Monday, June 07, 2010

Get Real Monday

It was a week ago today that I got a text that I hope I never get again. I know I briefly blogged about this last week, but I wanted to blog again to share my feelings and hopefully pass a message that others can learn from.

Mom sent a text last week that my dad thought he was having a heart attack and they were headed to the ER. Let me just say, when I recieved this text, Antonio, the kids, and I were at the YMCA swimming with another family. My mom had shared a week or so before this that my dad was complaining with chest pains, so getting this text didn't send me into shock. I just figured since they were home and these chest pains weren't going away, he was headed to get checked out(or maybe this is just what I wanted to believe?).

The next info I got was that they were going to transport him to Jackson because the Humboldt hospital didn't have a cardiologist and they wanted to do some tests. We were still at the pool, I was a little more alarmed by this, but still assuming the best. I did ask my mom if she wanted me to come and she said just wait until they got more info.

I talked to my mom a few times, talked to my sister as we debated what to do, and talked with Antonio. Laurie and I had decided that we would plan to head home around 4 or 5(it was around 2 at this point). We finished up at the YMCA and we jumped in the car to head home. Antonio had driven seperate from me and the kids because he had been on a bike ride earlier that morning. On my way home I talked with my brother Matt who lives in Knoxville. He was debating on if/when to come home, but was unsure what to do. As we were talking we got the text saying my dad had actually had a heart attack while in the Jackson ER. Immediately, we agreed to head home as soon as we could.

When Matt and I hung up, I got a lump in my throat. The thought of losing my dad was in my head and I was trying to stay positive, but still scared to death. I got home, told Antonio I was going to rush to take a shower, pack a bag, etc and go home. He immediately got the kids out of the car and put them down for naps so I could rush around getting everything together.

The drive from Memphis to Jackson was a LONG one. Laurie and I had planned to ride together, but I decided to stay if my mom needed me to and Laurie had to come back that night. Being alone in the car, knowing your dad is in surgery after just having a heart attack, and having a mind that over thinks everything is not a good combo. I am such a daddy's girl and I guess I just take for granted that my parents will be around forever. I am embarrassed to say that I prayed more this day than I have in a while. I mean, I do pray, but I was pleading with God to let my dad be okay. I was a little bit of a hot mess driving and the only thing that would make me laugh was thinking how crazy other drivers must think I am because I couldn't stop crying. I was trying to figure out how I was going to manage to pull it together by the time I got to the hospital because I didn't want to walk in looking like a crazy, hot mess. Some point on my drive, my mom called or texted and said the dr found 99% blockage and they put in a stent. She said that he made it thru the surgery and took well to the stent. This was much needed news that helped me pull it together a little.

Laurie and I followed each other to the hospital and when we walked in we had to go to the ICU waiting room. My mom, grandmother, James Edward, Jane, and Mr. Charles were all there. After giving hugs to everyone, it was almost vistation time for ICU patients. Everyone left except for my mom and grandmother. We talked about the happenings of the past weeks and morning.

I know this is a lot of typing and if you are still reading this then here is a big takehome for you. My dad had been complaining with chest pains off and on for 2 weeks prior to this day. When the chest pains would come on, he would take 2 asprin and he said the pain would "go away". Well, on Monday, he had some chest pains, took 2 asprin, but the pain didn't go away and this is the reason they went to the hospital. Let me say a few mom had told me about him having these chest pains and I told him to go to the dr to get checked out. He chalked it up to heartburn and didn't want to look silly going to the ER for that. I wish that I had been more convincing or not taken no for an answer, but I figured he knew what his pain felt like better than I did, so I just said okay.

Anyway, when everyone else was going up to see their family in ICU, we were not allowed up. They were having trouble stopping the bleeding for my dad because he had been pumped with so much blood thinner.

Once we finally got to go up, I was so happy to lay eyes on my dad, but I had this feeling of needing to stomp on his toe for being so stubborn about going to the dr. Of course, I didnt stomp his toe...but I did take a few pics so I could send them to Clif and Jennifer and let them know he was doing a little better. Clif lives in Virginia and I know he felt the need to fly out to be with the family, but my dad and mom didn't want him to make the trip because we assumed all would be okay.

Let me warn you, I posted the 2 pics of my dad that I took on my phone while he was in ICU. They aren't bad or anything, but just wanted to warn you.

It was great to see my dad and I really thought he looked pretty good considering all he had been thru. The cardiologist on call that night was not the same one that did the surgery. However, Laurie used to call on the one that we got to see once my dad was in ICU and I was thankful for this. He took extra time to explain things to us and even showed us several different videos that were taken while they were doing the heart cath. He showed us the 99% blockage and showed us the same aretery after the sent was put in.
After our first visit, we had a few hours before we could see dad again. Laurie, mom, and I rushed home to my parents house so that my mom could get things so she could stay at the hospital for a few days. She was grabbing a few things for my dad as well. When we were throwing things in her bag, I had to grab my dad's Bible. My dad reads his Bible more than anyone I know...seriously, ANYONE. I knew he wouldn't be able to read it for a while and wouldn't feel like it either, but I wanted him to have it if he wanted it.
When we went to our visitation at 9pm, we could tell that Daddy's coloring was improving by the hour. He looked even better, said he was hungry, talked more, etc. It was much needed for me. I was still worried about him, but seeing him improving made me feel better.
After our short visit, we headed downstairs for the night. Let me say that Matt managed to make it from Knoxville in record time(without getting a ticket). I think it only took him about 4 hours when it is normally a 6 hr drive(my times might be off a little, but not much). He was flying and admitted to driving up to 110mph. Needless to say, he was a little worried too I think?
Here is where we all, me, and Matt.
These chair beds weren't too bad. They provided us with sheets, pillows, blankets, etc. However, my brother snored and I can't sleep with snoring(ask Antonio). I hit, nudged, and rocked Matt several times during the night. I couldn't find anything to throw at the woman across from us I didn't sleep much. Mom and I played on the computer, ate chocolate cake at 2:30am, and giggled what? I am not sure.
Morning came and we showered, got ready, ate breakfast, and we were getting ready to go up for visitation time. However, the lady at the desk said we couldn't go heart dropped! She told my mom she had to call upstairs and ask for the nurse. I couldn't take it, so I walked a minute, i walked back over and my mom hung up the phone. She was shaking her head a little and I finally said "what?" She said the nurse told her that we couldnt come visit Daddy in ICU because they were getting him ready to move to a regular room. I know I had the biggest smile on my face. She said we could go up to the regular room and wait on him.
Here is my bad camera picture of them wheeling my dad to his regular room...
Once in the room, Daddy continued to improve throughout the week. Originally, the cardiologist thought he may go home on Wednesday, but because of some irregular heartbeat and low blood pressure, they kept him until Friday.
He is still not completely out of the woods, but he is much better than he was 8 days ago.
All of the happenings over the past week have really got me thinking. I know family is important, but I guess I sometimes take for granted that they will always be around.
I am thankful my dad is doing so much better, but my prayers are still with those that we met in the ICU waiting room. The ones that had been there 10 days straight, 4 weeks, 7 days, months, etc. Yes, the patient is obviously not healthy and needs to be there, but it is also stressful for the families that are there for support. They are all hanging around for those 4 short visitation times...9:00am-9:20am, 1:00pm-1:20pm, 5:00pm-5:20pm, and 9pm-9:20pm. Time goes so slowly when you are waiting around to see a loved one!
So, to you readers out there(all 2 or 3 of you), if you hear of anyone having chest pains, don't let them write it off to something small and unimportant. My dad could have avoided lots of permanent damage to his heart had he gone in with chest pains vs. heart attack.
Remember, you are your best advocate when it comes to your health. If you are having an issue and you do go to the dr and the dr. doesn't think it's a big deal, trust your instinct! You will be the one who pays for it long term, so if you aren't happy with your dr. find a new one!
Also, be sure to say an extra prayer for those strangers waiting in the ICU waiting rooms.
Finally, enjoy your families. Tell them you love them. Spend time with them. Make the extra sacrifice to go see them.


JRH said...

Oh April! You've been through a lot along with your family. I'll never forget the day my daddy had a heart attack. Reading through your post, I can sympathize! I am glad he's doing better...just you all keep your eyes on him and make him do what the doc says!!! :) You all will be in my prayers still. :) Much love!

Precious Moments said...

I am sooo glad your dad is ok, I cannot imagine having to go through that. Let me know if you need anything. Love you, tanna

Kimberly said...

I am so glad your dad is doing better now. I can't imagine what you all went through. I am still keeping him in our prayers and sending you my love!