(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.