I suppose I paused when I did in Part 1 because that particular period of my dad’s illness is not only when his life took a sharp turn to the left (or the right – either one) but it was also when MY life (and the rest of our family in actuality) took a sharp turn to the left. It is painful to relive – even to just blog it. Even now I’m not sure I can share it. If I stop in the middle again please know it is not for dramatic effect but merely because I can only relive it in small doses.
As I was saying in Part 1, my dad began having trouble breathing. We were all told again and again by dad’s doctor that the most likely cause of his breathing problems was because of scar tissue built up on the vocal chords closing up part of the airway. However we were also being told that “he had plenty of space to breath”. It is a very scary thing to see someone you have always known to be healthy and strong to gasp for air to breathe. My mom had been telling me for weeks about his breathing problems. But I didn’t fully understand until he came to my house in September 2009 to stay with the kids so Ron and I could go out of town to a conference. When he arrived and I saw the problem for myself I must say I was scared. I tried not to show it because he doesn’t like to be “made over”. He is a strong, proud (in a good way), humble and independent man. Anytime you ask how he is feeling he has always said “fine” and shook off any concern. At this time he was saying “not too good” and you could read the worry on his face. THAT was enough to alert my senses that something was seriously wrong. I knew something was NOT RIGHT! So, not only could he not speak now he also could not breathe.
The doctor suggested a procedure to strip the vocal chords in the hopes of clearing the scar tissue built up, hopefully removing any papillomas and their roots as well as opening up the airway. Ron and I worked it out so that I could come up for the surgery and for the few days following the surgery. My wonderful Mother-in-Law (MIL-of-the-Year) came up from FL to stay with the kids. We had great hope that this surgery was going to be the answer to these symptoms. In a perfect world the skin would regrow on the chords WITHOUT papillomas or their roots allowing him to talk again and be able to breathe again. By the time we got home from the hospital that day he was beginning to make a sound when he talked. We took that as a positive sign that the surgery was going to work. The 3 of us decided to lay down and take a nap since we had left the house at 4:00 a.m. for surgery. About an hour and a half later I started waking up and was thinking about rolling over and going back to sleep but something was telling me to go check on Dad. When I came into the living room dad was no longer sitting in his recliner. He was sitting up in a straight back chair gasping for air. I asked how he was (although it was perfectly clear how he was to me) and he said “not good. I can’t breathe”. I woke Mom up. After some serious convincing he agreed for Mom to call 911. We all had our first ride in an ambulance that day. We spent a number of hours in the Emergency Room of Miami Valley Hospital that day.
Thus the journey to cancer began. Although we didn’t know yet that cancer was where we would end up with this journey it was indeed what was ahead of us.