Sunday, May 31, 2009

All in 24 Hours

Yesterday morning I would have never guessed that mine and my family's lives would change so much. He started off the day so well. Both my grandparents went to the fairgrounds to work. My grandma stayed for most of the day, while my grandpa went back to the house around 11. He started feeling dizzy, but didn't think anything of it. Over the last several months, he had a lot of problems with getting his medication right. He didn't think it was anything but a bad reaction. Around 1:30 pm he couldn't move the left side of his body. He tried calling my uncles and grandma, but he couldn't get ahold of anyone. At 1:45 he called me. Why it didn't occur to me that he needed to call 911, I don't know. He told me he didn't feel well, that he couldn't get ahold of anyone, and that he couldn't get off the couch. He didn't ask me to come out and help him, but I told him I was coming as soon as I could. At the time I had bread baking in the oven and couldn't leave it. I turned the oven up to make it cook faster and left as soon as I could, not realizing the severity of the situation.

I drove as fast as the cars in front of me would allow, hoping that a cop wouldn't show up. I was almost to the house when my uncle called and told me a helicopter was coming to air lift him to the hospital. I saw it flying towards the house. When I got to the driveway, there were so many cars there. My uncles had arrived about 15 minutes before I did. They found him on the floor where he had rolled off the couch and couldn't get up. Immediately they called 911. I am so thankful that they got there before me, because I wouldn't have known what to do. When he heard my voice, my grandfather wanted to see me. It hurt to look at him and watch as the EMT's worked to help him. I went over and let him know that I was there, and then I had to call me Mom and let her know what was going on. The helicopter flew off to Strong Memorial and we all left for the hospital.

We arrived at the Emergency room, not sure what to expect. We knew that he'd had a stroke, but that was all. For 5 hours we waited in the emergency room, waiting to find out some answers. Because there were no rooms available, and because of his state, my grandpa stayed in the trauma unit of the ER most of the night. The doctors heavily sedated him and put in a breathing tube because he couldn't breath on his own. In two's, we were allowed into the Trauma unit to see him. He couldn't talk to us but they said he could hear. I only went back once. It was so awful. He was helpless and I didn't know what to do or say to him. It felt weird talking to him and I wasn't sure I was allowed to touch him because of all the machines he was hooked up to. So I just stood there and watched him. After 5 hours of waiting to hear something and being told nothing, we all left the hospital hoping that he would get better through the night. We would find nothing more out until the neurologist came and looked at him.

My grandma didn't really sleep much last night, and mine was a restless sleep. I heard the phone ring early in the morning and was awake right away. The doctor had called and said we needed to get there as soon as possible. At 6 o'clock in the morning we headed for the hospital again. This time every family member that was in the area came. We waited again in the hospital for 3 hours, this time upstairs in the ICU, to hear what exactly was going on in full detail. Finally we were told. My grandpa had a blood vessel burst in his brain, which caused the stroke. Due to the fact that he had an extremely high level of kumodin (?) - blood thinner - in his system, the hemorrhage that had occurred was not able to clot and stop bleeding. The doctors had put a shunt in his brain the night before, and at first he had been reacting to it very well. He was alert and able to communicate somewhat with those around him. But sometime in the early morning, things had gone very wrong. The shunt stopped working and his brain became filled with blood cause pressure in his skull. He became brain dead and so they put him on life support. Now he could no longer hear us, feel us when we touched him, or know what was going on around him at all. We had a choice to make - go through with a surgery that would only have a 50-50 chance of working, or pull the plug. If we went through with the surgery, there would be a very high chance that he would stay paralyzed the rest of his life on his left side and he would need assisted living or a nursing home. Grandpa had clearly stated when his mother was going through the process of dying that he never wanted to be in a nursing home, he would rather be dead.

My grandpa was a very independent man. He was involved in many activities and couldn't sit still for very long. He liked being outside going places. For the next two hours, we debated if the chance that he would be ok was valid enough to try the surgery. Throughout this whole process I had been calling my Mom frequently giving her updates on what was going on since she and the family live in VT. family members kept going in to see him, but I couldn't. It was too hard to see him hooked up to everything and have that as my last memory of him. It was bad enough seeing him the day before the way he was.

The hemorrhaging got worse and his condition was failing fast. We had to make our decision. They gave us a conference room and we sat down with the doctor to sign the paperwork. We decided to take him off life support. It's what he wanted, and as hard as that was, it had to be done. The paperwork seemed to take forever. Everyone was trying hard not to break down and hold it together. The family said their goodbyes and the doctors asked them to leave. After they shut the machines off, it was only a matter of minutes. At 12:26 pm on May 31, 2009, my grandpa, Clarence Preston, died. I stayed in the conference room drawing and hoping that he would be able to live in Heaven. Just as I finished my drawing, my cousin came in and said he had died. I drew him a house with a picket fence, a garden, a tree with a tire swing, a mailbox, a dog house, and a dog. It may seem silly, but I hope that is what he has to live in if he's in Heaven.

Then came the hardest part of the whole experience. I had to call my Mom and tell her, her Dad was dead. She knew it was going to happen, but she didn't know when. I thought I would be able to hold it together for her, but I couldn't. As soon as I said he was gone, I broke into tears with my Mom. Together we cried on the phone because that was the only comfort we could give each other.

Everyone said their goodbyes to each other and headed for home. Everything felt so surreal as though I was in a dream and all I had to do was wake up and it would be ok. I couldn't handle staying with my grandma at the house, so I left as soon as we got back to the house. I know I should've been there with her and the family, but I just couldn't. I felt sick to my stomach and had the biggest migraine ever. I just wanted to curl up in my bed and go to sleep, which is what I did when I got to back to Brockport. It still feels like a dream somewhat. Like none of it really happened, but I know it did. My aching head and sleep deprived body won't let me forget it.

I wonder if he could have been saved if someone had got to him sooner. If I had told him to call 911 when he had called me. His death is very similar to his brothers. When my great grandpa Preston died a long time ago (I was only 3 I think), my grandpa's brother Larry died 4 months later of a brain aneurysm. My great grandma Preston died a little over 5 months ago. Now my grandpa is dead because a blood vessel burst in his brain causing a stroke. Their deaths are very similar, except Larry was found dead in his house.

Tomorrow we are going to the funeral home to make plans. My family will be here Thursday, and the funeral will be sometime after that. My sister Erica is in India and has no idea what is going on due to the fact that she is in a city right now where internet and phone service are unavailable.

How our lives change in just 24 hours.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Something I've Wanted to Tell You for a While

I know I'm not the best daughter in the world, but do you really have to make me feel like a failure and the worst person ever. I'm sorry I didn't get ahold of you the minute I walked in the door of my house. I figured if there was such an issue, you would have gotten ahold of me. You know my email and phone number just as well as I know yours. But why, why did you have to treat me like you did tonight? I called to talk and let you know everything was going well. Instead, you let me know how angry you are at me and you pass the phone off becuase you can't stand to hear my voice. You really hurt me tonight. I feel like I will never do anything that will make you happy.

You hate the fact that I'm not living at home or with my Grandparents. You haven't supported me in my decision to live on my own this summer, and when I call home I can hear you yelling in the background to the phone blaming the amount of debt I have on the fact that I'm renting a house for the summer. DO YOU REALZE THAT I WOULD BE IN DEBT REGARDLESS OF WHETHER I WENT TO SCHOOL IN VERMONT OR HERE?!?!?!?!?! AND MY LIVING IN BROCKPORT HAS N.O.T.H.I.N.G TO DO WITH MY DEBT!!!!!!!!!!! Just so you know, I didn't get any financial aid when I applied to schools around home either. So I would've had to take out loans there as well, and been in just as much or more debt. By the way, I love it here. Brockport feels like a home to me while your house no longer does.

I'll never be good enough or do the right things will I? Will you always say that I'm old enough to make my own decisions but then constantly let me know that I'm a disappointment because I didn't make the decision you would have liked? Every time you're angry at me, you wait a week or more so that you're boiling and then you let me know what it is I've done to deserve such wrath. Meanwhile I have no idea what you're thinking because you don't say when you're upset, so I figure everything's fine and dandy. You can be so great sometimes, but then other times you are so bipolar. I don't think you realize how much of an affect your words have on me. I'm sorry I'm such a failure as your daughter.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

How Much of a Sap am I?

I've never been to a graduation before. In high school I was mostly home schooled and so I got my GED instead of graduating (a decision I regret). When I was in high school I didn't have any true friends from my town (partly from my own fault). You just don't make those important connections as well with people in high school. I've heard countless stories of girls who had several best friends all throughout their high school, where they told each other everything and spent every moment they could together. But when they got to college, their ways split and the friendship that seemed to be so strong, completely broke apart. People grow up and change so much when in college. Friendships that are made usually stay true and strong even when you part ways at graduation.

Saturday was the first graduation I have ever witnessed. Sitting on the bleachers in the heat and blazing UV rays I watched most of the people I've made connections with over the last two years walk onto a stage and receive the 'diploma' they've worked so hard for (some more than others)the last four years of their lives. It was touching and moving, and at one point I wasn't sure I would be able to stop the tears that were threatening to come back. Call me a sap, but the love and pride I felt watching my friends walk across that stage really affected me.

There was a mixture of happiness and sadness. Happiness because they've finally reached the end (for many) of their educational career. And even if they don't know what they're going to do in life, I know they will affect each and every person they come in contact with whether they realize that themselves or not. Each one of those people has something special and important about them that no one else has. But sadness because they are leaving and going on with their lives. No longer will I be able to see them every day on campus or get together with them and have lunch in the dining hall. Some of the friendships I know will stay strong, and others I wish I had more time to strengthen the bond between us.

Then something hit me - I am going to be where they are in exactly one year. I will be the one sitting on the edge of my seat waiting in excitement and anticipation for the speakers to get on with their speeches so that I can have my two seconds of fame as I walk up that stage and receive what I have been working so hard at; the end of the tunnel. It's so close it's scary. I started thinking about who I would sit with, if I would have anyone to sit with, if people would clap for me as I walked up, would I have as much fun as it appears everyone else is having, would i be an emotional wreck. And all of this went through my head in like three seconds. The biggest question - would I even be able to find a job.

It was a wonderful ceremony, except the old lady who talked about the Soviet Union and the Arab nation. (Don't now what that had to do with the graduates. She didn't say what the connection was. lol!) The rain held off and the speeches were heartfelt and short. I had every intention of going to the reception afterwards and trying (I say trying because there were thousands of people there) to find all my friends and congratulate them. As I left the bleachers and started walking towards the Tuttle North gym, I couldn't do it. I was literally going to ball my eyes out if I said good-bye to the graduates I knew. My heart was overwhelmed with so many emotions and I didn't want to cry in front of everyone, so I turned and walked away from the gym as the tears ran down my face hoping that no one would notice. I mean, who cries at a graduation? Really. Apparently I do. Haha! And I'm ok with that as long as no one sees =D. Oh dear, what will I be like during MY graduation?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

8 Things I Want in 8 Years

(I stole this from Kerri =D)

1. For God to place me with Mr. Right (hopefully this will happen in less than 8 years)

2. To have most or all of my loans paid off (this is a dream big one, definitely)

3. To be working in a job that I absolutely love

4. Live in a house that always has children and youth in it

5. Have a front porch with a porch swing =D

6. To have traveled to Europe with someone special

7. To still have lunch and dinner dates with my girlfriends

8. For my parents to be completely out of debt and have the abillity to retire

Monday, May 4, 2009

Present Day Samson

I have always looked at Samson as the victim. The one who was seduced by Delilah and tempted time and time again until he finally gave in. But ya know what? He wasn't a victim at all. In fact he was the antagoniser. He invited everything that happened to him.

Samson was a physically strong person. Afterall, it's not everyday you find a man that can kill a thousand men with just a donkey jaw bone. God provided Samson with his strength and there was only one requirement: he was to never cut his hair. Even though Samson was really strong physically, he was very weak when it came to women. "Now Samson went to Gaza and saw a harlot there, and went into her" (Judges 16:1). Women were his downfall, or struggle. He married a woman who was not Jewish, which wasn't Jewish tradition. He gave into his struggle because it was easier than fighting against it. Sin is fun in the moment, and it's easier to give into it than to go against it. To go against sin we have to rely on God's strength and not our own, and Samson wasn't relying on God. As a result, he told his precious secret to a woman who's virtue was less than admirable. He invited the pain and sorrow that came with giving away his secret. His sin caught up with him and dragged him far away from God.

We are just like Samson sometimes. There are struggles we have in our lives where we can choose to give into them or fight against them with God's strength. Friday night, Chad and Rob talked about us being Samson. There are things we hold onto and feel like we can't live without. They are addictions of strong desires that we don't give up to God. Eventually those same things we feel we can't live without will destroy us, just like it did Samson.

I have definitely had my Samson seasons. Times where I couldn't let go of something I thought I couldn't live without. Where I was relying on my own strength instead of God's. Some of those times, it almost destroyed me just as it did Samson.

"With Him are strength and sound wisdom..." Job 12:16a

"For You have girded me with strength for battle; You have subdued under me those who rose up against me." Pslam 18:39

"The Lord is their strength, and He is a saving defense to His annointed." Psalm 28:8

"You will pull me out of the net that they have secretly laid, for You are my strength." Psalm 31:4

"But the slavation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their strength in time of trouble." Psalm 37:39

"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73:26

"Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His face continually." Psalm 105:4

"Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary." Isaiah 40:31