A year ago today, well, yesterday, I suppose.. my dad had heart surgery. You can read all about his story and recovery at his blog, John Surgery Update. It's crazy to think that was already a year ago, the time has flown! I remember the day of his surgery like it was yesterday, it was the longest, most stressful day ever. We got to the hospital before 5 in the morning, he was prepped and ready to go by about 6 AM. When the anesthesiologist took him away, that was the last we saw him for 12+ hours. My mom, sister and I sat in the lounge for hours, getting an update every hour or two from the nurse. We watched the news (there was a big car chase that morning), I re-taught my sister how to knit, we watched movies on our laptops, ate cafeteria food, and waited. And waited, and waited, and waited. They kept telling us, he's almost done, you'll be able to see him soon, but it was still hours before we were allowed to go back and see him. More than 12 hours after we sent him off, and a few hours after the surgery was complete, we were finally able to see him.
The doctor warned us he was swollen and bruised, still under the anesthetics and breathing with a tube. But no warning could have prepared us for what we saw. That was not our dad, it was an inflated version of him, just laying there on the bed, a pump making him breath. It was so hard to see, our dad, young, active, and full of life, laying there so far out of our world. We had to remind ourselves that even in this state, he was healthier than when he went in. The surgery had been a success and the doctor had high hopes for his fixed heart.
We went home that evening, visitor hours were dwindling and the nurses assured us there was nothing we could do there and it would be awhile before he woke up. We went home to go to bed. We got a call in the middle of the night saying he had started stirring, the drugs were wearing off.
My mom and I woke up early in the morning to go to the airport, I had to fly to Pennsylvania for a wedding. I hated leaving my dad in Michigan but had to get to the wedding. My mom got to the hospital as Dad was waking up. They were able to remove the breathing tube and he was functioning on his own. He had been asleep for about 24 hours and was totally disoriented. He asked my mom where I was, assuming it was still the evening before. My mom tried to tell him it was the next morning, he had slept through the night. He wanted to know what took him so long to wake up, my mom had to remind him he just had major surgery.
It was a slow recovery in the hospital, he had a lot of fluid drainage and it took a few days for all the swelling to reduce. I kept up to date as much as possible while in Pennsylvania and we headed back home with Curt's parents. It was so great to see my dad, awake and talking, still in pain but leaps above the sorry state I had left him in. Over the next few days he grew stronger, the fluid drainage decreased, and the doctor finally gave him the okay to go home. Unfortunately Curt and I headed home before he was out of the hospital, but we were able to leave in confidence that time that he was out of the woods and so anxious to be home.
One year later and my dad is better than ever. Well, maybe not ever, but certainly better than the past few years. He has gotten back into running, he even ran a few races. The doctors can't hear any murmur and the surgery was a smashing success. On a separate note, my dad was one of the first to have this surgery with the daVinci machine in the West Michigan area. It's amazing to see what technology can do. Just a few years ago, this surgery would have been full on open heart, crack open his ribs, leave him with a zipper down his front surgery. All he has to show for it now are a few inch-long scars around his chest. The recovery time is shorter, the pain is less, and the whole process is just amazing.
We were so blessed my dad had wonderful people helping him through this whole journey, from the doctor who originally diagnosed the problem, to the philanthropist who donated the technology, to the surgeons who worked so carefully, to the nurses who helped him recover, to all the people who stood by our family with prayers and support. Most importantly, I thank God for the miracles He works. Gone undetected, who knows what could have happened. But a year later, I have my daddy, healthy as ever, with a new lease on life.
Share your love. Nothing is guaranteed but God is in control. I love you Dad!