Monday, December 28, 2009

My Dad.

My dad is the greatest man ever.
He just started growing a beard and he looks like Santa Claus.
He is married to an amazing wife named Althea with vibrant red hair. (obviously my mom!)
He has a talented daughter (me!) who lives in Orange County, California.
He is the father of my genius brother Cliff.
He is the adored grandfather of my 7 month old nephew Griffin and my 3 year old niece Gaia.
He lets Gaia climb all over him. Baby Griffin spits up on him often and my dad doesn't even flinch.
He is a warrior for his children-even though he knows we are no longer children. He will fight any battle to protect us.
He is my prophet, sending me daily inspirational text messages adorned with unique sideways smileys at the end of each sentence. These texts get me through the day.

That's why it was so hard to see my dad in a hospital bed.
Last week, December 20th he came down with stomach flu-like symptoms.
But it wasn't the stomach flu.
He got so sick that he couldn't walk or stand without fainting. When he tried to walk he fell and passed out. My mom called the ambulance and on the way there his blood pressure dropped to 26.
After my mom's worst fear of watching my dad hooked up to many machines at the same time, they discovered my dad lost five units of blood (out of thirteen units).
He had a bleeding ulcer.
Immediately they cauterized the ulcer and he was hospitalized for a few days.

I returned home from California the day he was let out of the hospital.
Christmas was quiet.
My mind wasn't quiet.
I was so scared for my dad.
I'd never come so close to thinking of what it would be like to lose him before, and I was terrified. I hated change. I hated time. I tried to do things to distract myself but my stomach was so upset.

Last night, my dad said his leg hurt, and he felt a numbing in his foot.
We didn't want to mess around, so in the middle of the night we took him to the Emergency Room where the doctors discovered he had three blood clots in his leg.
My mom, dad, and I gathered together in the small dark emergency room. His legs were too long and hung out over the end of the hospital bed.
I couldn't hold in my tears. I cried with my mom and dad, exposing all of my fears.
My parents thanked me for being there for them. They told me I was the best daughter they could ever have. All three of us hurdled in a circle around my dad's hospital bed, hugging each other. My mom and dad kissed sweetly. This hug between my mom and dad will go down in history as one of the most precious moments in my entire life.

I went home with my mom in the early hours of the morning and slept next to her since my dad was missing in the normal space where she was used to him sleeping. The procedure to get rid of the clots was a huge risk because his bleeding ulcer was still healing.
The hospital wanted to give him blood thinners but this was worrysome---if the ulcer started bleeding they wouldn't be able to stop the bleeding. And at the same time, they had to stop the clots from traveling to his heart or lungs.

This morning my dad was admitted to Theda Clarke hospital in Appleton for emergency surgery to insert a filter into his body so that the clots wouldn't travel to any of his organs. I couldn't eat, and I spent all night half awake wondering if my dad would be ok.
I felt so nauseated. My mom's eyes were wild with panic. I kept giving her hugs. My brother almost fainted at the hospital.

We gave my dad one last family hug before his procedure, and all we could do is have faith that we caught everything just in time.

Now my dad is home. All he has to do is heal now. Once the ulcer heals, then he will need to go through a series of blood thinners. But he is safe. This is what matters. The filter they put in his body will protect him from any blood clots.

I sat down next to my dad tonight to watch football. I never watch football.
He explained the game to me as I curled up next to him, put my head on his shoulder..and closed my eyes.

The greatest dad ever. What would I do without him?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

So here I am, stuck in Minneapolis on Christmas Eve.
The weather outside is not frightful though-it's beautiful.
I can enjoy snow since I only see it for 2 weeks out of the entire year.
At first I was upset that Delta cancelled my flight to Appleton until Christmas day.
Until now.
After several exhausting hours of traveling (I could have been to Europe with the eight hours I waited to get on the plane during my layover in Vegas!), I arrived in Minneapolis at 6:30am.
My wonderful father (who is currently at home in Waupaca healing from a bleeding ulcer! Bless his tender heart) took the liberty of using his miles to book me a hotel room at the Holiday Inn right next to the airport and the Mall of America.
I slept most of the day. (When does that ever happen?)
My Minneapolis "dilemma" turned into a small, but entertaining chapter in my life.
I decided to take advantage and take a shuttle to the Mall of America-my heaven! (I am a shopping addict).
I met two hilariously gay flight attendants on the shuttle to the Mall of America and back.
We stood in the blizzard together under heat lamps waiting for the shuttle to arrive (it was 10 minutes late and that feels like an eternity in the cold!)
They made me laugh.
I took a bubble bath, and had a drink of wine with my new friends.
Now I am relaxing, clearing my mind and making this my own little vacation.
Life is truly what you make of it-and this time I found the little getaway I've needed for a long time. Everything happens for a reason. I feel refreshed and I can't wait to see my family.
Merry Christmas.