If you’ve read my previous 3 slices, I feel the need to start to explain why it took my dad 49 days to come home from having open heart surgery.
So many questions…. so many days of feeling helpless.
I don’t know what it is about doctors, but we do what they say, and believe what they tell us. After concluding that Dad needed open heart surgery, we were told that one of the top cardiac surgeons would be operating. We were so happy and relieved. We trusted that our dad was in good hands- and he was.
The seven of us waited in the waiting room for seven hours, sharing stories and talking about our favorite songs, shows, and movies. We would get updates from a nurse, but after about the 5th hour, I had kind of a panicky feeling. My heart was racing and I was trying to physically shake those bad thoughts out of my head. I had to get up and walk around. I walked the halls, reading things on the walls – not knowing what I was even reading. I just needed to get bad thoughts out of my head. I could only imagine what my mom was going through.
Finally, after seven hours, the anesthesiologist came in to tell us that the surgery was over and everything went well. What a relief! She said his body went through a major surgery and he was under for a long time. He will be tired.
We were able to see Dad later in ICU. We all walked in together, and stood by his bed. It was silent, except for the beeps of machines and the quiet whimpers and sniffles of my family. Mom broke down. He looked so different than eight hours before, talking to all of us, laughing about a silly scene from “Shallow Hal”, thanking all the nurses. He was asleep.
“He will need encouragement from the family” a partner of the surgeon told us.
To this day, we have never met the man who had his hands on my dad’s heart. He never came to see him. He never came out to talk to us. He did his job as a surgeon and left the communication up to his staff.
We had so many questions. A week after surgery my dad wasn’t improving. He was sleeping all the time. He had no appetite. Is this normal? He was moaning in his sleep. He was mumbling. Is this a side effect from anesthesia or his medications? So many questions. We asked nurses. We asked the doctors. We researched. We read up on all of his medications. We set up a group chat through Facebook messages. We shared articles we read. We reached out to friends and neighbors who knew or were related to doctors. Why isn’t he snapping out of it? This doesn’t seem right! We had lots of questions.
There were moments that looked like he might be improving. There were glimpses of hope. We hung on tightly to those moments by taking pictures. Dad started to walk with a walker…click. Dad sat up in a chair to eat dinner wearing his Hawks cap….click. Our emotions were on a roller coaster ride. As soon as we thought he was getting better, something would happen-low blood pressure-irregular heartbeat- low sodium count- low oxygen-irregular breathing-coughing-decreased heart function-insomnia at night- sleeping all day. We felt helpless. We wanted Dad better…We wanted Dad back! Where was our “go to” person? We needed someone to explain what was going on!
And then…. he was moved to a nursing facility for rehabilitation. He wasn’t ready! He was sleeping constantly. The food was horrible. The room was a sauna! PT was canceled one day- just erased off the board. Wasn’t that why he was there? We’d sit in his room and watch him sleep. He’d curl up in a ball on his side and moan in his sleep. He wouldn’t talk. He was depressed. What the hell was happening? He was at this terrible place for almost a week. He then had to be taken by ambulance back to Christ Hospital for dehydration. Who was monitoring his liquids?
Who will help our dad? Who will help this precious soul? Who will find out what is wrong and fix our dad? Frustration….. Anger……Fear…..We want our silly, witty, caring, kind, devout, man back in our lives! Why is this happening to this wonderful person?
So many questions with no answers…. until he finally ended up in the hands of the doctors at Hinsdale and LaGrange Hospitals.
Was dad finally on his way back to us?
It’s funny how life can change so quickly!