Suzy Snapper
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
One Month
As I was going along my day this morning, it suddenly struck me. It's one month today.

One month since my Dad's (and ours) life changed. One month since I held his hand on the side of the road as he tried to breathe, but went a colour I cannot describe. It was grey, but purple at the same time. I have told my family I never want to speak of what happened that night again, and for the most part, I don't but this is my space to decompress. Writing allows me that.

Since that night, I can't hear a siren without feeling my entire body clench. It's not a conscious reaction. It just happens. I am told that will go with time.

I still close my eyes at night and see the look of terror in my Mom's eyes as she sat in the driver's seat. When my Dad first felt the deepening heavyness enter his chest and he knew he had to pull over, he instructed my Mom to take him to the nearest hospital. He was very agitated, and made her get in the driver's seat while he walked around the other side of the car, clutching his chest the entire time. Thankfully, my Mom called me instead as she knew I wasn't far behind. Only 30 seconds as the cell phone would show.

I couldn't watch that night. When they took my Dad out of the car, he had to be physically lifted by several paramedics as the car was parked on the edge of a deep ditch and it was too dangerous to try to remove him by stretcher. I kept my focus on my Mom, who in the panic, was unable to breathe. That's when I called another paramedic over and asked him to also take care of her.

That left my Aunt in the backseat. As I've mentioned before, my Aunt has dementia. It is extremely frustrating and while I do understand she can't help herself, I have difficulty coping with it. She becomes extremely irritating with a high whiney voice, and often tries to make things about her. It's part of the disorder, and I understand that, but it was the last thing I could deal with. I checked to make sure she was physically ok, but I must admit I had difficulty consoling her when I was so focussed on my Dad.

After the ambulance left carrying my parents, I sat on the side of the road. I am somewhat embarassed to admit I was physically ill at that moment. The firemen were fantastic as they stayed with us, keeping the road blocked until my brother could arrive. He drove my parents car to the hospital, my older niece drove my Aunt and my younger niece drove me. I know I can be strong in crisis situations, and over the past month, have been proud of that fact. But at that particular moment, I was not strong at all.

Moving forward from that night to the next few sleepless days as he waited in the critical care unit, I went through many emotions. I barely slept. I barely ate. I felt that we would lose him at any moment.

When he was booked for the emergency bypass the following Monday, I knew it was extremely serious. The quickness of the surgery date was unheard of. A good friend of mine's father is going through similar issues and is highly critical, yet he was booked out 6 weeks! I knew that they had moved some mountains to get the date so quickly for my Dad. Instead of making me feel better though, it scared me even more. During that time, I was riding a tightrope of emotions. The gregarious cheerleader by day in front of my mom and the rest of the family, but once alone in my house, a complete mess. It was exhausting.

The day he had the surgery, we went into see him right after he came out of the operating room. He was cold to the touch. His colour was good, but he was not there. As we stood there with the sounds of the respirator and other life support keeping him alive, I heard a voice. I haven't mentioned this to anyone because it is so unbelievable. My Aunt Phyl - my Dad's sister said very clearly 'He's not going anywhere yet. He's got a long time to go.' That raspy, cigarette-soaked voice that I missed so much was as clear in my ear as it was right before she passed away in 2002. So clear in fact that I turned suddenly to look to where it came from, and startled my mother. I told her I was just looking around, but a peace filled me. I knew then that he would pull through.

Fast forward a month, and I am proud to report that he not only left the house yesterday for a much needed haircut, but also felt the strength to stop by the casino on the way home. My Dad loves the casino and it was a large milestone for him to know himself that he will be ok.

Thanks for everything this past month. It has been so full of extremes. Highs and lows. Friends I didn't realize I had, and friends that maybe weren't really there for me to begin with. It has been a bit of a tree-shaking, priority-organizing time. Sometime the world has to change to help you know what is truly important.

Vancouver, British Columbia
A patriotic Canadian full of visions of a better Canada, random thoughts and a lot of hot air. Who am I? A struggling writer and photographer trapped in a corporate buyer's body. Steel shopping by day, and freeflowing prose by night. One day I hope to have the nights become my days, but am intimidated by the sheer amount of people who share my dream. So I read. A lot. I learn. A lot. I push myself. A lot. The world is a small place, and getting smaller every day. I'm proud to have friends in every corner of the earth, and abide by the old adage that there are no strangers, only friends we haven't met yet.
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