Monday, April 23, 2012

My Daddy's Final Journey.....I Was So Blessed To Be There

    Hello all!!!  I have been away for a while and decided I am ready to share details of my life the past few weeks. In order to put it all in context here is a brief (or not) synopsis of the past 4 months or so. As many of you know my Dad had been sick on and off since late Nov. 2011. Acute kidney failure and low hemoglobin levels had him hospitalized Nov. 30 until Dec 14, 2011 He recovered and we had a wonderful Christmas together.

     In Jan. 2012 Dad developed sever back pain and no one could pinpoint the source of the pain. They gave him percocet to help with the pain and he took that for 5 weeks. The pain continued and Dad spent more and more time sitting around or sleeping. He lost a lot of leg strength in those 5 weeks. On Feb.14th following several falls Dad was again admitted to Paoli hospital. His hemoglobin crashed, kidneys were not working properly and he had a UTI that cause dementia like symptoms. Dad's legs were quite weak already and got worse after 10 days of hospitalization.

       Upon discharge Dad would need to spend a few weeks in an in-patient rehab/nursing home. In a very short time Dad developed severe edema which we really thought was due to the insanely high sodium levels in the food the nursing home served. Soon Dad developed significant shortness of breath. When Dad needed oxygen for over 2 hours before he even got out of bed I KNEW something was really wrong. I called his Dr. and the Dr. said to take him back to the hospital. So on March 14, 2012 he was admitted to Paoli Hospital for the 3rd time since December.

      March 16th an echo cardiogram was done and found evidence of an infection on his heart so they began IV antibiotics and told us another test was scheduled for Monday to see the infection better. Tuesday morning March 20 the Dr. called saying we needed to meet with him.....never a good sign. That afternoon we were told that the infection Dad had was very large and on his aorta. The ONLY solution was open heart surgery and valve replacement. It was not that simple though. Surgery could replace the valve, but would likely shut down Dad's already weak kidneys. It would not improve the pumping action of Dad's heart which was also weakened and causing the symptoms of congestive heart failure. Not good news at all.  :-(

    Dad had his mind made up even before the Dr. gave us all of the possible complications. As soon as the Dr. mentioned open heart surgery Dad said, "No!" I was very angry because I felt he was giving up. My Dad fought for EVERYTHING in his life and NOW he was going to QUIT??  I just could NOT comprehend my Dad thinking this way. He told me he was tired and the past 4 months had been very hard on him. He said, " I have lived a good life, seen lots of things and I am ready to go." Those words will be FOREVER burned in my memory and on my heart. It hit me then...My Daddy is going to die...soon.  Ugh!! How can this be?? In Oct. 2011 he was perfectly healthy. It kinda felt like a dream. That was UNTIL I had to tell me 3 kids(ages 14, 12 & 9) that their "Pa" was coming home to die.That conversation made it ALL too real for all of us.

     We met with hospice and decided Dad would come home for his remaining days. Dad had some episodes in the hospital where he had trouble swallowing and breathing. I was there and those moments confirmed for me that I would NOT be able to be a caregiver for my Dad in these final days. I felt guilty, but luckily my siblings understood and stepped up! Dad came home Saturday March 24th, the day after my sister arrived from Alaska. My brother drove both of them to Paoli Hospital from NJ and my sister rode home with Dad in the ambulance. She told me Dad told her that his master plan has come together, just sooner than he had planned. Well looking back I can completely see how my Dad set many things up over the past few years to be sure my Mom would be ok when he was not here any longer. That was my Dad, caring for those he loved!!

     My family and I were overwhelmed at the amount of compassion, support, encouragement and food my wonderful friends provided for us. Many loved ones for far away came to spend some time with Dad before he passed. It was touching to see and hear how Dad impacted so many.

    There are many blessings we encountered in Dad's final days. First was being able to have my brother and sister there to care for Dad in his final days. Second was the amazing support from the Hospice organization. Third was that Dad was not in ANY pain and was lucid for several days. Fourth was singing hymns and praying with Pastor Mark and Ferne. Finally the biggest blessing was an amazing conversation we had with Dad the Monday evening before he passed. In that conversation Dad made all of us laugh!! I guess I should not have expected anything different from my Daddy!!  Thanks Daddy for giving us happy memories in the midst of such sadness!!

      Thursday March 29th, 2012 Donald Paul Geib Sr. took his final breath and went home to be with the Jesus. I will FOREVER miss my Daddy!!  I know his body failed but I also know that my Daddy will be WITH ME FOREVER!! He is in my heart and my memory every single day. Most days those memories make me smile, but some days are still tear filled. As a matter of fact I am crying as I type this!    If you are interested here is my Daddy's Obituary

    Daddy gave us the most AMAZING sign that he is at peace, safe and free the day after he died.My Dad always LOVED the bald eagle. There were bald eagles over every outside entrance to every home I ever lived in with my parents. Dad had many, many pictures, needlework, statues and plates of bald eagles. Dad even had a tattoo of a bald eagle on his arm for many years. Friday morning my brother picked up the newspaper from the driveway. He opened it and on the COVER of the newspaper, ironically named the Reading Eagle, was a beautiful photo of a bald eagle SOARING in the sky. My brother was so overwhelmed and showed all of us. We just knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that it WAS Dad telling us he IS safe and free!! What a blessing!
     This IS the picture that was on the front page of the paper!

    Grieving is confusing.....I never know if I will have a happy day, a teary day, a somber day or an angry day. Some days I want to be alone and some days I fear being alone. Some days I just curl up with his shirt and cry and talk to him. I know Daddy is always with me in my heart. Sometimes that helps and sometimes it just makes me mad. I just want to hug him one more time. I want him to hold my hand and rub my knuckles together like he always did. I don't want him in my heart, I want him HERE physically!!

    Today, April 24th is my very first birthday without my Daddy. I will not hear him say Happy Birthday to me. I will not get a hug and kiss from him. I will not see him on this birthday or any other here on earth...that thought makes me so sad. I am trying to hold on to the thought that we will be reunited in heaven. Please pray for me as I walk through this grief journey!!
                     I LOVE YOU FOREVER DADDY!!!!
                      Donald Paul Geib Sr. 1/28/33-3/29/12
                           Daddy's Obituary