As a little girl growing up I was always a daddy’s girl! My dad wore a superhero cape every day and even as a grown woman in charge of my own life my dad is still my hero. So you can imagine the devastation when I got the news.
I always thought that death was the scariest thing that could happen in life but I was sadly mistaken. There was something far more terrifying. Imagine in the blink of a eye, a millisecond everything you know is erased from your mind forever. The people you love, GONE — Your memories of life, GONE — The ability to listen, talk, read, write, walk, GONE!
Dad has had a stroke!!
The fog settles in — you have no idea what that means but everyone assures you he got to the hospital early for treatment and he should make a great recovery — YAY!! Racing down to the hospital with your brain scrambling to put the pieces together — what is a stroke, what does it do, what should I expect. Trying to prepare myself so I can be strong for him.
I assure you NOTHING could have prepared me for the sight I was about to encounter in intensive care — a grown man in bed with a terrified look on his face, a face that no longer looked like my dad. Running to his bedside to squeeze him and kiss him and tell him I love him — but nothing!! He didn’t know who we were, where he was or what was going on in those early moments, hours & days. HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN — I can see him but he is no longer here!!
The next 24 hours shook me to the core of my existence, we learned that even though he made it to hospital in time to receive a life saving drug the damage had been done — and the damage was catastrophic. A large portion of the left hemisphere of his brain was dead. ‘What you see is what you get’ they told us in a cold, numbing way — His current state laying in bed, wearing a diaper with no ability eat or drink and understand his outside world & family was our new reality. He would need to live in a long term care facility — my 55 year old superhero dad!!! TEARS flow as the fear sets in — he’s trapped in this shitty situation and there is not a god damn thing anyone can do to help him. He’s probably scared and he doesn’t even know who his is family is and that we’re here to comfort him and help him get through this.
WAIT!!— the doctors call a family meeting to tell us that they found a large blood clot that will break apart and kill him. Death is inevitable!! the family gathers and we inform the doctors dad is a DNR (do not resuscitate) we agree that in his state no life saving measures are to be taken. Everyone takes turns sitting with dad to hold him, kiss him and say our goodbye’s — WTF is this really happening right now, I feel like alice in wonderland slipping down this rabbit hole hoping to wake up soon.
We sit, we wait, we pray for him to pass peacefully — We sit, we cry, we freak out — At least he is completely unable to understand the magnitude of what is happening because he has lost ALL of his communication ability; talking, reading, understanding, hearing. That’s good because it would be scary as hell to be my dad right now. Dr’s coming in and out talking about his dire prognosis, family hysterical with the devastating news and nurses removing feeding tubes and making him comfortable for the end.
24 hours pass — They run more tests
Dad is still here
24 more hours pass — They check on the clot, it’s gone!!
Dad has other plans!!
A miracle happened in those 48 hours — dad was in bad shape and his prognosis was bad. The doctors told us over and over again to prepare to say good-bye! But the funny thing was dad couldn’t hear or understand what was going on around him, the negative and the scary, his death sentence — so he made his own plans. What was left of his brain decided there was more living to be done and he was going to do whatever he could to overcome this.
In the days, weeks, months that followed dad beat all odds, a medical miracle really — he started swallowing pudding and drinking water, he ripped off the diaper and learned to tell us when he had to go, he started to recognize us again, sitting up and taking in his new world. They transferred us to BridgePoint care facility where he would live for the next 6 months undergoing intense therapy. Learning to dress himself, shave and brush his teeth, move from bed to a wheelchair, stand with support, recognize things and speech was coming one sound at a time ‘R-E’.
What had happened?? I’ll tell you what happened — when other peoples' fears and ideas weren’t able to interfere it made room for dad to decide what he wanted to happen. While we will never know exactly what was going on in dad’s mind during that time I assure you his ability to have his own ideas and to muster up an internal desire was more powerful than the doctor's death sentence. Dad could do anything he put his heart & soul into — not his mind.
It was in those first 48 hours when I realized OUR power — we aren’t in control here, Dad is!! Sitting at his bed side through the night, holding his hand I realized that I could cry and feel the fear or I could smile and be there for him with every ounce of my being. It was in those moments when I experienced first hand just how powerful humankind really is. When all outside influences are quieted people can do anything they put their heart into.
My life changed forever in those days — I saw first hand what was possible when an internal idea and desire was the only fuel we had to go on, EVERYTHING WAS POSSIBLE. It was easy to get scared for him and doubt how hard the uphill battle was, but it didn’t matter dad was here!!
I made a declaration, I promised dad that for the rest of my life I would dedicate my heart, soul, time & energy to creating opportunities to help the world uncover & explore their ideas and experiences that would protect them and their ideas so they can bring their dreams to life — no matter what they are, what they looked like — I would banish all fears & doubts as to whether any of it was possible.
A funny thing happens when you show people their ideas matter, they take audacious actions to bringing those ideas to life — I experienced this first hand, dad was my proof.
So when people ask me why I care so freakin much about people & ideas I’m filled with warmth, my cheeks prickle with bashfulness and I respond ‘BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE AMAZING’.