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A tragedy I wouldn't wish on anyone. The dreaded late night phone call.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

I have not blogged for over a month. I have been trying to find the strength to blog about my recent experiences. But it has been very hard. So bear with me. Here goes.

On September 10th at 11:30 pm I got a call from my Mom saying my Dad was taken to the hospital he had a heart attack. I woke up Dwayne and Zach. We packed up the car and headed on the 13 hour trip to Virginia from Michigan. On the way Dwayne and I called our jobs to let them know we would not be in for a couple of days and why. Dwayne usually gets up around 1:30 am and I get up around 4:30 am everyday. So needless to say we were both already tired. I had not been to bed yet and Dwayne had slept for about 2 hours. We had to take turns driving every 2 hours because we were both so tired. Driving is the worst because you have so much time to think about what is happening. We made it in about 11 hours. I think because we only stopped for gas. It was hard to rest while the other person was driving so we didn't get any sleep. We just talked to try to keep the person driving awake. But Zach that was a different story, he slept the whole way.

We got into town and headed for the hospital. Dad had not regained consciousness since they took him from the house. On the way to the first hospital which is 30 minutes away (they live in a very rural area) they had to use the paddles to try to revive him. They were basically doing cpr almost the whole way to the first hospital. They got him to the first hospital and got him stable. They realized that the doctors at the University Hospital would be better suited to handle my Dad's case. So they put him back in the ambulance to go to North Carolina Baptist Hospital. On the way there they had to use the paddles twice because his heart stopped beating.

When he arrived at the 2nd hospital they decided to cool his body temp so it would be easier on his heart. It wouldn't have to work so hard. He body temp was around 92 degrees, They were trying to keep him stable. He still had not regained consciousness. But they were hopeful. We visited with him for a while. He just looked like he was sleeping. We alternated who would go in with him so he was never alone. We did this for a while and then headed to a local hotel. It was closer to stay there then go back to my parent's home 2 1/2 hours away. We rested for a little while. Then headed back to the hospital Saturday morning.

Dad was worse this day. They found out he had pneumonia and were giving him antibiotics to try to help with that. But the worse part was Dad was having seizures every 5 - 6 minutes and they lasted almost a minute each time. They had no clue why. This was very hard to witness my Dad going through this. Sometimes his eyes would open. I understand he couldn't focus and they tried to tells us he didn't know we was there. But I am sorry, I didn't believe him. We would talk him through each seizure. Once while his eyes were open and I was talking to him, his eyes turned my way. Then my mom said something and his eyes turned her way. So I am sorry, I believe he knew we were there. Other times his eyes just went back and forth rapidly so I knew that was different. By afternoon they decided to induce a phenobarbatol coma. They felt the seizures could be doing harm to his heart and brain. I was glad they did something because witnessing the seizures was very tough.

On Sunday they talked about trying to take him out of the coma to do an evaluation to see if they could figure out how much brain damage he sustained. They were unsure how long his body went without oxygen. But that didn't happen, as they were taking him off of the meds that induced the coma he started having seizures again. So they put him back on the meds. They said they would try again on Monday. Again we alternated being with Dad so he was never alone. When it was Dwayne and my turn we felt it was time to say goodbye to Dad. Not that we were giving up, but the doctors had basically told us if he survived this he would always be hooked up to life support and a vent and would never regain consciousness. Dwayne had to fly back home because we both couldn't miss so much work. Unfortunately money does make you make hard decisions in life. That was another reason that we said our good byes. We wanted to do it together.

I left and took Dwayne to the airport. We had some very dear friends that were going to pick him up and take him home. When I got back to the hospital, it was more of the same. Just taking turns to be with Dad. We decided to drive back to my parents house today. Zachary's birthday was the next day. We had cake for him and had a few relatives over. Later that night we (Mom, my 2 sisters and me) sat down to discuss my Dad's situation. We unanimously came to the decision (as hard as it was) that Dad would never want to live this way. He was to full of life to just spend the rest of his in a nursing home never to regain consciousness. It would be selfish of us to put him through that. We decided that he had already gone to be with God on Thursday when he had his heart attack and only his body was left behind. We had to be strong and make the right choice.

On Monday we headed back to the hospital with the intention of asking to speak with his doctor when we got there. We didn't have to ask. As soon as we arrived they called all of us in a conference room with his cardiologist and neurologist. Dad had gotten worse over night. His pneumonia infection had spread through out his body and when they tried to take him out of his coma he was having seizures again. They felt he had extensive brain damage and told us he heart would not recover from this attack. It was severely damaged. So my Mom told them of the decision we had made the night before. We wanted them to unhook everything and let nature take its course. We also had remembered that my Dad was an organ donor so we told them to take whatever they could salvage to help someone else. Dad honestly would have wanted that.

They asked us if we wanted to be with him, I said yes. Mom didn't think she could, one sister stayed with mom and the other went in with me. They had unhooked everything before we got in there except the phenabarbutol. They kept him hooked up to that to keep him comfortable. The heart monitor kept going off because he heart beat was so low. It took about 15 minutes for him to go. But honestly it felt like hours. I finally turned off the heart monitor because I couldn't stand the alarms going off. The nurse said that was ok. Then my mom and other sister came in the room. We all said some final words and they left. I couldn't leave, I wanted a few more minutes with Dad. I wasn't ready but I knew I had to let him go. I knew he was in a better place and would be fine. He would forever be with me. So I kissed him on the cheek, gave him a hug and left the room.

Sorry for the long blog, maybe this was too much info but I felt the need to get it out. This is the hardest experience in my life I have had to deal with. I know I will get through this but it's hard. It is a daily struggle not to cry. I remember the good times and luckily we had just visited them a month ago for our family vacation. So I pray everyday for the strength to get up and continue with my daily life. Yes I am very sad but I know my Dad wouldn't want me to mourn forever. If he had his choice we would have had a party instead of a funeral.

Oh by the way my son Zachary was named after my father. Zachary Lawrence Smiley. My Dad's name was Lawrence Edward Smiley. Zachary was born on September 14, 2005 and my Dad passed away on September 14th, 2009. I don't want to think about next year and how that day will be. But I will pray until next year to figure out how to handle a birthday and a death on the same day.

So that is why I have been away from Spark People and been really behind on all my emails, welcomes and comments on your blogs. I hope to catch up soon. Sorry.

Thanks to everyone's thoughts, prayers, and goodies. They really helped me get through this situation. I truly love my spark friends. Glad you were there for me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Take Care and God Bless ! ! !

Kat
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • LIZALEE1973
    My condolences to you and your family on the loss of your father. You are very lucky to have the support of your family, you will need it to make it through. I was in a similar situation when my dad died on September 11, 2006. He had an infection that spread throughout his body and his kidneys gave out. They had to put him under and give him dialysis around the clock. His heart started giving out and they resucitated him more than twice which is bad for the brain. We had to sign a DNR so that if his heart gave out again they would not paddle him. When he passed it was so hard for all of us but we knew we made the right decision because my dad would never have wanted to live hooked up to a machine...that's not living... My prayers are with you and your family.
    4046 days ago
  • SCARLETTPEONY
    Kat, My heart aches for you. I lost both parents at the age of twenty one of cancer. Just remember him in better days. Feel the feelings and take care of yourself. Know we all are sending prayers and thoughts of peace and serenity.
    What an awesome thing that you named your son after him he must have been so proud.
    Be gentle with yourself and you will get through this. Hugs -Amy- emoticon emoticon
    4059 days ago

    Comment edited on: 10/16/2009 5:49:08 PM
  • DAWNINCASPER
    I am so sorry for your loss. I can only imagine how your sorrow, and I pray you find comfort in the memories you hold dear of your time with your father. I can say - it doesn't go away, or even get easier, really. . .it changes as your life continues on. Speak of him and of his death as often as you feel the need. Honor his memory, and celebrate his life, as you celebrate your sons each year. My prayers are with you and your family.

    Dawn
    4069 days ago
  • ZSIRYE1
    my prayers are with you and your family.God bless you.
    4069 days ago
  • STANSANGEL
    I feel your sadness and I too am afraid whenever the phone rings late at night of in the wee of the morning hours. I will never forget the call I received at 2:00am in 2007, that my Brother had had a major heart attack.
    In the end, memories are all that are left for us. I hope you will always remember the good times.

    emoticon
    4070 days ago
  • SOON2BTHINNER
    I am so sorry for your loss; we all grieve in our own time and way; allow yourself to grieve. It is never easy losing someone we love, I lost my father 12 years ago and I still miss him. May your happy memories sustain you during this difficult time.
    4070 days ago
  • DIVALICIOUS7
    Oh I can't stop crying - but that's OK - my dad will be gone 10 years in march & I still have my bad days. He had strokes & seizures - was paralyzed on his left side --

    You can never prepare to lose a parent - no matter how much warning you get. They're supposed to live forever!!!

    I'm so sorry for the loss of your Dad - You're in my thoughts & prayers Claire
    4070 days ago
  • ERIECANALGAL
    So sorry about your Dad's death. But what a blog! It wasn't too long; it helped YOU by sharing it. My prayers are with you. emoticon
    Dottee
    4070 days ago
  • NANCYS_TIME
    I am very sorry for your loss. Your family is in my prayers.
    4071 days ago
  • LITTLE_QUEEN
    I had tears in my eyes reading this blog, I lost my father just a few short years ago, I know you miss him, but please in honor of his memory try to be your strongest for his namesake, it is going to be hard next year on his birthday, but you can do it for your son, I will keep you in my prayers
    4071 days ago
  • MINDYJ1
    I am so sorry about the loss of your father. Just want you to know that I will be praying for you! Hugs, Mindy
    4071 days ago
  • LAINIESNEWLIFE
    Kat,

    I'm so sorry for your loss. I've been through the loss of both my parents. I, too, was with each of them before they passed on. My dad died in 1982 of Lymphoma. I lived in Kansas at the time and my family was in Michigan. I made it to the hospital on Tuesday morning and he was awake. I held his hand and told him I loved him. That afternoon he went into a coma. We took turns being with him. I told him not to worry about my mom that we would make sure she was okay. I talked to him every time I sat with him holding his hand. I believe he heard me. He died two days later. My mom died in 2001. She had a heart attack after surgery to replace the shunt in her arm for dialysis. We knew her heart was too weak, but they had to try. I was with her holding her hand when the angels came to assure me that everything would be okay. She talked about the angels visiting her just about a week before going to the hospital. When I talked about the angels to her while she was on life support, there were 3 flickers of light in the light above her. That was my sign. We had her taken off life support and I held her hand, just like I did with my dad, and she took her last breath. She was my best friend.

    I was a wreck for a very long time. I talked about my feelings to my family and friends. It helped me cope with their deaths. Every anniversary on their deaths and the death of my younger brother, I blog about all the happy memories. It helps knowing that they are no longer suffering.

    We are here for you. Never apologize for talking about your dad and your feelings. That is part of the healing process for you. It hurts worse if you keep it bottled up inside you.

    Take care!

    Hugs,

    Lainie
    4071 days ago
  • TEACHINGAGAIN
    Thank you for sharing. Your blog reminds me of my father's death, except his heart attack was so massive he didn't linger on. It must be really difficult to make the decisions that you did, but I feel you did the right thing. May God grant you peace in this and in your sorrow. Look to Him.
    4072 days ago
  • HICALGAL
    my heart goes out to you as i read this blog. you are still in my thoughts and prayers. God bless. emoticon
    4072 days ago
  • REACHGOAL09
    My heart goes out to you and your family!
    4072 days ago
  • SPARKPIXIE
    You and your family are in my prayers. emoticon
    4072 days ago
  • DANCER71
    My heart breaks reading this and I admit many tears fell. I lost my father and watched him pass as well and I know the pain you felt/are feeling. We made that devistating decision and trust me, it was the most unselfish decision you will ever make. My heart and prayers go out to you both and just know I am here if you ever wish to talk.

    Hugssssssss
    4072 days ago
  • WILDMAMA
    May peace be with you and your family. Please don't ever apologize for sharing your story, or thoughts. My heart truly goes out to all of you. emoticon

    -Rachel
    4072 days ago
  • LEANNESLOSINGIT
    There is nothing I can say that would convey how incredibly sorry I am for your loss. My heart goes out to you and your family. I am so, so sorry. emoticon
    4072 days ago
  • BAMAGIRL58
    I am so sorry that you had to go through something like this--it is a tragedy. I pray for you and your family to find the comfort that you need to help each other to get through this. God Bless, Nancy
    4072 days ago
  • NUPATH
    Kat,
    I am so very sorry for your loss. I too, live in Michigan. I too have experienced having to turn off the machines, only it was for my husband, not my father. It was a very painful experience. My husband has a brain aneurysm. We also donated his organs. It will be 8 years next month, and you don't forget it. I see one of the recipients of Bill's kidney on a regular basis. It is good to know that he, in death, was able to help someone else. I recently met another woman, whose husband received 2 organs and she cried when I told her that my hubby donated his organs.
    I'm sorry your Dad had to pass on your son's birthday, but I know he will live on in spirit, and at least had the opportunity to know his grandson, as my husband did not have that opportunity.
    It is good that you were able to blog about this and to get it out. Grief is a process.
    Keep yourself healthy. Remember all the wonderful times and love you had with your Dad. Keep his memory alive in your son.

    Judi emoticon
    4072 days ago
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