Friday mom sent me the word that my Father, who had just undergone serious kidney surgery had begun to bleed internally. My boss sent me on my way early, and Will and I were headed up to NY within the hour. 5 hours later I walked into the ICU at Northern Westchester Hospital to my tall, strong, Dad now sick, vulnerable and hooked up to everything possible. The occupational therapy assistant in me (who had started her career taking and monitoring vitals) looked at all the numbers before I actually approached my Dad. All numbers were normal despite his nasal-canula and the monitors stuck to his chest, IVs coming out of both arms like spider man. For the next 2 days I was the walking dead. I slept in a wonderful hotel bed for 12 hours each night, but woke to anxiety that exhausted me. Will was beside me through it all, while still making sure he was getting his grad school work done so his grades didn’t go down. He was superman.
There was a moment, mom was out of the room, Will in the caregivers lounge doing work and it was me and Dad. Dad had nodded off and the lights in the ICU were dim. Soft beeping sounds came from all machines all over the ICU as family members settled into their own evening watch of their loved one. My dad’s compression leg sleeves sounded like soft breathing as the air was pumped in and out to make sure no blood clots formed and moved into areas of my Dad’s body to cause more harm. I lay on his bed next to where he sat in the Geri-chair and positioned my hand carefully on his arm between the IVs. He turned his head and opened his eyes only to shut them again slowly. He was so at peace. I thanked God so much for our reconciliation talk the last time he was in Baltimore. I thanked God that I was able to be only a 5 hour drive to be by his side. His skin was soft and I just looked at my Papa. “Make it, Dad! Do you hear me? Make it!” I closed my eyes and tears came down my cheeks. I wanted to just rip all the stuff off him and make him get up and dance with me, but just as that impulse came, it went and I was left, me and Papa, in the ICU, prayers and love and fear and sheer exhaustion. I was left simply wanting to crawl into his arms and have him hug me with his big bear hug that always makes me feel so safe. “I will be strong for you Dad. I will be strong, and you will get better and we will be just fine….we are fine….just fine.” He didn’t hear me speak. Mom came into the room and took out her cards to work on and offered me a bottle of water.
Today is the first day back to work and I am missing Dad like crazy. My heart is in Westchester and even though Dad was moved on his Bday to a normal room and out of the ICU I am on edge. The tumor they removed was in the center of his kidney and they had to remove 2/3 of his kidney to make sure there were wide margins around where the tumor had been. We are waiting to hear from the pathologist news of what this tumor is. I feel like I am floating, like I want to scratch out of my body and run and hide under the covers. With work stuff going nuts, with Will’s dad having a spot picked up on the MRI and my Dad in the hospital I must admit I feel I am in a storm I have never known before. Part of me wants to zone out staring at the wall, sipping a nice shot of tequila. The other part wants to have a sleep fest until all problems and answers are solved and fixed.
Tonight I will have my own evening watch….and every night another, until my Dad is home, the pathology comes back clean, Will’s dad is fine, my job settles down and I can hum again and roll my windows down with the music blaring and have not a care in the world.