Monday, December 11, 2006

Seeing my Dad for the Last Time...

I found my dad in his bathroom slumped over the sink. He wasn't breathing. I called 911 and then I dragged him out into the living room and started CPR. By the time the paramedics got there, he had vital signs and his sats were good.

When I arrived at the hospital, I knew he wasn't going to make it. I knew it had been a neurological event; one pupil was pin point, the other dilated (sign of increased intracranial pressure). So he was brain dead. They feared he was, but not officially charted as so by the doctors. You know, of course they've got to run all the tests first.

The hospital he was taken to is the hospital where I work. They were kind enough to try to keep everything going (fluid, meds) even though I'd made him a DNR. It does more for the family if they can actually touch a warm hand, and I had three brothers who had to make it to town from far away.

After it was official and my brothers had made it there, we had the staff to turn off the ventilator and unhook him from everything. I knew he was no longer in his body, but still it was comforting to see him and feel his physical body. It took about 30-45 minutes for his heart to actually stop, although he wasn't breathing. Once his heart rate got to 30, my brother started to pray. When he finished, we looked up and there was no more heartbeat. We left almost immediately.

Outside, my brother's wife walked with me and he went to get their truck. I decided to walk to the street in front of the hospital to direct him so that he would not confusingly enter the exit-only drive way. While I was standing there I was leaning on a fire hydrant, shuffling around, not really paying much attention to anything. Seemed like it was taking forever. But then there appeared a man. I didn't see him appear, but he was just there.

He looked like my father, but not exactly. He had the same beard with gray just at the bottom on both sides, not in the middle. He was wearing the kind of hat my dad wears and the kind of over coat he used to wear when he felt like and cared about dressing up. He was missing some teeth, like my dad, and had some other similar features: height, demeanor, hair, and even some facial features.

He was walking very fast towards me, but with an agility that you don't find too much in a man who looked to be this gentleman's age. He carried an umbrella in one hand and a plastic, see-through case in the other. He smiled just a little, but didn't speak. I couldn't take my eyes off him, but what really got me was when he got ready to pass. He didn't stay on the course of the side walk. Instead, he walked slowly between me and the fire hydrant (only about a foot of space in between), and I actually had to move a little to let him get by. Gaze locked, he looked into my eyes all the while moving around me. I mean it would have been quite rude if not given the circumstances surrounding the whole event. At the time, I wasn't offended at all. Of course I was reminded of my father from the very first moment I saw him. But now that he was walking away, I wanted to speak to him and tell him about my dad. He was about 10ft away when I called to him the first time. He didn't turn around. I called to him about 10 more times, each time louder and louder until I was actually yelling. Never once did he turn around to look at me again. He was stepping so proudly, so easily, so briskly. Like he wanted me to see. Like he needed me to see. My dad would fall often and hadn't been able to walk well in years because of nerve damage in his right leg related to a long course of radiation to his right pelvis back in 1991 (He'd survived 2 rounds of Cancer and had been cancer free since then).

Anyway, I felt like I'd been given a rare opportunity to see my dad one last time. Or at least was open enough to see what was truly there. In my heart, I knew Dad was trying to let me know he was alright. We'd let his physical body go and he was off and running. As for the appearance, I figured that he looked enough like my dad to get my attention and get me ready for the experience, but not so much as to scare the you know what out of me.

I left feeling assured, blessed, happy, comforted...

Friday, December 08, 2006

Death of a loved one

Whew...well how do I begin.
I woke up this morning and went downstairs to check on my dad. He's 71 and lives with me. He's been a fighter for as long as I can remember. He's survived two bouts with cancer and a host of other things. But today he lost the battle. I found him in his bathroom slumped over on the sink. This image I will never forget. Almost hate I was the one who found him.

But I started CPR and by the time the paramedics got there, he had good vital signs. Well, his blood pressure was high, but at least he had one. But it turns out that he had a very massive bleed and his prognosis is very poor.

We were up late last night and talked for a long time. He asked me how I was doing and then I reciprocated. He said he felt great. I wonder if he was feeling so good because he knew he was going home.

Of course I have a million things running through my mind and a zillion what-ifs, but I just hope he didn't suffer long. So to all my good people out there, I just want to say: Keep me in your prayers, and go tell everyone that you love just how much you love them. You never know when it will be your last opportunity.

Signing off for a while,


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Learning to love yourself - Building from ground zero!

I started writing columns focusing on health issues. After recently speaking with one of my Myspace friends, it dawned on me that before you can take care of your body, you have to truly love your body, and that means loving yourself. She'd written some blogs about some of the mistakes she's made in the past and present and wanted her friends to comment on them. Well of course I commented on the usual stuff about having self love and high self esteem. I was surprised by her next question. She admitted that she didn't know how to begin loving herself and simply asked, “How do I?” I was caught off guard by this. I was reminded once again that when you give advice - even friendly advice - you must be simplistic and exact in your responses. Thank you Lady Jo for this lesson. This article actually should have been the very first one ever written, but it's only after you've been inspired that you can truly write anything worth sharing. And so I replied:

Learning How to Love Yourself - Building from ground zero!

You are the architect - Draw up your own blue print

As a small child, it's easy and natural to love yourself, because children automatically expect unconditional love and acceptance. It's only after someone or something shows them the ugly side of life that they start doubting themselves and feeling insecure.

First of all, realize that everyone, and I mean absolutely EVERYONE, has done some things they wish they could go back and change. Secondly, know that no one is defined by the things they have done, but by the lessons they have learned and the wisdom they are willing to teach to others. Third, you are also not defined by the mistakes of others.

You must tear down to rebuild!

This is your journey alone. No one can make it for you, so do not let anyone else guide you off your path. Think about the things in your life you have done, regret, and have learned from. Think about them, analyze them, figure out the lessons in them and then forgive yourself for them. Then leave the guilt behind and take with you only the lessons. This is the crucial first step, because you must drop the heavy weights that are holding you down and coloring your view. Whether you need a shovel or a bull dozer, it can be done. It must be done. So drop 'em and let's go.

Rebuilding – the foundation and the framework

First, write down all the positive things about yourself that you can think of. Do not put down one negative thing! Cast those out of your head and try not to think of them during this exercise. You should have placed them in the exercise above. We're rebuilding now, so the negatives have got to go! So write down the positives, and read them every night before you take your bath and get ready for bed. Next, look at yourself in the mirror (in the nude), lights bright as they can be. See yourself in your purest essence and tell yourself, "I am beautiful. I am unique. I am imperfect perfection, just as I was intended to be." Find your flaws and get comfortable with them too. Look at them and say, "I love you too. You make me ME!"

Note: you can do this exercise before going out on the town. Make sure you note all the positive feedback you receive. You will be strutting in a different way and others will pick up on your energy. Your confidence and inner beauty will absolutely radiate.

Bring in the sheetrock, the bricks, and the mortar!

Well, don't just sit there...get in the water! Imagine all the negatives and self doubt being washed away from your body and going down the drain. Meditate. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, concentrating on each breath. Imagine you are breathing in self love and breathing out any self hatred and doubt. Welcome the peace and serenity. Picture yourself as you would like to be. Picture the future you would like to have. Keep these images in your head. This is called positive imaging, and it's not a new thing. It has been around for years. It is also called FAITH for those of you who believe in a Higher Power. Your thoughts and words color your world. You have the power to make it positive or negative. You breathe life into whatever you are focusing on. When you focus your energy on negativity, bad things are more likely to follow. And likewise, when you focus on the beauty around you, the beauty within you and the beauty in others (although they may not be "acting" so beautiful at the time), your world will be bright and light and full of positive energy.

Don't forget the roof!

Last, remember that self love is truly a gift that everyone has the power to attain. It is absolutely free. But the choice is yours. So instead of hiding who you are, start accepting and appreciating who you are.

Ever wonder why some people always have good things happen to them, seemingly without much effort? Ever wonder why some people never look worried about anything? Well, they have learned the secrets to truly being happy with themselves and their lives.

Job Well done. Now take a break. Want some lemonade?

Make sure to do these exercises every night until you truly believe that you have become the wonderful, beautiful being that you were intended to be. But if nothing else is taken away from this article, the one thing that I want to express is this: The people in your life who really should be there will love the real you, flaws and all. And as for everyone else, just keep smilin', keep shinin', and keep right on makin' lemonade!

You thirsty yet?