the facts

   Posted by: arcanai   in heartache, pix

last sunday, we left alabama and started the long drive down to orlando.  shortly after crossing the florida line, i called my dad to let him know how the drive was going and what our plans were.  he again invited us to stay with them but i told him that they didn’t need a crying baby in the house, especially since he had only gotten home from the hospital on thursday and they needed their rest.  my plan was to stay at my sissy’s and we would leave right after the turkey’s first feeding of the day to spend all day tomorrow with him.  when i called, he was actually out back working in the yard and he was proud of himself for it because it had been weeks since he felt good enough to get outside at all.  we had a great conversation… he was feeling good, sounding like himself, and super excited to see the turkey again.

according to my phone history, i called him at 16:39 on sunday, 19 october 2014 and we talked for 16 mins and 2 secs.

two hours and ten minutes later, my world crashed.

his wife called, which is not entirely unheard of…  she’ll call a lot to tell me how things are going with him when she doesn’t think i’m getting the whole story from him.  the day before, i had called her and asked her to get by herself so that i could ask her opinion about trying to drag him to disney while we were there monday.  i asked if she thought he might be up to a quick trip just to go into the park, get a picture of him and the turkey with goofy, and then leave.  i really wanted to get that picture the first chance i got because there’s just no telling how long he’ll be around for.  she had said that he hadn’t really been out of bed since coming home from the hospital but she thought that was mostly depression and thought that he would probably be okay once the baby was there so as long as we dropped him at the gate and got a wheelchair, she thought he’d be fine.  when i saw her calling that evening, i figured that’s what she was calling about.  maybe she had decided we shouldn’t bring it up to him after all.

when i answered the phone, she was talking to someone in the background and i could immediately tell it wasn’t good news.  she told me that the ambulance was there to get him because he had had a stroke and my heart stopped beating.  keep in mind that we had just left my MIL that morning who had a stroke almost three years ago and has never been the same (and is in a state of rapid decline right now).  we were an hour away.  we changed our route to head straight to the hospital but had to stop along the way to feed the turkey.  by the time we got there, my sissy and BIL were already in the ER with them.  my BIL left to hang out in the car with my hubby and the turkey so that i could go in and be with my family.  my dad saw me when i came in and he asked about hubby and turkey and we talked for a minute or so before he started getting a little loopy.  the right side of his face was drawn, his right eye was not focusing, and his speech was slurred.  i could tell that he had a left-brain stroke, just like my MIL.  for the next three hours, my sissy, his wife, and i stood around the bed in the ER trying to keep him calm and get him to rest.  he was agitated about the pain of the insanely slow potassium/magnesium drip that they had going and he wanted to go home.  he had moments of lucidity when he would ask about us and about my brother.  a few times, my sissy and i stepped out of the curtain so that he could relieve himself and my sissy would try to reassure me by telling me that he had been worse when she arrived so it probably wasn’t that bad.  i told her that my MIL had seemed to improve the first night also but that all of the effects really hit her the next day and i was fully expecting him to be worse off tomorrow.  just before midnight, they said they had a bed for him and it would just be a few more minutes.  i tried to stick around until they moved him to his room so that i could see him get settled in but i finally had to leave to feed the baby at 00:30 and he was still in the ER.  i said goodnight to him and told him i loved him and would see him in the morning.  he told me we were welcome to stay at the house.  i went to the car to feed the turkey and didn’t go back in because i thought they’d get him moved any minute.  my sissy and his wife finally came out around 02:30.  they reported that he had been moved to a room in the ICU – not because he needed it but because it was the only bed available – and that he was settled in.  they mentioned that his blood pressure had gone up and he was complaining of a headache just before they left.  we were all tired and went our separate ways to get some rest.

monday morning, i got up and fed the baby at 08:30 and figured i’d give his wife a little time to sleep in before i called to arrange our hospital visit.  she called at 09:20 and said that he had taken a turn for the worse.  she had gotten a call from the hospital telling her that he had stopped breathing during the night and they had to intubate him.  when she got there, he was unconscious.  they told her that there was bleeding in the brain and they were calling around to find a hospital with a neuro surgeon who could handle his case.  it was a couple hours after that when they finally airlifted him by helicopter to a hospital in st petersburg.  by that time, my sister had come home from work and we all packed our overnight bags, just in case.  we picked up his wife and the five of us headed to st pete, thinking that he was in surgery.  when we got to the hospital, we were directed to the neuro ICU.  we found him in a room right next to the desk.  he was intubated, his legs were kicking around, and his eyes were rolling around but he was obviously unconscious.  it was also obvious that he had not been operated on.  the nurse gave us a quick explanation of what they did there and that he had been flown there because of the neuro ICU, not necessarily for surgery.  she stated that the surgeon had evaluated him and had decided against surgical intervention but that we would need to get any further information from the dr himself.  fortunately for us, the dr showed up just a few minutes later, just as they were getting ready to make my sissy and her husband leave to enforce the 2 visitor policy.  the dr allowed all four of us to stay while he explained the prognosis.  he was very upfront, telling us bluntly and honestly that there was no hope for recovery.  he said that my dad had suffered a major left stroke.  if that had been the end of it, he would have ended up like my MIL (although probably worse since the dr stressed that it was a major stroke).  unfortunately, there had also been a large hemorrhage in his brain sometime during the night (likely when the blood pressure spiked and he started complaining about a headache) and all of the blood put pressure on his brain stem which caused him to lose consciousness and caused irreversible damage to the brain stem.  he said that the best outcome, with or without surgery, was permanent vegetative state.  since his wife had presented his living will and DNR, he didn’t expect him to make it more than a few more days without coding.  that was it.  my daddy was gone.  there was no hope that he would ever wake up.  and now we were just left there to wait for his body to die.  i was impressed with how compassionate the dr was while delivering this tragic news to us.

since there was no need to wait for him to wake up and we all needed some time to process all of this and figure out what to do next, we went to retrieve my hubby and baby from the car and find some place to eat.  we ended up at a little italian place on the square downtown.  the food was quite good and my daddy would have loved it.  his wife decided that she wanted to stay the night with him.  she just couldn’t leave him there alone.  the rest of us would get hotel rooms nearby so that we could be there for her.

when we got back to the hospital, my sissy and BIL stayed with the turkey in the car so that my hubby could go in with me to say goodbye to my daddy.  i took my time telling him everything he already knew.  i have no doubts whatsoever that he knew i loved him and that he knew i was proud of the transformations he had made in his life.  he knew that i would raise the turkey to know who grampy was.  before i left, i gave him a kiss on the forehead from turkey (that was how he ended every call… to give the turkey a kiss on the forehead from grampy) and an eskimo kiss from me.  my hubby had to hold me up as we walked back out to the car to send my sissy in.  i didn’t think it was possible to hurt or cry so hard.

we all left his wife with assurances that we were just down the street if she needed us and to call if anything happened.  i really didn’t think we’d make it through the night without a call.  in the morning, she told us that he had had a couple more “episodes” overnight.  when my sissy and i got into the room to see him, his legs were no longer moving around like they had been the day before and she said that they had stopped after the episode at 23:00 the night before.  once again, we were fortunate that the dr came in only a short time after we arrived.  he  performed some reflex tests (pupil, blink, gag, pain) and found there to be no responses.  he explained to us that they had done a brain flow study earlier in the morning which showed that there was no blood making it past his neck at all and that two drs were then required to examine him for reflexes in order to pronounce him legally brain-dead.  they recorded his official time of death as 12:05 on tuesday, 21 october 2014 but we know he was already gone the day before (which is why we didn’t understand why they were giving him blood pressure medication when we came in).  they told us that they would keep his body going until the lifelink people could come in to talk with us about organ donation.  we didn’t think that any of his organs were really viable with all of the health problems he had been battling but his wife planned to consent if they did accept him.  a while later, the nurses came in to let us know that lifelink had already reviewed his case and had declined him… no surprise there.  after another brief wait, the respiratory nurse came in to remove the breathing tube.

his wife, my sissy, and i stayed with him until the end.  after they removed the oxygen, it took his heart fourteen minutes to slow to a stop and i held my hand over his chest until the last beat.  i gave him one last eskimo kiss and we headed back home.


This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 28th, 2014 at 23:13 and is filed under heartache, pix. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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