The day of surgery

A compilation of a day's worth of entries:

1:48 p.m.:

While under the best of circumstances I could be considered a worrywart, I think I'm at least a bit entitled today. My father underwent surgery this morning to repair his aortic aneurysm. So far, I haven't heard anything from my mother. I'm going to assume that's good news, though in truth I really don't even know how long the surgery is supposed to take.The surgery is fairly serious stuff. From what I can gather, Dad's aneurysm is serious enough that a section of the artery has to be entirely replaced. (It can't be clamped off.) Mom reminded me that the surgeons will have to stop Dad's heart for the duration of time it takes to graft the replacement vessel into his aorta.

No matter how you look at it, that's just a little bit terrifying.

One of the most difficult things about growing up is accepting the fact that your parents will not always be living. It's a realization that hits you out of the blue one day, and it forces you to re-evaluate your relationships. (Or, it should, anyway.)

Once I thought about it for more than a moment or two, this surgery began to worry me. Not just because of what it is, but because it fits into a very worrisome pattern. When I allow myself to think about it, I realize that my father is probably not in very good health, but would not admit it to us. I know that he is on a significant amount of medication for various problems that he has, but if you pressed me to name what those problems were, I couldn't tell you.

I wonder how my sister feels, watching this. I am 24, she is 33; she actually knew my parents when they were younger. An odd coincidence of numbers: my mother was 24 when my sister was born, and nearly 34 when I was born. So, if you do the math, that means my mother turns 58 next month. My father is 57. I have no concrete memories of my parents before their 40th birthdays; she remembers them from before they were 30.

I like to refer to my sister as a "sunrise child," and myself as the "sunset child." It describes my memories of my parents well; I don't have any frame of reference to picture them as young. Or my age. I remember my parents planning for retirement; she undoubtedly remembers when they first started going grey.

As a result, it's easy for things like ill health on my parents' part to creep up on me, because I know no different. But then I look at Jeff's parents, who aren't even 50 yet, and I see differences.

However: I know whose stubbornness I got, and it's not my mother's. :) Intellectually I know that Dad will be in intensive care for a couple of days to closely monitor his heart, then moved to a private room for a few days to allow him to rest and heal some more.

Emotionally, there's a little impetuous blond kid stomping around in my head who is saying, "Dammit, Dad, don't you dare die on me, because I'm coming home for my first Christmas with you in three years and if you do, I'm not only going to be sad, but pissed."

Hopefully I'll have some news soon.

3:16 p.m.:

When I called home just now, there was a message from Mom on the machine. Dad made it through the surgery fine. He'll be in the ICU for 48 hours, but the prognosis is good and the aneurysm was repaired successfully.

10:00 p.m.:

More news. Mom called about an hour ago to tell me the part she didn't want to mention on the answering machine. Dad's still on a ventilator; the doctors plan to wean him off of it tomorrow.

The aneurysm was the size of a human fist. Dad's lucky to be alive. Period.

Mom and Dad live twenty minutes away from the nearest hospital. Had this aneurysm burst, he would have bled to death before Mom could have gotten him to the hospital. That explains why a section of the artery had to be replaced, and why the doctors hastened his surgery date.

There's just not much you can say to that sort of thing.

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