It was last Tuesday and the kids were enjoying some time in the yard, kicking the soccer ball around, telling each other their experiences of being back at school for NAPLAN, when I got the phone call that would change the rest of the week, actually the next two weeks… and who knows after that.
DH’s sister was calling to let me know that their Dad was in the ED, had had a CT scan and a stroke was suspected. DH’s Dad has just been in hospital recently for a 5wk stint, but after DH having spent some quality time with his Dad only a few nights prior, it was certainly a shock for this to happen. I met DH at the ED while my Mum watched the kids for us. To say that my expectations of what things would be like with DH’s Dad were too low, is an understatement. My Nanna had 3 strokes before her passing in 2003 and even though she was effected verbally and mobility wise, she was still alert and smiling until the day she died, so I think I went in with those expectations…. they may be some impairments, but nothing too serious.
While my FIL looked quite peaceful when we arrived, it was when we spoke to the Neurosurgeon and he went through the CT scan with us that we realised things were very serious. Poor DH nearly passed out at the sight of the scan, and having it explained… there was more blood than brain evident on the scan. The surgical team said that they felt there was no part for them to play, as a bleed of this severity is extremely serious in a younger person, let alone a man of 78yrs. with previous health worries. I think DH was a little miffed at their decision to not operate.
We next spoke to the head of the physician team who basically said we need to speak to the family and make decisions regarding whether or not to revive my FIL if he was to arrest. They advised strongly against it as he has osteoporosis and they would likely break bones if they were to try CPR on him. A feeding tube was also out as he has previous esophagus problems. This basically only left us with the Palative care path. This was quite confronting to have to make these decisions. Thankfully, DH’s sister arrived soon after, so we were able to have the discussion with her. Being a nurse, she was able to explain to us a few things. The doctors had said that my FIL’s condition would play out in one of two ways.. the first being that he would pull through this, but would need to go through ‘a journey of fire’ first… in other words, get worse before he got better. The second path, which is the path that we witnessed over the next 34hrs was that he would drop deeper and deeper and unconsciousness, until he passed. Whatever discomfort he did show during this time, was quickly dealt with by administering the drugs that the Palative team had ready for him.
My FIL lingered until 6pm the following day, either being visited by, or hearing from on the phone, each of his 5 children. My DH was able to spend some time with his Dad both on his way to, and home, from work the day of his passing. He’d actually only just arrived home from visiting with him when we received the call from DH’s sister that he had taken his last breaths.
My FIL was not a religious man.. and if you read my blogs regular, you will know I do not like that word ‘religion’, but it’s what he would have used. DH’s Mum, who passed away from cancer in 2006, would have called herself Catholic, but my FIL preferred to not come under any categories like that… Sooooooo, I figure that makes him fair game for the Kingdom.. LOL. I prayed over him like never before in those 34hrs. We just never know what goes on in these stages of unconsciousness, but I trust in the merciful God we serve and like to imagine that maybe my FIL was being a little stubborn, so God held onto him those extra hours until he accepted the outstretched arms of his Saviour. I have faith that I will see him again someday, in a completely healthy body, fit enough to waltz after dinner, and most importantly, greet him as not only my Father in Law, but my Brother in Christ.
After all… he’s one of my favourite people, as he’s 50% responsible for giving me my best friend for life, Father of my children.. and all around spunk DH !! LOL !!
Here we are, 5 days later, and it’s still very hard.. writing a eulogy, putting a photo slideshow together, organising a funeral, meeting with our pastor etc. It’s an extremely tiring time, emotionally and physically. It will be an emotional time on Thursday when we recognise and celebrate the life of my FIL, but it will also be the closure that will help the family go forward.
To my Dear Father in Law, You are very sadly missed and I look forward to seeing you again.
Much love, your Daughter in law. xox