Coach Chapman's Blog

The day of the surgery…timeline:

11:00 PM: Fahlin stayed up late

Midnight: No food after midnight

9:00 AM: Cutoff for clear fluids

9:10 AM: Began almost loading up for hospital

9:15 AM: Yo’s phone buzzes…It’s Vanderbilt. Surgery canceled and MOVED to next Monday,

                  Aug 20th, 5:30 AM

UGH! Alright, enough! That phone call was not a happy moment. How much more of this can our family, our wife, and especially Fahlin take? This is the THIRD date she has had scheduled. This causes so much strife it’s hard to comprehend. We had family coming in town to take care of the homestead and help with logistics for the other girls. The meal train (thank you, by the way) has to re-schedule dates. Friends were in town to lend their support during the surgery and recovery time. What if they have to leave (they do)? Our help and support and help we would have had is leaving. And what about the blood we donated? It will be 20 days old on the surgery date. What now? Yolanda’s FMLA has already kicked in and I now have to schedule a sub and take care of things on my end. On top of that, my niece was taken to the hospital today and my dad is nor doing so well after his hip replacement surgery. Can anything else be piled onto this mess? My wife is at her wits end (I don’t know how much more of this she can take) and even Fahlin herself, all nine years and 53 pounds of her threw up her arms and said as only Fahlin could say, “You know, I just want this to be over…ugh!”

Then she just sobbed. Fahlin’s entire life has been a life of traumatic events. Just think, abandoned at birth (or shortly thereafter), sick and alone. Adopted at 5 ½ to a family of insane people (us), one of whom is bald and scary looking. Near death experience on the plane coming home (so we were informed), heart cath after heart cath, open heart surgery number one, more heart caths and now rescheduled three times. Even at nine years of age she is perceptive enough to know that this is not good. Poor, poor thing. I cannot imagine what she’s thinking.

So, the women got her out of the house today. Lunch, the park, where I met up with the and taught Fahlin how to play Bocce Ball, ice cream and now a trip to Target. What’s for supper? No one knows. That usually means leftovers and fend for yourself (for me anyway). Time now drags on for another week. What do we do? We trudge onward. Business as usual. Busy-ness as usual. And PRAY they don’t change the date AGAIN!!!

Read More about August 13, 2018

The day before. Surgery tomorrow. My wife refuses to talk to me about what I should expect. The only thing she has told me is that this surgery will not be like the first one. Protecting me I suppose. This one is serious. I know! I know! But she doesn’t think I know. I really probably don’t. The first surgery was a simple shunt. Simple. This one her heart will be stopped. She will be on by-pass for two to three hours. Serious stuff. Our doctor makes it sound like just another day at the office for him. Oh wait, it is for him. I suppose there’s no need to mention the fact that she has live about nine years longer than anyone expected (she’s nine).

I don’t know what to expect and she won’t tell me. I’ll just experience it Monday. One excruciating moment after another. My guess is it will be a super long day, an agonizingly slow day...for both of us. Fahl Fahl will be asleep. Her life will be in the hands of a brilliant surgeon, whose hands in turn will be in the hands of the greatest physician of all. Of that, I am confident.

The mood at our house seems normal on the surface. Our three-year-old grandson makes sure of that, but the reality is that there is tension, anxiety, and something else…indescribable. Hard to put into words…at least for me. Fahlin, she just seems normal as well, however, her mood swings tell us otherwise. I know she’s thought about it. As for what she thinks now, it’s hard to say. She can be eloquent when she wants to be, but on this subject, she is pretty much mute.

So tomorrow it is. Surgery at 12:30. Call time 11 AM. It’s Sunday. At church I was getting choked up. Thinking about it. Talking with the children’s pastor, Brad Smith, more choking. Our Sunday school class, more choking back tears. As I type even now, at 12:10 Sunday afternoon, I cannot help but to think about tomorrow. Right now, I want to take each moment as it comes. Maybe I’ll go work out, come back, paint some, get my mind off things.

Fahlin is getting nervous as well. She will seem fine, then the tiniest thing will set her off. She retreats to sulking, not speaking, watery eyes, draws her legs up into a ball, doesn’t make eye contact with anyone. Kinda like what I want to do… As we were driving home, Jayne asked a general question, “if you had three wishes, what would they be?” Immediately I thought that my first wish was that Fahlin would not have to have surgery. I would give anything if she didn’t have to go through this. To be honest, I will be totally transparent and go ahead and say what I’m thinking about tomorrow…

I’m scared.

Read More about August 12, 2018

Today was the day Fahlin was to have had her surgery. Because a couple of seriously sick ‘heart babies’ arrived at Vandy in dire need of surgery, Fahlin’s was pushed back to early Monday morning. Today we got another call; pushed back to later in the same day. While we want to say “UGH,” we’ve got to believe there’s a reason for the schedule changes. Reasons we will never know until eternity.

Fahlin has gotten old enough to figure out that heart surgery is serious. She is also tired of waiting. She does not like hospitals, even though she is a semi-celebrity in the cardiac unit and she is ready for it to be over. She is brave. She knows she will be in the hospital for several days. She knows she will be in pain. She knows she will not be able to move for a while. She knows the food is yucky (why is that, by the way?). She knows it will not be the most fun thing she ever experienced.

My wife on the other hand is over the schedule changes. It is so frustrating. Yet, it is what it is. When the called today, my wife told me she just wanted to cry. Can’t say that I blame her, I did too. The wait is excruciating.

Luckily, I have beginning of school activities and a busy weekend to keep my mind distracted. My mind is so discombobulated I’m afraid I’ll even forget what I am supposed to be doing. I am literally right now running a hundred things through my brain trying to keep them straight. Even while I am typing this blog.

If you should happen to see me wandering around with a lost look on my face, feel free to stop and help me get my thoughts together. Ask me what the heck I’m doing? Don’t ask HOW I’m doing, I may just beak down and cry while I tell you everything is great. I’m just telling you, deep down inside, I am not fine. I will not be fine until Fahl Fahl is being wheeled out of the hospital with her heart functioning like it’s supposed to and the doctors telling us they are confident she will have a full recovery and a long, healthy life.

So again, we wait. It seems like Monday will never come…but, unless the Lord returns between now and then, come it will…

Read More about August 9, 2018

I have hesitated writing this blog for many reasons. We have entered the final countdown to Fahlin’s surgery. Originally her surgery was scheduled for this Thursday, the 9th. Unfortunately, and even fortunately for them, a couple of very sick babies arrived at Vanderbilt whose hearts need Dr. Bichelle’s immediate attention. I understand. Fahlin’s surgery has been pushed to Monday the 13th. Our emotions are on edge, to say the least.

Fahlin is at the age where she understands the severity of the situation, maybe not completely, but at least to the point where she just wants to get it over with and put it behind her. Today is ‘Pre-op’ stuff. Should take anywhere from four to six hours we are told. My wife didn’t seem to want me tagging along but I did anyway. I get it. She says I’m antsy. I’m pretty sure I’m not antsy… maybe nervous is a better word.

Anyway, with school starting back, meetings taking place, paintings to do, appointments to be met, I have enough distraction to take my mind off things for few a minutes but my thoughts always come back to Fahlin. It’s super hard for me not to go the “what ifs?” part of my brain. I think back to Fahlin at one year old; sick, blue, in palliative care in China. I think of our trip three years ago to get her to bring her home; how purple she was and (in hindsight) how dangerous the actual trip home was and how fortunate we are that she survived the flight home. I think of the care she has received at Vanderbilt and I’m overcome with emotion.

So here we are, pre-op at the hospital. Fahlin is in complete shut-down mode, not speaking to anyone, grumpy, scared, nervous. You know your child has been to the hospital too much when she knows the exact position in which to put her body when she gets her echo-cardiogram. She assumes the position. Poor thing. I really, really, wish I could get into her mind for a few minutes. I’m sure it would crush me the emotions she’s experiencing. You can see it on her face. Somber, serious, uncertain. Oh Fahl Fahl, if there was a way for me to bear this for you I would. Any of us would; your brothers, your sisters, your aunts you uncles.

God chose Fahlin for this moment and this burden. She is one strong, courageous little girl. I’m proud of her and scared for her. But a friend of mine, Mark McFerran just emailed and said something very encouraging in his email…that “this is the week God shows up again…”

I pray for that very thing.

Read More about August 8, 2018