Friday, August 13, 2010

Painful Blessings

This past week has been one of the hardest of my life. It all started Saturday before last when my Dad decided it was time to go to the hospital for some pressure in his chest. My Mother called me to let me know they would be at the emergency room. I was semi worried, but decided that it was just a precaution and my Dad would be fine.

The doctors strongly suggested that he admit himself into the hospital until Monday when they would perform an angiogram to determine if the tightening was his heart. Again I worried, but the unknown is always a worry thus I thought my Dad would be fine. I should have known when they admitted him into the ICU that something serious could be taking place.

Monday rolled around and the angiogram was performed in Logan. We found out that he had a 90% blockage in a major artery that is sometimes referred to as "The Widowmaker". Again, the worry came, but at least now we knew what the problem was (or so I thought). Logan is not equipped to treat him (place stints) so they sent him to Ogden Regional Hospital.

My sister is on a cruise in Alaska and both of her kidos are staying with my parents. Thus I was at my parents' home watching children when my Mother called and explained what was taking place. Luckily, we was able to find babysitters for all the kids (thanks to Lynette, Chelsey, Sharee, Sonya and Rod, Amy and everyone else that helped).

The drive down to the hospital seemed to take forever as we went through the center of Ogden (I do not recommend this route). We were told in Logan that he would probably need a stint to open up an artery. I was nervous, but my Mom has seen the operation done on my Grandmother, so she knew exactly what to expect.

Finally, we arrived at the hospital to meet Dr. Deihl. There we were told he had another blockage that was about 70% on the opposite side of the heart(I am not sure why they didn't catch it in Logan). He explained to us that the angiogram he received from Logan was not very clear and he wanted to do another one along with an ultrasound of the heart.

I could be more?!? We were alarmed to say the least, but still it would be good to know exactly what is going on inside the heart. Dr. Deihl performed the angiogram while we waited with my aunt Sonya and uncle Rod. A nurse came to get us after about an hour and told us to follow her into the operating room where the angiogram along with an ultrasound took place.

There Dr. Deihl was waiting for us. I noticed his gloves were covered in blood and couldn't help but think that was my Dad's blood. They took us into a small room overlooking the operating area. My Dad was still on the table and I cried when I saw the bloody gauze on the table by him.

The results of the angiogram scared us to say the least. They showed us the heart and there were little blockages throughout and larger ones on some of the main arteries. Not knowing the extent of the blockage beforehand I felt like a bomb was being dropped. I tried to control my emotions as I heard things like, "Would have died on the spot if a heart attack had taken place". Or, "No other option but open heart surgery" and my favorite, "Extensive heart disease, the plaque is all over."

What!?! My Dad is 53 and very active. He looks nothing like I would think when heart disease comes to mind. The doctor also mentioned that it was most likely hereditary.

We made our way back to the waiting room where we allowed ourselves to cry with our new reality. Unfortunately, Ashley (my sister)called for an update just as we found out. I was very emotional on the phone which I am sure scared her to death. She was still on her cruise and depended on us for the news.

That night we checked into a hotel and waited for the next morning when my Dad would go into surgery for a 4-5 hours. We said our goodbyes and waited and waited and waited. Finally, after two hours the update was good and the surgery was a success thus far. After about 4 1/2 hours we found that everything had went as planned. They took two arteries out of his chest and one vein out of his leg.

It was hard seeing Dad after surgery because he was mostly out of it and had a breathing tube as well as four large tubes coming out of his chest. He winced when he woke up slightly and I cried. It is hard seeing such a strong man dependant upon machines for life. The day of surgery was the hardest to say the least. We kept in contact with my Sister by text and phone calls. I felt so bad for her that she was away and having to get updates from us.

Each day my Dad continues to do better and I cannot help but feel how blessed we are to have him with us still. He had been feeling the chest pressure for over a month and a half before he told us. We even went on a hike to White Pine Lake and tried to make it up the north side to go to High Creek. Part of the hike we were on our hands and knees climbing. He felt the pressure then and I cringe to think what would have happened if he would have had a heart attack at that point.

We are all trying to look at the positives in this situation. He is better off than he was two weeks ago. He still has time to spend with us and his grandchildren. As well as many other happy realities.

Everyone who knows me well knows that I love frosting, butter, steak and all of the artery clogging foods, but no longer! I have learned my lesson and had my wake up call. My Great-Grandfather died of a heart attack in his 60's as well so I will have to be extra careful for myself and my family.

I want to thank everyone for your calls, support and prayers. I know that we are loved as a family and I felt it very much this week. I know that my Dad has more to accomplish in this life or he would not be with us any longer. I am grateful for TIME and that I have more of it with my Dad and family. Please give your Father's a hug and appreciate them every day because you have no idea what day will be that last.


cheeks said...

Oh Michelle, that is really scary. I'm so glad the surgery was a sucess. It definitely gives us all a wake-up call.... hang in there. I'll be thinking of you and pray your dad has a speedy and full recovery!

Marie said...

you and your family are in my prayers! heart attacks run in Kurt's family, too....such a scary thing. I'm glad everything has gone well so far!

The Palmers said...

Oh Micelle, I am so happy that everything is turning for the better, We will be keeping you and your family in our prayers.

Erin said...

You are in our prayers. I hope he is recovering quickly!
Erin and TJ

abby said...

Michelle, I don't know if you remember me. We worked together at Origins a few years ago. I stumbled across your blog recently. I just wanted to say hello. I am so sorry for the scare you had and I am glad to hear your dad is recovering well. I will keep you and your family in my prayers. Abby

Kim said...

Sorry to hear about your dad! I'm glad he is doing better. These are scary moments in life that we never look forward to.

Ariel said...

I am so happy that everything went well with the surgery. Thank goodness for more time and modern medicine. Your dad is a good guy. I hope his recovery goes well. We love you guys.

The Randalls said...

Wow, Michelle. I'm glad to hear the surgery went well. Heart disease is so scary, and Ben has lots of family history of it, so we're already worried. I hope he continues to mend well, and I'm glad he went in early enough.
On another note, it's been fun to get to know your friend Ariel and her family a little bit. I can see why you two got along--great girls!