A tragedy I wouldn't wish on anyone. The dreaded late night phone call.
Saturday, October 03, 2009
I have not blogged for over a month. I have been trying to find the strength to blog about my recent experiences. But it has been very hard. So bear with me. Here goes.
On September 10th at 11:30 pm I got a call from my Mom saying my Dad was taken to the hospital he had a heart attack. I woke up Dwayne and Zach. We packed up the car and headed on the 13 hour trip to Virginia from Michigan. On the way Dwayne and I called our jobs to let them know we would not be in for a couple of days and why. Dwayne usually gets up around 1:30 am and I get up around 4:30 am everyday. So needless to say we were both already tired. I had not been to bed yet and Dwayne had slept for about 2 hours. We had to take turns driving every 2 hours because we were both so tired. Driving is the worst because you have so much time to think about what is happening. We made it in about 11 hours. I think because we only stopped for gas. It was hard to rest while the other person was driving so we didn't get any sleep. We just talked to try to keep the person driving awake. But Zach that was a different story, he slept the whole way.
We got into town and headed for the hospital. Dad had not regained consciousness since they took him from the house. On the way to the first hospital which is 30 minutes away (they live in a very rural area) they had to use the paddles to try to revive him. They were basically doing cpr almost the whole way to the first hospital. They got him to the first hospital and got him stable. They realized that the doctors at the University Hospital would be better suited to handle my Dad's case. So they put him back in the ambulance to go to North Carolina Baptist Hospital. On the way there they had to use the paddles twice because his heart stopped beating.
When he arrived at the 2nd hospital they decided to cool his body temp so it would be easier on his heart. It wouldn't have to work so hard. He body temp was around 92 degrees, They were trying to keep him stable. He still had not regained consciousness. But they were hopeful. We visited with him for a while. He just looked like he was sleeping. We alternated who would go in with him so he was never alone. We did this for a while and then headed to a local hotel. It was closer to stay there then go back to my parent's home 2 1/2 hours away. We rested for a little while. Then headed back to the hospital Saturday morning.
Dad was worse this day. They found out he had pneumonia and were giving him antibiotics to try to help with that. But the worse part was Dad was having seizures every 5 - 6 minutes and they lasted almost a minute each time. They had no clue why. This was very hard to witness my Dad going through this. Sometimes his eyes would open. I understand he couldn't focus and they tried to tells us he didn't know we was there. But I am sorry, I didn't believe him. We would talk him through each seizure. Once while his eyes were open and I was talking to him, his eyes turned my way. Then my mom said something and his eyes turned her way. So I am sorry, I believe he knew we were there. Other times his eyes just went back and forth rapidly so I knew that was different. By afternoon they decided to induce a phenobarbatol coma. They felt the seizures could be doing harm to his heart and brain. I was glad they did something because witnessing the seizures was very tough.
On Sunday they talked about trying to take him out of the coma to do an evaluation to see if they could figure out how much brain damage he sustained. They were unsure how long his body went without oxygen. But that didn't happen, as they were taking him off of the meds that induced the coma he started having seizures again. So they put him back on the meds. They said they would try again on Monday. Again we alternated being with Dad so he was never alone. When it was Dwayne and my turn we felt it was time to say goodbye to Dad. Not that we were giving up, but the doctors had basically told us if he survived this he would always be hooked up to life support and a vent and would never regain consciousness. Dwayne had to fly back home because we both couldn't miss so much work. Unfortunately money does make you make hard decisions in life. That was another reason that we said our good byes. We wanted to do it together.
I left and took Dwayne to the airport. We had some very dear friends that were going to pick him up and take him home. When I got back to the hospital, it was more of the same. Just taking turns to be with Dad. We decided to drive back to my parents house today. Zachary's birthday was the next day. We had cake for him and had a few relatives over. Later that night we (Mom, my 2 sisters and me) sat down to discuss my Dad's situation. We unanimously came to the decision (as hard as it was) that Dad would never want to live this way. He was to full of life to just spend the rest of his in a nursing home never to regain consciousness. It would be selfish of us to put him through that. We decided that he had already gone to be with God on Thursday when he had his heart attack and only his body was left behind. We had to be strong and make the right choice.
On Monday we headed back to the hospital with the intention of asking to speak with his doctor when we got there. We didn't have to ask. As soon as we arrived they called all of us in a conference room with his cardiologist and neurologist. Dad had gotten worse over night. His pneumonia infection had spread through out his body and when they tried to take him out of his coma he was having seizures again. They felt he had extensive brain damage and told us he heart would not recover from this attack. It was severely damaged. So my Mom told them of the decision we had made the night before. We wanted them to unhook everything and let nature take its course. We also had remembered that my Dad was an organ donor so we told them to take whatever they could salvage to help someone else. Dad honestly would have wanted that.
They asked us if we wanted to be with him, I said yes. Mom didn't think she could, one sister stayed with mom and the other went in with me. They had unhooked everything before we got in there except the phenabarbutol. They kept him hooked up to that to keep him comfortable. The heart monitor kept going off because he heart beat was so low. It took about 15 minutes for him to go. But honestly it felt like hours. I finally turned off the heart monitor because I couldn't stand the alarms going off. The nurse said that was ok. Then my mom and other sister came in the room. We all said some final words and they left. I couldn't leave, I wanted a few more minutes with Dad. I wasn't ready but I knew I had to let him go. I knew he was in a better place and would be fine. He would forever be with me. So I kissed him on the cheek, gave him a hug and left the room.
Sorry for the long blog, maybe this was too much info but I felt the need to get it out. This is the hardest experience in my life I have had to deal with. I know I will get through this but it's hard. It is a daily struggle not to cry. I remember the good times and luckily we had just visited them a month ago for our family vacation. So I pray everyday for the strength to get up and continue with my daily life. Yes I am very sad but I know my Dad wouldn't want me to mourn forever. If he had his choice we would have had a party instead of a funeral.
Oh by the way my son Zachary was named after my father. Zachary Lawrence Smiley. My Dad's name was Lawrence Edward Smiley. Zachary was born on September 14, 2005 and my Dad passed away on September 14th, 2009. I don't want to think about next year and how that day will be. But I will pray until next year to figure out how to handle a birthday and a death on the same day.
So that is why I have been away from Spark People and been really behind on all my emails, welcomes and comments on your blogs. I hope to catch up soon. Sorry.
Thanks to everyone's thoughts, prayers, and goodies. They really helped me get through this situation. I truly love my spark friends. Glad you were there for me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Take Care and God Bless ! ! !