I hadn't spoken to my Dad in 91 days and now I was driving frantically to the U of A Hospital where he was being transferred to from Red Deer. All I knew was he had fallen off his roof and hit his head and the injury was bad enough that he needed to be transferred. Sometimes it takes a crisis to learn how calm you can or cannot be, and I think I did not too bad. It was about 3:30 pm. I had Elliott with me, and had packed him a sandwich, snacks, his water, pencil crayons and a toy car. I picked up my oldest sister Gloria on the way because she was too upset to drive, and off we went.
I wasn't sure if he would be happy to see me. We hadn't spoken in so long, purely out of stubbornness. It all started on Father's Day. I had spoken to him two days before, but then forgotten to call on Father's Day. It was not an intentional slight, and I only learned about it a few weeks later when my middle sister Nicole mentioned it. She actually asked if it was correct, because our Dad is known to forget phone calls if he has had too much to drink. I realized right away that she was right- I had forgotten. I felt terrible and planned on calling him later to apologize profusely and ask forgiveness.
Unfortunately my guilt quitckly turned into shame, which can so easily be twisted by the enemy. To avoid the bad feeling I searched for any other emotion I could muster. All of a sudden I no longer felt bad. I had found a way to shift the uncomfortable blame over to him, and now I felt angry. Had he really not called me for nearly a month because he was mad at me? How immature! How typical! I would not reward his poor behaviour by calling him- instead I would wait until he would smarten up, at like the parent, and call me. The weeks went on, and my anger faded. Eventually I felt embarrassed that we had gone so long, and once again the shame held me down. How could I call now? What would I say 2 months later? I was pregnant, and my due date was fast approaching. I was hurt that he didn't seem to care for any updates on how the pregnancy was going. I felt trapped in a cycle of shame, hurt feelings and anger. I'm not sure if you would call this a "fight" between the two of us, but if so, it was the worst one we had had in years.
As I drove to the hospital I felt like I had a dirty little secret. I wasn't actually that worried about what my Dad thought or would say, but I was nervous about what Nicole would say if she knew we hadn't spoken in so long. Though all the years of my ups and downs with our Dad, she remained the biggest cheerleader for our relationship. But she is also my sister, and so she has permission to call me out on my bullshit (pardon my french) She's done it in the past, and I knew she would do it now.
When we arrived we learned it was more serious than we initially thought. After his initial assessment and CT Scan in Red Deer they determined he needed to be transferred to Edmonton. At that time he was conscious and even able to make the decision of where to go (They gave him the option of Edmonton or Calgary) In the transport they noted that his GCS (level of consciousness) took a steep downward turn, and shortly after he arrived in Edmonton they made the decision to sedate and intubate him.
We waited for about 4 hours before we could see him. We were tucked away in a small "family" room which was a huge blessing - Elliott played happily with his car, and we were far from the hustle and bustle of the ER waiting room. Even though they explained everything, nothing quite prepares a person to see their loved one flat on a hospital bed with tubes, wires and machines all over. The intubation was the hardest part - the machine was fully breathing for him, which caused his chest to rise and fall quite sharply. Unnaturally. He also appeared to struggle and choke every few minutes. I held both of my sister's hands and tried to comfort them and they wept. I didn't cry. I didn't feel scared, worried or even that upset. Not yet anyways. That night I understood that the sedation was medically induced to help his brain heal, and so I fully expected a full recovery- probably within the week, which would mean he could still attend the family reunion planned for the following weekend.
My naivety was corrected in the following 24 hours, and the next 11 days before Audrey was born were a roller coaster spent in the Neuro ICU. Join me next time as I slowly unpack the rest of this story.