Another Anniversary

Today is another special day; we celebrated Mass for Dad. Four years ago this day, my father died. I was with him at the end and various details of his last illness replay in my mind. It all happened in just one week.

Dad became ill on the first weekend in May. That Sunday, I rushed him to our local hospital because he thought he was dying, but he couldn’t quite explain what was wrong. He was in a lot of abdominal and chest pain, but all his vitals were stable. I was puzzled, but relieved when the ER doc told us all his tests were within normal limits.

However, as the week progressed, Dad continued to deteriorate. After a couple of visits to our family doctor and a CT scan, the problem was diagnosed: another abdominal aortic aneurysm, this one slowly leak. Dad had one AAA repaired back in 1995; this one was larger and extended into his thoracic aorta. He was taken into emergency surgery that Friday and never woke up. I was the one who took him to the surgeon and then to the hospital. Dave was visiting his girlfriend out of town and Mom was physically unable to go. It was just me and Dad for that final journey.

Surgery went well and for the first 24 hours post-op, Dad did great. He was on a ventilator and so was kept sedated. Mom could not stay at the hospital, so I ran her back and forth to home…forty minutes away. My brothers were on their way home, but Dave was driving, so could not get here before Saturday and Joe could not get a flight from Seattle until Monday.

Then things started to go wrong. First there was some evidence of blood loss in the abdomen. Then his kidneys started to fail. By 72 hours post-op, Dad’s belly was bloated and tests showed that his entire large and small intestines were dying. No more.

I discussed the situation with Dad’s doctors and the family; we decided to stop his meds and within the hour, Dad died.

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