Thursday, September 24, 2015

That Heart-Stopping Day

A year ago today, I was getting ready for the day like it was any other day.  I was making lunches, getting kids dressed, and getting ready to go to work.  Of course, I was doing all of that with the knowledge in the back of my head that my dad was in the hospital and would be needing bypass surgery.  But I was going about life as normally as I could when my phone rang.  My heart jumped out of my chest when I saw it was my mom, because she was calling at an odd time and given everything going on with my dad, those kinds of calls are never good.  She told me that his surgery had been scheduled for that day, at noon.  So, instantly, my plans changed.  I packed and headed to Buffalo, panicked about how the day would unfold.

I'm very used to that drive.  I do it all the time.  But that particular drive was extremely difficult.  I was in a hurry, I was stressed out, and I was nervous about what awaited me on the other end.  Songs came on and made me cry.  I prayed a lot.  It's rare I do that drive without the kids in the back seat, and when I do I usually feel a sense of ease and freedom.  That day all I could muster was dread.

I got there in time to see my dad (and witness his unfortunate low blood pressure incident) before he went into surgery.  We went down to the waiting room expecting a lengthy wait, only to panic a little while later when they called my mom's name to chat with her.  Luckily I picked up the vibe pretty quickly that he wasn't dead, but it was a scary few seconds initially.  The surgery got postponed due to another patient's emergency.  Despite the emotional roller coaster of the morning, it actually turned out to be a decent day.  My normally anxious dad was in better spirits than expected, and my mom and I got some downtime with him that afternoon.  She and I took a walk, had a pleasant dinner, and went to bed early in preparation for a very early morning, the morning the surgery would actually take place.

The next day was a busy one--surgery first thing, my brother's arrival from Portland, a long wait with lots of family for company, the good news we wanted, a joyful cafeteria lunch, a first glimpse of a still-sleeping Dad, a walk in the glorious weather with some geocaching, another visit as Dad was just waking up, and then dinner out with my mom and brother before I headed back out of town.  I hated to leave, but I needed to get back to work and I had a weekend wedding to attend.  It was such a crazy couple days.

Looking back a year later, sometimes I can hardly believe it even happened.  My dad's recovery was pretty smooth and today he's healthy.  In an alternate reality, had he not gone to the hospital and left on their scheduled vacation instead, this week we could have been mourning the one-year anniversary of his death.  Instead, he's spending this week on vacation!  They already made up the vacation they missed, along with a couple others.  It's such a blessing that the surgery ended up being closer to a blip on the radar, rather than a complete turning point in all of our lives. 

The weather this week has been very similar to what we had a year ago.  Cool mornings, gorgeous days full of sun, and just enough warmth to still feel like summer.  Part of me can easily flash back to that week, but I feel like another part of me has blocked out the fear and fatigue of those few days.  My emotions were so raw and it's hard to let myself go there again.  Of course, I have the luxury of not having to go there since it all turned out so well, but it's overwhelming to think about how huge of a week it really was.  So much has changed since then, too, so it's almost surreal to think about where we were a year ago. 

I'm so grateful for so many things.  I'm thankful my dad went to the hospital when he did, and I'm thankful the doctors figured out what was happening before any damage was done.  I'm grateful for a very skilled surgeon and a recovery that was free of major complications.  I'm so happy that we had so much family support during the process, as it made the stressful hours of surgery feel like just another family gathering.  I think fondly back on how my then-employer sent flowers, and while I still miss the people there, I'm thankful that professionally I'm in a much better place a year later.  Most of all, I'm so thankful for another year of memories with both of my parents, and the increased likelihood that my kids will remember all of their grandparents. 

I guess all I can do is wish my dad a Happy Heart-iversary! :)  I'm so happy you're still here with us, because none of our lives would be the same without you!

No comments: