Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Taking Things for Granted

Sorry I am so behind on my postings and my shipments and I am so sorry for this, the past weeks have been very rough and stressful. For those waiting for their orders I apologize they will be out this week. I thank you for your patience at this time, my focus is else where.

Today's post is not going to be a short one. And I hope it makes you stop and think how wonderful life is and how thanking perfect strangers is OK. That though are health system needs help, there are wonderful nurses, doctors, ambulance drivers that go above and beyond.

Several weeks ago my Mom had told me about how she was at her local hang out where her, dad and her friends go for breakfast, when she was leaving she noticed one of the tables had two young paramedics taking a break and enjoying a cup of coffee. As she left she went to their table and thanked them for all there hard work, and hoped that they had a pleasant rest of the day. They in turn thanked her and she went on her way. When my mom told me this story I in turn rolled my eyes thinking they probably thought she was nuts, but she was so proud of herself who am I to think otherwise.

A two weeks ago Saturday my Dad was taken by ambulance approx 6:30 in the morning because he was having a seizure. Now my Dad is 76 years young, he has never really been sick, my immediate family (Mom and my brother) have really been lucky and have not had to deal with any really life threatening issues with each other. This all changed Saturday, when my brother called and left a message that Mom had called 911 that there was something wrong with Dad.

After checking with our local hospital and finding him not there we headed towards my parents house to see if they were still there, not finding them at the house we headed to the next local hospital in Smith Falls. In the panic I couldn't remember my brothers cell phone number and my phone wasn't charged so we simple kept driving. We reached the hospital within 20 minutes to find my Mom very calm, saying my dad had a seizure, had bit his tongue and was now resting quietly in the emergency room. We went back to see him, though his colour was not right, he was able to talk to us but very tired, x-rays were planned and if nothing was showing up they would let him go. So we headed out to the waiting room for further instructions. Within an hour or so not really sure the timeline my Dad had another seizure and the next thing we knew he was being sent to have a CAT and MRI at Kingston General Hospital as there were no beds available in Ottawa. An ambulance was called to transport him; as we waited outside the next thing we knew the ambulance pulled up. As the paramedics got the stretcher out my Mom turned to me and said they were the young men that she had met in the restaurant that day. Mom then went up to them and introduced herself saying she wasn't sure if they remembered her to my surprise they both said yes. We asked the paramedics if they were here to take a man to Kingston and they said yes a man who was having seizures and we said yes. The paramedics turned and said it was "karma" that they were taking him and that they would look after him not to worry. And they certainly did. For me I learned a lesson from my Mom something I never thought could happen at the age of 29++. My Mom at 73 teaching me that thanking strangers is a good thing you never know when you will need to lean on them. So today when you are out make sure you thank a perfect stranger as you never know when they will cross your path.

First Days:
As we waited in the emergency room in Kingston, for hours (16+) to be exact, we learned that Dad probably had a stroke, which in turn brought on the seizures. As we sat there thinking of what we were going to do next, were then told that he will require a CAT scan and possible a MRI, then they will determine if he can go home or would need to stay.

Towards 11 p.m. we got the news, he would not be going home and that he would require a MRI that they were not sure about the seizure or the stroke, they would have better idea once the MRI was done. Within 48 hours he was having a MRI and we learned the news that he actually had a brain tumor and swelling in the brain. That surgery would need to be done possible radiation and/or chemo but they wouldn't know that until the biopsy came back. As we sat there in disbelief, and wondered how this could be possible he has always been health, that he had a CAT scan about two years ago that showed nothing. We were told that this was an aggressive tumor that only took 3-4 months to grow, that it was the primary tumor (they had done a second MRI after to determine whether the tumor in his brain was a secondary tumor that there was nothing else going on). With that we were told that Dad would have brain surgery on Monday that they would remove the mass and would send for a biopsy to determine the next steps. I think we sat there with our mouths hitting the table, I mean if you saw him you would never have known, and he was by now up walking around, happy making jokes, just like he always had been, except now had this thing in his head.

As we got closer to the surgery and our meeting with the surgeons and the team, I started to jot down questions that we needed answers too. I mean they were opening up my dad’s brain? Have you ever noticed how our parents generation just accept things, how they don’t question doctors just nod whether they understand or not. As my mom, brother and dad sat there and I went through my 15 concerns that we understood exactly what and how things were going to be done. And I felt some relief, (it also helped that I goggled the doctor(s) and was able to find information on them). We felt that we knew what needed to be done and just had to take it all in.

The Surgery Day
Dad's surgery was to start at 8 a.m. instead of staying overnight in a strange bed we decided to stay home and get up at 4 a.m. and head to the hospital, I have never seen the sun come up so bright that morning, I hoped the doctor had a good night sleep, that he had his morning coffee, I know what I am like with out it. The nurses were so kind they were waiting for us hoping we would get there in time before he went down. When we arrived Dad was sitting up looking out the window, he is not a big staying still kind a guy. We sat with Dad waiting, me on his bed holding his hand, letting him know I loved him and asking him if he was OK. I think in his silence he was at peace with it all, I know it sounds weird but that’s the only way I can describe it. As he got on the stretch we headed down to the OR and had a few minutes with him, to say we loved him and that we would be right here when he was done. Not to worry.

As the hours went by (4.5 hour surgery) people came and went. Chris the liaison with the OR and recovery and who's job was to kept loved ones posted as to how things were going, went above and beyond, with information. She kept us posted as to how things were going and that it shouldn't be much longer, and when he was done that they were just moving him to recovery and that as soon as they had him awake that we could come in and see him. She informed us that going into recovery is something that they don't normally do, but because of the type of surgery and that we were from out of town and had been there so long they would make an exception. Which again made us feel relaxed and in good hands. They also would allow us the time we needed with Dad no rush allowing us to head home knowing that he had pulled through and was in good hands. As she took us through what seemed like endless amount of doors, we entered seeing our Dad sitting upright, waving at us, yes waving. He was alert, telling me that one of the nurses reminded him of me and was trying to find her so I could see. That he wished he would have been able to help JC (my husband Jean-Claude)with the truck before everything happened and that he felt really good. To say the least we were amazed, no tubes, alert and happy.

They said he was doing very well and would spend the night in recovery and then would head up to the 7th floor.

Day after surgery Mom cuddling with Dad. We all laughed cause it looked like Dad was tuning her out already LOL.

Dad over for a visit last Friday while Mom did grocery's I got to play babysitter, and the grand kids got to play with there favorite grandad.

Now we wait for the biopsy results and pray that treatment is fast and gentle on my Dad’s beautiful ½ bald head.

Believe it or not Dad hadn't seen what it looked like he compared it to Frankenstein movie from the 1930's. His head is half shaved, and still purple from the disinfectant.

It is hard to believe that he is already home, brain surgery on Monday and home on Thursday go figure. Since his release he is up walking, a little weak still though, his speech and response is slow but getting better each day. The swelling is going down and today he is off to his GP to have the staples removed which he is so looking forward too. But he is extremely bored, he has been told he can walk the property but absolutly no going into the garage or doing anything physical.

I will keep you posted as to how things go thank you for listening this has been very good therapy for me.

Thank you!


Patti said...

Jo-Ann, it sounds like your dad is one tough guy. And how wonderful for him that he has you and your mom and JC to lean on. My thoughts are with all of you, wishing a speedy recovery for your dad. Patti

Victoria Fraser, SCRAPtease said...

It sounds like you all handled everything very well. You all seem to be a great support system for eachother. Best wishes to your dad for a great recovery. If you need anything, you know where to find me...


Oh my goodness! This is such a story. Your dad is a trooper and looks GREAT after brain surgery. Thanks for sharing this moving story.

Susan said...

Yes---aahhh the illness/surgery/waiting game---JoAnn, you & your family sound very strong & together, making everyone's jobs much more easier; prayers to you all as you continue to heal thru this emergency that was waiting to happen!

jsanii said...


You have always been a stampin' and scrappin' inspiration for me! Now I know where you get it from. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.


Melissa Dakers said...

Thanks so much for posting. My father in law went through the exact same thing in April. Unfortunately, he can not have the surgery due to the type of brain tumor and location. So we are treating it with radiation (now complete) and chemo (starts today). I know this is very tough, so my prayers are with you and your family...take care.