Wednesday, May 20, 2009

22 Days Later....7 lbs. Lighter....

So here's the thing---my dad had a heart attack. Seems simple enough...longtime smoker, beer drinker, and not always the healthiest eater (take for example: he LOVES raw hamburger). YUCK!! Needless to say, his heart attack was well earned. I guess he had some pain awhile ago and even joked around to some of the guys at work that if he didn't know better, then he would have thought he was having heart attack....well, I guess he didn't know better. He WAS in fact having a heart attack. About a week later, when his chest was still bothering him, he decided to schedule a routine doctor's appointment. Well, low and behold, the doctor sent him to the ER and then the ER transported him via ambulance to the nearest heart center. Adalynn and I flew in the next day and plan to stay until Tuesday (a short 4 day trip).

Close monitoring over the next few days revealed elevated enzyme levels which seemed to indicate that he had most likely had several smaller heart attacks. On Monday, April 27 he was to undergo a routine heart cath where they would shoot some dye into his veins and see if they could see blockage and either clean it out (angioplasty) or place a stint in it to clear it. They found 90-95% blockage in the right coronary artery and were able to place 2 stints to clear it out. The surgery was a success and all went well.

The problems began as he was coming out of the anesthesia (which was just what they consider 'conscience sedation'-not even full anesthesia). At this time he began exhibiting signs of alcohol withdrawal. He began having Delirium Tremens (DTs). The main symptoms are confusion, disorientation and agitation as well as other signs of instability (especially with the cardiac and respiratory systems). They began administering medicines to sedate him but it was not working. 6 nurses, 2 security guards, physical restraints, and finally after some serious doses of Ativan he was sedated. Because of all of this his body went into respiratory failure and he was placed on a ventilator....all because he drank beer. I finally admitted that my dad was an alcoholic. It was hard to say and even harder to see the ramifications of it....but it was true. My siblings were furious at me for saying it, but it was true. My dad was/is an alcoholic!

Seeing my dad on a ventilator was very overwhelming. Adalynn and I spent day after day at the hospital. She was a trooper during the whole situation, but it began to wear on both of us. We weren't eating on a regular schedule and we were eating lots of junk. I was surprised that I actually lost weight, I figured I would have gained based on what I was eating. John drove in with the boys the following Sunday. They were a welcome distraction and boy was I glad to see them. My 4 day trip had already been extended. Thank goodness this all took place during finals week for John and then his two week break between spring and summer session. John and the boys stayed for a few days, but since my dad was still not showing any signs of waking up, he decided it would be best to head home with the kids. Yes, John drove from central IN to Eastern PA with 3 kids and a dog. They all did great. I was so sad when they left, but knew it would be easier to be at the hospital without Adalynn (although it was nice to have her there and she definitely kept me occupied). I am so blessed to have an amazing husband that was willing to let me be with my dad for such an extended time. The house was even somewhat clean once I made it home.

Well, 17 days after he went to the hospital and 15 days after he was sedated and placed on a ventilator one of the nurses decided to stop his sedation and see what would happen. They continued to keep him on pain meds. After a few hours he still was showing signs of Delirium Tremens and was agitated and not responding. My brother and I began to research the pain medicine he was on and found that it can cause similar symptoms. After speaking to the nurse about it, he completely stopped the medicine. Within a few hours my dad responded to my voice by blinking and winking at me and a few hours after that he was shaking his head yes and no. By the next morning he was taken off the ventilator and a day after that he was moved out of critical care. By the next afternoon they had him up out of bed and eating.

It was a long three weeks. Several times they thought they could wean the sedation and possibly take him off the vent. At one point they just risked it and took him off. Within 24 hours he was back on. I am forever grateful for the nurse that decided to take a chance and listen to us. What a blessing that we were able to find that information and that we had a nurse who was willing to listen. Dad stayed a few more days at the hospital and then was transferred to a rehabilitation center/nursing home. Less than a week later he finally made it home.

It was a very crazy few weeks. While all of this was going on, my mother-in-law was diagnosed with breast cancer, one of my best friend's husband lost his job, and my little buddy Ryan was given some pretty crappy news. I know God never gives you more than you can handle, but sometimes I really think he pushes you to the limit. I definitely felt pushed during this time.

Thanks for all of your thoughts and prayers during this crazy time. Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend. It has been beautiful here, so hopefully we'll get some great pictures of the kids enjoying the sunshine.

God Bless you all!!!!


  1. Oh Shannon, that is NOT a proper weight-loss diet, for sure!!! Wow. Overwhelming is right. Good for you for your honesty with your Dad's addiction. My grandfather died from a heart attack and had similar lifestyle habits... and you never would want to say, "He got what was coming," but it's kind of true. You have to take care of your body!!

    Glad you're home and I hope for NO MORE BAD NEWS (knocking on wood!!). You deserve something good - winning the lotto, perhaps? : ) Glad to have you back, miss!

  2. You have been in my prayers!! Thank you for the update and background news.

  3. Hi Shannon. I came across your blog awhile back during a Google search and have been meaning to leave a comment. I don't want to be a "lurker!" Ha ha. I had been doing a search for "cleft lip ultrasounds" (I know you mentioned that that is how many people find your blog). I was pregnant with my first child (who is now 2 months old) and found out at his 18 week ultrasound that he would be born with a cleft lip. I cried for several days as I thought about surgeries and cruel people and various things my precious boy would go through. But, finding blogs such as yours and Darcy's (she even became a new friend when she visited us in the hospital!) really helped me feel encouraged about the whole situation. I even decided to start my own blog for my son, Gavin. The video you created is absolutely precious and it brought tears to my eyes! So thank you for sharing your story! On another note- I'm so sorry to hear about your Dad's heart attack, how awful. But I'm glad you get to return home to your beautiful family and I hope you post some good news soon!

  4. I've been following on Facebook your 'adventures' of the last few weeks and have been praying for you and your Dad and your entire family at his side.

    I'm so glad he's home, doing well, and so are you!