All my life I have had dreams while I sleep. Some in color, some in black and white. Sometimes I am flying, others seem to portend events that might come to pass, still others are just fun. I cannot recall a time when I haven't dreamt.
On the night of August 1st, in anticipation of being able to return to my home in Los Angeles, I dreamt of my husband Jon, our baby turtle, the Mighty Z and of his parents, Miss Dale and Stumpy. To date, it is the last time I have any recollection of dreaming.
My parent's house is not large. It is an early 1970s Ranch House with three bedrooms. If you cough in one room, you can be heard throughout the house. As we had just gotten Dad home from the hospital, I was sleeping with the bedroom open in case there was an emergency.
He was home from the hospital, joking with us and in good spirits. I thought I was prepared for any emergency. I was wrong.
About 5:30 am I woke up. He was calling for me. At first I thought it was dream. I have never been an early riser and am hardly what anyone would call a morning person. But that morning, realizing it wasn't a dream, I shot out of bed.
I hurried into my parents room. My Dad was sitting up in bed, complaining that he felt sick. I remember asking him where he felt bad. He said he had a lot of blood in his colostomy bag. I took a look. Not only was it full of blood but he was still bleeding, badly. I asked him how long this bleeding had been going on. He said he wasn't sure. I looked down in trash can next to his bed and there was a bag filled with blood. The first thing I thought of was: This is not good.
I told him we should call 911. He said no, go get some ziplock bags. He thought perhaps there was a problem with the colostomy. I ran to the kitchen and got some gallon size ziplock bags. We had to drain the colostomy bag before it burst. It wasn't easy. The smell alone would do you in. But, we worked together and got it drained.
By now it was a little after 6:00 am. I told him that this was serious and we had to call 911. By now my Mother was awake and scared. My dad agreed and I called 911. I told them that my Dad was bleeding out and to please send an ambulance. American Medical Response and the EMT Paramedics from the local Fire Station were soon knocking on our door. They assessed the situation and loaded Dad on a gurney. I told them that he had just been released from Valley Hospital the evening before. It was the closest hospital where both his heart doctor and his cardiac doctor had privileges. We were going back to Valley.
I followed the ambulance to Valley and into the Emergency Room. Dad is still bleeding out. I tell them he should still be their system as he was just released the day before. I give them a quick medical history. They try to get him stabilized. I call my niece, Serena and she rushes down to join me. Thus, begins our crash course in vital signs stabilization.
They begin to order blood transfusions for my Dad. As quickly as they put the blood into him, the blood flows out. His blood pressure is in the 70s and 80s and we learn this is not good. The ER team continues to try to get him stabilized. Dad, to his credit, is alert and talking with us. We hold his hands, try to reassure him and watch as the ER team does their jobs. The doctors are running tests trying to figure out what is causing the bleed out. The machine takes his blood pressure every 15 minutes. We begin to clock our day around those 15 minutes.
I call Jon and tell him I won't be coming home and why. Twelve hours fly by. You'd be surprised how quickly time flies in situations like this. They finally have him stablized and we are waiting for a bed in ICU.
Finally about 10:00 pm that night, a bed is available in ICU. We transfer him up there. They have an air bed for him and try to make him comfortable. He is hungry and thirsty. Only able to have ice chips. The doctors will run a number of tests, I am told, in the morning to see if they can figure out what happened.
I talk to his nurse, a wonderful woman from the South, who tries to make Dad as comfortable as possible. I leave the hospital finally around 11:00 pm. It has been a long day. I think the worst is over.
I am wrong. It is only just beginning.