My dad. I'll start of by saying how much I do love him and i'm glad he's alive. Around 10 years ago, my dad had a stroke. He's been paralyzed on his left side ever since. Things have been up and down for him healthwise, but as I think back to just a little over two weeks ago, I have to say that what could have easily been the worst thing happened to him.
I'd started calling him around 3 to 4 days before. I just wanted to hear his voice daily, ask him how he was doing, you know? I remember him talking about having trouble breathing. I only took it lightly because it's something he'd complained about a lot, but nothing seemed to me to be any worse than it had been. He talked about getting out and going to Kenosha for the weekend. He doesn't get out much. I assume because it's grown increasingly difficult for him to even get outside, let alone climbing into a vehicle. Nevertheless, it sounded good to me. My sister would be taking him out to a place he enjoyed. He'd be getting out of the house and getting fresh air which was something I felt he needed and had been trying to talk him into.
Saturday came. The day seemed to flow as any other Saturday. Preparations for church, making sure the kids had decent clothes picked out. My daughter washed her hair and wanted me to get it styled. Something not unusual; to get it done on a Saturday in order that we could save a little time on Sunday, but we couldn't find those rubber bands. I had someone call my sister to see if she happened to be out and near anywhere that she could pick some up. She was out and was going to bring some. When she called back, I thought it was just to update me on when she'd be arriving with them, but instead it was a frantic call for us to meet her at a hospital that my dad was about to be taken to. He'd stopped breathing. She didn't know if she would be able to drive herself or handle the pressure of everything that was happening. For me it was a confusion. Was everything going to be okay? If he could be resuscitated would his brain be okay. I just didn't know what to really think or expect, but I wanted my dad to be okay.
We made a round of calls. Fortunately my mom was staying over, so since it was late, I sent the kids up to bed and we made the drive to see what was going on. By the time we arrived my dad was in the ER heavily sedated, the sister who'd called was there along with my youngest sister and the two children that she babysits and shortly after, my oldest, second to oldest and youngest brother arrived. By the time three of my siblings got to see my dad, someone made the suggestion that it would be best to let my dad rest, so I didn't get to see him that first night. I did give me a slight comfort to know that he was giving a hand squeeze and head nod in response to questions, but he was depending on a respirator.
We later found out he had pneumonia and also kidney problems. Since his enzymes were up, it is suspected that he suffered a heart attack. The next couple of weeks would be what seemed forever. Several hospital visits, calls to nurses for updates and explanations of what was going on and what to expect. I went through that zombie feeling people talk about. I experienced that numbness. Questions. What if's. Lots of praying.
Then there was the swelling, due to his kidneys not doing what they're designed to do. My dad had previously refused dialysis during a hospital stay earlier this year. Since conditions got better, he got around it then. The planned coarse of action this time around was diuretics, then a catheter if that didn't work and then a slow, temporary dialysis if that didn't work. The dialysis was a last ditch effort which we wanted to work around if at all possible, but then it pretty much came to either get him on dialysis or let him pass. The slower dialysis wasn't working as effectively as the doctor would have liked, and so my dad is getting a full hemo-dialysis several times a week.
There were times where I saw his eyes open. I got excited thinking finally we could see each other. I knew that with the tubes he wouldn't be able to talk, but at least if we could make eye contact i'd know he wanted to talk and his brain was functioning. But he wouldn't focus on me. Or anything or anyone else. His eyes were swollen. I talked to him, hoping that he could at least understand me. I know that they say skin to skin contact is good. I'd rub his hand and sometimes alternate to his foot, hoping that I was providing some type of comfort. I'd break down in tears not knowing how things were going to turn out. If he would pull through this. Just seeing him hooked up to the machines that were doing for him what his body should be doing for itself. The praying and hoping continued.
Then finally we went for another visit this past Monday. The ventilator was no longer down my dad's throat. They'd talked of doing a temporary tracheotomy just so he'd be able to talk because they'd tried several times, unsuccessfully, to remove the ventilator. He opened his eyes. He first heard my brother in law and spoke to him. He spoke! Mind you my niece was there near his bed in a wheelchair because my brother in law had wheeled her up because her leg had gotten broken in an accident several weeks earlier, and boy did I feel somewhat heathenistic when I stumbled over her cast, anxious to see my dad who was awake and talking.
Due to the lack of full kidney function, the meds that they'd sedated him with hadn't fully processed out of his body, but when I asked him who I was he said my first and middle name along with my maiden name. I reminded him that I was married. He also said some things that just didn't make any sense, but that didn't matter much. It was just so wonderful to hear him speak again.
We still have a road ahead of us, but that sure beats having reached the end of the road. He still has meds that have to be processed out of his body and therapy to go through after he's moved from the ICU, which could be a couple of days or so away yet. I'm just so thankful that God gave my dad another chance. I'm also thankful for a church family who kept and continue to keep us lifted up in prayer through this and for God's faithfulness in giving second, third and fourth chances.