Ok well this post will be dedicated to Ray my grandfather. Grandpa had a pretty complicated medical history. Mainly reoccuring blood clots, and most recently within the last 5 years diabetes, heart problems and unexplained weight loss. November 2008 he was hospitalized for shortness of breath, we also found out at that time that he had a-fib meaning his heart wasn't beating correctly. Since then he was admitted to the hopsital for the same issue every couple of months. Back in May he was admitted again for shortness of breath and his irregular heartbeat. See the problem is that he is on medication for his blood clotting disorder and the medication they put him on for his heart wasn't working. They couldn't really put him on anything else, because of his other meds. In May they did a procedure to look closely at his heart blockage/valves. See we've known about his heart problems for 2 years now and for those whole 2 years we have been told heart surgery was NOT an option . He would not be able to have surgery because of all his other medical issues. This May when they looked at his heart they decided that it was time. He HAD to have heart surgery! It was estimated that he had 80% blockage of his main artery. Really he was a heart attack waiting to happen at this point.
So the heart surgery was scheduled for June 11th. He was supposed to have bypass to clear the blockage and a pericardectomy. The pericardiem is the outside lining of your heart and his was thick and therefore it was constricting his heart. We were all warned that this was going to be a tricky situation. There was no doubt that he would make it through surgery. But due to his medical history there was concern about his recovery. We were warned of all the possible side effects he could endure. So June 11th comes and he goes in for surgery around 11am. Around 4pm we find out that he is done. They were able to do the pericardectomy but not the bypass. They reassured us that just doing the pericardectomy was good because the blockage in his heart wasn't nearly as bad as previously thought.
He spent the weekend after surgery in the ICU but did fabulous! He was taken off the ventilator about 6 hours after he came out of surgery and by the evening of Saturday (24 hours out of surgery) he was walking the halls. Monday afternoon he was transfered to a regular floor with only 2 chest tube drains.
The next 3 weeks were a roller coaster. He made a trip back to the ICU for 3 days because apparently they gave him WAY to much new heart medication and his heart rate kept dropping dangerously low. Think the low 30's. 1 week after surgery he was able to have 1 of his chest tubes removed, and he did great with that. You see the chest tube is inserted into your lung, and it helps to drain fluid from your lungs and keep your lung inflated. The week after the 1st tube was removed it was all about him walking the halls and trying to get that 2nd chest tube out. Every dang time they would turn the suction down for his chest tube he would have problems breathing, meaning his lung would collapse. The lung dr came around daily and finally it was discussed that we would probably have to do surgery again, this time on his lung.
See grandpa's surgery was done at the hospital I work at. Which ended up being a HUGE blessing. I got to spend a little time every single day with my grandparents. Time that now I am incredibly grateful for. I remember sitting with him on Friday July 2nd and we talked about how Sunday was the 4th and since he was still stuck in the hospital he was really looking forward to going up to the 17th floor and watching the fireworks. He talked about that a lot.
On the morning of July 4th I received a text from my mother at 6am. Telling all of us that grandpa had a bad night and had just been sent back to the ICU. My mom called me to let me know around 12 that she was on her way up (she lives 2 hours away) because he was doing really bad. So I got M (Jay was at a 4th fair with her bff) ready and we all went up to the hospital together around 2pm. When we got there most of my very HUGE family was there already. Mom and I went back into the ICU to see grandpa and grandma. He was awake and alert, but struggling so hard to breath. They had a face mask on him with oxygen but he was still gasping for air. Honestly IMO he should have been ventilated right then, but that comes later. We all hung out at the hospital for hours that day waiting to see what was going on. Around 8pm I started getting M ready to leave and go home. When all of a sudden one of my Aunts came running out of the ICU they had decided to ventilate him. So I passed M off to my sister and went back there with my mom.
I ended up taking M home about an hour later and leaving him with dh. I went back up to the hospital to camp out for the night. Along with many many other people. Around midnight grandma told one of my Aunts, my sister and I that the Dr's had said grandpa was in Septic Shock. I have worked in healthcare for 12 years now, and Sepsis or Septic Shock is NOT something you want to hear about one of your family members having. It basically means that you have infection in your whole body, and your body is in shock from it. The odds of surviving are 50/50.
The week was long and horrible. It was like good day then a bad day. Up and down, such a roller coaster. One day they would wean him off his 185674937309 drips and turn down the ventilator setting then the next day they would have to turn everything back up. By Wednesday they had alot of the meds off him and his vent settings way down. He wasn't responding at all, so now we were worried about a possible brain bleed. I'm telling you it was a week from hell. Turns out he didn't have a brain bleed. But Thursday evening he did throw a blood clot. Really Hell! Friday afternoon one of my Aunt's and I finally got grandma to leave the floor and go down to the cafeteria for lunch. Of course right after we eat my other Aunt, who was still upstairs, called and told us to get back now. We go up to find out that his Co2 levels were dangerously high, and his nurse for the day was very concerned. So concerned that she thought we should call family up. So we called all the family back up to the hospital. I found a sitter for the kids and stayed all evening. I had stayed all night Thursday night and was running on only 3 maybe hours of sleep. Friday was rough. My mom came back up and he was somewhat stable when I finally left around 10pm friday night. I stayed home because I desperately needed some sleep but I felt horrible for that.
Anyway things did not get better and Saturday afternoon we had to have a meeting with all his Dr's. His blood pressure was low and he was back on all the medication we had previously weaned him off of. Not only that but he was at the highest possible doses of everything, and still had a low blood pressure. At that point the decision was made to make him a DNR. We weren't turning off any of his medications or ventilator, but if he happened to stop breathing we weren't going to try and bring him back. It was explained to us that his body was shutting down. His kidney's were failing, his liver wasn't functioning properly, and basically he was done. If we did code him it wouldn't do any good.
You see my grandfather was the only man that has been in my life and apart of my life since the day I was born. As a child I used to spend everyday before and after school at my grandparents. They are like a second set of parents for me. I always always knew they would be there for me, and that month grandpa was here in the hospital we just got closer.
Saturday evening/night we all took turns going in the room with grandma and saying our goodbyes. By far the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I kept it together while I was in there, but as soon as I kissed his forhead and walked out of the room I broke down. I completely lost it. Thankfully my family left me alone and let me go. I needed some time alone, so I walked outside to the park across the street and bawled like a baby for a long time. I don't know how long I was gone.
Saturday night we all stayed, I'm talking 20 people at all times, in the waiting room. Sunday came and with his blood pressure still holding in the low 70/40's we knew it was going to happen soon. We made plans to get his mother and his sister here from 3 states away. Then all day we prayed they would make it before he passed. My dad left around 930pm to go pick Granny and Aunt D up. At 1015 some of us went downstairs to help get Granny in a wheelchair and upstairs. About 7 minutes later we got the phone call to get back up there NOW. We all ran through the hallways and tried to get there as fast as we could. When we got off the elevator and saw that there was no one in the waiting room, without a doubt we knew he was gone.
We all went back into the ICU and sat in his room with him for a little bit just crying. You see my family has had it's share of deaths, but this was the first time it was someone so close to us and it was unexpected. Sure those last couple of days we expected it but it's not like my 88yo Great Grandfather who had no quality of life for 6 months before his death. That was much more understood.
My grandparents had just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary 3 months prior to his death. Grandpa Ray was 67 years old, and passed exactly 1 month after his surgery.
The funeral was hard, watching my grandmother throw herself on his casket at the cemetary was hard. This whole things sucks. Coming back to work after his death had me in a panic attack. I had just spent a month with my family here at work with me, and now I'm walking into the building knowing that the last time I was here I had to say goodbye forever to him. Seeing nurses, tech's and the dr's that took care of him in the hall was hard.
In the end it is what it is and we are all doing our best to pick up the pieces and move on. It's been 3 months today and it seems like just yesterday. The pain feels like it just happened yesterday.
Raymond Leslie you will forever be in my thoughts and in my heart. One day we will meet again. I love you grandpa. <3