Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Dad's Gone

I can't even count the number of times I repeated that today.

I woke up this morning, not feeling right about going up north, certain I would not be able to enjoy myself with Dad's newest development. I called the hospital at 5:45 am and spoke briefly with his nurse, Colleen. Due to HIPAA laws and the fact that Denise has power of attorney, Colleen was not able to tell me much about Dad's condition. I explained I was planning to leave for vacation today and had qualms about going. She couldn't advise me on the vacation but said I needed to get to the hospital, asking if I had someone to drive me. I should have known things were grave by the last comment.

When I got to the hospital at 6:50 am Dad was in ICU, hooked up to monitors, an IV, and oxygen. His heart rate was fast but his other vital signs were good. He was not awake, just lying there with his mouth open. Colleen told me he was unresponsive but she felt he could hear our voices. She administered some morphine into his IV to provide pain relief and acknowledged there was a DNR on file so no measures would be taken to revive him. That made me sad but I knew it was for the best. I said 'comment ├ža va mon pere?' -- a phrase that usually brought about a response of 'bien' but nothing today. After that, he began a rapid decline. All of his vitals were dropping and I watched as the nurses monitored him. They asked if the rest of the family were on their way so I said 'is it imminent?' and they said yes. As the numbers on the monitor fell, they turned off the monitor and removed a mask they had placed over his nose. Hands trembling while I fumbled with my cell phone, I called my Mom first. Waking her up, I told her to get to the hospital as quickly as she could because Dad was failing fast. Next, I called Renee, asking her to call Carol and then I called Denise. While talking to Denise his nurse said his lips were already blue and he was no longer breathing. Then his heart stopped. And just like that he was gone. Time of death: 7:20 am -- a mere half hour after I had arrived. Denise said 'he's gone?' through tears and I said yes. I called Kevin who called Holly.

Nurse Colleen said to me over and over again 'he waited for you'. I'm sure it could have been true for anyone in the family. He just wanted to have someone there. I'm so grateful I got to the hospital in time. I couldn't be more relieved that he went without any suffering and did not linger. He would never have been right had he survived and his dementia was advancing rapidly. So while it doesn't seem like it, his fall was actually a blessing in disguise. In an odd sort of way. Right? Colleen said several times she'd never seen anyone fail that quickly before.

There was something so very final as I watched the nurse meticulously remove the IV from his hand, the Foley bag, the leads on his chest, his wristwatch. I carefully uncurled his fingers so his hands would lie flat on the bed when everyone came in to see him and tried my best to fix his wayward locks of white hair. His body was covered in bruises from the Coumadin in his system, exposed for all to see.

I called Sue to let her know I wouldn't be making the quilt trip, followed by a call to my boss, letting her know what had happened and to advise her of a couple of issues that needed her attention. Then I waited for family to arrive. It was more than a half hour before Mom arrived. She saw him lying in the bed and thought he was still alive and I had to say 'Mom -- he's gone'. So many other times, with so many other illnesses he had survived but not this time. My sister Carol arrived from work, then Renee and her family, then the rest of Carol's family. Many tears were shed as they stood around his bed in disbelief.

By the time Holly and Mike arrived at 9:30 am, most everyone else had left. My niece Lauren arrived after finding someone to take her shift at the restaurant. Soon we were ushered out so they could prepare his body for the funeral home.

Most of us went back to Mom's apartment, where we had breakfast and talked about good memories while the grandkids looked at photos. From there I came home. Kevin and I had lunch and discussed what had transpired. He was surprised I wasn't bawling my eyes out. So was I. Unlike my friend who died suddenly from breast cancer a couple of years ago, where I sobbed inconsolably, I knew Dad's days were numbered and we were lucky to have him as long as we did.

Already I'm receiving kind condolences from my friends. It's so good to have friends at a time like this. Their thoughts and prayers will carry me in the tough days to come. I'm really tired and my eyes hurt from crying so it must be time for bed.


Lupie said...

There are no words that can take the pain of loss away. All one can do is go through the pain.
So often I see my Mom,Dad, and my brother in things I and my daughters do. This make me know they will always be with me.
My prayers and thoughts are with you.

Kris Miller said...

Dear Suzanne, I just found out about your dad. I am so very sorry for your loss. Your dad did wait for you. My mom waited for me too before she passed away. There is comfort in the fact that he did not suffer and he was not alone. I understand your grief completely. It will get better over time, it just takes one day at a time. I am sending thoughts and prayers to you and your family. Big hugs to you, Kris