Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Difference in a Year

What a difference a year makes! This time last year, a short little scripture was brought to my attention. Not only did my brain hear it but my heart did too. Proverbs 16:9: ”The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps.”

A year ago, I was living out of a suitcase waiting on pins and needles to jot down information coming from a doctor’s mouth. Bless that notebook. :)

On Thursday, July 1st 2010, I was taking Tobie on a leisurely stroll around the block when I got a phone call from my mother-in-law (MIL) saying my father-in-law (FIL) was being prepped for an emergency triple bypass surgery. I then had the job of telling her two sons that their dad had 99% blockage on his “widow maker” vein, also known as the left main. At this point, we didn’t really know how serious things were but I knew that we would be heading west as soon as Hubby came home for lunch.

By 4 p.m., we had drove to Enid, dropped off Tobie at my grandparents and made it back up to the hospital just in time to see the surgeon when he came out. He informed us that they had to do a quadruple bypass instead and that it appeared he had several heart attacks before leaving him with quite the damaged heart. Some words of his spoke loud and clear, “I have done all I can for him. Now it is up to his body and a higher power to take over.” Not that any heart surgery isn’t risky, but this had turned into a lot more than I was expecting. Hubby then needed to call his brother to tell him he needed to be with his family. They say that the 24 hours after any heart surgery is very crucial so we (Hubby, MIL, Aunt BA, the brother in law and his fiancĂ© (as soon as they arrived), and I) camped out in the ICU waiting room.

Friday was spent rotating… taking turns in the room, going home to shower, just getting a little peace of mind outside of the hospital. FIL was doing okay. We later found out that the surgeon did not expect him to make it through the night, so in that manner he was doing wonderful.

We were fortunate enough to have amazing night nurses (Pam x2), who said we were normal to compared to other people they had seen (don’t think I would forget that comment!), and felt confident in his recovery so we spent Friday night at home, well, the in-laws home. Saturday (July 3rd) morning, I got up and headed to the hospital because to visit before heading to my grandparents to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary. FIL was doing lovely! I hung there for a while and then went to spend the day with my family. It was nice to have my cousins come in to honor such a lifelong commitment that my grandparents continue to make. It was low key but all that was needed. The grandkids had previously sent out a card inviting people to mail them warm wishes for their anniversary. Nandy and Pa received more cards than I could have imagined!

I left their (my grandparents) house at 10:30 to help work on wedding invitations for Ryan and Priscilla’s upcoming wedding. When I got there, Hubby was still up at the hospital visiting (which technically was against the ICU rules to be there that late). When he got back, he didn’t stay up long. The rest of us chugged along putting the invitations together. We wrapped it up about 12:30 and received a dreaded phone call a little after 1 in the morning. FIL had coded. He was back and responsive but they still recommended we come to the hospital, the chaplain would meet us in the ER.

All sorts of emotions were going on throughout the 10 minute car ride to the hospital and the next several critical hours. The nurses said his body was extremely tired and they wanted to put him on a ventilator for 24 hours to give his body time to rest. Needless to say, it was more than 24 hours before he was taken off of the ventilator.

During this code, his brain was not affected but his kidneys took the shock. Due to his low blood pressure, he needed a special kind of dialysis (that Enid does not have) to give his kidneys a chance to get better. We were in the works of transferring to Tulsa where a family friends dad works... until the VA Hospital in OKC called. Their option was move to our hospital because we can treat him or foot your own bill. Tulsa is now out of the picture.

This is when our faith was put to work. There were 2 options: transfer to OKC hoping the dialysis would work or wait it out in Enid “knowing what will happen (as the surgeon said).” How I saw it was: we know what will happen if we stay here. Your body needs your kidneys. If your kidneys aren’t working, your body will slowly follow suit. So basically, we are giving up. OR we can take a leap of faith, pray that the dialysis helps his kidneys and that we don’t harm anyone moving to the VA hospital.

So, Tuesday afternoon, we were off to the VA. What an experience! To think that we, as a country, will ask men and women to fight for our freedom and not take better care of them if they return wounded or need care as a veteran. What an eye opener. The poor doctors and nurses are doing their best but the short handed staffing circumstances that they are left with are sad. FIL left Enid around 4:30, meaning he got to OKC sometime between 7 and 7:30. At 9:30, when we finally talked to the resident nothing had been done. Now this resident was also on call at the OU Medical Center across the street but come on if you are that busy maybe you need to wake your attending!

We went through a variety of issues during the stay in OKC. However, at the end of July, he left OKC on his own two feet. While you never want any of this to happen, I felt very blessed. Being that it happened in the summer, I was able to be there with my MIL when her boys and Priscilla had to go back to work. Talk about a blessing. It reaffirmed my belief in the power of prayer (which my mother firmly believed in) and I think opened others up to it more.

A year later… FIL has a pacemaker/defibrillator and is still trucking along. Doctors that have seen his file are amazed that he is the one that handed it to them. For that, there is only One to thank. For any trivial things going on in my life, I try to remind myself to stop and be patient. There is a plan. I may not know it and I may not have picked that path but it has already been chosen for me. I just have to trust that when I take a leap a faith, I will be caught.

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