Thursday, December 27, 2007

Post-Christmas blahs

Warning: LONG post...grab a bathroom break, freshen your coffee...

We're past the holiday and in that fuzzy state between Christmas and New Years...the holiday itself was such a weird mix of happy and sad, that I'm not sure how I'm feeling now. A little tired, a little work-weary...can't complain about the hours really; when push comes to shove, it'll be 40 just like any other work week. A project fell into our laps right before Christmas, which the higher-ups would love completed by the end of the fiscal year, which is, yup, you guessed it: New Years' Eve. There's lots of pressure, it's a very dry (read: BORING) project, which if thought about too hard produces a "this TOTALLY sucks!!!" whinyness, thus the post-Christmas blahs.

Certainly doesn't have to do with a lack o' gifties...I had myself quite a nice some hand looms and a pile of knitting and crochet supplies, a new outfit that fits wonderfully (the MominLaw has developed a gift for buying me clothes in spite of my size, without my having to be there to try it on); some DVDs and books, and I treated myself to a pair of casual ankle boots/sneaks that are way comfy. The stuffed Lorax from LilSis was the best treat of all! He's my favorite Dr. Seuss character and environmentalist! Yes, folks, 38 years old and my best giftie was a little orange dude with a huge mustache who's shaped like a rugby ball.

I understand what killed Dad finally...not that I can put it into words yet. Well, these next two paragraphs kind of illustrate to the contrary...Mom gave me his hospital file, and try as I might have to put it off til later, I skimmed the whole thing when I got home from her place Christmas Day. In another day or two, I'll make some notes for myself with the help of my Gray's Anatomy, and then get the file back to her, because I could tell she was having a little trouble relinquishing it the other day, as it's our only copy. I have some anger to release toward the doctors for dumbing things down for us so much during those 2 days (like standing around scratching their heads and calling it a catastrophic event, when they could've told us the truth, that the several aneurysms in his body were suffering fatal compromise, his left ventricle was operating at about 15% capacity, and his heart just couldn't sustain life anymore), but I realize there's absolutely nothing to be gained from calling people fucking assholes 7½ months after the fact, so I'll find a way to release that rage. So much frustration though...I know all 4 of us (Mom, Meara, Cyril, and I) probably have 4 very different memories of those 2 days, given the as-yet-unexperienced level of grief and stress, but I never heard the words "aortic dissection" pass anyone's lips unless they were talking about 1982...and the fact remains that one of the things that the file tells us is that by mid-afternoon that Friday (he went in Thursday night, passed at noon on Saturday), the docs thought his aorta around the graft was showing compromise, so even if he wasn't already suffering from multi-system organ failure, his heart would've blown and taken him. And the testaments to his strength are right there on paper...we were communicating with him, looking him in the eyes and seeing coherence, when he was already hitting a blood sugar in the high 300s in the afternoon that Friday.

I even get why they could never operate to try to fix his issues...the cardiac system is a very large and dependent system, dependent on itself, that is. Only when they first discovered the problems/weaknesses could they have had a chance at repairing them, because once multiple areas become compromised, it becomes much more dangerous to attempt repair. Can't fix the carotid if the left ventricular artery is also in trouble, can't fix the heart if there's abdominal aortic aneurysms looking for an excuse to blow...and I also accept that there's an excellent chance he was afraid to go under the knife again. He probably couldn't see past the fear, to the advances that have been made in modern medicine since 1982; all he saw was time he'd be out of work, time spent immobile, time spent unable to help his family, not getting how he'd be helping his family by undergoing any procedures. 1982 must've been terrifying for him, only 42 years old and laid flat for 3 months, afraid to sneeze because the pain would nearly knock him unconscious. I don't condone his fear, but I know him, so I'll understand it.

This verbal diarrhea brought to you by Baptist Heart Hospital, who remind you that if you actually want the truth from your doctors, threaten litigation upfront. I don't know what else I could've done. Cyril was our large, formidable spokesperson at times, since he'd cosigned Dad's living will and been living with them for a year; but there were several times when I was looking Stapleton (Dad's cardiologist) in the face and telling him I was medical-terminology-savvy and could he please educate me further as to what was going on, and I got lip service. I got "we're as stumped as you are." And they knew. The time stamps on their dictation are testament to their knowledge. But unless you're actually wearing scrubs, they're not going to take you seriously, I guess. It's an unfair assumption that makes me livid, makes me want to go to med school and major in cardiology. Doubt I'll go that far, but there's got to be something I come away from this with, besides anger.

Wait, I already know I'm coming away with more; I got to the end of that file on Christmas night and felt a great sense of relief and was so much more tangible an understanding than when I read his autopsy file - that sucker produced more questions than answers. But his hospital file illustrates what was happening as it was happening, and I finally understood. I can stop bargaining, hop over depression, and try my hand at acceptance. Sounds easy, don't it? Don't worry, I know better.

So we press on, and hold tightly to the good memories and to ourselves. A new year creeps toward us, and there are plans to be made. Finances be damned, we're going to start trying for kids in February, so there's work to be done.

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