I didn’t and still don’t know how to approach this topic but I think about it every day. I don’t feel like it’s my story to share but in a way it is. I don’t know how to make sure I don’t leave a detail out. I want to write about it but it’s so draining at the same time.
I had a 6 hour class that day. My dad was at home, I was going to take him to the hospital after I got home because he was having difficulties breathing and it sounded like a blood clot. We didn’t have health insurance during that time just due to a change in jobs. I got home and I thought my dad was in bed, so when my boyfriend came speeding down the street 5 hours before he was supposed to get of work I was confused but not worried. I didn’t think much of it. When I heard that he had to rush my dad to the hospital while I was at school I was understanding, mad, upset, and everything all at once. I wanted to be mad at them for leaving me in the dark, but I knew they just wanted me to take my time getting home since I had an hour drive from my class.
When we got there, my brother was already there, and of course as soon as I walk into the room that my dad was in he was playing dead. So, everything seemed okay to me. We did find out that he had blood clots but he was in care now and no one seemed too worried.
He was at the hospital for the weekend and I spent the days with him. He was so excited to go home and shower. I was excited to have him home, the house felt empty.
I didn’t know that the house could possibly permanently feel that way.
My dad was set to come home that day. We were pretty excited. The previous day we bought the floor pizza and watched football. But, we much rather do that at home.
It was just after noon when he was ready to go. I was his ride home, so we got ready and walked to the elevator and when we got to the lobby floor he was pretty out of breathe. I was panicking a little on the inside. We just had to get to the hospital pharmacy before we could leave so he made it there and sat down. As soon as he sat down he was gasping. He told me to give them the prescription anyways so I did and then I went to grab a wheel chair. I was definitely not taking him home now but I wasn’t sure what to do. Even the employees in the pharmacy looked concerned.
My plan was to take him back upstairs where he came from, I knew his nurse would help me. It wasn’t getting better though and we were still in the pharmacy. He told me to ask for help. I asked the lady sitting at the desk for help so they sent someone. I got him into the wheelchair and I was waiting for help. Five minutes later I was on my way to wheel him to the bathroom. He really needed the bathroom. As we exited the pharmacy here comes “help.” So he gets to the restroom and comes out having an even harder time to breathe. He started to gasp out “I’m not gonna make it, I can’t breath,” so off to the ER we go which was right down the hallway. We get there and he starts to say he’s going to die. I’m a young girl with no medical experience and no family around to help me, I was so panicked. I told them to give him oxygen and they did and he told me he loved me. They rushed him into this large room and I followed. I watch them basically lift him onto the bed and then someone had to take me out of the room to a family waiting room where I would sit alone not knowing if my dad was okay.
My dad was always present in my life. I lived with him and we were always best friends. We just always laughed when we were together. We had SO many memories together and I felt lucky to have a dad like that.
I called my boyfriend, as soon as he answered all I manage through the tears was “he’s dying!” and he said he was on the way. I texted my mom and accidentally texted the family group chat, I just didn’t want everyone to panic but, they did. I called my brother who was about 10 hours away in North Carolina. He was the only other biological child who could make decisions for my dad.
I was alone.
My boyfriend got there in record time. What should’ve taken him 20-25 minutes took him 10. He sprinted in and found me and just hugged me. I wasn’t alone anymore. My brother called me shortly after and came as well. My dad’s half-sister, who works at the hospital and who I haven’t seen since I was tiny, came and sat with me, my boyfriend, and my brother.
My brother who was in North Carolina was texting me checking in but even after an hour they couldn’t say that my dad was stable. It took about an hour and a half for my dad to get stable when they allowed me to see him. I want you you to keep in mind that the last time I saw him it was the dad I always had, this time walking back into that room I saw him sedated, with a tube down him throat. I saw the air being forced into his body which moved his chest up and down with a rhythm. He looked lifeless, he looked pale, and he looked like he was gone. That wasn’t my dad, that was a shell of him. I fought the tears and my brother and I stepped out within a minute of being in there. That wasn’t how I wanted to see him and that’s not how my he would want me to see him.
They began more scans and tests while we went to the waiting room on the MICU floor where he would stay that night. Around 5 or 6 my mom, my sister, and my sister-in-law came to wait with us. Eventually my sister’s boyfriend, my brother, and his then fiance (now wife) were also waiting with us. My sister-in-law brought us an excess of Chic-fil-a knowing most of us haven’t eaten since that morning, and my boyfriend went to the house to check on our dogs and packed us bags to stay the night.
Within hours of my dad dying, I had signed about 3 papers giving permission to perform operations on him. I saw his shell pass by on a hospital bed into the elevator to go into surgery. We waited hours. It was about 11:30pm when I finally asked for an update. They had just brought him back upstairs and the operations were pretty successful but that didn’t mean he was in the clear or even close.
I went back to his room and those noises will forever stay with me. The beeping, the breathing tube, everything. The sounds of MICU. Not sounds I ever want to hear again. They make me think of sounds of machines trying to keep a person alive because that’s basically what they are. My Dad was still heavily sedated. But the nurses said his levels were looking okay and there were two of them looking after him that night. There wasn’t much I could do except wait so knowing that he was under good care I went home to attempt to sleep.
September 11th, 3:00am:
I got a call, they needed my permission to preform a small operation to attempt to bring his blood pressure up. It was WAY too low. It took my an hour before I fell back asleep. I wasn’t aware of how dangerous his blood pressure was. Shortly after I fell asleep I got another call, his pressure still wasn’t better and they needed to do more. At that point I got up and got ready. My boyfriend got up with me and it was a quiet morning of trying to get our things together for a day and maybe night at the hospital. My eyes burned. They felt hot from tears, I was fighting the tears with all the power I had. I didn’t want to cry, not now.
We got to the hospital. My sister was also on her way. When I got there my world immediately felt like it was falling apart. No one expected my dad to live. A surgeon came to talk to me, he told me that if they don’t preform this surgery that my dad WILL die. If they do, he has a one in four chance of surviving. Hearing that I just tried to keep it together but as soon as the conversation was over I sat in the corner of the room and cried. The nurse cried, my sister cried, and my boyfriend cried. Everyone else was on the way.
They told me that he was responding to certain things they were saying despite his health, so when he opened his eyes and looked scared and lost I ran to his side and felt relieved to have him see me and know he was there. He started to pull at the tube and they had to pin his arms and he was fighting back and my cousin was saying “Uncle Tom, stop, it’s okay!” but he only stopped once I stepped in and told him it was okay. That was how our relationship was, I knew he would always do what was best for me and protect me, and he knew that as long as I was there I would make sure he would get the best care.
All of my siblings and one of my aunts, my uncle, and her son got to visit my dad, all red eyes with tears falling down our cheeks. It was so different seeing him this time than it was the day before or when they last saw him. He looked bad. He was getting prepared for surgery so I sat with him and they all took turns being in the room until it was time to move. They moved my dad down the hallway with multiple workers dressed in blue cover-ups. They went into the elevator and for all I knew that could be the last time I would see my dad alive.
I was scared but at the time I felt like he would fight, he was a fighter. My thought was if he somehow didn’t make it, it was because he taught us everything we needed to know and he was ready. But he was too young to be ready, he still needed to walk me down the isle. I guess maybe I knew he would be okay, I fought the tears but the anxiety was inevitable. The bags around my eyes were purple because I was so exhausted. The worrying and anxiety was making me restless and yet completely drained. We got moved to the waiting room on the ICU floor where he would be moved after the surgery. We would be sitting there for hours.
I will continue this, but it’s hard for me to just type it all at once. I plan on doing the other half later, but this was what my reality.
Finals are this week but I will have the rest of the story out soon.