Sunday, April 12, 2015

Do you know Frank? If not, let me introduce you...

As I think back on my previous week, I have a flood of emotions going through my mind.  On Monday, April 6th, my Daddy passed away.  Monday, April 6th, was also my 13th wedding anniversary.  This date will now always be bittersweet for me.  My Daddy walked himself (barely) into the hospital on Thursday, March 26th,  He had been sick and everyone had been begging him to go to the hospital to get some help.  But, my Daddy always did things according to his own schedule.  He didn't like to be given a time or date to do things.  We knew he was sick, very sick, but we didn't realize the extent of it until he was practically rushed to ICU and we were being asked if we would give consent to place him on a ventilator (read: life support).  Even at this point, we had so much hope and confidence that he would get better in a few days and he would be able to come off of the ventilator.

A very stressful week later, he was still very sick but seemed to be improving slightly.  He didn't look as swollen, his heart rate and blood pressure were OK, and the doctors had him on a good mix of sedatives to keep him sleeping peacefully.  We were still very confident that he would be better, just not as quickly as we had hoped.  The respiratory therapists/social workers/nurses were even talking to us about extended care facilities and putting in a trach so he could get up and move around and communicate with us.

My husband and I had a trip for our anniversary planned that weekend - leaving Saturday and coming home on Tuesday.  We were going to Savannah, and after talking with the nurses we decided it would be alright for us to go.  Sadly, Daddy took a turn for the worse Saturday afternoon and after being in Savannah for about 2 hours, we packed up and headed back home.

Saturday, Sunday and Monday all seemed to run together.  Multiple opinions from doctors who didn't know Daddy were ordered, we were told that he would not improve and asked what we wanted to do.  We could leave him on the machine and keep him with us, but we were advised by all 4 physicians that he would not survive if taken off of the ventilator.

What do we do? My poor mama couldn't and wouldn't make that call.  My sister agreed with the doctors but I couldn't ask her to sign that paper.  I felt that, even though I was the youngest, I had to be the strongest.  I signed the paper.  I signed to remove my Daddy from life support, knowing it would take a miracle for him to start breathing on his own.  At the time I was so sure of the decision we made, but now, almost a week later, I'm tormented.  Doubts flood my mind...what if I had fought to have him moved, what if I had asked for more tests, what if I had not consented to put him on life support in the first place??  The rational part of me knows I did the only thing I could have done.  My Daddy would not have wanted to be on life support to begin with...but the optimist in me just knew he would get better, and how could I not try?  I was willing to take the brunt of his anger when he woke up - because that meant he would be awake and with us.  It was absolutely heartbreaking to hear 4 doctors tell me there was no hope of him recovering.  How could a man WALK into the hospital and a week and a half later be alive only by a ventilator?

Here are the morals of my story people:

  1. Get Healthy!  Both physically and mentally!  Take care of yourself, if not for you, for your family and friends.  Don't take crap from people, but don't be ugly for no reason.  
  2. Do you know frank?  Well, I do...                  and if I say that, it means I don't care!  I'm not going to bother myself with silly, trivial things.  I'm going to focus on my mental health, and be the best mommy, wife, daughter, sister & friend that I can be.  
Stop smoking!  If you don't smoke, please don't start!  COPD is not something that can be cured, but it is something that can be treated and you can live with it.  COPD took my Daddy's life, his oxygen levels were so low that the carbon dioxide levels just kept increasing.  

Create a will, a power of attorney and write down your wishes if you are ever so sick that you can't make the decisions yourself.  Please don't make your loved ones sign those papers.
My Daddy was a free spirit, an artist, a fighter, the best man you'd ever know and sometimes the worst.  He was an awesome guy to have as a Daddy.  He taught me to cook, to drive, to play poker, to take care of my home, to create things with my hands, to wood work, to upholster (sort of), and so many other things.  He could create anything with his hands, he was a master upholsterer and carpenter.  He could fix a car, the plumbing or electricity in a house, and just about anything else. 
And man could he cook!  He never measured anything, so you had to really pay attention to learn how to cook from him...but I am  proud to say I picked up a few good recipes from him.  I can make a pan of biscuits, a pot (yes, pot!) of macaroni and cheese, and some awesome cornbread.  I'm still working on my dressing...but I'll get it right this year, I just know it. 

I needed to write this down while it was on my heart.  These are all things I wish I had had the strength and courage to say during my Daddy's funeral service.  I had time with him before he passed, I cried, I laughed, I apologized and forgave.  I am hopeful that he heard me, and knew that I loved him so much.  


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