Tuesday, April 2, 2013

My Dad

Deep breaths.

Deep breaths.


Ok, I can write this. I can do it. My hands are sweating and my stomach is turning, but I can write this. Where to start? I've wanted to update my blog for a while now, but subconsciously or maybe consciously, I keep putting it aside and avoiding the subject. I don't like thinking about it really, but I feel a sense or a need to record what's going on with my family and my life right this very moment.

Let's start from the beginning. When I was 11, my dad had a seizure in the middle of the night. My mom didn't think much of it, but my dad went to the doctor since he was feeling really tired and a little sick. The doctor told him he had a brain tumor and required surgery the next day. Pretty much a life and death situation. Five kids under 12, including a 10 month old baby. I really didn't understand the seriousness of the situation at the time, but looking back I can't believe how "normal" my life felt! I was actually mad that I wasn't going to be able to go to dance that night.

Fast forward 13 years. My dad has had several brain surgeries and has done radiation, chemotherapy, steroids...all several times. On December 22, Brady and I drove home for Christmas break. We left earlier than planned and I will be forever grateful that we did. I was able to spend that evening/night with my family. My dad sat me and Brady down in his room and had a very serious and personal talk about the tumors. Since Thanksgiving, he had become increasingly dizzy and was not able to walk on his own. We would do a sort of "train" walk where one is in front and one behind to help him go wherever he needed to in the house.

That night, he went to bed and all was well. We were home for the break and we were excited to spend a week and a half with the family! Around 5:30 in the morning of December 23, I woke up to the scariest cry/scream coming from my mom on the other side of the house. I don't know how I even heard her because I have been known to sleep through fire alarms. But I heard her so clearly, and woke up instantly. I woke up Brady and told him to hurry, it was my dad. He ran to their bedroom and he yelled back at me to call 911.

I called 911 for the first time ever, and spoke to the woman on the phone. I could hear the ambulance on its way as I was on the phone with her. I went in the room and helped my mom and held my dad's hand. He squeezed it hard, but his face was blank. All of a sudden, my parent's room was filled with paramedics, policemen and people everywhere. Shelley and Davis were in the room, but Chase was still asleep. Jackson and Emily were actually driving to Arizona at the time. Chase woke up and rushed down just to see my dad being taken away on a stretcher. What a site. I wish I could forget the pictures in my mind, but I just can't.

What had happened was my dad woke up and said he needed to use the bathroom. My mom told him to hold on just a minute and that she would help him walk over there. He told her he was going to do it himself, but my mom said no and got out of bed. Before she could reach him, he was stumbling and falling from being so dizzy. He fell and hit his head on the entertainment center in their bedroom. There was a gash in the back of his head that required staples.

Anyway, my mom went in the ambulance with him and we all put some clothes on and drove to the hospital. An hour or so later, they had him in a room hooked up to all sorts of machines. Then he was transferred to his regular hospital in downtown Phoenix where he sees his brain doctor and such.

The next two weeks were so hard. He was in the ICU for 4 days or so and had to have so many tests done. It was so hard, and having Christmas in the middle of it all made it even harder. My mom came home so early on Christmas morning and I helped her set everything up for my brothers, who are still pretty young.

In the hospital...love his glasses!
We each took turns staying the night at the hospital, and spent most of our days there. My siblings continued on with our Christmas traditions, but I couldn't get myself to do anything but sit at the hospital. My mom was literally there for probably 18 hours a day.

I requested additional time off from work and was able to stay a little longer. While my dad was in the hospital, he had 2 strokes, a huge blood clot, pneumonia, a UTI, rashes from allergic reactions and seriously anything else you can think of. A couple days before we left, we had him transferred to a rehab/nursing home type of place. It was not the nicest place, but it didn't smell and it was a lot closer than the hospital! We felt like we were making progress.

The only problem was that my dad was so so sleepy. He wouldn't wake up. I would shake him and say "Hi dad!!!" "Merry Christmas dad!!!!!" and get no response. It took all of his effort to even open his eyes a tiny bit. Some days he would seem to get better, then the next it would seem worse. One step forward, two steps back.

I had to go back to Utah since I had been gone over 2 weeks. Brady and I made the long drive back and we started to get back to our routine, although I was very sad all the time and I couldn't even concentrate on anything.

Things went down hill from the rehab center...his organs started to shut down and things just weren't right. He needed to go back to the hospital. He was transferred back via ambulance and we started the whole process all over again.

He was in the hospital for about another 2 weeks. My mom was there again for 18 hours a day. She felt torn between being at the hospital, and being with my brothers. It was so hard and I wish I could've just been there to at least take care of my brothers so she didn't have to worry!

Prettiest sunsets from the hospital every night
Things started to improve a little bit, and my mom decided to move him to a different rehab place that was actually attached to the hospital. That way if there were any more emergencies, he would already be at the hospital. I never went to this rehab place, but my mom says it was the worst. He had to share a room, and the workers were loud, there were prisoners everywhere and the nurses didn't check on him regularly. It was horrible!

My mom couldn't do it anymore. The only way she could bring him home, was on hospice. She decided this would be best for our family, and since she had been at the hospital for so long, she felt she would be able to take care of him.

So everything was set up and ready to go. It seemed each "transfer" happened on a Friday, so we would have to wait the entire weekend which was no fun. Finally, the bed was set up, the supplies were delivered and my dad was sent home. Both he and my mom were so so ready to come home. My dad had lost his speech because of one of the strokes, but he would do a thumbs up and a few other signs to communicate with my mom and the nurses.

He has been home over a month and a half now and my mom is the best nurse! She literally does everything on her own. A nurse comes to bathe and shave him twice a week, and a medical nurse comes once a week to check on everything and see if my mom has any questions. I can't believe how strong my mom is and how smart she is. She is a real RN!

I went home in February to help my mom and it's so much work. I don't know how she does it on her own. My siblings and I all went home for spring break and it was just great. My dad still does his thumbs up and a few other things. Sometimes he will have a random moment where speech will return and he will say things out of the blue.

One day, I was helping my mom and my dad was pulling on his feeding tube. I told him he need not worry or mess with it and he asked me what it was. I explained to him that it was a feeding tube, and showed him the food and how it all worked. He then said "Let me see if I understand this correctly..." and proceeded to explain how it works back to me. It was amazing! And it really is out of the blue.

He is very aware and knows what is going on around him. When we were home for spring break, my goal was to get him in a wheel chair and take him on a walk outside. Well guess what...we did it!! We have a hoist that is kind of like a huge hammock and we were able to get him in and push him around. It was great to get him outside for some fresh air and a change of scenery. He is getting stronger every day from the physical therapy my mom and aunt do with him. He is still my funny dad and I love him so much!
Ready to go on a walk outside!!

Now here I am...back in Utah. I wish I could live in Arizona, but I just can't right now. Brady is graduating in December (YAY!!) and then we will move home to Arizona. I know my dad is so proud of Brady and wants him to finish his degree right now and not put it off.

This experience has been the hardest of my life. It's so hard and even though my dad is still here, I miss being able to call and tell him little things that happened. Or have a missed call with a sweet voicemail from him. I'm crying just thinking about it...but how grateful I am for the past times and our amazing relationship.

I am still living my life and Brady and I are still doing fun things. That is what my dad always wants! I will be home again in May and July. I'm grateful that Allegiant has started flying from Provo to Mesa for so cheap! :) Saves time and money.

I want to be able to post about my life and what is going on, but I felt I couldn't do it until I got this off my chest. It feels good to write. Thanks for reading.



  1. I love you so much Brittany and I love your sweet, wonderful dad!! You are such a strong, beautiful person! I am thinking of you and your sweet family constantly!

  2. Brittany, I'm so, so sorry for this trial. Please know that I am sending love to you and your family! Hang in there, beautiful lady!

  3. Brittany, I have your little brother as one of my students. He is one strong kid, because I had NO IDEA anything was going on. Lots of prayers for your family.

  4. Brittany- Thanks so much for putting this into words. We pray all the time for your family and want you to know how much we love you all. Jeff and I are going to stop by in the next few days. Your mom is lucky to have you tough girls to be her support. Hugs to all the Bucks. Kimer

  5. Love you Brittany! Praying for you and your family

  6. I read every word and I'm so so sorry Brittany :( You are such a beautiful person inside and out and I'm so sorry your going through this. Defiantly will be keeping you in mind and in my prayers. Love you.

  7. Love you britt!! I will continue to have your family in my prayers! That would be so hard to be so far from them. Big hug to you.

  8. I shouldn't have read this at work. I'm sitting here, tears streaming. Oh well. You know I love you so much. I just want you to know you can call me any time you don't want to be tough anymore.

  9. thanks for sharing i had no idea! i can't imagine what it must be like, but you seem so positive and thats all that matters. thinking of you and your sweet family!!

  10. Thank you for sharing Brittany. I love you and I'm so sorry this has all been happening. I have so much I want to talk to you about. I love you. The Lord will carry you through this. I promise. You are entitled to the gift of the comforter... but sometimes you have to ask for it. I love you. Stay strong and brave. You can do this. I love you sweety.