I miss you dad – Dealing with the Aftermath of Losing a Loved One

Today marks the anniversary date of my dad’s untimely death.  He was taken from us due to medical malpractice.

Sometimes when we hide hurts deep inside our heart they eat away at us and slowly we begin to die.  I am still healing from his absence and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t remember him with profound joy or sadness.  I don’t want his absence to eat away at my heart so I am going to share with you what happened to him and tell you a bit about who my dad was.

My beloved father went into the hospital with pain in his abdomen and he turned to me and said that he felt like his intestines were knotted.  He was kind of right.  That morning I was preparing to take my son to school and my father was hunched over on my couch and had no saliva in his mouth, he could hardly speak.  So I rushed him to a nearby hospital.

Examination by the ER doctor confirmed that he had a hernia and needed immediate surgery so they had us wait in a room for about 7 hours until they had availability to operate.  My father was lying in a bed the entire time and I was calling into work explaining what had happened and trying to work on some things remotely.

Let me say that my father never carried insurance in the US.  He would always travel back to his country of birth to do medical checkups and blood work on a yearly basis while being seen by a Naturopath.  He never seemed to trust the medical professionals here and often said that they lacked knowledge and that most of them discriminated against those that did not have insurance.  We always thought he exaggerated until it happened to him.

I was alone with my dad waiting for surgery when he turned to me and said: “Mijita, aqui estan mis documentos mas importantes, con los codigos de acceso para mis cuentas y mi correo personal.”

In English this translates to: “My daughter, here are my most important documents and all the codes and password to my accounts and emails”

I turned to him and jokingly shrugged him off saying that I would not need that information, and then I got up and excused my self to the bathroom.  I did not want to think of my dad not making it; after all it was just a hernia repair not a major heart operation.

After many hours we finally got to see a surgeon.  The surgeon explained to me that the surgery would last under 2 hrs and that he would be out in the recovery room before 7:30pm.  I explained to the doctor that I would be waiting for him in the area right outside the OR room and for him to please come out and let me know once the surgery was over with, he said OK.

So I waited and I waited and I waited.  About 7:15pm I went back into the prep room and asked the staff if they knew anything and they said no.

I came back at 8pm and at 9pm and at 10pm and the answer was a very nasty “NO”, we don’t know where your father is.  I asked to have the surgeon paged several times and after 2 hours I was told that he had left to go home.   I knelt down and prayed for patience for self control and for peace.

I could not help but feeling furious and thought I would beat the lights out of the rude male nurse that was standing in front of me.  He kept saying that I had no reason to get all worked up.

I thought to myself:  “Worked up?????  Worked up???? Oh dude you have not even seen worked up yet!!!  If I don’t take a walk you’ll be in the OR soon getting worked on!!”  I laugh now as I recall my stress from that day.

It was a surreal experience.  These people had no humanity, no love, no respect and then got mad at me when I asked how my father could be lost in translation when they were the ones that prepped him before surgery.   This whole thing started wrong and was about to get even worse.

Finally, approaching midnight my cell rings and it was my dad, drugged on morphine, barely whispering and asking me where I was.  I asked him where he was and told him that I had been waiting for hours and no one could tell me where his room was.

He said that after the recovery room they wheeled him to a very nice room and he was there for about an hour or so until the nurse came in and said he could not be in that room and they were moving him to the upper wing of the hospital.  I later found out from a nurse in the hospital cafeteria, that was standard treatment for patients without insurance, so much for fair treatment.

This upper wing was like the hospital ghetto.  Dingy, smelly, cold, paint chipping of the walls, no private rooms and even ruder nurses.

So I rushed upstairs and finally got into his room.  He looked awful and his lips were parched and he was smacking them every time he talked because his mouth was so dry.

I asked my dad how he was feeling and he said so so.

Meanwhile the attending nurse was next to my dad asking him all sorts of questions when my poor dad was trying to go to sleep.  She said that they were switching to computerized charts and she needed to manually re-enter all of my dad’s medical history.
“At midnight” I thought?
I turned to her and asked her if she could just read the info off of his chart and let him rest, she ignored my question and repeated herself instead.

By this time my sister walks in because she too had been trying to locate my dad before taking the 45 minute drive from her home to the hospital.  She immediately thanked the nurse for caring for dad and asked her for a special sponge kit to hydrate my dad’s lips and told them not to worry that she was a nurse and would do it for him.  The nurse rolled her eyes and grabbed the kit for my sister.  We were both looking at each other and I realized that I had, had enough drama for the day.  I knew dad was in good hands with my sister and I said I was running home to get a few hrs of sleep.  By this time it was close to 1am.

Fast forward a day and my dad is complaining of chest discomfort, gas, bloating, indigestion, heartburn and keeps telling me that it is getting worse.

I ask the nurses to please have the Dr paged so he can come up and hear my dad’s lungs and heart.

The nurse said that it was no big deal and that his discomfort and heartburn were normal and she would give him some Pepsid which is an anti-acid.

I kept insisting that they call a doctor because my dad’s blood pressure was out of control and he had normal blood pressure prior to surgery.  They then tell me that he is suffering from “White Coat Syndrome”, which is when a patient is affected by being in the hospital and seeing the people in white coats.  I laugh and shake my head in disbelief thinking that these people must have gotten their medical degrees out of a cereal box.  White Coat Syndrome, come on now.  In my mind there was something in his body that was triggering the high blood pressure the indigestion the chest discomfort etc..

Needles to say, my dad takes multiple doses of the Pepsid and nothing happens, he says he is feeling worse and his blood pressure is still very high.

At this point I run home and grab the most expensive organic aloe extract that I have.  I know it works for heartburn and indigestion because it cured my husband of many of the same symptoms.

Now back at the hospital I give him multiple doses of the aloe extract.  He sighs in relief for about 15 minutes and then starts complaining again.  I am baffled.  Now I know this is more than acid or indigestion.  So I reiterate everything to my mom and sister who are also asking the nurses to speak to the doctor, who until now had not made his way up to my father’s room to speak with us.

Time seems to be going by very slowly and I make a decision to return to work that Monday just for a few hrs and then head out to see my dad because that was supposed to be discharge day, but because of my dad’s high blood pressure and other symptoms they decide to keep him in the hospital longer.

I am sitting at my desk at work and the caller ID shows the name of the hospital, I grab the phone and it is silent for a few seconds.  I can feel my heart pounding through my brain and tears beginning to well up.  I could feel that something was wrong.

“Hello is anyone there” I say.

One moment please wait for the ER doctor.

I hear a few beeps and then a male voice.

“Are you the daughter of Mr _______?”

“Yes I am, what’s wrong”

“We think your dad has suffered cardiac arrest and we need you to come down to the hospital right away, OK?”

“OK” I say and then the line goes to a dial tone.

My legs by this time feel like lead, I am sweating, exhausted, bewildered, scared, anxious, and paralyzed.  I get up and fallback against a wall.  A co-worker that was sharing my office at the time gets up and comes to my rescue and asks me if I am OK.

I can hardly speak and my legs won’t move.

After a few seconds of resting against the wall I make it out to the hallway with my purse while crying frantically.  I feel like the air in my lungs has been sucked out.

I stop right in front of my boss’s office and he looks up from his meeting at me and he knows exactly what to do after hearing the few unintelligent words I managed to mutter amidst my crying.  He grabs his briefcase and says “let’s go I’ll drive”.

The drive to the hospital was insane.  I kept trying to dial my sister and reach my mom to no avail.  I was finally able to reach my sister and I told her to hurry down.

I hung up and my boss offered to pray.  He said the most beautiful prayer and just asked for peace and serenity to handle whatever it is that we were going to encounter.

That prayer carried me through that rough day, and I was thankful for it.

Finally we make it to the hospital and I walk inside my dad’s room.  I see 4 nurses in there, no doctor.  They are removing their gloves and tossing them in the garbage.

In the distance through the open spaces of the room I see a glimpse of my dad.  He is lying there with a bloody tube in his mouth and lifeless.

“What happened” I ask the nurses.  “What happened to my dad?”

Not a word back from them.  One of them says that she will call the doctor to speak with me and that I should wait outside.

“No, I am coming in because this is my dad, and you guys called me to come here and now you’re not letting me in to see him.  Please just tell me what happened.”

Finally a very heavyset overweight nurse turns around and says to me: “Yo daddy died”.

Now I don’t have anything against slang and the yo’s and aints and all the other words that are customary to various groups in the US, but today was one of those days that warranted a little something extra.  But I got none.

Instead I was asked literally 10 minutes later to fill out all kinds of forms for my dad.  I was literally holding on to the hospital counter with wobbly legs and shaky hands trying to get the papers filled out.

Finally my mom arrives with some soup that she had made my dad.  She had no idea what was happening and neither did my daughter who was now running straight into my dad’s hospital room.

I saw her and ran towards her and told her to come my way so she would not see my dead father.

The doctor made his way in, this was the first time I had seen him after my dad’s surgery.  I turn on my voice recorder and show him that I am recording to which the nurses call him aside and warn him.

I start asking questions and he stammers to answer them.

I ask him what time my father passed.  He says that he died at about 3:05pm.

I ask when was the last time my dad had been seen by a doctor that day.  He answers back by saying that the Pulmonologist had seen him right after 12pm and that my dad was fine.

We go back and forth, talking very cordially and the doctor leaves.

I still can’t believe what has happened, the reality of his death has still not sunken in and I am unbelievably calm.

The days pass after the terrible news and we still have no death certificate to bury my dad.  The doctor that operated on him the same one I spoke to the day my dad died decides to go on vacation without signing the death certificate.  By this time 8 days had passed. The man doing the funeral work sends a courier to the doctors house the morning the doctor was scheduled to leave and demands that he sign the death certificate so we can bury my father.

He signs it and places that the reasons for death are:

Pulmonary Embolism,

Heart Failure and Hernia Repair.

This doctor has nothing else to write and he knew he has messed up, that is why he did not want to fill out the death certificate and that is why he did not come out to speak to me after surgery.

There are just too many things that aren’t adding up so my mom orders an autopsy.

Finally the autopsy report comes back saying that my father was in exceptional health and then I read the conclusion which rips my heart out yet again.  You can read it below for your self:

All of a sudden my mom remembers the doctor explaining to her that when he did the surgery he was suppose to put in a mesh over the area to prevent a hernia from occurring in the future, but he decided that it was not the best thing to do so he would have to open my dad up for surgery in a months time.

This coupled with my dads constant complain of a burning chest and discomfort was enough to make us start looking for attorneys.  We spoke to several doctors and the Pathologist and they all said the same thing:  Your father died because he aspirated fecal matter that was in his lungs, in his esophagus and he developed all of the infections mentioned above as a direct result of a bad surgery.

So basically my father choked to death and that Pulmonologist that supposedly saw him at noon the day he died, never did see him.  There was no hospital record and even if he had seen my dad he would have heard something wrong in my dads lungs.

The autopsy also revealed that my dad died earlier not at 3:05pm as stated by the doctor.

I went back and heard the recordings and looked at pictures that I had taken of my dads room and of his bedside chart and guess what I found?  The chart had no notes for that day regarding any doctor visits and nurse visits.  The room also had a board where the charge nurse would write her name everyday and the date along with the other on call nurse.  The board I photographed on Monday April 14th still had Sundays information on it.

My sister was told by one of the nice nurses in secrecy that “they should never had done that to your dad” and “If I had been his charge nurse this would not have happened”.

Now, I know that my dad was taken away because his time was up, I have accepted that fact.  But it still does not mean that I have to stay quiet and hear about  hundreds of people dying each day while being treated in the hospitals and clinics around the world.

The biggest lesson I learned concerning my dads tragic death is “NEVER trust anything anyone says until you prove it right yourself.”  That is as it relates to being hospitalized.  Although not all doctors are criminals and careless, those inhumane ones do exist, so be mindful and question everything for your own peace of mind.  I must add that I trust blindly in God; but  it’s sad to see people deposit that same trust in others who may not have their best interest at heart.

And just one more bit of this story is that no local attorney wanted to take our case.  Interestingly all of them said “You have a case but it’s not in our best interest to represent you?”

One attorney said that if it had been his father he would pursue a case until the ends of the earth but that his firm could not take the case.

Makes you wonder if these attorneys had some agreement with the hospital or were paid off by them.

Things that make you go huuummmnnnn.  I will never know but in spite of it all I am thankful that I have gotten through this, because it has made me all that wiser and has made me delve deeper into true health and wellness through proper nutrition and using all that God created for our well-being.

My dad was my inspiration for creating La Chica Organica.

I still remember planting potatoes, carrots and corn with him.  I remember at 9 using a machete to chop down corn plants and make compost for a healthy soil.

I remember how my dad worked frantically day and night helping those people who were poor and had no voice.

The biggest blessing after my dad died was seeing the thousands of emails that poured in from all over the world.  People in shock and thanking him for his life work.  It was also a humbling experience for me to see all the recognitions, plaques and letters from dignitaries and important world leaders that my dad had kept a secret from us, stashed in a big duffel bag in my garage.  His humility and lack of self-awareness was the key to his peaceful life.  He cared more about the things of others than for himself.  It’s a life I want to follow and a legacy I want to hold on to forever.

He will be missed forever but I know I will see him again some day and then we’ll sing together: “Don’t worry about a thing, cause every little thing gonna be alright”  One of his favorite songs!

I love you dad!

10 thoughts on “I miss you dad – Dealing with the Aftermath of Losing a Loved One

  1. WOW! My eyes are filled with tears, my stomach is in knots & my heart is broken for you! God Bless you! OXOXO Susie

  2. I read this story with trepidation because I recently lost my daddy too and my emotions are still raw. However I was not prepared to read about the horror you and your family endured…I am so sorry! There really are no words of comfort. God bless you for taking the lessons out of this tragic experience. My heart breaks for you, your family and all those who loved your father.

    • Awweeee. Thanks Marisela,

      Yes It was a HORRIBLE time but we were all able to go through it with Gods love and His Patience. In the end I knew it was a divine appointment for him and he was taken home though this act of injustice.
      For others it might be a car accident or dying in their sleep. But if its their time to go there is nothing that can stop it.

      When I was in the situation all I could see were clouds of gray and darkness but one day something dawned on me and I wrote the following:

      “Every-time a season dies, a new one is coming.
      You may not see it but the new day has begun.
      Just as the morning starts at midnight, that is the beginning of a new day.
      In darkness, God is working on your new beginning”©

      Sorry to hear about your dad. My condolences to you and the family.
      Blessings,
      LCO

  3. I was just at the part about your boss when I heard my dad hysterically crying from down the hall. I had just given him the phone about five minutes before, his doctor from his cholecystostomy opetarion had called asking for him.

    I asked what was wrong (I figured he was having bad gas pains from post-op) but the look on his face told me everything. He garnered up the courage to whisper, “They told me I have cancer.”

    Here we were, my mom and siblings, and intermediate family thinking “He had a cholecystostomy, he’s going to be all better.” Yet, the situation managed to go from an unfortunate, temporary hindrance to a nightmare in 7 days.

    The funny thing is, when the doctor had called I saw the Caller I.D. with the name of the hospital we had gone to last week, so I picked it up expecting just a check-up. The phone hung up for some unknown reason three times in a row before the call could finally get through and the doctor could talk to us.

    I hope my dad can pull through, but I recently learned the battle of cancer. My uncle (his brother) passed away a little over a year ago.

    Thank you for sharing you and your dad’s story. Your Bob Marley reference quickly reminded me to put on some Sublime to calm myself.

  4. I’m almost embarrassed to say that I’m just now reading this. I do follow your blog, loving every post announcement in my email, and somehow I missed this one. First, my sincerest prayers and condolences. Your Dad sounds like a remarkable man. For those of us who have lost loved ones in unexpected ways and similar circumstances, my heart truly pounds heavily for you. There is no logic to this type of situation, nor should there be in a sense. Nothing erases the loss – time and one’s own belief system with soothe it eventually but it never goes away. Your Dad would be (and I’m sure he already was) extremely proud of you and the work you do to educate readers on the importance of good health and self-awareness regarding body, spirit, and the reality of living in and caring for such a chaotic world.

    There are caring and compassionate allopathic doctors. While it is often quite difficult to find them, they are there and they are also bucking the system because it is impossible to legally practice medicine in the US without first finishing medical school. Unfortunately, medical school is insufficient education. Perhaps we can all work to change the fact that doctors are not taught from the whole body point of view.

    My husband’s oncologist was a good doctor and a good man. He often gave us information on the side that helped as much, if not more, than the standard treatment. I was armed with questions and suggestions and he entertained every single one of them, never shoving me or my concerns to the side. In my husband’s case, diagnosis was simply too late. The oncologist cried when my husband passed. He was that compassionate. But I also experienced a few similar instances: The death certificate stated that he died of heart failure. Apparently, no one says “cancer”. Ludicrous. In the end, everyone dies of heart failure. The heart stops. Period. I was livid. He died from years of smoking which was the known cause for his cancer. But legalities come into play. Stating smoking as the cause of death opens the possibility of law suits and the medical industry shies away from opening that door since they would have to combat bit business. Lawyers shy away from suing doctors and other lawyers because it impacts business. Our country, as lovely as it is, has in place a loop of lost responsibility. The consumer pays the price in all ways. We are the bottom. All things go to the bottom.

    I struggled for a very long time with the legalities of what had happened to my husband, knowing (in our case) that the only ethical people involved were the oncologist(s) and their teams. We were lucky that we encountered compassionate and knowledgeable practitioners – but this is admittedly rare. One of the reasons we did, however, was that I did my homework. I asked every conceivable question. I’d exhausted the patience of one surgeon, one well known NYC hospital, and several general practitioners until we were able to find this particular oncologist. My husband’s choice was traditional treatment and I decided that if that was his choice, then what I could do was be his advocate and annoy people in the most pleasant way until I found a person we were comfortable with and trusted. The other people involved, my husband’s union, city organizations whom we approached for aid (his cancer incurred $20,000 of debt in excess of insurance – and we had excellent insurance) were cold and heartless. I could write a thesis on the stupidity and lack of concern in American healthcare organizations.

    What your father leaves as a legacy is his family. That, alone, is a gift to the world. In you, a person so passionate about health, people can look for information and answers and, more importantly, the inspiration to seek and put into action, a new type of caring. What we need is for all of us to question our lives – up front, in every aspect – and continue to ask questions, as you have, as I have, and hopefully we will bring into being a new order of medicine, one that combines treatment and provides each individual the respect and quality of care that they deserve.

    It is a very large system of care we have. Much of it is simply political but there are good doctors everywhere and what we need to do is keep searching, keep learning and sharing the information. I think we agree that there is a shift occurring, that many doctors are increasingly more interested in naturopathic leanings. So for everyone out there, please be your own advocate and the advocate for your friends and family. The only thing we can really trust is that inner feeling that guides us to learn more, to participate more.

    Again, I offer you prayers and the hope that your sadness will grow into fond memory. Every moment I breathe, I think of my husband, my mother, and a particular brother because each one of them experienced care that while excellent in many ways, could have been avoided if they’d had access to much of the information we know have. I move forward and try to make it better for someone else, which is what you do with your blog. We all must commit to continued self-education. Hopefully, one day, we can figure out how to get rid of medical staff who are heartless, who are inadequate, and who – when it is their loved one at risk – will finally get the point of what it means to love one another and to be in the world as a light. Hopefully, it will not be too late for anyone.

    For your Dad- God Speed. For you and your family – keep your light shining brightly. We need your guidance in the dark……

    • Jackie,

      Thank You so much for sharing your story and your encouragement. Your words are true, I cried as I read your comment. My dads legacy does live on, inside of me and in every article I write and every herbal remedy I craft, his legacy is alive. God has allowed me to see this too and I am grateful that I have two Fathers, the one I was blessed with on earth and an Eternal one.

      And yet we cant help but feel the loss of a loved one. We are made of flesh and bone and so we are hurt when we see injustice, and righteously so we must fight for justice, for truth, for the dark veil to be removed. That is my prayer. Every time I hear of someone with cancer or someone that is sick, my heart breaks. But as you noted, there is hope. And that hope lies in us, in our efforts to keep pushing forward and helping those in need.

      I am sorry about the loss of your husband. I cant imagine the stress and hardship you have endured. May Gods peace ever shine in your heart and may you know His love always. Your story is an encouragement to others going through the same situation. No matter what the diagnosis or what the problem may be, we must continue pressing on and one day, as you said, the moments of solitude in the dark valleys of life will shine as bright as the noon-day sun.

      Thank You for reading this site and for sharing your heart. If I can ever be of service to you please feel free to contact me.

      Lord Bless!
      LCO

  5. What I should have added to my earlier comments is this: Regardless of the loss of a loved one, whether they are spouse, parent, sibling or child or extended family, the opportunity to serve them by witnessing their journey to its end is a gift that can not be explained. It needs to be experienced. Our culture celebrates the birth of a child but we tend to shy away from the passing that each of us will go through. Regardless of one’s belief system, leaving this world is the birth into another. While celebrate might not be the best word for us to use when discussing death, celebrate is the word to use when thinking of a valued life and the impact that that life has had on us and the world as a whole. Each of us is important. There isn’t one being, human or animal or plan, that isn’t. How we choose to honor that life is important. I believe that learning about the body and spirit and the journey each of us takes, is the opportunity to witness a miracle. I made a conscious choice to be present during my husband’s illness and eventual transition. What I learned about his courage, my commitment, and the compassion (or lack thereof), and also the fears of others, was remarkable and has changed me for the better in so many ways. While painful (and this will never leave me or you), I was honored to have his ultimate trust and to be invited as his witness.

    Your blog always brings forth information that is of importance; you discuss topics in ways that other bloggers don’t. You stand by and own your research and opinions. I’ve learned much from you. What spoke to me about the post about your father’s experience and final passing was the depth of love in your family and your commitment to continue to seek the truth. I admire that and I will continue to be a reader of yours for years to come because of it. Life is personal not generic yet many people try to skip along, accepting the doctrine of others, believing authority figures and having what they think is a comfortable life. I think differently.You think differently. Based on comments from your other readers, there are many people who think differently. One by one, eventually, we’ll be able to change the world for the better.

    As my husband would have said “Rock on”.

    Blessings,

    Jackie B

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