Well my dad is back from la-la land, and he’s most definitely still my dad. We left him about an hour ago and he was ordering the nurse around and cracking jokes – all while in a great deal of pain and high on morphine. Good times. So he’s awake, mostly alert, and does not show any signs of having a stroke – all good news. Before we went into the ICU to see him, his surgeon came out and asked us to work hard to convince him that he was okay – we were like ok, whatever dude. The heart surgeon (also somewhat hot, I might add) said lots of times his patients wake up from this surgery convinced they are dead. Seriously. They think they are dead and it just takes a while for the anesthesia to wear off and the pain to subside before they get it. Well my dad didn’t think he was dead, but he certainly didn’t believe any of us that the surgery was so smooth – no crises, nothing unplanned or scary, completely on schedule. Which leads me to believe he was not nearly as optimistic about the whole thing as he would have us believe. Hmm.
Well his doctor wasn’t kidding --- my dad urgently questioned first my mom, then my brother, then me, asking, “Am I okay?” “Yes, everything was great, you’re great.” “You’re lying.” “No, I’m not – really, the surgery was fine. “Quit lying to me.” “No, REALLLLY…” “Liar.” “Dad, I am not lying to you, you know it gives me a stomach ache to lie.” and on and on for about half an hour. But I think we convinced him. Some interesting things I noted during the hour we spent with him in the ICU before they kicked us out:
• My dad: “where’s the nurse?” “I’m here.” “who are you?” “Nancy.” “Come here, I want to see you.” She pokes her head around my mom to say hello, and my dad, from behind his oxygen mask, says “Oh good, I got a pretty one.” My dad, the fossil. But I’m guessing the nurses at the army hospital are used to such attention… Anyway, her response was “We’ll be sure your nurse tomorrow is big and ugly.”
• My dad: “My fingers are stuck together.” This coming from a man who had been telling us over and over to uncover his arm that wasn’t covered. So my mom was all “babe, no they’re not.” “Yes they are.” My mom, to humor him, lifted his hand and I’ll be damned if his fingers weren’t stuck together. Apparently the yellow goo all over him was sticky and his fingers were webbed. HA.
• He kept asking what time it was, compulsively, from the moment we got in there. 7:30. 7:38. 7:52. 8:00….. after asking about 10 times he said “my life…is creeping…by…”. The nurse told him it was going to be a long night. No shit. She really has NO IDEA what she’s in for tonight…
• Here’s another good dad quote; my mom was holding his hand, smoothing his hair and he says through the oxygen mask, “Jan, FIX MY HAIR”. This is noteworthy because the first thing he asked when we arrived this morning was for my mom to fix his hair. The nurse had to go track down a comb. This is Normal Dad Behavior. See what I mean? He’s all there.
• My dad to Nurse Nancy (whose name he kept forgetting b/c of the drugs): “Did they tell you I wrote a book?” “No, they didn’t,” “Well, I wrote a book.” Us: “He sure did.” Nurse Nancy, politely: “what’s the book about?” My dad: (long pause) “I don’t know.” (that damn morphine). She looks at me and I say “It’s about Vietnam.” (brief pause) “Wow dad, wouldn’t that be cool if you forgot about Vietnam?” No comment from dad. But I think he was laughing on the inside.
So now we’re home and I’m completely numb. I don’t feel tired, I don’t feel stressed, I don’t feel anything at all. So I’m going to finish writing this and then go knock myself out so I can get some sleep. The hospital will call us if anything goes down during the night -- his surgeon said for some reason, complications always seem to happen in the middle of the night. Tomorrow we’re going up there again early so we can catch his doctors doing rounds and hear the scoop. My dad will also be a lot more alert by then. God help his nurse – she has no idea how long the night really is going to be, trapped in a small room with an ornery, morphine-filled, retired Lt. Colonel from the U.S. Army.
That's my dad.