Friday, September 26, 2014

The Actual Rest of the Story

As I mentioned briefly yesterday, things went well.  But make no mistake, my dad is a living, breathing miracle.  I mean, I guess anyone that makes it through bypass surgery is pretty darn amazing because the mere fact that doctors know how to crack open someone's chest, reconstruct major arteries, then put everything back together and have them be functional within any reasonable period of time is pretty crazy.  But we were basically told that given the fact he had no chest pain or other identifiable symptoms aside from the erratic heart rate that started this whole mess, he probably would have just dropped over dead one day.  He had at least one major artery that was 100% blocked, and at least one more that was very close.  Though he might not feel this way for the next few months, he's a very lucky man.  And we are very lucky to still have him.

Yesterday started early--5am to be exact--as my mom and I got up early to make it to the hospital by 6am.  He was supposed to go in a short time after that, though in the end we probably had a good 45 minutes to spend with him before it was time to head down to the OR.  No traumatic blood draw this time, thankfully.  He'd had a good night's sleep for a change and was still in good spirits considering the circumstances.  

We headed back down to the waiting room and slowly but surely the rest of the family trickled in.  We had a tiny scare as there was a phone call for my mom around 8:45, but they were just letting us know they'd started the actual surgery a little late.  My brother John arrived from Portland around 10am, and our entourage mostly just killed time on electronic devices, reading the paper, and talking to other people in the waiting room.  I'll admit, hospitals are pretty interesting places when it comes to people-watching and random conversations.

At one point my mom headed off to the restroom, and shortly thereafter the surgeon came out looking for her.  We all panicked (again) momentarily, because it seemed too soon for him to be there, but he reassured everyone that everything was okay, and when I saw my mom I waved her over.  The surgeon shared the good news with all of us, that everything had gone very smoothly--hence the reason he was there so soon!  He told us about the significant blockages, explained what they could have led to, and told us a funny story about a significant political figure he had operated on back in his days practicing in Washington, D.C.  We were all very relieved, of course, and joyously headed across the way to the cafeteria for a very jovial lunch together.  

After lunch we returned to the waiting room until they called us down to see him, even though he was still completely out of it.  We just stopped down for a couple minutes, took in the sight of the worst of it--a million tubes and lines, though honestly, we all thought it wasn't as bad as people kept preparing us for--and then headed back up.  My dad's siblings all headed down to do the same, then they headed out.  In the meantime, my mom, John, and I went on a geocaching walk around Cazenovia Park, across from the hospital.  We found two and were stumped on a third, but it was a beautiful day for a walk, regardless.  

After that we headed back to the CCU waiting room to wait for visiting hours to start.  A half hour later when we got to go in, he was just starting to wake up.  He was very groggy, but almost immediately started trying to write letters in the air with his fingers to talk to us.  We couldn't really figure out what he was writing, though, so there was some hand squeezing and motioning until they shooed us back out rather quickly so they could take some bloodwork and possibly remove the breathing tube.

We had to wait a lot longer than we thought, and they didn't call us back in until after the visiting hour was technically over.  Still, by then he was much more awake and his breathing tube was out, so he was OK to talk.  And talk he did!  His speech was still a little on the slurry side, but his brain seemed to be quite clear!  He complained about the breathing tube, asked for ice chips, made a few jokes, and generally seemed like a more tired version of himself.  It was a great thing to see before I left town.  We headed out for dinner at a bar down the road, then I took off.  I was excited to see my boys and got back in time for bedtime. 

They wasted no time getting him moving.  He walked and sat up for a long time today.  He's starting hugging the firm stuffed bear they provided that helps stabilize things as he coughs or breathes.  He's got a long road ahead of him, but so far so good!

Here are some photos from the time I was there... 

Buffalo skyline from one end of the hospital

I think this was from his room. 

Buffalo skyline again, this time at around 6:30am! 

I've noticed this year that many trees have very defined parts of them changing color.  This is a bit of an example of that...such pretty colors!  This was in the park during our geocaching.

Mom and John during geocaching

Cazenovia Creek

Upstream on the creek...very pretty!

The clock tower outside St. Thomas Aquinas near sunset.  Craig went to school here for a year.  Really pretty structure.
Anyway, we're all so thankful that he came through the surgery so well, and it really is a miracle that they caught this before their trip, otherwise he could have died in the middle of the desert.  It's been a totally unexpected week and I think it's still going to take time for it all to sink in.  Reality will really start hitting both of my parents over the next few days, so please keep them in your prayers. 

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