super drugged out of his mind. Hallucinations, the whole bit. Good times.
Then came the phone call that changed it all. My mom called and told me to find my brother and get to the hospital immediately. Something was wrong with dad. I called my in-laws and they agreed to come and stay with Quinn. My neighbor drove me to the hospital and I got there just in time to find out that they had to perform emergency surgery on him. They had previously placed a central line in him in case they needed it. Except instead of placing it in his vein they placed it into his carotid artery. It had to come out, or he could die. But removing it could also kill him. They said it could cause blood clots or a stroke. Again, the outcome was bleak. We went to yet another waiting room and waited for our names to be called. Finally, the doctor came and told us that he had survived the surgery, but there was another problem. He needed to have emergency exploratory stomach surgery because there was air in his stomach where there shouldn’t be. Again, the outcome was bleak. Again we went to yet another waiting room to wait for our names to be called. At this point we were almost hysterical and definitely in shock. He made it through that surgery, but ended up with an ostomy. And was defibrillated two more times. We went back to ICU where we were then told that it looked like the stints they had just put in four days earlier might be failing and he might be having another heart attack. At that point I just lost it. I literally got hysterical. I was laughing and crying and not making any sense. I thought I was going to pass out. My mom explains to the doctor that I am pregnant and stressed out beyond belief. Which calms me down right away because I am trying so hard not to be stressed for the baby’s sake. The doctor tells us that he is going to try to place him back on the heart pump, but they are going to put it in his room because they don’t know if he can take being wheeled downstairs. Again, waiting rooms and more waiting. When the doctor came this time it was to tell us that we were going to have to go downstairs to the Cath Lab afterall. Again, waiting room and more frickin’ waiting.This time when the doctor came out it was to tell us that they couldn’t do the procedure, but that it looked like he was settling down and they felt they could treat the problem with medication. He was also back in a medically induced coma and back on life support.He was also right back where he started in CCU, taking it minute by minute with no prognosis. I felt like I was trapped in this never-ending nightmare.
Now I’m going to fast forward again and tell you that he came out of it. Weak and skinnier than I ever remember seeing him. He was on oxygen and couldn’t do anything by himself. But he was alive and that was the only thing that mattered. He continues to improve every day. His doctors are amazed and refer to him as “The Miracle Man”, because they never expected him to make it. Neither did his nurses. Or the EMT’s. But he did. And I thank God for that every single day.
Now for today. My parents lost their home to foreclosure two weeks ago. My father cannot work and won’t be able to for quite some time. He is considered disabled and will be receiving a pension and SSI, but none of those things are here yet. In the meantime, they have moved all their worldly possessions into our house. And please don’t get me wrong, I am grateful that we are in a position to help them out. I truly am. But if my mother brings one more thing into my already over crowded house I may have to strangle her. Seriously.
Both times we had to move in with them all our things that couldn’t fit into my old bedroom had to go in storage. And we all had to share a room. Including the dog. And we had “rules”. I have tried really hard to make this difficult situation as easy as I could for them. But today, today was just too much. I’m tired, cranky and resembling an Oompah Loompah. I couldn’t take it anymore. But instead of losing my temper, and being ugly, I told my husband to go out in the living room and watch the kids. I needed some time on the computer to blog my frustrations. And I have to say that I feel so much better. Serenity now, and all that.
Maybe we can make it after all.