Tuesday, February 2, 2010

readjusting - 184.6

Sometimes getting back into the normal routine is like salve on a wound. I don't know how that helps when a heart is completely ripped out, but the normal work routine is getting my mind off of things. Mom is doing well today, lots of friends and family are making sure she doesn't feel too alone.

I didn't explain how he died and maybe I will post more about that someday, it's a lengthy story.

For now I'll try to be brief and say that he had the surgery to install a port-a-cath, which was supposed to be a minor procedure necessary for his continued antibiotics once he was at home. He was to be at home for a month to get rid of the rest of that infection before coming in to have the titanium hardware installed around his back bone. The port-a-cath surgery lasted an hour and was performed under local anesthetic and pain meds.

Upon returning to his hospital room after the surgery mom asked how he was feeling and he said "I feel great." He had been gaining some of the weight he had lost and was looking stronger and healthier than he had in a long while. He was in a good mood thinking he was going home the next morning. Five minutes after returning to his room a blood clot went from the port-a-cath area to his lungs. He called out that he couldn't breath, then called out for nitroglycerin. The nurse couldn't get the oxygen machine to work properly, it wouldn't give a burst of air like it was supposed to be able to do. A nurse ran to get nitroglycerin which was at the end of a long hall and she had trouble finding it. She got back to him but his tongue wouldn't hold it in his mouth. He was dead. All of that final struggle lasted about 30 seconds. I know those nurses were in a frenzy of worry and I appreciate their efforts.

The hospital thinks the blood clot to his lungs triggered a massive heart attack. Since he was dead and had told mom that if he ever dies to not bring him back, she honored his wishes and refused chest compressions and to intubate.

My personal story of that moment ... I was watching television and about to turn it off to go to bed. Our cable provider is also our phone provider so incoming calls are displayed in text at the bottom of the television screen. I saw it was a call from Saint Mary's in Evansville so I knew something was very wrong. I didn't get to the phone in time (we have it go to voice mail after two rings) so I called them back. I was put to the nurses station immediately and a gentleman asked "Are you the daughter?" That's an odd way of addressing me, I thought. I told him yes, that I'd received a call from the hospital and was very worried. He said to me that dad was very bad and that he didn't know if he would make it, that mom said that he didn't wish to be intubated. I told the man that dad wanted to live and to please to everything possible to save him. The man assured me that they would do everything possible within dad's wishes. My phone battery was fading so I said I would call right back on another phone. I did and was told by a different man who answered after my being transferred to the nurses station again that my dad had passed. I think I quietly said "He did? ... (long pause) Okay. (long pause) Can I talk to my mom?"

I found out from mom later that they got my number from her and that he was already dead when she gave the number to them. So that first man who told me that they would do everything they could to save him within dad's wishes ... he knew dad was already dead. But I hold no hard feelings toward him either. It has to be a terrible job to tell someone that their family member has died.

I'm fine now. I feel calm and feel strength coming to me from somewhere. I think this is called acceptance.

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