It started the weekend of Thanksgiving. We had a great meal at our favorite buffet at the Four Seasons. Of course the day started out as many holidays had with Dad saying he didn’t feel good. I told him he would be ok and we would go and have a nice time. And truly we did.
Over the next couple of days we started to get ready for a frost that was coming and I wanted to get the hoses put away and the pipes outside covered. I was putting the plastic over the hose and asked Dad, who was watching over me I’m sure to make sure I did it right, if I just needed to put bricks along the bucket so the wind wouldn’t blow it. He starts taking off to get the bricks and I tell him to wait I will do it. But there he goes…..Mr. Stubborn. The next thing I know my husband said there were bricks flying over the fence. I walked back to the side of the house to look in the window and see Dad running towards his room. I instantly dropped everything. I knew something was wrong and I believe those were the only words to come out of my as I stood in the driveway, dropping everything to run inside as fast as I could. I found Dad sitting in the chair unable to catch his breath. I asked if I needed to call 911 and of course he said no. I sat in distress, frozen….I’m just a kid what the hell am I suppose to do. Mom had left me with the task of taking care of him…and I’m trying. I’M 45 YEARS OLD AND I DON’T KNOW WHAT THE HELL TO DO! Then he says it….words I never hoped to hear from him…. “I’m in so much pain I just want to die.” There it was……out there. My heart shattered. I couldn’t believe it. Not again…….. I had already heard this three other times in life where it hurt so bad I couldn’t catch my breath…… first was my Mom, then my great aunt (a week before my daughter was born), and then my aunt.
I made sure to talk to my uncle that next day when he called and told him everything. I called him again the next morning and promptly hung up to call the cardiologist. He went in on Wednesday for a stress test. Thursday, he had a stent placed. Everyone said it was no big deal. I guess I really thought that too and that he would be as good as new, just like when he had the pacemaker put in, and he would be fine. Friday came and I went to pick him up at the hospital. He was having difficulty breathing again and I asked the nurses. They were quite conservative with wanting to check him out completely before discharging him, asking me if I was in a hurry. I was not and reminded Dad that we needed to be patient until we were told it was ok to leave. The cardiologist even came to check on him and then let us go.
It was early December, the 9th to be exact the first time he died. We were sitting in the living room. He didn’t even want to sit with us at the dinner table to eat. I checked on him and all seemed well. Then Alice and I started to watch a movie, Elf. I noticed that he was starting to have a little bit of difficulty with breathing. I sent her to bed and went in to check on him. I even moved his furniture like he asked. He told me it was too hard to breathe when he laid down and he wanted to sit up. I started to panic again. But, I did whatever he wanted. I was trying to do my best. Then the difficulty breathing began. I already told him we had to go to the ER. He said in short breaths, “I’ll be ok”….yeah right! (in the words of my fat Aunt Mary). I called the cardiologist on call. He said get him to the emergency room now. I jokingly said, “if I can.” He was having difficulty getting up and then once in the bathroom became violently ill. Cary helped dad get dressed, as I called 911. Cary got the medications. The ambulance showed up, of course to the wrong house because no numbers on this street are in order….so Cary ran in his pajamas to get the ambulance. By the time, they got in the house, he was in the bathroom again and they gave him a moment. Once he came out, he asked to sit and they were in a hurry. Cary gave the medication and I did as I was told to grab the rolling walker chair. I did not grab the DNR papers off the fridge….this was never intentional. The chaos of the moment, the EMTs were in my face telling me to calm down and not to follow the ambulance over and over and telling Cary the same. I got to the end of the street and they turned left….why in the hell would they do that. The hospital was to the right and they were stopped. I called Cary panicked. I didn’t know what was happening. Somewhere in the mess I called Jen. She was coming. She was going to help me……….somehow
I beat the ambulance to the hospital…how could this be? They had passed me on the street. I ran in 30 degree weather through two parking lots and the ambulance bay. No ambulance. I ran inside and they couldn’t help because obviously Dad wasn’t there. I called Cary panicked. Did they take him somewhere else? What were they doing? He told me no they wouldn’t take him somewhere else. He told me to wait inside. I told him no I needed to wait for my Dad. I finally saw them pull up and raced back in. They made me stand there for what seemed like an eternity. Finally…..the little orange sticker that gave me a pass.
I ran…….I ran down that hallway. I got there and I dropped to the floor. There were nurses on him performing CPR. All I could say was “no” over and over. This wasn’t how it was suppose to be. Security….not helpful. They left me there…on the floor. I looked at them pleading hoping they would pick me up. No, it was an x-ray tech. He picked me up, got me a chair, and called Cary. I just needed to hold on to someone. They were waiting too…..obviously the x-ray could wait. Dad needed to come back. I heard a nurse in the room say something about his daughter. YES! YES I AM RIGHT FUCKING HERE!!!! PLEASE HELP ME. I DON’T WANT TO LOSE MY DAD. A nurse came by (don’t know her name but I could pick her out of a group of people if I had to) and hugged me. I didn’t want to let her go.
The doctor finally came out. I was devastated as I told him that my dad would not want to live like this. He told me that my dad had been down for 15 minutes with no pulse. I think by now Jen was by my side but I can’t be sure. She confirmed there were tubes everywhere. I didn’t know what to do. And, then the doctor asked, “Do you want me to stop everything.” Again, just like the paperwork it was never intentional but my reply was “I don’t know.” If he did then that was it over….the end…..I would be without any parents.
I think somewhere in there I called my boss. I know I called my uncle. I kept calling him even though it was late. The doctor walked away for a moment to check on something. He came back to me and another nurse walked by and whispered, “He has a pulse.” The next thing I know another nurse walks in the room to say, “He’s sitting up.” That’s my Dad!! The fighter, the most stubborn individual I know……..
The cardiologist I spoke with earlier showed up. Him and the CCU doctor were amazing. They held my hand. They answered my questions. They reassured me that it was ok that I had not “pulled the plug” on him. They said they wanted to try and do everything for him. I agreed.
I stood there frozen as they pulled his bed out of the room to take him back to the cath lab to check on the stent placed the day before……. I couldn’t even look at him and for that I was ashamed that I had let him endure this. This wasn’t the plan. I had hounded him to have the paperwork signed so I could make decisions like this. I really thought I could do it with a clear head. HELL NO. THERE’S NO FUCKING BOOK IN LIFE THAT SAYS YOU WILL BE ABLE TO STAY STRONG WHEN YOU ARE FACE TO FACE WITH THE DEATH OF YOUR PARENTS.