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Two weeks of wake up calls...

Two weeks ago on Friday (March 10)  I woke up to see an email from my dad with the subject 'DON'T PANIC' which went on to explain that the had a heart attack the night before and was in the hospital. Andy was in Vegas at a convention for work and I was all alone. I didn't know how to process this so I focused on problem-solving the first task at hand which was to find a replacement to pick up Andy at the airport on Sunday. My dad's  forewarning of 'Don't Panic' did put me at some ease, and I tried to remember that his dad had a heart attack and lived for another 25 years. However, it was still upsetting. The thought of losing my dad brought me to tears at my desk when I got to work. I had stayed so composed up till then. I know it's bound to happen eventually but the loss of my dad would be a devastating, gaping hole in my life. I still rely on my dad for advice, for jokes, for emotional support. I don't know what I'd do without my dad. I don't even want to think about it.

I took off work at noon that Friday and went up to the Cherry Hill Swedish to visit him. I bought him a flower at the hospital gift shop and went up to see him. Seeing him at first made me a little upset but I didn't want to show him. I gave him his flower and took a seat next to him. He was watching baseball, spring training the Mariners playing last year's world championship winners The Cubs. I got the story of what happened.

Apparently, he and my mom had gone to the preview of the new show at the schmee and he was in a bit of pain as he was closing up the theatre afterward. By the time he had got home the pain was more excruciating. They called 911, the paramedics showed up and my dad was all "I think I"m having a heart attack" and they put the machine on him to monitor his heart and were like "you're totally having a heart attack, you're coming with us." I say it in this way because this is pretty much how nonchalantly my dad told me the story, though he was less valley girl about it in his wording.

Once at the hospital they put a stint in the heart valve, which they go through the vein in the thigh. My dad was telling me about how weird that felt. I hung out with him for a couple of hours, helped him a bit while he ate his lunch. My mom, who had stayed with him all night had gone home to get some rest and check on the cats. I felt a bit helpless in helping her out as neither one of us drive. It turned out okay, though, I was visiting in a time where my mum was not. I took off when the doctor came to perform and EKG.

Like I said, Andy was in Vegas for work so I had been all alone for a while. I used most of that alone time working on work stuff from home in the evenings myself, not really doing anything fun. So I was kind of torn as to if I needed real Mir time, singing or watching one of my favorite (depressing) films Amadeus, Trainspotting or if I should reach out to a friend and be social. I couldn't decide what I wanted. I thought about reaching out to Raye but I just wasn't sure. Then, she texted meanwhile I was waiting fro the bus home and I took that as a sign that I needed to not be alone. Raye came over and we made burritos together, drank, talked and played Farkle. The next day I went over to Dani's to watch some Broad City. The next day went to go see Get Out (so good!) with Dani, Raye and Lindsey. I am fortunate to have a good support system of friends that got my mind off the things I didn't want to think about.

My dad was released from the hospital that Saturday. Going back to the fact that i don't drive, this incident pretty much cemented the fact that I need to learn how to drive. Andy's truck was here at home, I just couldn't use it because i don't know how to drive. i could have really helped my mom out with a car to go. Or helped my dad when he was released from the hospital. I genuinely felt bad about this. So this summer. I don't want to get a car, I'd just do car 2 go or something but it's decided. I'm going to learn how to drive.

I also got a nagging email from my dad reminding me that heart issues runs in the family. He didn't say it specifically but I know concern about my weight and smoking were implied.

Backtracking a little, when Andy got to Vegas, he started suffering from immense tooth pain for his whole trip. i scheduled something for him at my old dentist in lower Queen Anne for the Monday after he returned at 4pm. After work, I walked over there to meet him. Before he came out, it was a bad sign that all the folks at the dentist office were all "poor guy." His teeth are in a bad state. He was referred to a specialist for the root canals. The doc was upfront about the amount of work (and money) would need to go into saving his teeth. We're talking loads to root canals, crowns and up to $80k in bills after insurance. So this, too was a wake-up call. Andy needs to cut out sugar pretty much entirely. I'm supportive in this and will follow suit, it would be good for me to do as well with weight, I make the one exception for me personally that I can have my British KitKats when I'm on the rag.

I don't know what we're going to do as far as the expense. Dental tourism has been brought up but that still requires money for the flight and accommodations, so is it really that much cheaper? It's also particularly frustrating because the goal for this year was to put money into savings for a down payment on a house eventually but we've been blocked from doing this at every turn. First, it was the kitty going to the vet, then the dog, car issues and now this, which pretty much going to be an ongoing cost. It all really got under Andy's skin that life has seemed to fuck him over, yet again. That there's just no way to get ahead. So I need to try to be optimistic and go with the flow. This too shall pass, but we've got to deal and take the life lessons in it, which in this case is the lifestyle changes in regards to health.

Then, this weekend on Sunday evening Andy got a call from Dan saying that Kristen had a stroke and was in the hospital (again Cherry Hill Swedish, I'm getting too well acquainted with that place) and could we come and bring him and friends/family there something to eat. Without a second thought, we got ready and went out the door and headed to the hospital. We brought Dick's (local burger chain for those not in the area) over to them and joined them in the waiting room.

Kristen was bent over clipping their dog's nails, when she got up she said she had a pounding headache then she buckled, her face dropped and her speech slurred. Luckily Dan recognized the symptoms of a stroke right away and called the ambulance. They went to Evertt hospital first then sent her the neurology department at Cherry Hill. She had an emergency surgery explore the clot and then the issue was the brain swelling. In fact. that's where she still is now.

It could be a week for the brain's swelling to come down and then from there, they will know the real prognosis. If she pulls through--and yes that is still and if but each day that she keeps fighting her odds get better--there's likely to be permanent damage from language skills to paralyzation. It's going to be a difficult road ahead for sure but right now poor Dan is stuck in a limbo of not knowing but is being kept busy with all the legal hurdles of power of attorney for the bank, etc. They got married just back in October, can't say I blame them, Andy and I have been married fro 3 years and haven't prepared for anything like this either.

Thinking about what Dan must be going through breaks my heart. I'm sympathetic that he's keeping himself occupied taking care of all these practical hurdles. That's how I manage stressful or traumatic experiences as well. It's why the first thing I did when I heard my dad had a heart attack, was trying to arrange a new ride for Andy. If I'm problem-solving, I feel like I'm in control of something. So he on the surface seems to be holding it togeth but I'm sure when left alone, it must be so very hard and emotional. I want to help, but there's not much we can do at this stage. We offered our place to him if he needs to crash or shower or anything and not have to drive all the way up to Lake Stevens. Luckily there's been an outpouring of people wanting to help and offer support since this happened.

When we left the hospital on Sunday night, it became clear that we hadn't had these conversations or prepared for this at all, if we had been in Dan's situation. Andy knows I wish to be cremated, though he's undecided on that. He knows that if I've ever a vegetable, I'd want the plug to be pulled because I don't wish to be a burden on my loved ones when the real 'me' has already died. But what if the prognosis is more of a gray area? I hadn't really thought of that. I think I'd like to try to stick around but if, say, stuck in my own head without the ability to communicate sounds like a personal hell. I don't know. That's something I should decide on and put that shit in legal writing. Further, Andy and I hold separate bank accounts, we need to go in sometime and give each other the permission to access the other's account in an emergency. We should come up with living wills, etc. So this is a real wake-up call that we need to discuss and formalize this stuff. And we're not alone, this has prompted Raye and Rob and other friends to initiate discussion with thier partners. It's not something you want to think about, but it's something that I'm sure you'd be grateful for having done if you ever find yourself in Dan's position.

As I close up this long-winded entry, I'll say this. I'm a fairly staunch atheist, however, I try not to be a dick about it. If a story I have told has triggered human empathy and your reaction to that empathy is to pray, or light a candle, or just keep Kristen or my dad in your thoughts, please do. If so inclined, you can also give to the care of Kristen's beloved horse, Drum, while Kristen is recovering by donating here. Also be thankful for the folks in your life who love you, and tell them you love them often. 


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 30th, 2017 06:54 pm (UTC)
My dad is doing all right, thank you. He's getting back to work at the theatre but taking it slower, as we're all making sure he does.

Oh gosh I didn't even think about having to take the test with a stranger! Haven't gotten that far yet. Yikes. I'm worried about learning in Andy's SUV on these narrow Seattle street and parallel parking? Terrifying!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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