On the morning of January 4th my dad had an aortic aneurysm. With the quick, calm thinking of my mom, she called 911 and he was rushed to a nearby hospital. After a CT scan the doctor delivered the news to my mom and told her the survival rate. After the helicopter transport was unable to land due to the wind they loaded him up to be transported by ambulance to a vascular surgery facility approximately 2 hours away. It is an absolute miracle my father survived the ambulance ride much less the surgery. He lost a lot of blood; the majority leaked out in his abdomen with each beat of his heart. After a team of surgeons worked on him for over 3 hours he was taken to ICU in critical but stable condition. Seeing my dad who only hours before was joking in the phone with me, unable to breathe on his own, under heavy sedation and so very swollen was extremely hard. I knew I needed to be strong for my dad. He is a fighter and the strongest man I know.
People from all over the hospital were catching word of his story and his survival, that once he was able to breathe on his own they were coming by constantly to see him. My dad became somewhat of a celebrity in the ICU. They all said it was hard to believe he survived and had to see it for themselves. When an aortic aneurysm ruptures, like my dads did (in 2 places) the likelihood of survival is very rare. He had a complete 3.54 inch break in his aortic wall that went all the way through. He lost enough blood that his doctor said he should have died from the blood loss alone. He had an incredible team of vascular surgeons who worked on him for hours. They never gave up on him just like my dad never gave up on life. So many people had a hand in saving his life. I am overwhelmed with gratitude that it’s hard not to get emotional. He is an incredible man and I couldn’t be more proud to be his daughter. I lost my brother suddenly over 10 years ago and I wasn’t prepared to lose my dad. The first thing I said to him when he woke up was “thank you for fighting and surviving.” Knowing all of the specifics, which I will not go into detail about it all, but it’s honestly been so overwhelming. His surgery team said that it was unheard of for someone to be alert, talking, eventually walking (although very slowly and with a lot of help) and able to go home only 3 days after surgery. My dad gets emotional when he thinks about how close he came to death. Despite that after he thanked everyone, he said “well, it’s a new year and I’ve been given a new chance and I’m not going to let this keep me from living.” His determination and strength takes my breath away; but in a good way (if that makes sense). He is almost 75 years old and the doctors commended him for taking such good care of himself. You see, my father has always been active. Despite having high blood pressure, which he does a terrific job keeping under control, my dad does not drink, he’s never smoked, he still works and despite the occasional soda his diet is pretty good! I know his weakness is ice cream but he likes to joke about eating the occasional sweets, that he likes to reward himself for living 74 years every now and then.
My fathers fight to live has changed something in me. I don’t look at life the same anymore. When my brother died, the grief was overwhelming but I let the guilt; the tragedy of his loss and never seeing him again overwhelm me with sadness. Now, I am going to choose to live in a way that honors the life I have been given. My dads aneurysm was a not only a wake up call to him but to me as well.
Today and everyday from now on, I will chose to live.