Surgery: The Open-Heart Kind

September 23 · 1 comment

First off, I want to thank everyone for keeping my dad and my family in your prayers. He did great during the surgery and is having a great recovery so far.

In case you’re wondering what happened (DETAILS!) here’s the story.

We were on our way home from church Sunday when I found out that my dad was in the hospital. He’d had a heart attack that morning.

He had stopped by the hospital to bring my step-mom breakfast on his way home from work. He had told her his chest was hurting and that his left arm was tingling. He was checked out, they told him that he had just experienced a mild heart attack, and he was admitted in the hospital for further tests. By the end of the day, they discovered massive (and by massive I mean one artery was 100% blocked and the other, known as the widow-maker, which once that is gone so are you, was 97-99% blocked) blockage in two of the four main arteries, they couldn’t get the stents in, and he is going to have a double bypass Tuesday at 10:30 in the morning.

Everything happened really fast for all of us. For me, I was emotionally on edge all day Sunday. I was torn between being upset that this was happening and mad that Dad didn’t take care of himself like he was supposed to. I could’ve cried at any given point in time if I had allowed myself to do so in public (transparency moment: I don’t like crying in public. I will fake happy or tough until I can get to a place where I can hide to let it all out. There is only two or three people who are allowed in that hidden space to be with me as I cry).

Most of Monday was spent in shock with everyone trying to digest the severity of the situation. It was hard to see him in the bed with tubes attached to him, knowing you couldn’t do anything for him. We took comfort in the fact that he wasn’t in pain, but we were all antsy about the surgery that would be occurring the next day. I had to keep reminding myself that he was the reason he was in the hospital, which didn’t make it any easier. People tried to make light of the situation by commenting on my obviously soon-to-be-expecting belly and “not being allowed to have that baby while [my dad] was at the hospital” and Dad “up-staging” me. I almost hated being pregnant because it added more stress on my end when I was reminded that she could be here any day now. It pulled my attention away from the current situation, so I’d do a quick mental body scan to make sure I wasn’t ignoring any signs or symptoms since oh yeah, I’m pregnant, and then I’d focus back on Dad and thinking about him. **I know it sounds horrible, but if there is some sort of pain in my body, I do actually forget I’m pregnant sometimes.**

Anyway, Tuesday was an early morning & a very long day. There was only a segment of time we were going to be able to visit him in ICU before his surgery at 11am. However, the doctor who was supposed to do the surgery got caught up in a 10-hour emergency surgery (at a different hospital) which caused for a massive delay. Fortunately, there was another doctor available, but by the time all that was worked out, it was around 4 that he was taken back to the operating room.

There was a small moment in time where I saw how scared my dad was. Seeing that side of him when he wasn’t putting on a front for all the visitors he was having sort of tugged at me funny. I didn’t know what was going on, but I started feeling stronger and more like the responsible adult I needed to be. I was trying to be strong for him. Then, right before he was taken back, he held me and my step-mom as if we were the only thing that mattered. I don’t remember of a time growing up where we had such an embrace. I was scared to let go, but I didn’t know why I was holding on so tight. He was going to make it through the surgery, I would see him later, but I still couldn’t let go until it was interrupted by the nurses ready to wheel him away. My step-mom and I weren’t ready to face the rest of the family yet, so we found a quiet room and talked it out. Being in the room with her I almost felt like her equal when it came to taking care of Dad. I felt the responsibility I had as his daughter, to help with taking care of him as he recovered. All in all, I felt stronger talking with her. I didn’t feel like the emotionally insecure person I had been earlier and together we went to face the music.

The first phone call to the waiting room: He’s still in surgery & doing good.

The second: The surgery went well, we just need to get him stitched back up and he’ll be taken back to ICU to recover.

::deep breath out:: He made it through and he did well

We waited the hour for them to prep him and get him situated in the room and then we went to visit him. He came back with more tubes and wires than he’d left with, but it didn’t matter much to me. He could have looked a bit worse and I would be okay.

My dad was going to live a few more years and I couldn’t ask for anything more.

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