(Sorry, this is a lot of detailed information and INSANELY long... as much as I would like to forget this week, I am sure I will forget a lot of these details that I may want to remember one day so I am just going to say it all!)
August 13, 2011
On Saturday morning, I went to pick my girls up. The day before that was my birthday and my mother in law wanted to watch the girls so I could go out and have some fun without my kids. I woke up around 9AM and picked the girls up at about 10. They had a birthday party at 11 and so I took them to that. I did a haircut during the party and then went back to pick them up and was just going to stay there for the last half hour. At 12:25PM, I got a phone call from my brother. I was taking Anisten to the bathroom and I just heard it ringing out in the kitchen. When I got out, I picked up my phone and saw that my little brother Jordan had called me. I called him back at 12:28PM. He picked it up and all I heard him say was..."Tara, Dad just called me and he is having a heart attack. He is in Evanston, Wyoming and he is being life flighted to the University of Utah. I can't get a hold of anyone. You are the first person I have been able to get a hold of. " I was shocked. I was in a room with a bunch of people (only a few of those that I actually knew) and I immediately felt like I was going to collapse. Never in a million years are you expecting a phone call like that! I really felt like I was hyperventilating. Oh it was such an awful feeling. Then I am pretty sure I did start hyperventillating. I started crying and I couldn't stop. Emery is just staring up at me like..."What in the WORLD is going on with YOU?!" Luckily I have great neighbors and they offered to take my girls for me while I went up to get my mom. Oh and my mom... my little brother wasn't able to get a hold of her since my dad called him. I tried her phone and she picked up. I told her what Jordan had told me. She started BAWLING instantly which I think is what set me off. She just kept asking..."Why is this happening to us?!" She has definitely hit her maximum stress level between Jackie and all of her operations, getting laid off and the other stresses of life. I feel so bad for them. I told her I would be on my way to get her and we would go up to the hospital. The ride to the hospital seems like a blur. I remember praying like a mad woman the whole way to my mom's house. I got there and my mother in law had come to sit with my mom while she was alone. I walk in to see them both crying.. we still hadn't heard any news. It was the longest hour ever. I started calling the University of Utah E.R. because that is where Jordan said they were taking him. I remember being so frustrated because they couldn't tell me if he was on his way there or where he was headed. Why didn't you know where the life flight was? Who was in it? Was Jordan's info really correct?!
Finally about 20 minutes later I call the main U of U number and ask if my dad is there. They said he was... he was in the MICU (M=Medical). I should have called that number in the first place, he could have been there the whole time. I spoke with his doctor there and they said he had in fact had a major heart attack. He was being taken in to get a procedure done where they put a stent in the artery that is blocked so they can stop the damage that is being done to his heart. It should take about 30 minutes and then we will be able to see him. I was so confused. My dad just got done hiking the Grand Canyon. He went from the North Rim to the South Rim and then turned back around and hiked back to the North Rim. That is over 50 miles in over 100' temps. A man just about to have a heart attack shouldn't be able to do that! My dad runs a few miles every day! How is this happening?!
All the kids met at my mom's house and headed up to the U to see him. My mom's phone was ringing off the hook. It was good having her talking to people... I think it kept her from thinking the scary thoughts that you so obviously try so hard not to think about in situations like this. We got up there and he was still getting the stint procedure done. About 30 minutes later, a doctor came into the waiting room and told us what was going on. He showed us some pictures of his heart and the 3 arteries coming out. He said they call this kind of heart attack a "widow maker" At that point, I wanted to reach out and smack him. Who says that to his wife?! We didn't even know if he was okay at that point. He showed us that the main artery that supplies blood to 50% of his heart was completely closed off and that is the worst kind of heart attack you can have. It supplies blood to the outer layers of the entire heart. He says that after a heart attack has gone on for over 20 minutes, the heart muscle starts dying and they won't know the extent of my dads damage until the next morning. He then says we can go in and see him.
My mom and I head in to see him. I was surprised at how good he looked! He had to lay flat for the first 4 or 5 hours and he also couldn't move his right leg because that is where they went in to that artery and they didn't want things to get messed up. He was really out of it but he could still talk to us and answer our millions of questions. He told us that he had headed up to North Fork of the Bear (Uintahs) in Wyoming around 5:30 that morning. He was driving his motorcycle up there and felt fine. He said that he got up there with the scouts and about 15 minutes after he got up there helping, he started feeling sick. He went and laid down under a tree and things didn't get better. He said his chest hurt, it hurt to breathe, it seemed like something was poking him in the back and the chest.He had just taught a class the Wednesday before on Hiking Safety (which is seriously one of those blessings in disguise!) and so he immediately knew that he needed to take 300mg of Aspirin and he needed oxygen STAT. Another blessing in disguise was the guy who he got the oxygen from later told us that he never brings it with him but just felt like he should that day. Oh Heavenly Father sure knows what he is doing up there! :) They then got the scout doctors over to him (it was a big get together up there) and they told him that it was indeed a heart attack and he needed to get to a hospital right away. All my dad remembers after that is he was taken in the back of someones truck and they drove like a crazy man to meet the ambulance on the way to Evanston's ER. Once at Evanston, they verified once again that it was a heart attack and then he was life-flighted to the University of Utah. Everyone kept telling him how smart it was that he got that Aspirin into him as soon as he did. So many crazy things happened and my dad got insanely lucky that this ended up the way that it did.
Turns out this wasn't the end of it. He got released from the hospital on Tuesday and was put on 6 medications that he will need to be on for a very long time. Since he had a heart attack before he was 55, that means it is hereditary which is a scary thought for us kids. Well we thought he was out of the bad part of everything and in the clear. On Friday night, I was in bed asleep. It was around 11PM and I hear non-stop knocking at my front door. It was one of those things where you feel like you are dreaming it so I didn't get up. Well the knocking kept going and I got out of bed in my G's and went to see what was going on. I hear my neighbor Pete telling me to open the door. I went and got some clothes on and got the door. Braun had called him because I guess my family had all been calling me and I slept through it all. I pick up the phone and Braun tells me that my mom heard a big thud in their bedroom and she ran in and my dad was lying on the floor and very out of it. I was in shock. I really couldn't even believe it and I didn't even know how to react. I felt so bad that Pete was there telling me the news.. that had to have been so awkward for him. I called my inlaws and they came over with my kids. Braun's dad drove me up to the University of Utah. They had taken my dad in an ambulance back up there to the ER. When we got up there, my sister Heather, her 2 kids, Jordan, Jackie, my brother Aaron and his girlfriend were all there waiting. My mom was inside with him. My mom came outside and told us they did an MRI and a Cat Scan and he had just had a stroke. My mom said that they were out watching Harry Potter when my dad said he was tired and went in and got in bed. She doesn't know how long had passed but all the sudden she heard a big thud in their room and ran in. Somehow my dad had fallen out of his bed and hit his head on his nightstand. Noone knows how he even fell out of his bed but it is a good thing that he did. If he would have had a stroke and stayed asleep, he would have major brain damage and there is a very good chance he would have died. Such scary thoughts. They caught it quickly after it happened and so we were hoping the brain damage would be very minimal. It is scary with a stroke because there is no way of knowing the extent of the damage until after it all unfolds. No anwers sure makes me stressed out! We all got home around 5AM and I slept at my moms house. That next morning I got a call from Braun and he told me he was coming home!!! It was a good thing because I seriously don't know how much more stress I could have handled. Being pregnant, a single mom of 2 for the last month and helping with my family... just a lot of stress for this little baby growing inside of me. The next day I stayed with my brother and sister and at about 4PM went and got Braun from the airport. Anisten came with me and holy smokes... I have never seen a girl more excited to see her daddy! It was so cute to see and just what I needed during this crazy time! We went up to the hospital and they actually gave my dad the option to go home! He was already on all of his blood thinner medicines so recovery would be the same at home as it was in the hospital. After 1 stroke, it is very likely that you will have another in the next 24-48 hours. They found out that the reason he had the stroke to begin with was when he had his heart attack, the bottom tip of his heart died. Well then blood just pooled around it because it wasn't pumping and then when the blood did start moving, it was thick and it sent a clot up into his brain. Seriously... who knew these things happened??! I hate that I know all of this information about strokes and heart attacks. My poor dad! I hate even more that he had to go through all of it.
Luckily it has been about 2 weeks since this happened and his recovery has been pretty awesome so far. He does struggle a little bit with his words but every time I see him it feels like things are improving for him! It has been a crazy ride but we have had so much help and support from our family and friends. It is times like these when you really stop and think about how grateful you are for the things that you have and the friendships you share with people. So THANK YOU for all of the support, calls, texts, meals that were brought to my family, prayers, etc!!