Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Rizzo's Ramblings...Trauma

So I have another story to tell. There is no telling how often I will blog because I have so many stories. This one is about my dad. In 1999 on July 14 I get a call from my mom. My dad had a heart attack and was in the local hospital. My sister, Jackass, (whom I wrote about here) was living with me at the time. Both of us freaked out and high tailed it to the hospital. When we arrived my dad was sitting up on the gurney telling the nurses he needed a drink and a smoke. We all laughed and knew everything was going to be ok. They did a cardiac cath and not only was there no damage to his heart, but he did not have ANY kind of blockages. They were amazed at the health of his heart. He was prescribed nitro glycerin tablets, told to quit smoking, and take two weeks off work. The doctors believed stress was what caused the heart attack. Now, my dad worked every day his whole life. Double hernia? He worked until they forced the operation on him. When it was time to get the staples removed he bought a fifth of liquor, palmed a few percocet, and removed them himself. Needless to say, he did not make it a week without going back to work. Fast forward to August 20 of the same year. Ten days after his fiftieth birthday. He got up and left for work just like any normal day. Halfway to the job he started having chest pains and realized he had left his nitro at home. He made it back to the house, sat down in his favorite recliner got an aspirin and a nitro under his tongue and fell out in seizures. My dad is six feet three inches tall and weighed about 250 pounds. My mom is five foot nothing. She called nine one one and proceeded to try to do CPR. It took the paramedics ten minutes to get there, and that is about how long my dad had been dead. No oxygen to the brain. The paramedics applied the paddles and got his heart to start beating again. This time when I got the call I was in the shower and it was my cousin who called me. He told me that dad had had another heart attack. I was just about to blow it off when he said "It doesn't look good. You need to hurry up and get here if you want to see him alive." I don't remember getting to the hospital. At this point (August) I had already had to kick Jackass out and so we were not on speaking terms. I am not sure who called her, but someone did. When I got to the hospital my dad was still in one of the trauma rooms in the emergency department. He was hooked up to all kinds of monitors and "posturing". If you don't know what that is, it is involuntary muscle spasms that a person's body goes through after severe brain damage. He couldn't speak, but tears were streaming down his face. I had to leave the room. We sat in the waiting room and waited. And waited some more. No one had any good answers. All that the neurologist would tell us was that he had 72 hours. Either his brain would stop swelling (lack of oxygen causes the brain to swell) or he would die. 72 hours. That is what we were given. So with that we all went home. My mother was so broken she did nothing but cry and hang on to one of my dads work shirts he had worn earlier in the week. She couldn't (wouldn't?) communicate with the doctors, so I was listed as the next of kin. I was to make all the decisions about his care, and I would be the one to receive the death call that all the doctors predicted we would get. In the middle of that night my phone rang. I didn't want to answer it expecting it to be the hospital. It was Jackass. She was tore out of the frame (per usual) and had went to the wrong hospital looking for our dad. She was so convinced that the hospital staff was lying to her about him not being there that she caused a scene and was escorted by security out of the building. As she was walking down their steps she fell and got herself admitted to the same wrong hospital for a bump on the head. As she was telling me all of this I could hear her good for nothing boyfriend yelling in the background. The next thing I knew Jackass was asking me to pick her up off the corner they had dumped her out on. I said no. I couldn't leave the phone. Jackass never made it to the hospital to see my dad. More about her in a bit. For the next 72 hours I practically lived at the hospital. The swelling stopped. He was going to make it. The problem now was they weren't sure if he was going to be in a permanent vegetative state. They kept measuring his brain waves and they were practically non existent  For two more days I endured what I considered bullshit by the hospital staff. I had a couple nurses thrown off his case. The biggie was when I went over the cardiologists head to the hospital administrator of a different hospital to have my dad moved. I was tired of their shit. At this point Jackass called my mom (Jackass and I were half sisters. Shared the same father but had different mothers). Jackass informed my mom that she was going to sue my mom and myself for alienation of affection because she did not get to see dad in the hospital. Still she was convinced a whole hospital lied to her about my dad being a patient just to keep her away from him.  SO now, not only was my mom incoherent as far as my dad but she was angry because of Jackass. You know what she did? She had a few too many drinks and showed up at my house drunk. To cry. On my shoulder. In the midst of all this, I was moving. My new house was not going to be ready for a week and so I had to go stay with my brother (half again. Moms son but not dads) until I could move into my new house because my lease was up on the old one. I had to give my brothers phone number to the hospital so that they could reach me there in case dad needed emergency treatment or took a turn for the worse. At this point it had been 3 weeks. Dad had been put on a feeding tube, was in adult diapers, and had to have what looked like boxing gloves on his hands because he was involuntarily scrubbing his face with his hand and pulling out the feeding tube. They didn't help, so the tube went straight into his stomach instead of up his nose and down into it. The cardiologist told us dad had went into fibrillation and a defibrillator could be implanted in his heart, but what would the point be if he was a vegetable? Why prolong his life he said. So no defibrillator.  The day before I was supposed to move from my brother's into my new house the phone rang. It was the hospital. They asked to speak to me, and I could see the trepidation in my brothers face when he handed me the phone. Then I hear the words "Your father opened his eyes this morning and he knows his name."  At that point I was charged with getting him on disability. That was easier than expected. I just don't think they can deny someone who has already been dead once...You guys. They called him the miracle man. He didn't know how to tie his shoes, or read, or write, and for a very long time he was delusional and had hallucinations. He would go from being coherent and knowing what he was talking about to thinking that someone was out to get him and had planted explosives in the hospital to try to kill him. He had to take about ten different medications several times a day. Finally, his lifetime limit ran out on his health insurance and no rehab center would keep him. SO I helped my mom take him home and made lists of schedules so she could give the right medicine to him at the right time. I helped her move all the guns out of the house because sometimes he fancied himself Wyatt Earp. I have pictures of that day. You can see the vacant look in my dads eyes. You can tell he doesn't know who the hell any of us are. He actually accused us of stealing his furniture as we took it out of the house to make it safer for him to move around in. I am pleased to say that NOW fifteen years later you could not look at or talk to him and know he ever went through any of this. Except for when he tells you he is stupid because he has been dead once. He doesn't remember much of it at all. That is probably a good thing. I remember every horrible second. For years I couldn't talk about it without crying because I never got to. I didn't have time. I had to take care of everyone else. Including my fiance and his three children. Yes. I am crazy. I have been traumatized. My dad died. Now I will have to go through him dying again. God help me when that happens.


  1. ♥ You never know how strong you are until you have no other choice ♥ Hugs to you dear!

  2. That is so true! Thanks for reading, and for the support! Xoxo