As I sit and write this my dad is on an incubator. His heartbeat is irregular and they are changing medicines as I type.
The last 24 hours has been a series of ups and downs and feelings that I can only try to express through this post.
After 13 months on the heart transplant list my dads heart disease worsens. It’s so bad that he can’t eat and has lost an extreme amount of weight. A very important test last week determined that he needed immediate ICU and an HVAD put in as soon as possible with only a few weeks to live if he doesn’t get the surgery. The surgery is intense. The surgery is big. The surgery is scary.
But my dad is calm, collected and of course making jokes to all the nurses, doctors and everyone involved.
As the family stands around his bed the day before the surgery everyone is making jokes and being extremely loud (I have 3 hilarious brothers) and my dad is right in the middle of all of it making as many jokes as they are.
In that moment I realize that he is perfect. He knows exactly how to live life. He knows that to get through the hardest times of life you must have this type of attitude. This type of sense of humor. The room was never sad. It was filled with laughter, some inappropriate jokes, lots of farts… did I tell you I had 3 brothers, but most of all lots of love.
The morning of the surgery held much of the same thing. We all showed up at 5:30am to give hugs and tell him that we loved him. The doctor comes in at 7am and asks “Are you ready?” He of course gives a joking remark of “Of course I’m ready…I’ve been waiting on you!” My dad knows that this surgery will give him a new life. A life where he feels good. A life where he can again wait patiently for a new heart.
We all wait patiently as he is in the operating room. My mom gets updates every hour from the nurses on his status. We all are in the waiting room joking around, coloring, making crafts… just keeping busy to keep our mind off of what’s happening to our dad right now.
Hours later he is finally out of surgery. The doctor fills us in and tells us that it went as planned. He says we are still not out of the woods yet and the next few days will be really critical. We all feel relieved and excited and hopeful.
Until, we are allowed to go see him 3 at a time.
Me, my mom and my hubby Bobby go first. We walk into his room and I try to hold back the tears. I’ve seen my dad before when he had a big surgery and was incubated, but this was different. There were two nurses that were working as fast as they could go. There were about a 100 machines and tubes and wires attached everywhere with blood coming out. He looked totally gone. His eyes were open and glazed over. He is so skinny. A part of his leg was showing from the cover and he just looked so lifeless… so little. My dad has always been GIANT! Reaching 6ft 4 inches and always the protector… I just wanted to protect him, but I was helpless.
As I touched his leg and arm I just prayed and prayed for God to save him. For God to help my dad. For God to make this all better.
As we walked out I tried to be strong and put my arm around my mom as we both cried. We both thought he looked dead. Bobby held it together pretty well. I held in a lot of my emotions and once we got back to the waiting room I had to leave and just cried hysterically into my cousins arms. I couldn’t hold back how much I was hurting… worried… scared… I know God is in control and I don’t want my dad to die. He has to make it through this.
Then as I’m crying to Jennifer my brother Josh walks through the door and he’s a total mess too! I grab him and hug him for a long time before my other brother comes through the door crying as well.
We all want to be strong for mom, but we don’t know how to handle seeing dad like this. Totally helpless… totally relying on really smart doctors and nurses to make him better. To make him back to the jokester he is.
As I talk to my husband in the hall he starts to tear up as well. He’s tearing up not from fear or being scared that he won’t make it, but from hope. He knows that my dad will have a better life because of this surgery. At that moment I realize I was in fear. I take a minute to be grateful for the nurses that are frantically working every moment to help him. I take a minute to be grateful for what a positive outcome of this surgery will mean for our family and my mom and I also take a moment to be thankful for my husband who is always by my side.
I leave the hospital that day hopeful that tomorrow he will be a little better and then eventually he will be back to his old self.
The process is long for his recovery and I know there will be several ups and downs over the next month, but I just wanted to thank everyone for the prayers and continued prayers! It means SO much to me and my family. And I’m going to come from a place of hope through all of this instead of a place of fear.
Again, thank you for all the messages, prayers and encouragement through this time. Oh, and it did really help to create while we were waiting. Art really does heal, People!