Sunday, January 10, 2010

Crash Story (Part Two)

(Not Dad's car, but the general idea is the same)

I waited alone for Dad to get out of surgery, occasionally fielding calls from my mother in Dallas and my brother in Nashville. Both were working out plans to get here as soon as possible. About three hours after Dad went in, the doctor came out to let me know that he was all done. The damage had been extensive and he had repaired Dad's spleen and taken out a section of his bowels that had been mangled by the seat belt. Dad had lost a lot of blood and they were transfusing him still, but he would be moved to ICU after recovery where I could be with him for a time. Again, the doctor made no promises about a recovery. He reminded me that Dad was still very unstable and while they had repaired the damage, at a ripe old 62 years old, they couldn't be sure how his body would take the trauma.

I was eventually led to ICU where my daddy lay in the bed, still asleep, intubated...the machine doing all of his breathing. As he began waking up he was confused and couldn't talk because of the tube down his throat but he tried to relay to me what he could with his eyes and squeezes of my hand. The fear in his eyes broke me down. To this point, I had stayed very strong and in charge of my emotions, but seeing him so scared and in pain absolutely broke my heart. I kept begging the nurses for morphine or something to sedate him until he could get the tube out, but they were still scrambling to maintain his blood pressure which was fluctuating dangerously. They finally told me that I had to leave and when I told Dad his eyes went wide and he began shaking his head violently back and forth. I prayed with him for peace, the only thing I knew to do. Then I walked away, leaving him alone and scared.

When I came back for the next round of visiting hours I had my mom in tow, a rather angry Mom that I kept begging for patience and kindness with Dad. At this point, we still didn't know if alcohol was involved in the accident so we were hoping for the best, but experience taught us to expect the worst. My brother was driving all the way here from Nashville, a nice 14 hour drive, because he hadn't wanted to wait until morning to catch a flight. He and Mom were going to head to the mountains to retrieve what was left of her car and the things inside. While on the road my brother was doing all the helpful stuff like contacting the insurance company and the Department of Public Safety for accident records. Because it was such a small town where Dad had his wreck my brother actually got in contact with one of the officers that worked the scene. The version of events were quite different from what my father remembered.

He had actually had his wreck at around 5pm that afternoon. He had most likely had a seizure (which he suffers from but is medicated for...when he drinks he forgets his medication) and drove off the side of the mountain. Fortunately, the car hit some boulders and then plowed straight into a tree. There were three DPS vehicles and two firetrucks working the extraction, since he was in a culvert of sorts and had to be brought up. They took him to the nearest hospital where they took his blood alcohol level because they had found one opened beer and the remainder of a six-pack. At that hospital, after a couple of hours of trying to stabilize him, they realized that he was too critical (rarely gaining consciousness) so they decided to call Careflight. Due to low clouds they had to use the plane instead of the helicopter, and it was only then that they contacted us. The parts that Dad remembered were the only times that he was awake for the whole ordeal. It's amazing how his mind worked it all out.

Over the course of the next couple days Dad was released from ICU and transferred to a room for recovery. Once Mom learned that Dad was drinking she completely checked out from taking care of him. Dad would beg me not to leave the room when she was there. He was scared to be alone with her. By this time I had slept so little that I was delirious, but my brother was simply in town to take care of business and my mother, so I was left to care for Dad. I did my best and we bonded in a way that we never have. We both realized that it may just come down to the two of us. If Mom left him, which she had every right to do, then I would be left to care for this helpless man.

The doctors came for the follow-up and had contacted all of his regular doctors from which he received medication in order to let them know that he was under their care. My dad has many's a miracle he's made it this far. He had a blood transfusion in a Louisiana hospital in the 80's that left him with hepatitis C, from which he now has cirrhosis. He has seizures for some unknown reason. He has type 2 diabetes and heart disease. We were aware of all of this, but his internist saw something on the x-rays of Dad's liver that he didn't like. He started looking further and realized that Dad had moved into early stage liver failure since his last check. As Dad was healing from the accident, a whole other issue was thrown on our plate.

Wow. I can see that this story is a little longer than I had intended. I'm afraid that it's not the slightest bit interesting to most of you, but it always seems to help me to get these stories down. I should probably find another venue, but if you will bear with me, I'll be on to more interesting matters in a couple days, I'm sure. As for the rest of this...I'll finish tomorrow. And then once it's out I will work on writing shorter narratives to catch you all up on where I've been! Deal?


  1. No deal! I like the way you write just fine :) What an amazing experience you have been through with your father. You are very strong to have stood by him.

  2. I actually found the story very interesting. It's funny, because you have the one quality that most children of alcoholics have -- even as an adult you are trying to be the peacemaker between your mom and dad.

    Honestly, your mom has every right to be angry and resentful. It may not accomplish anything, but boy is she entitled to those emotions.

    I hope your dad will eventually find his way to a sober life. Really, it's why working SOME sort of a program is so necessary. Almost no one can do it alone. xoxo