Thursday, August 9, 2012

My Dad- What happened...

Three weeks ago my dad hurt his back.. He has been in a lot of pain since then (I even saw him deliver to my building and he didn't call me or anything and I happen to see him walking to his truck and he was walking SO slow, which is very unlike him) This last Thursday he REALLY tweaked his back... so much that he thought he couldn't move. Somehow, someway he pushed through the pain and finished his route and his LONG 14 hour day BEFORE he came home and then went to the ER. 
Him and my mom were at Arrowhead hospital ALL night Thursday. They did an MRI on him to determine he did not have a pinched nerve and then released him and said there was nothing wrong with him.... clearly. They came home very frustrated in the early morning hours on Friday. After numerous trips to the clubhouse hot tub my mom decided to take him to our family friend and chiropractor, Dennis Cathcart. He did something and gave my dad a little relief. After another doctor visit (AKA more pain meds) that afternoon he was able to rest a little that evening... 

By Sunday (today)  he wasn't doing very good, so my mom took him to St. Joes.... they put a catheter in and sent him home. I don't want to share all his health issues here, but he is not in good shape. I visited with him on Sunday for a few minutes and I am not gonna lie... it was extremely hard to see him like that. He is just in so much pain and there isn't much they can do for him. Or that I can do for him... there isn't anything to do but pray... for relief, an answer, something. 

My mom is just beside herself and I don't blame her... its a pretty scary situation. My brother is working so hard to do everything he can around the house so they don't have to worry about day to day things. 

It is SO hard to see someone who has always been so strong seem so weak. I am not really that close to my dad these days, but when I was a kid I was defiantly a daddy's girl... My dad has always been such a hard worker and provider. He worked long hours when he was raising us... nights, weekends, two jobs... whatever he had to do.... (just like finishing his route this week). He used his body for all those jobs and I think his back is just done. Maybe there will be a solution... some sort of shots or maybe a surgery, but in the mean time he is just miserable. Its terrible. 

I love you dad. Get feeling better soon. 

Today I will not take my pain free body for granted.

Originally posted 07/29/12

UPDATED 07/31/12 Today I met my parents at my dad's spine specialist doctor appointment. My dad was in pure pain the entire time we had to wait for the doctor. I have never seen him like this... The doctor finally saw him, reviewed his file and said he couldn't help. The source of his pain is not in his back. He suggested he get a CAT scan... he has one scheduled for Friday, but the doctor said he should for to the ER and have it done tonight.
I picked up Kenny and we met my parents at the hospital. Arrowhead ER did a great job this time and got to him right away. They did the test... came back and said the probably was not in his back or his belly (where all his pain is), but they too saw a large mass in his lung and decided to admit him. I am extremely worried that I know how this story goes. My brother has the same worry/feeling. This is not good. Kenny is extremely positive and is hoping with the rest of us that it is just a sever infection/bronchitis etc.... I personally just don't see how that could radiate such pain in his body.

My mom spent most of the day with my dad at the hospital. I visited on my lunch and Kenny visited on his lunch. My brother went up this evening after my dad asked for him... that scares me that my dad would ask to see someone... ugh. The morphine is only lasting about an hour at this point and he is still in great pain... they don't know what is causing the pain. They are puzzled by all his blood work (which looks good) yet he is still in lots of pain. Tomorrow they are doing a biopsy/surgery of the mass in his lungs. The doctor says he should know something when he comes out of surgery tomorrow, but it could be as late as Monday. When I dropped the boys off tonight they were asking about their grandpa. They miss him a lot. Little Brian doesn't like that he has to stay at the hospital and asked how long he has to live at the hospital. I told him hopefully just a couple more days. They love and miss him.

Thursday 08/02- Today they went in an pulled a biopsy from the mass in my dad's lung. The surgeon came out after the procedure to talk to my mom and I... he couldn't confirm until the tests come back but he was pretty sure it was lung cancer... stage four. He showed us a picture of the biopsy and I just wasn't getting it so he took my mom and I into his office and showed us all the scans. My dad's left lung had a mass in it filling about  60% of the lung. Both lungs had lots of 'spots' Things aren't looking good at all. We decided not to say anything further until they could actually confirm what the test said.... My dad wasn't really a happy camper when we got back to his room. He was alone there waiting while we had talked to the doctor and he was tired of waiting for answers and dealing with doctors. He wanted out of the hospital. : (
After Kenny got off work he came up to visit and that cheered my dad up. Kenny and I grabbed something to eat and then brought a vanilla shake back to my dad. He loved it.

My brother pushing my dad
Friday 08/03/12 was the being of the end. My dad began to get extremely restless. We assume from the morphine. He was angry he was in the hospital. Angry they couldn't tell him what was wrong yet. Angry he couldn't smoke and even angrier he couldn't go home. Brian. Kenny and I went to visit him that evening. He was pretty restless and wanted us to go get him cigarettes. He was confused and wanted to leave.  I was so upset to see him in this state. So not like him.  I marched up to the nurses station and talked to the charge nurse. I asked what we needed to do to get him released into hospice care. He wasn't going to fight the cancer no matter what the test said so why couldn't they let him go home now??? She was wonderful and started working on his case immediately. She told us we could take him down for a 'walk' (so he could smoke) and that seemed to make him calm down a little bit. It was hard to leave him up there when all he wanted to do is go home.

Jacob climbing the tree at the hospital 
Saturday 08/04/12 was really our last day with my dad. Kenny watch the boys while Brian and I went to visit. When we got there my dad was in pretty good spirits. Jake and Kelly Lang were up visiting him too. We were about to leave to take a walk when the doctor asked if he could come in and talk to all of us.... of course. He confirmed they had found cancer cells in my dad's test. They gave the devastating news that not only was it cancer, but the mass had grown between Thursday and Sunday (I believe this was confirmed by X-ray). We were devastated. My dad was told he was dying. After everyone asked their questions the doctor left and we all went down so the smokers could smoke. I was sitting on the curb next to my brother sobbing like a damn baby and my  daduy said, "Amanda, its going to be okay" HOW? How is this okay?? My dad was going to die and I just wasn't ready to say goodbye!!

Kenny, Brian, the boys and I came up again before we went to the Rattlers game (please don't judge us for going to that game.... at this point we really didn't know we didn't have MORE TIME... we thought it would at least be months NOT days or hours). This was the last time the boys got to see their grandpa and the last time I could hug my dad and he hugged me back and told me he loved me....

After the game Kenny and I went back up to the hospital. Around 9 PM they had called my mom and asked her to come up since my dad was being unruly. He was now having sever chest pains and they could not get his pain under control. We sat with my mom and dad for a while, but left around midnight. I just couldn't take it. He was so confused, mad and in pain.

Sunday 08/05 Today was especially hard. My mom was up ALL night with my dad. He was having severe chest pains and the morphine wasn't keeping it under control. He was up all night arranging his boxes and deliveries... obviously his mind is focused and stuck on work. We could talk to him a little bit, but he was mostly confused. He knew who we were, but he wasn't sure where he was or what he was doing. At one point he woke up and realized he was in the hospital. He asked what his problem was and my mom had to explain it all to him again. It was completely heartbreaking...

Because of the situation the night before they would not release my dad to home care hospice, but did transfer him to hospice of the Valley out in Surprise around noon. My mom road with him. He was pretty rowdy during the drive. He saw Pratts on Grand and realized he was close to home (he said that out loud) and settled down. I hate that we couldn't respect his wishes and take him home.

The hospice people were kind and told us how wonderful they were and how wonderful the facility was... We were able to bring my dad's dog, Terri up to see him. My dad did pet him and knew he was there and then took a nap.

My brother took Terri home and I was left alone with my dad. He mostly slept, but he did wake up at one point and was pissed. He ripped off the oxygen mask and high tailed it for the patio door!! I stayed right with him and couldn't believe the strength he had!! In the days before that day he had been getting around in a wheel chair and moved pretty slow and here he was practically running!! He went out on the patio and started to rearrange the furniture. He was 'loading his truck for work'. Then he decided he wanted to run out to his truck to get some cigarettes and ran for the gate!! At this point his lips were looking a little blue and he finally agreed to come back in and lay down. I barely got him back into the bed before he passed out. I put the oxygen back on him and got him situated. Through all this NO nurse EVER came in to check on him!! I was appalled and let them know it! If I wasn't there he could have been laying in the parking lot!! His nurse apologized and said that had never happened to her before (REALLY??) . They put a bed alarm on him and his door...

Later in the afternoon Brian, Kenny and I were in the room and he woke up and tried to run out again!! At that point the nurse basically sedated him and took us into the hall to talk. She told us that he was in a 'restless stage' and would need to be sedated for comfort for the duration. She said his organs were shutting down and that he wouldn't last more than a few more days!! HOW could this be??? We were just told YESTERDAY!! They didn't even have the actual results confirming what type of cancer yet!!

My brother and I talked to the social worker and made the appropriate arrangements. During certain parts of the conversation my brother and I would look at each other with tear filled eyes and make a decision. It was so hard. The social worker commented how 'well adjusted' my brother and I were... whatever that means. She also said it was nice to see siblings who support each other so well. We are blessed that we get along so well... would hate to be fighting on top of dealing with the situation.

Monday 08/06 (AKA the boys first day of school). Tonight Kenny watch the boys and my brother and I spent the evening at hospice with my parents. A neighbor brought dinner so that was one less worry. His care staff really seemed to struggle with keeping his pain under control... he woke up tonight and had 'an episode'. It was probably the most heartbreaking thing I have EVER been a part of. He asked "Why?" and wanted us to make it stop.... he asked for help and then he screamed for my mom who was right next to him. He yelled, "Scarlett!" over and over as she tried to calm and sooth him. I wasn't sure how my mom would feel about the out burst... In his moment of need all he wanted was her. I hate this. If the end is the end, why does he have to go through pain. They tell us if he wasn't on all the morphine he would be in excruciating pain. I just don't understand.

My dad's lifetime best friend flew in tonight just to see my dad. We felt terrible that he wasn't able to actually talk to my dad and have a conversation, but I feel like my dad can hear us...

My friend Bev bought our dinner one night : ) 
Tuesday 08/07- Kenny watched the boys yet again this evening so that my brother and I could go up and be with my mom and dad. Again another friend brought dinner so we didn't have to worry about it.

Sunflowers from Wist (my dad's favorite) 
While we were there tonight four of my dad's coworkers came to see him. It was neat to swap stories with them. Wist truly valued him as an employee and he really had some good friends at work.I learned my dad was known as 'short brakes' because his truck went through brakes faster than any other driver.... the GPS had him recorded at going 76 and then zero.... ha ha He was the ONLY ONE who could ever finish the route he was doing for the past 12 years.... the replacement drivers have not been able to finish once since my dad has been gone. They seriously think they will have to replace him with two drivers!!  I think that speaks volumes to his work ethic! There wasn't a day the did not finish his route... even that Thursday that he was in incredible pain. His coworkers shared stories about my dad, but his friend Daniel really seemed to look up to my dad and was just devastated by the situation.

We prayed as a group and his coworker said a beautiful prayer that calmed my heart for the night. My dad reacted with some eyebrow lifts and feet flinching... I think he had something to say about his friends being there airing his dirty laundry to his family and vise versa...

That night my mom sent me a text and asked if I still wanted to be there when it was time... I did. She text me to come right away. Kenny and I jumped in the car and headed over to the Taylor's house. Kenny stayed with the boys and Brian and sped off to Hospice. We ended up spending the entire night together as a family... a last sleep over. Hospice was very accommodating and let us pull 3 recliners in there so we all had a place to rest. There wasn't much sleeping going on... except for dad and Brian!! Mom and I were up pretty much all night (so was Kenny at the Taylor house). In the early morning hours we headed home and Brian and Kenny went to work... I did not!
Sunset on 08/08--- Heaven decorating for my dad's welcome party??

Wednesday 08/08/12- After a short nap my mom and I went back up to hospice and spent most of the day.
I was so tired, but wanted to be there for my dad. We couldn't bare for him to be there alone....
We talked to the doctor and got the 'results' from the biopsy that was done last Thursday... they confirmed that he had cancer in his lung, but they weren't sure if it had originated in the lung or some place else and spread to his lung... we are waiting on some additional tests to confirm.

Thursday 08/09/12- I slept in... I was feeling lost. I thought about going to work.... I wasn't sure what to expect from my dad... 

I don't know if its a stupid thought, a sleep deprived notion, just a coincidence or a sign from God... but today my Sunflower bloomed. These sunflowers sat practically dormant ALL summer... they didn't grow to great heights like most sunflowers do, but they didn't die... they were hardly little things and after all this time one bloomed TODAY. The bloom was small but still pretty. 
I ended up at hospice around lunch time and brought my mom some lunch from Chick-fil-a. We were sitting eating at the dinning area when my Aunt Barbara came in. She sat and we all talked for a while. My mom told her the Chaplin was coming by later and she had questions for him. My Aunt asked what questions she had... we both hesitated but the question weighing on our minds was basically would by Dad be going to Heaven.... He wasn't a religion man, but he did believe. He was a good, honest man who repented for his sins and had honorable values and ethics.... I have gone to many churches and been told many ways to get into Heaven. Some say it takes certain acts and others say grace alone will get you there... I just don't really know the right answer. My Aunt was very comforting about what she said and I felt a huge weight lift from my shoulders.... and I guess my dad did too. Just minutes after our conversation my dad's breathing slowed to about 2-4 seconds between breaths. I texted Kenny and my brother this change... it was no more than seconds after I texted them that my dad took a LONG pause in breathing.... We panicked and got the nurse. I held my dad's hand as he took his last breaths and his heart stopped. It was wonderfully awful. I am glad I was there, but it was just so hard to see it happen. I guess he was sure after our conversation and could go HOME.  I am thankful I my mom, my aunt and I were all there with him. I am so glad he is no longer in pain, but I just can't believe he is gone. It was so QUICK! He went in for backpain and died 2 weeks later... thats just crazy. It doesn't seem real at this point. 


We had ice cream for dinner that night... one more round on my dad-

Updated: 08/10/12- We got the results from the tests... they could not narrow down my dad's illness beyond either Bone Marrow Cancer or Lung Cancer, but they could not confirm... I think bone marrow cancer seems like a likely explanation since he had so much pain... he never had pain in his check until about 6 days before he passed... the lower back pain was there for a good 4 weeks. 

My brother is doing an amazing job handling all the arrangements and what not. Its pretty impressive how he has taken the lead and is being so responsible... Love my family. 


  1. That really is one of the hardest things to see. I'm sorry he's feeling so miserable. I will add your family to my prayers. I hope his pain subsides soon.

  2. Amanda, I'm glad that you wrote everything down. It is so heartbreaking to read everything that happened to your dad and your family in such a short time period, but you will be glad that you have a record of it. I'm so sorry for your loss. Love you!