My last post was a sad one about the death of a man I greatly admired, and who will be sorely missed by many, many people.
This post is also about a man I greatly admire- a man who met death, had a coffee and beignets with death- but who thought better of it and came back to life. Or perhaps death decided they didn't have the right chemistry together. Either way, this is not a sad post.
I wrote most of this post from a hospital waiting room more than a week ago.
On Tuesday two weeks ago, my dad collapsed on a bike ride. His heart had completely and suddenly stopped. He had been riding with two others, one of whom broke his fall (Bail onto a friend! SAVE THE CERVELO!). The other waved down a driver. Within seconds, the driver was doing CPR. Another rider arrived and called 911. The passerby did CPR for a good 10 minutes. If you've ever done CPR training, you know that's hard work. EMS arrived. They shocked SpiderStan multiple times before loading him into an ambulance and one of dad's long-time dearest friends rode along with them. EMS told the friend that SpiderStan is dead. They promised to keep trying, but don't get your hopes up.
At last, his heart started again. It had taken somewhere between 20 and 30 minutes.
In the hospital, he started moving. He moved his arms and legs. He tried to remove the IVs. This was a good sign: he had not been paralyzed. Then he was out again. At one time, he had 12 IV bags going in, along with a breathing tube, a draining tube from his stomach, a heart pump, catheter, and probably some other unpleasantness he's glad to forget.
To save his brain, the doctors induced a coma, and cooled his body temperature to 89.6 degrees. He would stay this way 24-48 hours. All we could do was sit and wait.
Meanwhile, I was at the office. The office! Who gives a CRAP about the OFFICE? This is my DAD! The INVINCIBLE guy! I was at work. Eating my own hands. At last, Mom gave me the green light to come to town after she was assured that he would not die while I was in transit. Jambuca and I arrived around 10:30pmTuesday.
My brother picked us up from the hospital. My brother, who was mom's rock all day long, and she was his. He warned me that it would be shocking to see dad like this. I was afraid of what I'd feel, looking at my dad in such as state. He is invincible. I couldn't compute SpiderStan = Comatose. We got to the hospital around midnight and mom sent me up to see him. I walked in. He was a mess of tubes and wires, dried blood here and there, lots of mechanical noises, and a smell I've never smelled before, and that I will never forget. A horrible, sterile, chemical smell. He was wrapped hed to foot in cooling blankets. And there was my dad's arm. I put my hand on his arm. And I knew that he was going to live. He had no intention of leaving so soon. I told him I was here. I described the trip. I said that I love him and that hundreds of people are praying for him. I knew he could hear me.
The next day, the hospital waiting area was full of the worried faces of people like us, hoping for the best for their family members, fearing the worst. We paced, not knowing whether he would remember us when he woke up. Would he walk again? Speak again? Pick up a baby again?
My mom slept less than anyone, but you'd never know to see her. She was fresh, energetic, keeping all the rest of the family and friends from singing in a minor key.
Wednesday night, she slept in the ICU. That night, he woke up. For the first few hours, he didn't know what had happened to him, why he was in the hospital, why he couldn't sit up, why he had these damned tubed and wires all over him. He knew mom, and later in the morning, he knew my brother, he knew me. He remembered everything up to the day of the ride. That would come later as well. Nothing had been lost. He was all there 100%, but with a serious wake up call.
* can fix anything.
* always knows the best way out of a sticky situation.
* loves to ride a bike
* loves the sound of his grandchildren's laughter
* thinks romantic thoughts about my mom, all the time, and thinks we don't notice
* is my hero
Dad had open-heart surgery last week, and he's recovering remarkably well. I think I'll go to Texas in September, around the time he gets back on his bike, so I can keep up with him. By December, he'll be faster than ever. Then I'll have to make him pull the kids in the trailer (again).
I'm sorry it has taken so long to get this post up Every time I read it, it's not quite what I want to say. It still isn't but eventually you just have to put it out there and call it eough.
Dad, I'm so glad you are OK. I love you!