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My story (Long)--How do I deal (at the end)??


CCKline

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On the morning of Thursday, November 29th, my dad went to his local emergency room because he had been up all night vomiting with severe stomach pain. If most people heard this, they would think "virus", "flu", or some other simple illness that typically rears it's ugly head around this time of year. But as soon as my sister called to tell me, I knew that it was more. Little did I know how right I would turn out to be.

Not long after my dad was admitted, they began an IV of morphine, and yet...that wasn't touching his pain. They soon realized that he had two large kidney stones...7mm and 8mm. They said that they were too large to pass and that they would have to be surgically removed. So until the OR was available, they had him on pain meds. Well, shortly after they left...they came back. They said his bloodwork had returned with an indicating that there was a problem with his pancreas. My mom called to tell me that they were sending him for a contrast CT. We all held our breaths and waited by our phones for the results. This was so out of the norm for my dad. A few hours later, we had an answer. Critical pancreatitis. It seemed simple enough. He was in horrible pain, but they were admitting him. They were going to take care of the kidney stones and put him on strong antibiotics. Thursday night, more news. He also had a gallbladder full of stones, and one large one was blocking the duct leading from his gallbladder to his pancreas. The pancreatitis was worse than they originally thought. They immediately took him to surgery to remove the blockage. By midnight on Thursday, he said he was feeling better and he sent my mom back home to rest. Something was screaming at me, "Tell her not to leave him there!" as soon as she told me she was going home. She got mad at me for "giving her hell".

Friday morning, my mom returned to the hospital around 9am to find my dad having trouble breathing. He had gotten worse overnight. His original pain had returned. By lunch time Friday, mom called to tell me that his liver enzymes were off the charts, he was having trouble breathing and they were moving him to ICU. Now, let me explain that when I got this call, I was sitting at Pepboys (where my husband works), waiting on my oil to be changed. I was in the waiting area, my husband was in the shop working, and I remember mom telling me that he was being moved. I looked out the window to my husband and I had the worst feeling in my gut that our lives were about to change forever. I called my husband from my cell, told him what was happening and that I needed to go to my dad (he lives about 2 hours away). I told him to make arrangements to leave work early, that I was going to get our daughter from school early, stopping by home to pick up a few things, and that I'd be back to get him. I left Pepboys around 1:30, returned at 3pm and we were on our way. I got to the hospital around 5pm, and when I called my mom to ask her where I was supposed to go, my dad was in AFIB. I left my husband and the kids in the waiting room and rushed to my dad's room. I knew that this was going to be the worst thing that I had ever seen, so I tried to brace myself.

When I got to the waiting room, my mom was there, my older brother (one of them) was sitting beside her, crying. My parents' preacher was there, along with an elder from church. Again, my heart sank even more. My mom told me to prepare myself...that daddy was having trouble breathing, that he had an NG tube in his nose. I walked into his room with a smile on my face. "Hey daddy!"...and I immediately grabbed his hand. He had IV's in both hands. He was struggling to breathe, but trying to act like his usual self. He nodded and said in between breaths "Hey baby". I rubbed his hands...took everything that I was seeing in and said to him "You know dad, if you just wanted a little extra attention, you could have just told me". He smirked, nodded at me and said "I thought I was doing good. I've made it all this way and now everything is going wrong, all at once". My dad was scared. My strong, brave superhero was terrified. He had always been nervous around doctors...and this was his worst nightmare. They were waiting for another dr to come in and start a central line. My mom asked daddy if he cared if my husband came in, and daddy said no, he didn't care. So I went out and got my husband. As soon as I was out of my dad's eye line, I broke down. My mom had to stop me in the hallway of the ICU and calm me down. I held his hand as tight as I could, bracing myself again for what I was about to see. As soon as daddy saw Dayton, he perked up (as much as his tired body could) and said "Hey Dayton!" in between breaths. Dayton tried cracking a few jokes with him...both of them are notorious for joking in inappropriate situations to lighten a mood. I followed suite and told daddy that this was a pretty extreme attempt to get out from under Obama. He appreciated that one. Soon, the dr came in and said they were going to start the central line and we had to leave. I asked the dr (audibly, in front of my dad), "You ARE going to numb all this (motioning to dad's chest and neck area where they were going to put the line in) FIRST, right?"...I wanted dad to hear me clarify that with the dr. Daddy was terrified and it showed. The dr assured me (but mostly daddy), "YES. ALL of it will be numb before I do ANYTHING". The dr must have known what I was trying to do and I was grateful for his cooperation. I squeezed dad's hand and told him that I loved him.

We left the hospital that night and came home. I knew this wasn't going to end well. My dad had been in the hospital before...but he had never looked like this. Something was just off, and I knew it in my gut.

Saturday morning around 10am, I got a call from my sister with a call immediately after that from my mother. They were putting my dad on a ventilator. He had been struggling so hard to breathe (and it had only gotten worse) that his heart was beginning to give out. They explained to dad that they were going to sedate him and then intubate him. They also assured him that as long as he was on the vent, he would be sedated. I think that eased his mind...but again, he was scared. Again, I called Dayton and told him to come home. I told him that I had to go. About an hour and a half later, the door swings open and there stands Dayton holding bags of snacks for the kids. "Get your things together. I'm taking you to your dad. I'm not letting you do this by yourself, and you need to be there". We did a load of laundry, got the kids fed and down for naps, and were out the door around 3pm. I dropped the kids and hubbs off at my sister's house and went to the hospital. I got there about 5:30pm and went in to see my dad. I followed my mom in and while she went straight to his bedside, I hung out by the door trying to stifle my tears. I was so close to falling apart, but I knew that daddy couldn't hear me be upset. I took a few deep breaths, wiped my face, and went to his other side and picked up his hand. I asked my mom to leave the room so I could talk to him alone. She was mad, and resistant, but she finally stepped outside. I told him how sorry I was that I hadn't talked to him in the last week, that I was sorry I had given him so much trouble as a teenager, that I needed him to be strong and fight, and that my youngest baby still hadn't shared a cup of sweet tea with his papa yet. I reminded him how much we loved him and told him how badly we needed him here. A little while later, I went in with my older sister. She stood on one side, and I stood on the other and we held his hands. I saw her tear up, and right when I thought she was about to lose it, she looked up at me with an angry face and started fussing about how badly he had been taking care of himself. I ended up riding with her to go feed my mom's dogs before we went back to her house that night. We got back in around midnight. Dayton was waiting for me...and with open arms, as he knew I was ready to fall apart. Sunday morning, we woke up and we went back by the hospital so I could see my dad one more time before we left. I went to the waiting room first...my mom was sleeping, so I made the decision to go ahead and see him alone, without her there. I walked in and his nurse was there. She told me that his vitals were great and had been all night (about 10 minutes of hope). She walked out and I had about 5 minutes alone with daddy. As hard as I tried, I couldn't stop the tears. I told him that I needed him to fight, that I was sorry, and how much I loved him. I told him that he couldn't leave me alone with this crazy family of mine, and that I couldn't go on without him. I told him that I wouldn't know how to live in a world without him. Then I told him that I was sorry, but I wasn't sure if I would be able to handle coming back. Just about the time I finished talking and kissing dad on the shoulder, his doctor came in. He was a very nice, reasonably young guy. He asked me if I was his daughter, and I said that I was. And he laid it on me. He explained that overnight, my dad's kidney function had drastically declined and that they were currently operating at about 17% ....he said they would need to start dialysis asap. I looked him square in the eye and said, "So...his kidneys are failing.". It wasn't really a question, but he held eye contact with me, while his eyes started watering and said, "Yes ma'am. They are". Again, I just knew.

I went and woke my mom up, gave her the doctors card and the information. She raced out of the waiting room and I made my way back down to my car, bawling my eyes out as soon as I stepped outside of the hospital.

We came home and tried to go on with life as usual. With 3 small kids, that was our only option...and the only option that dad would find acceptable. Over the next few days, we got the news that he went septic, that his lungs were filling with fluid, that the infection in his pancreas was getting worse and not responding to antibiotics, the dialysis wasn't working, and then they decided to open him up to try and get the gallbladder (which was the main source of all the problems). When they opened him, his insides were too inflamed. All they could do was scrape out some of the infection, and they left his incision open to try to relieve some of the pressure. He went through three of the surgeries with no luck. Saturday afternoon (the 8th), I had to slap a smile on my face and throw a party for my daughter's 6th birthday. Dad would have killed me if he woke up to find that I had canceled it. On Friday, they had given my dad less than a 1% chance of surviving through the weekend. He was still sedated and had gone from the original 60% oxygen on the vent to 100%...life support.

Monday afternoon, we knew we had to go back. We all knew what was about to happen, but no one wanted to come out and say it. I went to the hospital Monday night and saw my dad. I told him that I had heard on TV over the weekend that Kramer (from Seinfeld) was coming back to TV...and that he absolutely had to stick around for that. Some stupid show that dad would hate was on his TV, so I found The Soup on E! for him and left that on. He always loved that show. I wasn't allowed to stay long. I sat in the waiting room with my mom for a little while. I asked her if he passed away, if she would let me have some of his ashes (dad's wishes were to be cremated) for a memory necklace. I was surprised that she agreed. I also said that I wanted to speak at his service. She replied with, "Cara, you're not going to be able to do that". I told her that I had to at least try and she said, "No. If you break down, I won't be able to handle it and you're just too soft hearted not to have a meltdown in front of all of those people". I insisted, and she humored me by giving in. Tuesday, I went out to my mom's house for her and when we were leaving I got a call from my sister: "Cara, I want you to get in your car and go to the hospital RIGHT. NOW." *Okay* "Cara, do you understand what I'm saying to you?". I knew exactly what she was saying. She was telling me that my dad had minutes to live and I needed to be there.

Dayton drove about 80 mph through town to get me there. I raced in and ran past all of my brothers and sisters in the hallway, ran into the waiting room, and waited for my mom. She came and took me to see him, reluctantly. She had my brother walk with us, in case dad coded, my brother could help me out. She told me that they were stopping his blood pressure medicines, as even with two...he was struggling to keep his bottom number in the low 40's. One had already been stopped. They were waiting on her to tell them to stop the second. It would be a matter of hours. I stayed with him as long as she'd let me. I cried. I held his hands. She walked out (without a fuss this time) to let me talk to him. It was a blur and it still is. I told him how much I loved him, and again, how sorry I was. I told him to please not leave me alone, that he was the only one that ever loved me unconditionally. I didn't try to stop the tears this time. Dayton wanted to see him again, but he didn't have the heart. He walked back to the ICU waiting room, but couldn't bring himself to see daddy.

We left with the kids and headed home, silently. We all knew what was about to happen. I fell asleep on the way home. We left about 1:30-2pm. Around 3:30 I woke up and texted my sister, "Any updates??". About 2 minutes later, my phone rang. It was my mom. I knew. I held my breath and answered the phone. "Cara? Where are you?....Is Dayton driving? Your daddy passed away at 3:23 very peacefully". She went into details but I looked at Dayton with tears streaming down my face and couldn't bring myself to say anything because I knew I would lose it and I didn't want the kids to see me that way. I tuned back in in time to hear her say "Cara, you have to hold it together. You look at what you've got in the back seat and you hold it together for them. That's what daddy would want". I don't remember getting off the phone. I cried the rest of the way home with Dayton holding my hand the

whole way. As soon as we got home, I went to sleep. I couldn't deal.

When I used to think of losing my dad, I would lose it. I even had to call him a few times to calm me down. But now he's actually gone, and I feel almost numb about it. Most of the time, it doesn't seem to bother me. Every few days, I'll cry for about 2 minutes...then it's over. What's wrong with me? Am I not accepting it because I never saw him after he died? He was cremated, so there was no seeing a body at the service. I even managed to give the eulogy without crying (though I choked up and had to stop and take a breath three times). What's wrong with me? I feel heartless.

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ForeverRemembered

Dear Sweet Cara,

Nothing is wrong with you. You are numb and still in shock. Feeling as if it is all just a bad dream. You are running on autopilot and still in the beginning stages of mourning the loss of your daddy. It is a long process. I lost my mom on September 11, 2012 in a slightly similar situation as your daddy. My mom was also in respiratory distress, she was in AFIB, and she had bilateral pneumonia. She was also septic and her kidneys quit functioning very quickly. My mother was not put on a ventilator so my sister and I watched as she struggled to breathe. My sister stood in a corner while I was there holding her hand and telling her it would be okay. Telling her that the nurses are working hard to help her. She was turning back and forth, trying everything she could do to get air. She wanted to sit up, but the nurses wouldn't let her. One time her back was towards me and she turned over and her face was blue and her hands were blue. I was in shock. Right after the nurse put in another IV, my mom looked like she was having a stroke or seizure and then went unconscious. The nurses were pumping her with Morphine so I don't know if it was the Morphine finally kicked in and made her go unconscious or the seizure or maybe an embolism. She never regained consciousness and died two days later.

I won't sugar coat it for you because that won't help you over the next few months. The next few months you will be on an emotional roller coaster. You may start to feel extreme anger towards anyone and everyone around you. You may feel as if you don't have a grip on anything. You may (like me) forget everything! Just remember, that it will all be normal. You won't feel as if it is "normal". Actually, using the word "Normal" really is just a stupid word to use. My husband is very supportive. However, I still have to remind him from time to time that I am still mourning the loss of my mom and I have to ask him to please just support me and be patient with me. He understands, but (as many people) feels that I should be "getting over it" already. I ask him to be patient with me. I am patient with him, because I know that when the day comes, and he loses his mother or father, only then will he understand.

You may have a hard time sleeping. I had a really hard time falling asleep. I would replay seeing my mother turn over and seeing her face all blue. I went over the "what if" and "if only I did this" or "I wonder if I didn't do that...." over and over in my mind. I cried all the time. Especially at night and as soon as my kids were off to school. I finally went to talk to a doctor. I told him I didn't want to be on any medications unless HE felt like I needed to be on them. He said, that he wasn't planning on putting me on any medications. He said, what I was feeling was normal. He mentioned a similarity to post traumatic stress. He said, it takes the brain almost a full year to process and then accept what had just happened. The brain will constantly replay things that it doesn't understand. As soon as I heard this, I felt a lot better. Knowing that I wasn't going crazy was wonderful to hear. I still break down. I still see the images of my mom. I still wonder the "what if's" but it isn't as frequent anymore. They don't last as long either. I know that I am slowly getting better. I am trying to stay "in tune" with myself, and I know that if anything...I am not going backwards. Every day that passes, I am getting better and better. Will things ever be the way they were before my mom past away? I doubt it. I have been changed forever. I am trying to adjust to it.

Time is your friend. It is still so early for you. Write here often. We are all in pain. We all on this site are hurting, and we all understand. When you feel that no one could understand, I am here to say that you would be wrong. On this site, the majority of people understand.

HUGS to you. I am sure your daddy loved you, the same way that I can tell you loved your dad. Hang in there and just take it one day at a time. Don't expect to feel better overnight. It won't happen. One day at a time. Time is your friend.

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I've had trouble sleeping since the night after he died. I couldn't bring myself to fall asleep until around 3am every night, which was hard because I'm up with my kids at 6am, sometimes earlier. Now, I'm able to sleep...but I have the what-ifs as well. I constantly wonder if we would have given his body more time to rest on the ventilator, if he would have been able to bounce back. I feel like we gave up on him too soon. He never wanted to be on life support....but he didn't know what losing him was going to do to us, as selfish as that sounds.

Half the time I feel like it's sinking in....then two days later I'm like "Oh, it's finally hitting me!". I don't even make sense to myself.

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Dear Cara,

You are perfectly normal my Dad has now been passed 4 months and no two days have been the same for me emotionally. I think the numbness helps us to do what we need to do. Without it there would have been days I would just not have got through. It is nice that you was able to say what you needed to say to your Dad. take care

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stillfighting431

I’m so sorry for your loss. I was deeply moved by your heartbreaking story. You’ve been thru a very traumatic experience. I know how hard it is to see a loved one suffer & slowly fade away. My mom was in the hospital for 4 weeks before she passed. It’s not just her death that shook me to the core but all my experiences at the hospital too. It was a relentless nightmare which is still going on in my subconscious even a year & a half later. I know how it feels to be helpless & powerless to stop your loved one's suffering, to want them to hold on when all the while a part of you just wants them not to suffer anymore. It’s very damaging to the mental health of the caregivers, because they’re the ones left behind to not only grieve but also doubt all the decisions they made. Some of us just go numb from the shock, just like what’s going on with you. You’ve your mom & your own family relying on you to be strong & keep it together. So not to feel anything is the only way you can go on without breaking down. But you won’t be able to keep all your pain inside forever. We all need to process our loss & try to come to terms with it.

Everyone processes grief differently, so you never know how it’s going to effect you. You just need time. I’ve known friends who didn’t cry for their loved one for months but had sudden breakdowns a year or so later.

So don’t be so hard on yourself. There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re just grieving in your own way.

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