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Final Update on Dad

My mom called me on Thursday 5/3 to say that my dad’s surgeries had gone fine that morning, but his blood pressure had crashed twice already – once during the night before and once as they were getting ready to take him out of the OR. Then he apparently crashed again as they got him back to his room in the ICU Burn ward. Back in the room they called a code 99 on him, which means any available personnel in the whole hospital respond. My mom worked in a hospital for over 30 years, she knows what the codes mean. And the doctor told her that she needed to make some decisions for going forward.

His skin grafts were all doing well, and his face (which they’d finally uncovered) was healing up incredibly well. It was really strange to see my dad without a beard for the first time in over 30 years though. His eyebrows, eyelashes and beard were all growing back in already, as a matter of fact.

The doctors had been giving him medication to keep his blood pressure up, but they’d discovered that he only had about 15% heart function total, and had probably only had around 20-25% before the accident. His heart was failing basically, and you can’t rebuild heart muscle. It wasn’t the burns that did it; his heart was always the biggest issue all along. My dad wasn’t a candidate for any sort of transplant (simply cracking his chest would have killed him).

Saturday, my mom and my three brothers and I all agreed that we would take my dad off the medication keeping his blood pressure up and let nature take it’s course. They stopped it at about 2:30 in the afternoon and my dad passed away at 2:00 am Sunday morning. We were all there with him at the bedside – my older brother and his wife, my middle brother, my youngest brother and his girlfriend, my husband and my mom. My two nephews had been sent home earlier in the evening (another grandma picked them up), but my niece stayed and watched my youngest nephew (9 mos) in the waiting room. We all thought it would be too hard on the kids at their ages to be in the room at the end, although they’d been in to see him during the wait. It was hard enough for the adults.

Sitting in a hospital room for 12 hours watching your father die is probably about the hardest thing I’ve ever done. When there is nothing to really look at, watching lines and numbers on a monitor becomes far too fascinating. They let us stay past visiting hours because of the circumstances and every nurse and doctor in that unit were so marvelous. They answered all our questions about everything, even the slightly rambling ones that made no sense from my 9 year old nephew, and gave my dad such an awesome level of care. It’s a 1:1 nurse/patient ratio in there.

So I’m at my parents house and the wake is Wednesday and the funeral Thursday. We are going to have a private family viewing ahead of time on Wednesday so that we can put any mementos into the casket if we like since it’ll be a closed casket (because of the burns). I guess it’s no longer “mandatory” that people get buried in their Sunday best, so we picked a pair of his work jeans and an orange t-shirt, since that is what he wore so much of the time. It’s appropriate.

We’re all grieving in our own way, mostly involving remembering fun things we did with my dad and laughing. My middle brother is taking this the hardest of us all, but my mom got him to understand that the rest of us aren’t being disrespectful (you’d have to know my middle bro, he can be really anal). It’ll hit me at times when I’ll think “Oh, I need to tell dad about this” and then I’ll remember he’s not here anymore.

Robert L. Neumeyer
November 12, 1939 – May 6, 2007

Obituary for those really curious.

So thanks to all that were praying or sending us good thoughts. They were helping, but his heart just wasn’t up to the task anymore.

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