Relieved of Duty
Yesterday my dad had another surgery. A simple exploratory lap, and debrievement, which is essentially to clean up any dead or dying tissues or structures around an affected area and doing some cleanup. It was supposed to be very light and minor, so this time instead of 5 different doctors telling me, “you know, he is fragile and, you know this is very risky”…(like the last surgery,where I wanted to say to the 4th Dr., “dude, I get it. My dad has a high chance of expiring”), this time only one anesthesiologist said that surgeries can be risky. So that was when I knew I think he’ll be fine for this one.
Regardless though, I waited outside the OR and everytime those doors swung open, there’s that small window of, ‘is this going to be it?’. It’s a hair raising experience, I think I aged a few years just standing outside the OR. But finally the Dr. came out and said it was good, they didn’t have to do ‘that’ much cleanup. And the finally closed him up for good. So he’s headed over to the ICU for recovery, and that was when I told family that we shouldn’t be visiting right after surgery, I don’t want any added germs around him for the night. So we all went home, (and there was a moment where I almost turned around after everyone had left, because I said if that were me. My dad would be right by my side. But I thought to myself. It’s best for him I not be there).
So I headed home, and Chrissie’s mother was rear ended, so she had to help her out and wasn’t going to be home, so I hung out and had dinners with my two friends Danny n Tram-Anh. (well three, considering their cute dog Leo). I had dinner, and tea afterwards, and I think from a clarity point of view, it was the first time I started to let my guard down. I think my subconscious told me, hey, I think dad’s gonna be ok. Not always on a state of orange alert, always freaking out when the phone rings. So after tea at their place (which is about 5 blocks from my house mind you, they live very close, and I’ve done the drive gazillions of times because they live hear the Tustin Marketplace), I drove home….and I don’t know how else to describe it…It was very very surreal. It’s analogous to having someone stand on guard duty outside in the rain with enemy fire all around you for a week. And just holding out, dodging bullets, while you see others pretty much fall around you. Then someone taps you on the shoulders and says, “You are relieved of duty”.
This was right after my company did a round of layoffs, and I lost a good friend to that layoff, so the shock of it all still wasn’t fully addressed. Then this happened to my dad, and it was a week + ordeal. (ER, DOU, ICU, waiting outside of OR, ICU, OR again, now back to ICU)
My mind just shut down, and finally had some peace because I literally zoned out and drove to nowhere. About half way through, I start to realize, umm…I don’t know exactly where this is, but this is not on my way home. I had no clue how I got there. Last thing I remember was making a turn on Jamboree. So I still kinda just kept on going, but my subconscious said, “you better whip out that gps soon because seriously, I have no clue where you are”. And I guess I must have some friends in high places, because right then my friend Doug texted me, asking if things were ok. And then Chrissie texted me, asking where I was. So the phone beeping got me to snapped out of it, and I got my bearings, then made my way home. To which I promptly got into bed and passed out. Mind you, this was the first night in a week, I got to sleep in bed with my wife. Most of it was me getting home too late, so I would go downstairs to nap, or earlier on, I slept at the ICU waiting room.
So I’m happy. It’s the 8:26 in the morning now, I’m about to get ready, eat breakfast, and head over to the ICU to say hi to pops, see how his vitals are doing, and then start planning out my good-will/good-deeds tour. When they put him to a regular room instead of the ICU, I’ll be even more relieved, but suffice to say. I think we’re starting to see the edges of the woods. Who knows, tomorrow may be a different story. But I’ll worry about it when it comes.
Wanted to thank all my friends, family, and coworkers who were very supportive through this entire ordeal.
Oyee I have sooo many questions for him when he gets out. I want to ask him if he remembers his heart flat-lining and if he felt anything. Did it hurt? (the standard stupid question of, was he scared?), was he relaxed? At some point when it hurt so bad did he just want to say, no more? how did a 360 joules of energy feel coursing through his body? I’m sure people who go through that must have post traumatic stress of some sort. But my dad’s been through re-education camps and all sorta of bad juju, so I’m wondering if this is just a walk in the park? Who knows….
I took two pictures on 1/12/09. This was right before his first surgery, where the 5 doctors tried to manage my expectations by pretty much stating this could really suck. Unfortunately they don’t allow cameras in the ICU, I would of totally loved to document this experience. Maybe I will because I find it fascinating. But since I had no camera, I used blackberry camera to do so because at that moment I was not sure if these were going to be the last two pictures I would be able to take of him while he’s still alive. (here’s one of them)
And the second is to show how much stuff he had. (this was after they took the dialysis machine off of him because that was a whole different set of equipment). But to the right he has a CPAP machine (pretty much a machine that breathes for him), and to the left are a ton of drips. They had him on morphine, 4 different anti-biotics, food bags, blood transfusions, medication to keep his heart pumping, just all sorts of stuff. Plus an a-line or an arterial line to get better blood pressure readings, oye, it makes the head spin.