2016: Day 1
September 21st 7am: The alarm goes off and my partner tells me that he doesn’t have to go into work until a little later. He’s been working a lot so I’m happy to spend time with him.
7:05am the phone rings and I let it go to voicemail: “Casey this is Doug, I need you to call me ASAP”
Doug is my dad’s home manager
7:06 am: Doug answers and tells me that my dad’s heart stopped early this morning and he’s at the hospital. I need to come now.
7:20 am: We’re in the car heading the 3+ hours through a tsumani storm. I can’t stop crying.
My dad invents this thing called “The Love Gun.” He makes the symbol for love and shoots us with it before my brother and I go to bed at night.
The hospital calls as we are en route to say they are putting in a pic line. I don’t know what this means. One of my best friends is a physician. He’s on speed dial for the next few days.
I make fun of someone with alopecia to their face and my dad lectures me on the importance of being a nice person. I can tell that kindness is important to him by the way he’s talking about this.
My in-laws go ahead to the hospital to see if there is anything they can learn before we get there.
My dad does the Carlton dance from Fresh Prince of Bel Air when every single time I have friends over. He thinks this is hilarious. I am mortified.
They ask for family history. I answer that everyone is dead except me and my brother. This is an odd statement to say out loud.
My dad works in the oil fields. He’s in a major explosion and suffers second and third degree burns all over his body. He goes through several surgeries to heal.
We arrive at the hospital and my dad is sedated and intubated. They don’t know why his heart stopped. They say the CPR administered by his home manager saved his life.
My dad gets to volunteer for the Arizona Cardinals and is on the field running films back and forth during the game. His hair is parted to the side. I’ve never seen him happier.
My dad is agitated and they have him in restraints so he doesn’t pull the tubes out. They up the sedation and continue to run tests and scans.
My dad changes jobs and his mental health quickly deteriorates. He’s paranoid. He’s doing crazy and scary things. My brother and I don’t understand what’s happening.
I sit with my sister next to my dad and just stare at him with the tubes and the wires. I don’t say it out loud but I’m scared out of my mind he’s going to die. I don’t want those words to touch the air.
A man from a hospital in Traverse City calls me to tell me that my dad has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. The bottom drops out from under me. I’m a psychology major in college.
2016: Day 2
They lower the sedation but he’s still intubated. Tears are rolling down his cheeks as he mouths “I’m sorry” and “I don’t want to die”
My dad gets moved to Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital and I visit him weekly during visiting hours. We talk about anything and everything. The room is musty and dark.
They remove the tube and my dad mouths with little voice “I love you so much” to me. I can’t breath.
I graduate from Western and my dad gets a day pass to leave the psychiatric hospital. My grandfather brings him real people clothes and he gets to shave.
The speech guy shows up to help him swallow. He asks my dad about what he does for a living. My dad doesn’t want to tell the man about his life. I change the subject. The man asks about his kids and my dad responds “They’re the best thing I’ve ever done”
A horrible tragedy occurs and my dad literally takes three different modes of transportation to get to my brother and I.
2016 – Day 3
He had a rough night and pulled his pic line out. He bled a lot and he was tired. We still don’t know why his heart stopped.
My dad does whatever he has to do to see my brother when my brother needs him.
He’s stable and they keep saying they’re going to move him out of ICU and into a regular room. He’s joking with my brother and my brother’s girlfriend. My brother always makes him laugh in a special way.
I have to relinquish guardianship of my dad. I live too far away and something bad might happen. I’m devastated to know this is the best solution for all parties. I feel like I’m giving up.
2016 – Day 4
He’s moved into a regular room. They say he’s the healthiest person there. We are still not sure why his heart stopped.
I call him to ask a question about my aunt that has long since died. He talks about her and his other sister that his also died. He says, “I wonder about me sometimes” I change the subject.
2016 – Day 5
They are waiting for his blood thinners to work. Blood clots have been their best guess but they are not certain why or where they came from. He can return home once the medication is where it needs to be.
I still have my love gun.