Sunday, July 19, 2009

Damn you, Miley Cyrus

My Dad had "The Talk" with my sister and me today. Not the Birds and Bees talk, I have two kids so I have managed to fumble my way through least twice ;-) It was the big talk about "The End".

Dad and I have been talking about this subject for quite awhile now and the three of us kids have had separate conversations about Dad's health but today was a very tear-filled day.

For any of you who don't know. My Dad received a double lung transplant on March 26, 2003. He has been battling lung disease since I was born and was put on disability in 1978. My whole life has been filled with my father's lung disease.

I remember visiting him in the hospital when I was little and not being able to see him because I was under 12 years old. My mother would go back to see him in the room and the three of us kids would wait out in the waiting room for her to return. Sometimes we were lucky and the doctors would let Dad come to the big doors for the patient area so we could see him. I remember the happiness I felt at getting to see my Dad. That was back when Albion had a hospital. That was back when my parents were married.

Well, time went on and Dad's lungs deteriorated. By the time I was in high school Dad was on oxygen 24/7. By the time I was sixteen, I remember driving my Dad to the hospital by myself and admitting him then going home alone where friend's parents would check in on me.

Once I was out of college and married and my sister and brother were both doing Ok, Dad decided it was time to push the hospitals about getting a lung transplant. He wanted us kids to be grown and able to face the world in case something were to happen.

I remember sitting at U of M, breastfeeding my baby daughter and the doctors telling us that my Dad was NOT a viable candidate for a lung transplant. They thought he was too old and that he wasn't strong enough to make it through the surgery. Basically, U of M gave up on my Dad because he wasn't a safe surgery and they didn't want him to mess up their perfect numbers. Well, you know what? I never was fond of "Go Blue!" I'm more of a Brown and Gold girl myself (GO BRONCOS!)

Dad, always the positive thinker and always the fighter, wasn't going to settle for NO. We started looking into other options. Henry Ford, in Detroit, took him in and within eighteen months we had made it through all the evaluations and tests and the day that would change our lives forever came.

So, eighteen months later, I had banned my Dad from seeing my kids (at this point my son had been born) for about a month because my son, Joshua, had RSV which he had gotten around four months of age. We knew Dad was close to being at the top of the waiting list and I didn't want Dad to get sick because of Joshua being sick. Well, Dad can't say no to his grandchildren and he wanted to seeing his grandchildren so he came to visit.

We had a lovely afternoon and before he left, I remember this conversation perfectly, he stood by my washing machine while I held Joshua, asleep in my arms, and he looked at the oxygen tank he was carrying and said, "I can't do this anymore! I can't keep lugging this tank around. I want this transplant. It has to come soon."

He left and an hour later I got the phone call. DAD WAS GETTING HIS DOUBLE LUNG TRANSPLANT! I left my Emily with Hubby and took Joshua with me. He was six months old that day and was still nursing 100% plus I was giving him nebulizer treatments every 3 hours for the RSV. My sister drove Dad to Detroit and Joshua and I met them there.

I remember riding up the elevator with Dad. He stared at his only grandson all the way up to pre-op. Blue eyes looking at beautiful blue eyes. I remember taking turns with my sister going in to pre-op because someone had to stay with Joshua while we went in since a baby wasn't allowed in pre-op.

I remember saying "I love you. See you soon. You are making the right decision." I don't remember ever saying goodbye.

The next morning, when Dad had SUCCESSFULLY come out of surgery, I remember staring into BEAUTIFUL BLUE EYES. Yes! My Dad has gorgeous blue eyes. My whole life I had never seen them because they lacked oxygen. There was my Dad in the hospital bed with blue eyes and full of oxygen. Oxygen that HIS LUNGS were producing!

So, here we are six years later. Its been a journey. We have had some setbacks and we have had some beautiful memories. We have had six glorious years we might not have had without the blessing of that double lung transplant.

My Dad has been alive to see his grandchildren grow from little babies to active elementary age kids. He has seen my twin nieces turn three years old. His oldest grandchild, Allison, is now taking driver's training. He has taken walks with his grand kids and given piggy back rides. He has read them countless books. He has been to their schools to see them sing and play. He has attended dance recitals and given band aids for boo boos, and their has been countless boo boos.

He has held the too tired grandchild as he/ or she has fallen asleep in his arms because of a missed nap. He has had slumber parties with his grandchildren because at Papa's house there are no rules better known as Papa's rules.

He has been the best Grandparent these kids will EVER know. Honestly, the other grandparents really SUCK! My husband's parents are MIA due to some petty difference and my mother, well....I haven't spoken to her since I was in college for countless reasons. Life is too short of insanity! My father has been the BEST FATHER I could ever wish for.

My Dad is my father and my friend. When my mother left us...and she left us, boy did she ever make a grand exit of leaving us! My Dad raised two girls through puberty and all the teenage turmoil that comes with being a girl. He was a father and a mother to us. Oh, we fought. We argued. I said some awful things to my father during those times that should never be said to a parent but he did what any good parent would do, he was patient and he knew I was hurting because of the divorce and my mother's betrayal.

My father has taught me to be patient, to be kind, to be caring, to be giving, to love, to honor, to cherish. My father has taught me to be the person I am today. My father has taught me to POSITIVE! My father has showed me to fight for what is important. He has shown me how to be strong. He has shown me unconditional love.

My father has shown me what being a good person is about.

So....why am I telling you all this? First, I have to get it out of my system. (if that's possible). Second, because of "the talk".

Today we talked about his health and how it's not improving. How he is struggling with the fight for life/ the fight for a breath/ the fight for medicine for the hospital and pharmacies. We discussed the changes he wants to make in his advanced directives (Do not recussicitate) and his final wishes including hospice.


It's come to this. Final. Finale. The End.

I have tried explaining to people a thing or two about the struggles my Dad has faced in the last two years. He had a collapsed lung that took over three months to stay inflated. He spent said three months in ICU with three tubes in his chest. He had emphasema up to his temples. We thought we were going to lose him. He fought. He won.

Anyways, I have explained to people that he is like a boxer. Now I don't watch boxing but I understand the rules. You see a boxer has so many rounds and a bell rings at the end of each round. The boxer gets to rest from the onslaught of punches the other guy is giving him. You've seen ROCKY. Ok, now think about my Dad. He is the boxer and he is out there swinging away with his positive upbeat punches and the lung disease is the opponent who is playing dirty. The ref, you know who that is, is either not watching or doesn't care. Anyways, someone isn't ringing the bell. Dad isn't getting a rest. Boom! Pow! Bang! The punches keep pummeling him and no break. I am trying to ring the bell but I can't. I'm not allowed to. (yes, this is a bad dream I've had and one that my Dad has been living for a long time.)

So my Dad is looking at the corner where his bench and water are longingly, waiting for his rest.

Now....why I am cursing Miley Cyrus? Well, for one I have had to listen to Hanna Montana aka Miley Cyrus non-stop for three years thanks to my daughter. The problem is that Miley is growing up and all of a sudden I am starting to add her songs to my IPod playlist. Well, one has struck a bell. (Yes, a bell) and every time I hear it, I think about my Dad.

The Climb

I can almost see it
That dream I'm dreaming
But there's a voice inside my head saying
"You'll never reach it"

Every step I'm taking
Every moving I make feels
Lost with no direction
My faith is shaking

But I gotta keep trying
Gotta keep my head held high

There's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna want to make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose

Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb

The struggles I'm facing
The chances I'm taking
Sometimes might knock me down
But no, I'm not breaking

I may not know it
But these are the moments that
I'm gonna remember most, yeah
Just gotta keep going

And I, gotta be strong
Just keep pushing on

'Cause there's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna want to make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose

Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb, yeah!

There's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna want to make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose

Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waiting on the other side
It's the climb, yeah!

Keep on moving, keep climbing
Keep the faith, baby
It's all about, it's all about the climb
Keep the faith, keep your faith, whoa

So, what can I do for you Andrea. What can I do for your family? Wow, Andrea, that really sucks, how can we help?

You know what? You Can!

Register to be an organ donor. It's amazing such a simple act can have such a major impact on someone's life. My Dad's transplant has been a struggle but it's also been a blessing. Those lungs that my Dad received weren't the perfect match but they have given him six years and counting.

Register to be an organ donor. Give the Gift of Life!

Show your heart, show you care!

Someone amazing did and it gave my Dad a new lease on life. Every organ recipient has a different story but you will never hear those stories if you don't register to be an organ donor.

I love you, Dad! I support every decision you make and I will always be right next to you on "Your Climb"


  1. Andrea, You have written the most beautiful tribute to your father that I have ever read. I am sure he is already aware of your feelings for him, but let him know that you have proclaimed it to the world!! I lost my father over 15 years ago, and still miss him. He passed very suddenly so I wasn't able to have the "end" discussions that you have had, I don't know that I would have been able to deal with them as well as you have. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family, as your father enters into the final journey of his life.
    May God give you strength and your Dad the pain free peace he so richly deserves.
    Hugs, Linda

  2. Andrea,

    You are such a good person. I am so glad that you and your father were able to have this extra time together because of someone taking the time to sign up to be an organ donor.

    Love you, Rex, and the Family

    Holly, the Ogre and the Pigs

  3. Andrea,

    Big hugs to you girl! You have written such an amazing tribute to your father. He must be so proud to have a daughter like you. I am sitting here at work trying not to cry. I can understand a little of what you are going through as I have watched my grandparents fight cancer, diabetes & heart disease. I watched them fight without a rest and eventually succomb to these horrible diseases. I am so glad that because of an organ donor you got six wonderful years (and counting) with your father that you may never have had. I wish I could sign up a million more times to donate. But since I can't, I will encourage everyone I know to sign up.

    Love and hugs to you and your family!


  4. Andrea, Thank you for sharing the heartfelt post about your love for your father.

  5. You have been through so much with your dad that you will know when it's time. Your heart will break, but you will know. You've been in the hospital too much and have seen too much that you'll know. It breaks my heart to know that, to read that, and to read of your great love for your dad and know that someday, his time here on Earth will end, but I also know that you know that this isn't all there is. May you be truly blessed and surrounded in love, and may your dad's guardian angel get an extra commendation medal or whatever but also guide him when the time comes.