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This year has been somewhat of a review, rework and reinvent time for me personally. The pandemic, political tension, lack of human resources project work and creativity have really hit me hard these summer months. And, while I kept plugging away, it took more energy than it should have to get things completed. As August wound down, I found myself very lazy with my website and not wanted to really get anything done. Then life changed on August 31st which made me halt life in every aspect. What the hell just happened? Well, that day was the start of a very difficult time. September 5th changed my life in ways I never thought it would.
My dad was a very low key, happy-go-lucky man after he retired. Nothing really seemed to bother him except for politics and commercials. Whenever I visit my parents the TV was generally on what I call ‘murder-investigation’ shows. Every single time a commercial came on he would make a comment and mute the TV. It was kinda funny and annoying all at once. Whenever the ‘orange’ man would grace the TV, my dad would change the channel – he hated Trump. In fact, he was frustrated with a lot of things lately. And Covid, while he was concerned about it, finally eased enough for him to venture out. He went to my nephews baseball games, sisters house for family gatherings and got out of the house more often. From that perspective, things seemed to be going so well. Or were they?
Everything Was Fine
As a diabetic, my dad knew exactly what his blood sugar was at least 3 times a day. He always tested it right before a meal. Why not? That would let him know what he could or could not eat. This is definitely not the way I would manage it. However, my dad had a way of doing things his own way and that was okay. He kept his A1C score on the fridge to remind him to eat right. There was a note underneath it “GET IT TOGETHER”: for those times he was over 7.0. This wasn’t very often I believe. The last time he had a high A1C was when my aunt visited for over 1 month. They went out to eat a lot…he needed to “GET IT TOGETHER” after she went back home. That was at the end of January.
The last full week in August – Monday specifically, my dad had a routine doctors appointment. They did testing for various things because of his age, medical history (he had a heart attack previously and had stents) and most importantly, diabetes. Ironically, this was rescheduled due to Covid months prior. The doctors office wanted to reschedule again but my dad said no because he was having some minor breathing issues. Key word…minor? So, instead of seeing his doctor, he saw the PA – thank goodness. What the hell happened? The visit didn’t go as planned. His test results (and honestly I don’t remember what he had done) were unanticipated. He scheduled an angiogram, an X-ray photograph of blood or lymph vessels, right away. However, before that he needed to have blood work done and of course a Covid test – FUN!
My dad had his angiogram done three days after his original doctors appointment. He went to the hospital where my sister works and my mom retired from. It’s really the only hospital that we prefer because of the connections and the ability to know the hospital in and out. His results were not good and he was admitted. Open heart surgery was necessary but specifics were unknown until he saw the surgeon. What the hell happened? How do you go from feeling ‘fine’ to surgery?
Alas, open heart surgery was scheduled for the following Monday – August 31st. My dad was feeling fine, he said. Mom visited dad everyday. My sisters and niece went to visit him a couple of times before the surgery. I talked with my dad that Friday and went to visit him before surgery on Sunday. Everyone, especially my dad, played this up as a routine surgery and dad was feeling really okay about everything. So naturally, I wasn’t really concerned about the surgery. After all, open heart surgery is routine these days. I know so many people who have had it and are doing really great. In fact, better than they were before!
Due to Covid, visiting hours are between 2 pm and 6 pm every day. Only 1 visitor allowed at a time. It was a bit frustrating but there was nothing you could do about it except go with the flow. After a few hours kayaking and brunch with my niece and sister, we stopped at a friends house for beverages. My other sister met us after working at the hospital. After some time, my friends and family urged me to leave and visit my dad before visiting hours were over. I went to the hospital to relieve my mom around 5:35 pm and was there for about 30 minutes.
My dad was as happy as you could be being in the hospital. He liked all of his nurses, roommate wasn’t annoying and the food wasn’t bad. He was very positive about the surgery. Dad said, “Do you want the good news?” Of course I wanted to hear good news. ‘The doctors plugged everything into the computer and I have a 1% chance of complications.’ I smiled ‘great’ and asked if there was any negative news. ‘Nope’. Phew! I needed to order his meal for him because he didn’t have his glasses. Because of Covid, they no longer keep personal items with surgical patients. Family is responsible for bringing them back when they have a room after recovery.
In the short period of time I was there, I showed dad pictures of our day kayaking. Specifically, the boat we went around to specifically take pictures for him. My dad said he would like to go kayaking after he healed from surgery. However, he was concerned about his arm strength and paddling. I was more concerned about him getting in and out of the kayak but we would definitely make it happen and he was super excited. Just after 6 pm, his meal arrived and visiting hours were over. I gave my dad a strong, extra hug (he reciprocated) and said I loved him, good luck and see you tomorrow. What the hell just happened? The extra hold on the hug struck me at the time….it was strange but we both did it. Why?
Old Man’s Cave
My dad had an “Old Man’s Cave.” That was his term. It is where he followed boats on his computer, did puzzles, and watched sports on TV. My mom was not really a sports fan and he yelled at the TV often. He literally made a sign on lined paper that said, ‘Old Man’s Cave’ that had an arrow pointing to the room – he was a jokester. There was no puzzle on the table, which was strange because there was almost always an in-process or finished one on display. Prior to the hospital he must of finished what he was working on because the table was bare.
For fathers day, I bought my dad a book titled, “Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea”. Every time I saw him at home, he would tell me how excited to pick up where he left off last – he couldn’t wait to finish it. He finished it in the hospital.
My dad was in the Navy and obsessed with boats, navigation, war games, and lighthouses. At home, he was always on a computer ‘mission’ (navy games) and/or watching boats come in and out of ports across the US. When my sister and I go on the NKOTB cruise, he would keep an eye on our cruise ship and their port stops. Being on the water kayaking was probably the next best thing to being on the water for sure. For my parents 50th wedding anniversary, the entire family went on a cruise. You would have thought my dad won the lottery – to this day, that was one of the best days of his life. I would assume kayaking would be a close second so I was excited to have him experience it when he was well enough to do so.
Dad had open heart surgery early Monday morning. Mom received a call that surgery went well and dad was in recovery. YES! However, about 1.5 hours into recovery, my mom got a call that something went wrong and he was back in surgery. What the hell happened?
My mom, two sisters, niece and I headed to the hospital Monday afternoon when the doctors called the second time. My mom and sister went in first-together. That was strange. My niece, other sister and I went for a walk while waiting for the ok to come back to the hospital to visit. Surprise! About a half a mile into our walk, we received a text asking where we were and to get to the hospital asap. We were all escorted two and three at a time to visit him in the CVCCU (Cardiovascular Critical Care Unit). Walking through the hallways, the nurse manager updated us about the situation. Honestly, I do not remember anything he said. My mind kept replaying ‘this isn’t good…they are letting more than one of us in at the same time?’
What the hell just happened? The next 5 days were a slow/fast, unstoppable roller coaster of emotions. Confusion, anger, worry, sadness, sickness, frustration, etc. were all of my emotions wrapped together. It was bullshit, unbelievable, and for the first time in my life, I was suffering internally. To others, I seemed fine.
Stay Tuned! What the Hell Just Happened to be continued
all the best….judean
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