Well, as most of you know by now, my father passed away on Friday. I am completely devistated. We were two peas in a pod. He was my knight in shining armour and I was daddy's little girl -always and forever- cuz that is how we rolled. He was a single father and I was an only child. The sun rose and set on my head as far as he was concerned. Everyone should be blessed with the type of dad I had...as the world would be a much better place. Here are the details:
Back in 2005 my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer. Now, this wasn't a huge surprise to me because he was a smoker and I remember telling him when I was little that I didn't want him to die of cancer because of those stupid cigarrettes. Ultimately, that is what took him from me. I HATe Cigarrettes. They ruin lives. Case in point. If you are a smoker, please quit. I know it isn't easy but I know it is possible. Don't make your family and loved ones sit by your side and watch you suffer from something that is TOTALLY avoidable (I realize some people get lung cancer and they aren't smokers but why not decrease the biggest risk factor?). Trust me, you do not want to go through this and your family doesn't either. I could go on a tangent about this specifically but I might save that for another blog.
So, after his diagnosis, he went through surgery to remove the lung, radiation and chemotherapy. This was horrific to sit by and watch. Chemo is horrendous. My pop was sick and felt like he was on death's doorstep. The radiation made him tired and had side affects of its own. Mainly, he would have difficulty swallowing because of some damage inflicted by the radiation. Little by little, he physically recovered. However, his life was never the same. Due to the cancer, he was put on disability and never returned to his career as an electritian. This disease stole his career. It stole his confidence in his health. It stole a part of him. He was a hard worker with an amazing work ethic. Cancer left him feeling helpless, unable to make his own money. It ended up stealing his independence.
For the next couple of years, my dad managed to get by. Every six months he had to go back in for tests and scans. These were very nerve racking not only for him but his family, too. I think he didn't want to embark on a serious relationship with a woman for fear of leaving her prematurely. He was a good man like that. With each passing checkup, we became a little bit more confident that he had kicked that nasty "c". We were elated and filled with joy when the results came back negative. In March, we were happy once again with good news that the scans were clear. This year was year number 4. We were grateful for that.
Then about 5 weeks ago my dad came down to San Diego and we were hanging out. I could tell something was wrong and he gave me some lame reasons. I called him on the BS and he came forth with some info. He said that he was having trouble reading things. I asked some questions and it seems that he would have periods where he would go "brain dead." Now, I am not expert but I knew this wasn't good. Immediately, I was thinking brain tumor. Ty thought it was Alhemier's but I didn't think that was it. I made him promise me to make an appt. with the doctor. The doc immediately scheduled an MRI of his brain and within a weeks time we had the news that he did indeed have a brain tumor the size of a plum. Apparently, they do not check the brain when they do the monthly/yearly scans.
We went into high gear. We met with a neurosurgeon and the oncology department to set up surgery and radiation. He was scheduled to have surgery to remove the tumor on June 30. Unfortunately, we never made it that far.
On Tuesday, June 16 my dad's friend and neighbor called me at work and said that dad was having trouble breathing. This was not totally unusual due to the fact that he was missing a lung and when the humidity was high it could provide some difficulty. I got off the phone with them and called the doctor's office immediately. I asked them if we should go to the ER, Urgent Care or to the Office. They said they could see him right away so I called dad's neighbor back and told him to take him to the doctors and I would meet them there. I left work immediately and called Ty to let him know what was going on.
When I pulled in to the clinic there were a bunch of people around my dad's friend's truck. I thought that he might be having difficulty walking or getting into the office. I drove past them into the parking structure and before I got out of the vehicle my dad's friend called me. He said, "Leah, I don't know how to tell you this but your dad died." I couldn't believe it. I started to walk down to where he was parked but I couldn't see him and I didn't want to remember him that way. The staff took me into another room and I called Ty and my friend Kelly. Then one of the EMT's came in and said they were trying to recesitate my father. They were able to get a heartbeat and transported him to the ER.
My friend arrived quickly and we drove over to the ER together. Shortly after that my honey arrived. We waited. Then the doc came in and said that they suspected that he had a blood clot and that they did not want to give him the usual blood thinners because that could cause the brain tumor to bleed and cause irreversible damage. We were able to see him in the ER and then he was transferred up to the Trauma Intensive Care Unit.
To make this shorter, I won't give all of the details but will summerize the next 4 days. Due to the fact that he had gone over 10 minutes without oxygen, the hope that he would recover and be okay were slim to none. They did a brain wave test and there were only small bursts of activity. He suffered some internal bleeding and some damage to his bowels during the episode. They were unable to give him anything to help with the blood clots due to the brain tumor. They had him stable but he was on a ventilator and unable to breathe on his own. Many of the doctor's gave little to no hope for a recovery and if he did, we still had a brain tumor to fight. I had to make one of the most difficult decisions in my life. I had to let him go.
My dad was an independent guy. He loved to ride his Harley Davidson motorcycles and eat out with loved ones. He supported us whole heartedly. No matter how crazy the endevor was (even my marathon madness!!) and we were truly blessed that God allowed us a life together. While the time was cut short, I know that he is in a better place now. A place where there are no worries, anxieties or physical ailments. One day, we will be reunited and what a glorious day that will be. Until then, I will try to live a life that would make my daddy proud.
Rest in peace pops. We will miss you greatly but you live on in our hearts forever.