Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My Dad


(Here's my dad and Ian at his 60th birthday, one of his favorite photos.)

I don't really know where to start. I'm exhausted and emotionally drained and everything the doctors said is blurring together and I can't remember what organ is failing at what function etc.... but I'm just going to start writing.

Some people might think this is more of a private family matter, not something to share on a public blog. But my dad is like me, a wide open book. He talks to strangers like they're his best friend and before they know it, they think they are. I'm going to blame my inability to edit myself on him. :) If he had a microphone and a stage, he'd share most of his stories with the world. And they'd sound so much bigger and better coming from his deep, commanding, roar of a voice.

But my big, strong, ox of a dad is sick. Really really really sick. He had Pancreatitis 6 years ago, was in the hospital for 5 months, and recovered. I wasn't as close to my dad back then, and don't think I ever realized the severity of it that time around, he lost like 70 pounds and was told he'd probably never regain his size and strength. Within a year or so he was right back to normal, benching more than most 25-year olds, running health-clubs, and selling gym equipment on the side. We've never really looked back. It seemed a crazy fluke of the past, and he's seemed invincible again, ever since.

So, nobody was prepared when his fiance, Marybeth called us all on Saturday asking us all to pray for our dad since he was back in the hospital with Pancreatitis. She told us it wasn't life threatening, but he might be there for a while.

But a little later, after he got the news, my oldest brother, Ryon, called the hospital to get the update from the doctor... and this is when it got really scary. Apparently, they got him sedated, and intubated, and had tried to do a procedure where they go in with a camera to find what they thought could be a blockage in his bile duct. But during this procedure, his vitals started dropping and they had to back out and try to stabilize him. That wasn't easy. And when Ryon called, they told him that he might not make it through the night.

Dr. Rodriguez asked him, "if his heart stops-- do you want me to revive him?"

Still one of the worst lines I've heard.

Ross and I were walking into the mall to go to a movie when I got the phone call from my mom where she said "Lillie... have you heard about your dad.... the doctors said there's less of a chance of him surviving the night than dying."

I have never felt like I did right then. I have never felt that tight of a connection between my body and my emotions. Like someone had just sucked the air out of my lungs and dropped an anvil on my back. It just didn't make any sense... I just talked to him like a week ago and he was watching nascar and telling me about his success at the new gym he was working for in Galveston.

I sat outside the mall sobbing in confusion and disbelief with siblings on the phone while Ross brought the car around. Within a couple of hours, Melisa had bought our plane tickets and we were meeting Ryon at the Ontario airport at midnight for a red-eye to Houston.

Byron and Ian were on a trip to Mexico when they got the news--- and they caught the first flight out of San Diego. And Marybeth, who'd been in No. Cal visiting her daughter-- took off first thing Sunday morning. Lacy was at home awaiting her baby that was due the next day. My dad was all alone.

Ryon, Mel and I got to the hospital by 7:30 in the morning. That first hour was the hardest for me. To see him like that. He was totally sedated, he had a horrible fever, and a really increased heart rate so his chest was moving unnaturally fast, like he'd just run a marathon. They had him covered with wet towels, and ice at times, with a big fan blowing on him. He was my big strong daddy, and a little helpless boy. He looked uncomfortable to me, with a furrow in his brow. When we first came in, his head moved side to side a couple of times. I thought maybe he heard us.

The doctors started coming by to give us their updates. And I was just so grateful to be the youngest daughter, that I had so many siblings to make sense of it all if I couldn't. I wanted to follow every word they said, but then I just wanted to rub his hands and will his eyes to open so I could tell him how much I love him. I felt overwhelmed and confused.

They told us he'd come in Friday night by ambulance. He had serious abdominal pain and they could quickly tell how serious it was--- he fought the intubation and sedation, he's a tough dude--- sorry nurse-lady who told us "he's a cusser"--- you try hosting a wild-fire in your belly.

They were happy that he'd made it through the night. But certainly not about to give us a bunch of false hope. They explained that because the Pancreas wasn't doing it's job (I could very well be inaccurate on this part--- but I'm going to do my best) toxins had built up in the body and had essentially poisoned his other organs. His kidneys are not working, so they got him hooked up to dialysis, his lungs were struggling (I think?) so they had a breathing machine helping him, his heart was pumping too fast, but not hard enough, so his heart rate was high, but his blood pressure was dangerously low-- so they had him on medicine for that. And of course his pancreas was inflamed. He had an infection in his blood and bacteria in his pancreas, which they were trying to kill with antibiotics...

It's just baffling how one domino can get knocked over in a strong, healthy body--- and start such a horrific effect.

We left the hospital when visiting hours were over--- all day, we thought we'd squeeze in naps, but it just never worked, and now it was time for dinner, so we pushed through. I don't remember the last time I actually skipped a night's sleep. That was weird. My eyes felt like they'd been soaked in chlorine. I think I was drunk with sleepiness, because my brothers and Mel have never seemed so funny, and we were able to enjoy this strange, emotional dinner with just us grown-ups--- kind of bonding. I missed Lacy. I LONGED for my dad--- since a dinner like that is his dream come true. I love my family. LOVE my family.

When we came back on Monday, he looked a little better. His fever was down and his heart and blood pressure were near normal. They had turned off his sedative and reduced his pain meds. Apparently they don't want him to be too heavily sedated for too long, so they want him to come out a little, and then put him back under. I had to leave town by 2 for my flight. I have never wanted so badly, to see him stir, see an eye flutter, hear him swear-- whatever. I just so wanted to see him and KNOW he heard me tell him how much I love him. Unrealistic though... me and Mel flew out yesterday and the boys stayed. They still haven't seen him stir at all.

I have a lot more hope than I did the first day. I asked Byron what he thought would happen--- big brothers seem omniscient to me, so I'm glad I asked him-- " I think he'll live. Maybe if he lays in that bed for six months and is down to 145, but he's too strong. His body's not giving up."

So I've got a lot of hope. And I've got a lot of faith.

He could use a lot of prayers. Thanks.

37 comments:

Lowdogg said...

Great post Lillie. I loved it.
Thanks for writing this, and thanks for keeping Lacy in the loop.

Helena said...

Oh no, and he looks so healthy in the photo. Well, I don't even know you but I wish him all the best!

Meet the Harkers said...

My mom told me this morning about your dad. I am so sorry to hear this. Your family is in my prayers. Stay strong Lillie! love you!

aapuzzanchera said...

Thank you for sharing. I too have a father who is sickly and can understand the false sense of reality that comes along with that. He will be in my thoughts and prayers. Please keep us all updated! *hugs*

Francis said...

Im so sorry I will keep him and your family in my prayers

The Hepworths said...

Oh Lillie, I'm so sorry. We will definitely pray for your dad and your family. I hope you get to talk to him real soon:)

Simply Amy said...

Thank you so much for sharing. I will be praying for you and your family.


"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles..."
2 Corinthians 1:3,4

Lauren said...

Oh, Lillie. I am so sorry. You all will be in our prayers.

britrussl said...

Lillie: we've never met. But I know your husband and his brother from BYU, so I FEEL like I know you just a little bit. :) I follow your blog (who could resist - those girls of yours are adorable) and felt compelled after reading your post to extend my support during this incredibly stressful time. I hope it's even the littlest bit comforting to know people both near and far are mindful of your family. So just know that all the way over here in St. Louis, Missouri there's an old college friend of the Biesingers sending prayers upward for the quick, solid recovery of one strong and much-loved Frisch dad.

Megan said...

Lillie,

It is so awesome to have such a big family to lean on in hard times. My prayers are with you.

Sarie said...

Oh Lillie. I couldn't turn away until I'd read the whole thing. So with you right now and hoping. And praying for you and your family. How hard.

The rlmmmmcaress family said...

We will pray for your dad, your whole family and his doctors and medical staff. I feel for Lacy. It is frustrating to be limited in your travel by a pregnancy when you want to be comforting others and be comforted yourself. I feel your pain. It is not an easy experience to go through. Pray for comfort and peace.

Kristy said...

Oh Lillie. I'm so sorry. I always loved your dad, he's such a sweet guy, I always think of him as a big, strong, teddy bear. My family and I will remember you in our prayers. I have so many fond memories of you and your family, you all were an essential in my growing up years. We love you guys.

HMB said...

Your father and your family are in my prayers.

sara said...

I'm so sorry that you and your family are going through this...I will keep your father and your family in my thoughts and prayers.

Brandon or Michelle said...

hey sweet lady. blog comments are so lame. but just know that I, the 16th commenter, am praying for you.

i'm amazed sometimes at how quickly one can drop everything and go where needed. I'm glad you had the support of your wonderful siblings (even the one at home with the due date). family is wonderful.

love you guys. :) m

D said...

Lillie my heart goes out to you and your family. I am so glad you had most of your family with you. I just went through something pretty difficult with my dad and it's nice to know you have siblings to lean on.

DeLaine

Adriana said...

My heart goes out to your and your family. I am so sorry for the pain you are all going through. Your father and your entire family will be in my prayers.

alliehoopes said...

if you feel sparkly little 19th commenter (also cool) love beaming over from a state with lots of cowboys it's from me.

Kodi said...

Hopefully you got my message. I'll call you tomorrow. Hope you're hanging in there. Lots of hugs to you. :)

Heidi McMillan said...

Lillie, our thoughts and prayers will be with you, your family and your dad during this difficult time. The body can do incredible things as can the Lord. I can't imagine what this is like and just want you to know we are thinking of you during this difficult time.

moliver said...

I'll be praying for your Dad. I know that helpless feeling when you're used to your Dad being so strong and all of the sudden that strength is gone. I really hope he get's better soon. That's wonderful that all of you siblings can come together and find strength in each other. I know you'll keep us posted.

Lindsay Griffeth said...

You and your family are in our prayers, Lillie. We're thinking about you!

Jennifer said...

This brought tears to my eyes. You have such a way with words. Wow. You were able to convey that emotion and that love we all feel for someone in our lives. I pray he gets better.

koko bean..... said...

Well Lillie if this comment makes no sense it is because I am typing this while tears are streaming down my face and I can't stop crying. I so feel your pain. When something like this happens your whole world stops. When my father had his stroke I felt like nothing was real. Not my dad. But it was and it is hard to swallow.But like you said dads are strong and they don't give up easy at all.So I will have your dad in my prayers along with you and your brothers and sisters. Lots of hugs Lillie.

Kimberly said...

We are hoping and praying for the best. Hope you're doing ok....

kkmom said...

You and your family are in my prayers.It is wonderful to hear that your family can pull together at a time like this. You don't know how many times I see families in the hospital who are fighting over the critical care of a loved one. The body is an amazing and unpredictable machine at times. Keep the comfort there for your father, he feels your presence. I know he is trying to stay strong and fight this to be there for his family. Please let me know if there is anything I can do... even any questions you have that I can help you answer ( I will try my best).
Always,
Kandice

Becky from NY said...

Sending you my thoughts and prayers all the way from NY.

Prayer changes things.

KatherineBee said...

Hope your dad feels better soon - keeping you and your family in my thoughts!

Tara said...

hold on...wiping tears. (beautifully written by the way)
prayers and well wishes sent! hope he gets a little better everyday...and that you feel a little bit more comfort everyday as well.

Crazy Lifferths said...

I am so sorry! I pray for a speedy recovery!

Alysa@atticgals.blogspot.com said...

You wrote this so beautifully and with so much expression it makes me want to go and see your dad and hold his hand and urge him to stay strong. What a difficult, difficult thing to do. Don't you feel too young to be experiencing things like this? I hope he is doing better. He sounds like a fighter despite the odds. He will be okay. Love and prayers to you and your family.

April said...

Lillie,

Your dad, you and your whole family is in my thought. I wish him a speedy recovery.

April

stacy said...

lillie, i am your moms cousin, stacy. i saw your facebook page and was so interested in your photography so i nosed around. my husband and i are photographers also not nearly as amazing as you though. :) i chated a bit with lacy at your grandmas funeral about you and how amazing you are. so sorry you couldn't be there but i know what being in that situation is like.

now that you kinda know who i am i have to say that this post has left me feeling ill. i wasn't expecting to come here and read something that would literaly have me holding my breath till the very end. my husband (36) was diagnosed with pancreatitis 2 months ago and refused to be admitted to the hospital and is in pain every day. this is the thing that i fear for him and me and my children.

i am so sorry that you had to see your daddy that way. it is SO HARD! my dads health is crap too so i have seen lots of thing that i wish i could erase from my brain. i'm so glad that you guys were all able to go to him...i'm sure he felt you there.

i remember your dad well, i remember how big and strong he was and absolutely cant't imagine him any different. i'm glad to see he's had some improvements.

our prayers will be with ALL of you.

Watts Family said...

Lillie, I am so sorry for you and your family. This is such a wake up call for me in regards with my relationship (ok, more like lack of) with my father. Life is too short to be angry. I'm so glad that you are close with him... it gives me hope! You are amazing.
Chanel

Lisa Dowell said...

Lillie,
I am so sorry to hear about your Dad. We will keep him in our prayers. I know exactly how you must be feeling. We've been through a lot with grandma and it is not easy. I am sure with all the prayers heading his way he will recover. Love you all so much. Keep the faith.
Love Aunt Lisa

Devin said...

I just saw the photos of Sarah and Julia and loved them and then...I read this. I'm so sorry Lillie. Glad things are looking up at least today. Prayers coming from here too.