Sunday, July 7, 2013

Happy Endings

 My dad died.   ...That was for dramatic effect. I had many people send me messages so I decided to update this to make sure everyone continues reading-my dad is alive. I repeat, he's alive.
Jason says I take too much dramatic license.
Before I get to that part in this journey, and tell you all about how he died but came back to life and recall the ups and downs, you all know I have to begin my stories in chronological order. OCD.
Way back on June 2nd, my dad spent some time in the hospital, because he had to have his leg amputated. We as a family knew this was coming but we weren't prepared. Are you ever really prepared? My daddy is stubborn though, and after a short hospital stay he was released to go to a rehab facility. I received updates on my dad's condition through the weeks to come and he was doing rather well, all things considered.
Then. We had this day called Father's Day. 
Of course I have to post this picture to prove that I'm not the only one who has picture woes on an important day:
On the other hand, at least he got one with everyone smiling:
Looking back on it, I guess I don't remember anything else about Father's Day, except for the phone call I received from my sister telling me my dad had a heart attack and he was in the ICU at the Ft.Wayne Hospital. Now what father has the audacity to go and have a heart attack on FATHER'S DAY?! My dad. That's who. While in great turmoil, Jason and I began talking about what we were to do, go home? Wait until further notice? On Monday we received another call that dad was hanging in there and seemed to be improving. With that news, we decided to use our vacation time to travel home to Indiana over the 4th of July holiday.
Until I received the call at 6:30 am on Wednesday June 19th. My sister called me, crying and said "Joy, honey, daddy's not doing well. He's going downhill very fast, you need to get home". Within 6 hours we had done laundry, I called and left my office a blubbering message, we packed the car and were on the road. 6 hours. How on earth does it take an OCD person to pack in 6 HOURS?! I blame our washer and dryer. They're slow. We couldn't make the 18 hour trip without stopping to stay somewhere, and let me tell you, that was not easy. What if my dad didn't make it? My mind was racing with all sorts of memories as sadness engulfed me. But one thing remained constant. My faith in God and his goodness never wavered.
The next morning we were back on the road and my sisters updated me. Dad was still not doing well and he had to have a breathing mask on, which he hated, and persistently tried to pry off of his face. I told you he was stubborn. When we were within 2 hours of the hospital, I got another call asking how close I was, because the doctor said dad had to go on a ventilator (he didn't think dad was going to make, it and my sister's wanted me to be able to talk to him one last time before they did that procedure). I told my sister's it was okay, dad had to breathe and please let dad go on the ventilator. So they did. Then I was really heartbroken. Why does my family listen to me? For heaven's sake! Let dad suffocate so that I can talk to him! I need my dad! I only had those thoughts for a fleeting moment though, so don't be mad at me sister's.
We finally made it to the hospital and my sister's were waiting outside for me. They were still putting the ventilator in and had to leave. So I ran my tired, stinky self over to them and we all hugged and ran to the restroom to change clothes. A bit later I went up to see dad. I didn't think my heart could break anymore but ohh how wrong I was. Seeing dad in that sedated state with a ventilator was absolutely not exciting. But I wanted him to know I was there so I took his hand and cried and told him how far I had come which meant he had to wake up and get better so that he could know what a good daughter I am!
Let me tell you something. This was much harder for me than when my sister Sherri died. I had no choice in the matter but to let her go. There was no hanging in there, holding on to hope. It was instant grief and mourning. This was prolonged with many ups and downs.
I can tell you one thing. My sister got me ADDICTED to a game that I played continuously while I was at the hospital if I was not tending to dad.
4 Pics 1 Word
There is no turning back if you play. No turning back.
Of course the first night I stayed the night at the hospital, I spent quite a bit of time on my knees at the super very uncomfortable couch-bed praying for my dad. This reminded me of the story my sister told me while we were waiting to be allowed back into dad's room after the ventilator was put in. My dad was not a Christian, you see. This made the trauma all the more painful. Until my sister said as dad was trying to pull his oxygen mask off, she ran to the hallway looking for his nurse for help. He seemed panicked. Karen found a nurse (not dad's) in the hallway who saw Karen's stricken face and came to help. Somehow in the course of what transpired she realized that dad was unsaved. So she stepped up to the plate. She grabbed dad's face in her hands and yelled "ROBERT"! "DO YOU KNOW HOW CLOSE YOU ARE TO ETERNITY?! This caught dad's attention and he lifted his eyelids. She went on "BOB! YOU NEED JESUS! DO YOU WANT TO GO TO HEAVEN?!" Dad shook his head yes and squeezed her hand and she prayed with him right then and there.
I have to tell you all that dad still has a potty mouth. Just sayin. Some things God just doesn't remove instantaneously in case you were wondering.
My sister's are pretty incredible people. This is Bobbie:
Not sure what was so funny. I spy with my little eye, dad's monitor, and I'm just wondering if dad was breathing in through his mouth and out through his nose. He got into trouble when he didn't do that.
This is me and Bobbie at her house where we stayed while we were home. I used to have the same hair as her when I was little.
This is Karen. She's in the lobby just outside of the ICU. We spent a lot of time there.
She also sent me a gift in a box and take a look at the address! Who wants to immediately open a box that is labeled like this? Joy Dawn. That's who.
All of us together with dad Nita, Me, Dad, Karen and Bobbie :
Nita, I don't have any other pictures of you. Why?
These pictures were actually all taken the day before we had to leave to go back home to CO.
Did you know that when you have a family member that is unable to speak for themselves, you get nominated to make the decision about life or death for them? That was what the 3 of us sisters were faced with after dad was put on the ventilator. So do you know what we did? We went into the consulting room. We went there because the plaque on the left of the room specifically called it the consulting room, and we were going to consult. We're upstanding citizens aren't we? We all sat. And were quiet. How do you call a meeting like this to order. We talked through things. And then we joined hands and prayed. We cried an prayed. We wanted to do the right thing. A Godly decision. For our dad. They told us that if they do a full resuscitation on dad, they would break his ribs and puncture his lungs. We ruled that out. With only 35% of a functioning heart, who could survive that? We also made the decision that there was to be no more ventilator. Let me just insert here, that when it's my turn to go, I want someone to pray first before deciding. Maybe you can fast too. Are you writing this down?
Over the course of the next few days, dad was able to have the ventilator removed. He was improving, but unable to swallow and couldn't talk. Then, Bobbie and I stayed a long horrible night with dad. He had not had anything to eat or drink for many days and had no sleep for nearly 3 days. He had wild eyes. But he wouldn't let us relax. Because he couldn't relax. We moved him up in bed, down in bed. Moved him to the edge of his bed. We were up all night long. Finally, around 6:00 in the morning, Bobbie and I laid down to sleep and I looked over at dad and thought "Wow! He's finally sleeping!" He was relaxed and not moving. Until the nurse walked in. She screamed at him, Robert! Robert. She yelled for help and said "he's not responding!" and the room was alive with movement. Bobbie and I were asked to leave and as we walked out of his room, the Code Blue alarm went off. Quite an experience to hear that alarm when the alarm is going off for the person that you know. That is your dad. Who was just alive and you thought he was sleeping. Within in seconds. There were 2 Chaplains in the lobby with Bobbie and I asking us if we were okay. I just looked at them. I was shaking but not crying and would someone pleas turn off the code blue alarm? I was beginning to think it was for me. We told the Chaplains we were okay and they went to dad's room to bring us word of whether or not we could go back in. I called Karen and Anita and told them to come quick, dad was a code blue, he was gone. Then Chaplains came back and said, well, your dad responded to the oxygen and he's alive. You should be able to go back in soon. Wha?!  He's alive? I imagine I could relate a little bit to Mary and Martha when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Only dad wasn't stinky yet from being dead too long. Karen and Nita arrived and we were all allowed back into dad's room. He had the oxygen mask back on and he still hated it but he wasn't as frantic about taking it off. Do you get instant sleep hours if you die but then are resuscitated? I don't know how that works.We were all in a state of shock and poor daddy was trying to tell us something. He kept trying to lift up his mask to say something and we had to tell him no, and to relax. He still needed sleep too, let alone the fact that we were wondering how  he had any strength left with no food or drink for days. Finally, I had the idea to go and get a piece of paper and was given a marker and a board for dad to write on. I thought dad wanted to be able to tell us good-bye. Being on edge as we were and grief stricken yet happy that dad was still with us, we waited patiently for dad to tell us what he wanted to say. This is what he wrote:
PePsi !
Poor dad! We were heartbroken that he was so thirsty, but it was so stinking funny that we were all on edge awaiting his last words to us that we couldn't stop laughing. Pepsi. Sigh. I'm after his own heart though. Don't make me tell you my dying words until after I've had my pop! Unfortunately dad wasn't allowed to have any drinks yet, or he would aspirate. But eventually, he came around.
In case you were wondering how I was able to spend so much time at the hospital, I have to tell you I have an amazing husband who stayed with the boys at my sister's house. She lives on a small lake that is just perfect for fishing.
Look who else was on this exact same pier many years ago:
It's okay, you can be jealous of my awesome hair, pants that are 2 sizes too small, and my half-in/half-out plaid shirt.
Dawson loved fishing. He even caught a few.
We got to spend a bit of time with my mom.
This is the face my mom makes when she's wondering if we're done taking pictures:
Right after my mom left to go home, she called because she was stranded with a flat tire. So Jason and my brother-in-law had to go rescue her. I'm just glad it wasn't me doing the rescuing because I would have helped mom hitchhike. I'm not great at changing tires.
When that excitement came to a lull, we gave Evan a bath in the sink.
As it was nearing a week since we made it to IN, dad continued to improve. He was able to eat and drink, though he had to have all of his drinks thickened with this stuff called "honeythicke" and he didn't like it. We're hoping his swallowing skills will continue to improve so that he can have that functionality back. The day after we left to go home to Colorado, my sister took this picture of dad and said he had 3 waters, a pepsi, scrambled eggs and fruit for breakfast. He doesn't mess around.
When we got home and got unpacked, this little guy was ready to go back to see Gramps:
As of today, dad has actually improved so much, that he has been released from the hospital and moved to a rehab facility near my mom and sisters. He still takes breathing treatments 4 times a day, and he shares a room with a loud guy that keeps a heater near his bed and,has a broken hip and told my sister he could karate chop her. We hope dad gets moved to his own room soon.


Holly said...

Wow! what a ride.... I couldn't imagine going through that with my own dad.. so glad yours made the decision to accept Christ! how thrilling! :) Again, love the way you write!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing what you have gone through, gosh, I can't even imagine how hard that was for you and all your sisters.

I know how much you miss your family and I am so thankful you could be there for your Dad and your sisters during this difficult time.

I know God comforts us so we might comfort others, so I am praying He will use what you went through to minister to others.

Love you,

ashley said...

so glad to read that your dad is doing better!