Rebekah sent out a text on Wednesday concerned about Dad. It went like this:
"Got off the phone earlier with dad. He was planning on coming out to bless Jane. His spirits are way down today and he's not himself at all. Slurring his speech and taking much longer than normal (for dad) to answer questions. He mentioned he has lost a lot of the function in his legs and he has fallen several times this week. He seemed sadder than I've ever heard him. I've been bawling all afternoon. And I feel awful that I haven't been checking up on him."
So that started off a flurry of texts amongst the sisters reporting last time we'd talked to him, etc.
Dan and I had just had lunch with he and Diane on Friday and then taken them to tour Dan's office (never been! What?!). He was definitely walking slower and needing to hold on to Diane because he said he was dizzy. But was himself except for that.
We were all planning on going to Olympus High to watch Sheree's girls play lax against Oly that afternoon. I arrived at the game a little late and Dad hadn't come yet. Pretty soon we got a text from Diane that they couldn't come. Dad wasn't feeling well and could hardly move. I had to take Nick to his baseball game, so on my way home I stopped by to check on him.
He was curled up in bed and spoke barely above a whisper. He listened while I talked and nodded and smiled, but didn't say much himself. It was really weird to see him like that. Diane said that morning he'd fallen off the bed and he couldn't get up. She had to get a neighbor to help because she couldn't get him out of the corner he was in by herself and Dad had no strength at all.
But once he was up, she was able to assist him down the stairs. He'd been on the couch all day and they'd worked together. They were cleaning out closets, so she'd bring boxes to him while he sat on the couch and he was going through them deciding what should be kept and tossed. So he was alert, just fatigued and couldn't move well. However, when it was time to get to the game, she tried to get him up, and he couldn't move. We were all super concerned. He had a doctor appointment the next morning so we made a plan that we'd go together to the hospital, but Dan would come over in the morning to help him get in the car.
After the lacrosse game, Sheree and their family went to check on him and found him much the same. Not talking much but still able to listen. Jared had to help my dad to the bathroom and it was very difficult to move him. We were relieved that his doctor appointment was the next morning.
On Thursday morning at 8 a.m., Dan and my dad's best friend (and my old seminary teacher!) Rex Pond were there to move Dad to the car. They each got an arm over their shoulders and carried him. My dad couldn't even move his legs. His right leg was literally dragging behind him and I had to have them stop so I could pick it up and move it closer to them. At the stairs Dan had Dad hold him around his neck and he piggy back/dragged him down the stairs. They were able to get him in the car by laying him on the backseat and one person pulled from the other side to get him in. I sat in the back with his head on my lap to keep him from falling off the seat.
When we got to Huntsman Cancer Institute, they have valets to park the car and assist anyone who needs it. Diane explained that we needed help getting him out of the car. He had no strength and couldn't assist at all so we needed a lot of help because he's essentially dead weight. And then my dad whispers to me in his joking voice, "I wish she wouldn't use that word to describe me!" Aw man. Still joking even on what was practically his death bed. That's one thing I love about him. He makes me laugh.
The valets were awesome and ran to talk to someone in charge and get advice. They brought back a stretcher and a slide board and between several strong 20-somethings, get him on the stretcher and up to acute care. Everyone was great and quick about assessing his needs, explaining what they were testing and order of care. Diane was great about explaining the situation, how it had changed from just a week ago, the medications he's on, what we know about his cancer etc. etc. She also calls everyone by their first name and made everyone love her because she was so respectful and kind to them. She has a gift in this.
Bloodwork, urine sample, neurology testing, CT scan. An MRI if the other things weren't telling. However, pretty soon the results from the CT came back and indicated bleeding on his brain that was compressing his brain and causing essentially stroke-like symptoms. (Why the right side of his body was so weak.) The neurosurgeon came to show us the scans and was very urgent that we needed to make a decision if we were going to have surgery and if so, he had to have it immediately. And we had to discuss the risk that at his age they can't get him off oxygen and the 50% risk that at his age the bleed starts again and we're in a vicious cycle. But the alternative was that he dies in a few days.
But he was so grim about the surgery it was confusing. Realizing now that he didn't know if he was already incapacitated (as he was seeing him currently) and I think he was giving us a good option for end of life. But my dad wasn't there yet. He's generally still up and around and doing yardwork, going to church, going to lunch and being normal.
We had to discuss what life-saving options we wanted or didn't want. We wanted them.
Diane asked for a few minutes to decide. We called Matt to get his opinion--we were so confused at what we weren't understanding--why was the surgeon acting so grim. (Matt said yes, of course have the surgery.) We called Dan and Chad and Rex and Doug as fast as we could to see who could make it to the hospital in time to give him a blessing. She said if the men didn't get here in time, we would say a prayer and women have powerful prayers. Yes we do. I have a testimony that Mom's prayers can be just as powerful as priesthood blessings. Diane called Luke at school and had him get Sam and Max and come to the hospital fast.
And then we stood together and she leaned on his chest and prayed for him, his health, the surgeons and the surgery and ended with, "we ask that thou will grant us a miracle that the men can get here in time to give him a blessing."
The neurosurgeon came back and we told him we wanted to go ahead with surgery.
Soon my dad was being taken in an ambulance to be moved to the U Hospital next door. Diane went with him and Dan arrived just then parked out front so I rode with him over.
Dan, Chad, Rex and Doug all made it in time. The boys all made it in time. Dan and Rex gave my Dad a blessing and the boys were able to give him a hug and tell him they loved him. And then he was taken to surgery for an emergency craniotomy to relieve the bleeding and pressure on his brain.
Soon everyone went home and Diane and I went to the cafeteria to have lunch. That sounds so normal. Sheree arrived soon and we all waited in a sunny part of a windowed hall waiting for him to come out. (The family waiting room was dark, freezing, depressing and had the news of Trump bombing Russia cycling on the TV. Ugh!)
And surgery went well. No problems at all. Because he was in ICU, only two people could be with him at a time. Sheree and Diane went to be with him. Sheree reported that he couldn't remember anything from the last two days. He didn't understand why he was in the hospital and was frightened and upset when he learned what had happened and that he couldn't remember anything. She said it was heartbreaking.
It's very weird to end a day like that. Everything happened so fast. Throughout the day we weren't really panicked, but then some moments we were. We weren't emotional, but then some moments we were. We ate lunch, we sat on the floor, we talked about other things. We laughed. (In fact Dad made us laugh a couple of times -- another "dead weight" comment and he said again, "Please don't describe me as dead!" and when the nurse told him she needed to insert a catheter and then check his colon as well and he got a sparkle in his eye and his mouth turned up and you could just see him trying to think of a joke!!)
His surgery went well. We gave him a hug and gave Diane a hug and then we went home. Diane was going to stay until 8ish and then go home to sleep. Sheree drove me home around 6ish. It's weird after all that to say good-bye.