Regretfully, I write this blog the day after I buried my father. On Friday the 13th, we got the call that he had a stroke and that he was in the ICU ward. Beth and I were on our way to a camping trip with our students when we got the call. We rush to get them back to a students house and we bolted to Florida. We made it to my parents house in 16 hours and got straight to the hospital. It was hard walking into his hospital room. His eyes were closed, he had tubes going into him, he hands had mittens on them to keep him from grabbing the wire, and he was flinching. I cried. Actually, I balled. It was one of those moments where you hear other people describe it but you never think it will happen to you.
Well, it did. As the day progressed, he slipped farther and farther into a coma. By 10pm or so, he was pretty much gone, we just didn't know it. At 11:30, Beth and I left the hospital and figured we would go home and sleep. About an hour later, we got a call saying that he had less than 24 hours to live. So Beth and I, on 3 hours sleep, headed back to the hospital. He wasn't moving, not even a reflex. The whole family busted out into tears. My mother, my two older sisters, my two younger brothers and my adopted sister, all had our breakdowns.
At about 2:30am, we met to discuss whether we wanted to remove the oxygen that was keeping him alive. The Dr's told us that there was no recovery but they couldn't give us a time frame either. His brain was swelling and his body would eventually collapse. After much debate we decided to make the decision in the morning, but it was leaning more toward yes. Around 6:30am, we told the nurse and doctor that we wanted the ventilator removed and wanted him to fight on his own.
I never thought I would have to make that decision. I have heard others talk about it and tell me about the experience, but it was something I never thought I would do. Once off the ventilator, he was breathing on his own. His breathes were short and deep but we was doing it. He still wasn't moving. At around 10am, a nurse came in and told us the end was near. She had been monitoring his oxygen levels and they were getting dangerously low. I was thankful. I didn't want this to be long and drawn out. My mother and sisters were freaking out already, so to wait longer would make it unbearable.
We were all gathered there. All except my sister who thought she would have time to take her car home and came back. We watched the screen, we watched his vitals, we cried, we knew it was almost over. As his oxygen levels drops from 90 to 30 in 30 minutes, he was slipping faster and faster. At 11:35, everything stopped. The end had come. What I never thought would happen, happened. We had lost my father. My family was devastated. My mother and oldest sister were hysterical. My brothers left the room. I stood there, amazed.
Amazed because the man I had know for 32 years was gone. A man who taught me more than anyone else was gone. My father, and friend, had left me. My father left a wife, 5 kids, 1 adopted daughter and 15 grandchildren. I never realized how much my father was until I walked into that hospital and watched as the visitors came and went. People from work, church and the neighborhood came to check on him.
To be continued...