Ginger's Bubbling Out Brain Matter

Splattered here for your viewing.

Just Sayin’ August 23, 2010

Filed under: My Dad — gingerroels @ 3:56 pm

The primary purpose of this blog will be to explain sometime words, as well intentioned as they may be, are not always helpful. I will give a brief update about my dad at the end of this blog.

Please do not take this the wrong way (okay, so you already know it could be based on that sentence). I was and still am extraordinarily thankful for the words of encouragement and support. I have an amazing group of people around me.

A couple dos and do nots when trying to help someone through a tough time:

The Do nots

1. Do not say everything happens for a reason. Unless you can give me insight into why my dad is in a hospital because an infection ate through his sternum and he’s in a medically induced sleep with a huge open wound and I can not speak to or touch him and we don’t know if he’s going to make it through the night then please do not say that. Maybe for some that brings consolation but for me it does not. At that point the reason, in my opinion, was incompetence.

2. This one is a little harder because there is no way any one person would know that 12 other people have asked you how’s he doing. I am grateful that so many people care. However, each time someone asks you, you have to relive the situation over and over and over. Considering at some point it was did he make it through the last 3 hours, you’re already a wreck…you may not visibly be a wreck but inside you are. I am one who values clear and timely communication. Finally, I said if there are any changes I will send an email or post it on my blog. It is much easier to tell everyone at once.

3. I am not a particularly transparent person so unless you knew what was going on you would have no idea anything was wrong. So, if you were one who knew, then it would seem that common sense would tell you that I am probably a wreck as most would be under the same circumstances. Outside of a few days, I was able to outwardly just grin and bear it. Like I said life doesn’t stop because a crisis has occurred. So, asking how I’m holding up every now and then is fine but asking daily, not so much.

4. One last don’t. This applies more so to me than most. My hobby is neuro-linguistics so I actually listen more to your body language than I do your words. Believe me, your body language speaks volumes all the way down to what your pupils do when you see any given person. So telling me it’s going to be fine when your body language is saying I would hate to be you right now…just don’t. Yes, I am an eternal optimist and try to find the good amidst the gloom but the reality of the situation was well within my line of sight.

The Dos

1. The best thing you can do is just to say this really sucks (sorry mom I know you don’t like that word) and then give me a hug. There really are no words. It is what it is and it sucks.

2. Non-specific notes of encouragement. Just notes saying thinking about you, just wanted to brighten your day, things like that. The cards that say in hard times like these and things like that are really depressing and definitely not what one needs at times like these.

3. Help the person to laugh, to think about something else…even it’s just for a moment.

4. Sometimes it’s best to just offer a glance of acknowledgment…one that says I understand, I’m sorry and if you need a hug or a shoulder to cry on mine is here.

Now, for those who have asked a brief update on my dad. He was at home for a few days. I just got a call while I was writing this blog that he is back at the hospital. I will be heading up there in about 20 minutes. If you’re a believer say a prayer, if you’re not send some well wishes his way.

Thanks for reading my brain splatter…off to the hospital again.


Quick Update July 29, 2010

Filed under: My Dad — gingerroels @ 9:48 am

I have been trying to keep everyone who wants to know in the loop in regards to my dad. The rest of life does not stop for you, the demands placed on you are no less when things like this occur. The show must go on no matter what.

As most know he had three pretty major surgeries in less than two months. He was kept in a medically induced sleep between the second and third surgeries. After the third surgery he was kept in the induced sleep for another 6 days. Because the abscess ate through his sternum they brought a plastic surgeon in who took the pectoral muscles and pulled them across to make a flap that will fix the damage…because the damage was so severe that was the only option they had. They finally allowed him to come out of the sleep Friday of last week. He didn’t really wake up until Sunday. When I went up to see him on Monday he had no idea who I was. He didn’t know who my brother was either. When your body goes through that much and you’re kept in an induced sleep for 10 days it takes awhile to get to a functional state. Yesterday he did recognize my mom, which is great. He is breathing on his own as well. The doctors seem pleased with the physical recovery. He still has a way to go but at least we seem to be headed in a better direction. As far as his mind goes, that is a matter of time. It may be 2 weeks or it may be 2 months before he regains his memory. He has a physical therapist working with him to improve his speech…he’s difficult to understand because he is mumbling most the time with occasional moments of crystal clear speaking. He is still in CCU in the hospital and is still receiving food through a tube. He did eat some ice chips, some applesauce and some Jello.

He still has no idea what has happened, what the surgery entailed, or that he had a third surgery. The last time he was fully coherent and able to function was prior to the second surgery. When he gets to a place where they can explain to him all that’s going on, I’m pretty sure some heads are going to roll. In the meantime we’re all just taking it one day at a time. He will be in the hospital for awhile longer but the doctors say he is doing better than they anticipated which is great.

I am very thankful for the progress he has made, for all the doctors who have tended to him through the second and third surgeries and for the great care he is getting now. I am thankful for the incredible people I am surrounded by who have just been there to help me laugh, to give me hugs, to tell me I probably need to sleep and to just be a part of this journey.

Thanks for reading my brain splatter 😀


No, no, no July 19, 2010

Filed under: My Dad — gingerroels @ 2:10 pm

The words of a child having a tantrum after being told to do something he does not want to do. Certainly not the words of a 38 year old mom…or are they? As a mom I say no a lot…usually followed by my children telling me I am evil. If you are a parent, you, like me, just do not understand the benefits of having two desserts and do not realize just how bad vegetables are for you 😀 I had my share of tantrums but it’s been a good 20+ years since I’ve had one. At some point you learn that having a tantrum greatly decreases your chances of getting your way in the future. I am teaching my kids early…the rule is, if you have a tantrum or whine the answer is no, period. If you have a legitimate argument that could change the outcome then present it as such and maybe I’ll change my mind.

I follow the same line of thinking. If I have a legitimate argument for something I present it. If I’m just being whiny, I work it out in my mind and move on. Where is all this going…I wrote a rather wordy blog (like any of them aren’t 😀 ) about where I have been this past month. My dad is back in the hospital. I knew he was going to have a second surgery, what I didn’t know was the severity of the infection. He has not been awake for a week now. I’m doing better today than I was earlier in the week. He is going in for a third surgery tomorrow. I got a call earlier in the week…it’s amazing what a phone call will do. I hung up the phone and immediately broke down. I do not cry in front of my kids or anyone usually. I lost complete control so I had my kids asking why I was crying…I said no reason and promptly went in the bathroom and locked the door. While in there I proceeded to call out to God. It wasn’t my usual style of prayer…I’m positive there was no reverence present. I had a tantrum. I screamed out to God and it sounded something like this “No, no, no, no, no, it’s not his time yet, I’m not ready, You can’t take him, no, no, no, no, no.” I cried uncontrollably for awhile and continued my tantrum before God. Eventually, I calmed down and came out. I told my boys that grandpa was very sick and that is why I was sad. I will be praying tonight, as will many others.

There is a song that I have been listening to over and over that describes where I am…trusting even in the storm life has brought. It has the following lyrics: “I will praise you in this storm and I will lift my hands You are who you are no matter where I am and every tear I’ve cried You hold in your hands you never left my side though my heart is torn I will praise you in this storm.”


Where have I been? July 9, 2010

Filed under: My Dad — gingerroels @ 10:16 am

Good question, life has been a blur for the past month. I guess when you’re everywhere on the internet and then suddenly you’re not people notice. In all honesty, I have been speechless, just trying to make it from one day to the next for the past month.

Before I go into the details of the last month let me say that I must be the luckiest girl in the world to have so many people sending me tweet hugs, thoughts, prayers, e-hugs and real ones, cards, emails. I apologize for not responding but I have been reading them all and words can not express how grateful I am to all of those who have sent them to me.

This may be long so curl up. I had requested vacation time to spend with my kids. My mother-in-law was having a knee replacement and I thought her son should be accessible to her so I was set to begin my vacation the day of her surgery. My plan was to just hang out with my boys, go to Disneyland, go to the beach, play games, bake cookies, cook sand to make lasting sandcastles, etc. My boys and I were excited about the activities. I had covered all the areas at work that needed to be covered and did what needed to be done so I could just enjoy the time.

I was set to begin vacation on June 15. I was at work on June 8 when I got a call from my husband. My mom for some reason had called him instead of directly calling me because she didn’t want me to worry. This is where it all gets crazy. My dad had gone in that morning for a routine angiogram. My dad has always kept himself in good shape, he eats well, works out every day, etc. I was expecting a call from my mom around 11ish saying all is well. Well, it didn’t quite go down that way. I get a call from my husband around 11ish saying your mom just called me because she wasn’t sure she should tell you what is going on because she doesn’t want you to worry. Of course, I just said no problem…no wait that’s not what I said. He proceeds to tell me that my dad had 5 blocked arteries and they were going to admit him to the hospital for emergency surgery. He was not sure where he had been admitted or if he had been admitted at that point. I am beginning to stress out. My husband had said not to call my mom because she was a mess. Well, she is the only one that is going to have any information. I call her cell phone at least 3 times and it goes straight to voicemail. I’m getting a bit perturbed at this point. I knew where my dad was having the angiogram done so I called that hospital to see if he had been admitted. He had. They transferred me up to his room and he answered the phone. My dad was very calm. He answered the phone and I asked what was going on. He said they had to do surgery. I said major or minor. He said they would be breaking open the breast bone, making an incision from his chest to his belly button and taking arteries from his legs to replace the blocked arteries in his heart. So, fairly major. I asked if he had a time of surgery and he said tomorrow morning. I asked what room he was in so he gave me the room number and I said I’ll be there in a bit. Before I left work I called my brother and sister-in-law to make sure they knew what was going on. My sister-in-law was very mellow. My brother, who is fairly high strung anyway, was something less than mellow. I told him I had just talked to our father and gave him the information. He said he wanted to call himself. I had closed out the window on my computer with the phone number so I had to relocate it. While I am trying to find the right number he is using very colorful language and yelling because he didn’t feel as though I was getting it fast enough. I told him he was welcome to look it up himself. The conversation was a little more heated but that was the jist of it. I then left work and went to see my dad. I was at the hospital for about 7 hours. My mom and I left for about 30 minutes to get dinner. During dinner she starts telling me about symptoms he had been having but she had failed to disclose. Suffice it to say I let her know the importance of getting timely information to me. If I worry, I worry. I would much rather get a call saying my dad is having these symptoms than a call saying he had been having these symptoms and the doctors were not addressing them so as a result he has died. I can assure you, had I known about all the symptoms, I would have taken him myself and “encouraged” the doctors to actually figure out what was wrong. Before my mom and I had gone for dinner my dad had asked for pain medication….actually he had asked for it about an hour and a half before we went. I know you have to contact the doctor so I’ll have some grace in that. When we returned from dinner he was still in pain and no one had brought him anything. I hunted down the nurse and asked why my dad had not been given anything for pain yet. At this point it had been at least 3 – 4 hours since he had asked. I stood there and asked that the nurse call for the doctor again. Amazingly, within 10 minutes we had authorization. My mom and I stayed with him until around 7pm. My brother and sister-in-law came so my mom and I went downstairs to watch my niece while they visited with my dad. Then we all went home. When I had left his room the surgery was supposed to be happening the next morning. I get a call saying they are going to push it out to Thursday. So, let me get this straight, you just told me my dad is a ticking time bomb and could drop over at any moment, right? So, what, are you feeling lucky enough to tempt fate an extra day. Really? I was not happy with that at all. I was at work when they called to tell me they had changed the day. They did the surgery on Thursday, it took around 5 hours or so. He was heavily sedated so I did not go up to see him on Thursday but called Friday and went up Saturday. He was looking and feeling much better when I saw him Saturday. My mom usually watches my niece but needed to attend to my dad and since I was going to be on vacation anyway I said I would watch her. I met my sister-in-law at my parents and watched her there because all her stuff is there and my parents are about midway between my house and my brothers house. They released my dad Tuesday afternoon to go home. In my opinion, someone who has just had open heart surgery on Thursday should not be going home the following Tuesday but I’m not the doctor. So, I’m at my parents house with my 18 month old niece, my 6 year old, my 8 year old and my parents 110 pound puppy who is not quite a year old yet and my dad is on his way home. Explaining to the kids that they could not climb in grandpa’s lap was simple…explaining it to their giant lab who is used to jumping in his lap was not. My mom tells me what time he is coming home so I make sure all three kids are napping at that time and the dog is locked out for a bit. He comes in and sits in his chair and is fine for a bit. Then the morphine starts wearing off and he’s refusing to take anything. You can not begin to imagine how fun the rest of that day was. If you think I’m stubborn you should meet my dad. You can not tell him what to do. So as the medication he had in the hospital is wearing off he’s half coherent, the pain is coming quickly but he wants everything out of his system. Alright. So the rest of the week is much of the same. My last day of vacation was June 22 and he had to go to the doctor so I helped him get in the car and get a seat belt on and then went back in the house because I am still watching three children and a dog. I get a call from my mom that my dad fainted when they got to the office. Fantastic. Apparently, the medications weren’t working well together and that dehydrated him. Since his release he has been in and out of the hospital, doctors offices, urgent care, his stitches popped open, he’s got fluid coming out of the incision. So, the last month has been a blur. I’ve just been trying to do one day at a time. I hesitant to update on my dad because it seems that as soon as I do something changes. Amidst all this my mother-in-law had her surgery so I visited her as well.

When all this is happening, I still have to go to work, be a mom, be a friend, visit people in hospitals, encourage people going through tough times and all with a smile on my face and any commitments I made, I did. Including a 24 hour relay for life which was actually my saving grace. I walked at least 15 – 17 of the 24 hours. The people on the team I was walking with had me laughing all day. Even at 3am when there were blisters on my feet and I was pretty sure I was going to die before 9am came, the team kept the spirit up. We all did one final team walk before we went home. I layed down for a few hours then got up, popped the blisters, padded them and headed for my softball game.

So, that’s where I’ve been. Some days, I couldn’t even put a sentence together. My thoughts have been all over the place. There is no possible way to explain what my life has looked like the past month. It’s not over yet.

I have learned I have some amazing friends both in life and online. People I have never met in person sending me words of encouragement and hugs….you have no idea how much it has all meant to me. Even when I’m not writing, responding, etc. I’m still reading.

I sat with a woman this week who is in hospice. She said very little, I did not know her well but I took her hand and sat with her, prayed with her, smiled when she opened her eyes. As I sat there I thought, one day this could be my parent, my loved one and thought about how much it would mean to me if I knew someone who was amidst a crazy storm in their own life took the time to sit with my parent who couldn’t speak and would be leaving this earth soon. It would mean a lot. Now, this womans family does not know I went to see her, they don’t know I sat with her and they never will. I found that because of all I’m going through right now, I was more inclined to sit longer with this woman than I normally would have.

In a nut shell, a really big nut shell, that’s where I’ve been. I haven’t felt much like myself for some time now but slowly I’m getting back to being me.

Thanks for reading my brain splatter and thank you if you were one of those who helped me find a smile when none were around.