We let go of my precious Dad last night, April 5, at 7:20 PM. His mental status had declined to the point that he was no longer opening his eyes at the sound of our voices as he had done earlier in the week. His diaphragm was not doing any work to breathe over the ventilator. His right hand and foot were cold as ice, another neurological sign of decline. His only response was to grimace in pain and discomfort when they tried to adjust his position. When he grimaced, a tear would roll down his cheek. The doctors unanimously agreed that he would not show any improvement after tomorrow when they initially said they'd determine an official prognosis.
All week we waited and stayed by him from morning to night. We looked for any sign of neurological improvement and hung on to hope. They wanted to attach the halo to stabilize his neck so it would heal; that procedure was repeatedly postponed while we waited for his head wound to heal and his anti-coagulant level to go down. His neurosurgeon had recommended surgery to fix his neck before attaching the halo. He also recommended an MRI to get a better picture of his neck, but my dad had a pacemaker installed in February to control atrial fib. MR can interfere with a pacemaker so a cardio-thoracic surgeon was called in to determine if my dad was pacer-dependent. He wasn't, so this doc offered an experimental MRI procedure that shields the pacer from damage during the MRI procedure. It's not without risks and would be difficult to do with a patient on a ventilator.
Finally, yesterday afternoon, my dad's internist -- a sweet angel in a white coat -- came to us in his room and gave us the hard truth. The doctors unanimously agreed that his condition on Monday would not be improved and he would continue to decline. He would be ventilator-dependent. He would gain absolutely nothing from the halo and surgery.
My family and I discussed his options. We did not want to put him through unnecessary surgeries and risky treatments, given the obvious signs of his declining condition. Last evening, we made the agonizing decision to let him go. The doctor placed the order to remove his breathing tube, and we let him go.
I swing from mind-numbing shock to anguish over his sudden loss and the tragic nature of his accident, especially in light of his vitality and overall good health. Yet, we believe God allowed this for bigger reasons and let it happen the way it did. We were ministered to by those who cared for him. His sweet doctor held us in her arms and gave us the cold hard truth in the most gentle way possible.
Today is the first day of the rest of my life without my dear, precious father. I want to call him and hear his cheerful voice say "Good morning!", which is how he would answer the phone day or night. He was a very out-going, lovable people person, genuinely interested in everyone he knew. Though he could not speak this week, his internist and the nurses said they could see that he was very special.
If you have not told a loved one that you love them, do it NOW, while they are here.
If you have been waiting for another time to visit, do it NOW if you are able, while they are here.
If it's hard for you to say "I love you" and show affection to your family and friends who mean the world to you, do it anyway, NOW, while they are here.
I'll be back when I'm ready to talk bikes again. I'll probably lurk until then. I truly appreciate all the kind words, prayers, and encouragement you offered in my other post. I feel among friends here.