oh, andi !

〔 one girl, one road to self-discovery + reinvention 〕

sea legs, part i: that time my dad almost died — 16 March 2016

sea legs, part i: that time my dad almost died

I suppose that I should start this with an introduction of sorts, both so that I can get a feel for myself and because I think that it will be an easier thing to write than anything themed about something that I am in to currently. Though I suppose this will also work as a brief history — to catch myself up with myself, so that we are all on the same page. I also doubt that anyone will really read this, so that helps in some ways.

It all started a few years ago, but I guess I have to go back a bit farther so that it all adds up. I think I am gonna do this in parts, to avoid things getting too long.

My dad got sick. Really, really sick. He and I had gotten in to the last of many, many fights over the years, and on this day in particular he was supposed to pick me up from work but didn’t, so I walked the 6 miles home. He called me in a rage and was threatening me, and when I threatened him back ( I had been dealing with physical violence from my father since I was like 8, at 12 he gave me head wound that required 13 stitches ). When I told him that if he hit me I would kill him, he started threatening me with the police, and I told him that if he felt like they needed to be here when he got home that that was on him. He came home sans police, threw a chair at me, and told me I was a “fucking treacherous cunt,” which was a blow only lessened by the fact that two years before he had called me a slew of things almost as bad. I called my mom in tears and told her what had happened, and she told him that he had to leave.

He didn’t leave.

But he stayed holed up in their bedroom, and after about a week it started to smell. Not like unclean, but like death. I went to check on him — my mom said he had the flu or was drunk, and I knew she was just being … my unhelpful mother. So, anyways, I told my dad to let me take him to the hospital. He refused, saying he was fine and wasn’t going, and so I did the only thing that I knew to do — I called his dad. I told my Grandpa that my dad was sick and needed to go to the E.R. and he wouldn’t go, and when Grandpa said he was gonna come get my dad and drive him to the hospital, dad agreed to go.

How I was able to act like nothing was wrong when the last thing that he had said to me before getting sick was what he did, well. Let’s just say I am probably really fucked in the head from dealing with that kinda shit my whole life.

So, I took my dad to the E.R. I stayed with him and he was admitted. I don’t really remember the order of events, but they never knew what was wrong with him. After a week they moved him to the contagious/infectious disease floor and put him under quarantine.  Then, one day, my mother and I went to see him — and he wasn’t there. In a weird twists of events that I think is more SciFi movie than real life, my mother led me to where they had taken my dad because, as she said, she could smell him. On a different floor. She led us right to his room ( I know the hospital hadn’t called her, we were together all day and I had taken to sleeping in the bed with her at night because we got up together every morning, and when they called the house I was always the one who answered ). He was in the ICU. They still didn’t know quite what was wrong with him, only that it was getting worse. We met some guys from the National Center for Disease Control who were there to meet with Dr. Knowles, my dad’s surgeon, and get cultures of whatever it was that my dad had and take them back to the national lab to examine. Or whatever they wanted to do.

My dad was eventually diagnosed with Necrotizing Fasciitis Streptococcus Group B.  I didn’t really understand a lot of the medical terminology, but it was explained to us like this: Muscles in the body are surrounding by sacs called fasci, and the bacteria that my dad had was eating and killing that tissue, and they had to work tirelessly to ensure that it didn’t spread and start also attacking vital organs.

The day that the diagnosis came through, Dr. Knowles told us that there was nothing left to do but pray. DePaul, the hospital where he was being treated, is a Catholic hospital and on my way out that day, much like every day, I walked passed the Chapel. That day I turned back around and went in and picked a pew, got to my knees, and I prayed. I remember feeling a panic, and then the slow acceptance that maybe this was it, maybe my dad was supposed to die, and I accepted it. I don’t know how, or what that says about me, but I went in borderline hysterical and in tears and left feeling like I could hold it together for my mother, my sisters, and the rest of my family. My older sister called my dad’s mother, who flew out from Texas to be with us, and the rest of my dad’s family in the area was there too — his sisters, brother, dad. It was weird, and I always felt like, at any moment, they were gonna come by and tell me that he was dead.

My dad was put in to a medically induced coma and remained that way for something like 38 days. Every day they took him to surgery at 8am ( my mother and I were there at 7am to see him and sign paperwork for the procedures ). He went in to debridment, where the doctor opened up both wounds ( one that was like 7 inches on his upper thigh, one that was 10 inches on his  abdomen ) and removed all of the infection and dead/dying material. Afterwards he was sent to hyperbaric oxygen therapy, where they put him in this big MRI looking capsule and hyper-oxygenated the air. It was supposed to help him heal.

Somehow, Dr. Knowles saved my dad’s life. He was surprised. Everyone was.

Unfortunately, the brush with death did nothing to change my dad’s temper, or to make him in to someone I could have a relationship with. After everything that we all went through, he ended up creating this idea in his head that as part of our conniving plan to get back at him, my mother and I had agreed to a procedure just to be spiteful — nevermind that the procedure in question was reversible and contributed to the fact that he was still alive.

And so we stopped talking.

We made a few attempts, my older sister and I, on and off over the next three years — but we couldn’t ever make anything stick. A lot of it was hurt feelings and the fact that our parents pretty much refused to acknowledged that they had done us any sort of disservice, but it also had a fair bit to do with my mother, which I guess I will talk about in the next part.

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