I’ve been away from this source of therapy for far too long…but Mark mentioned to me last night that maybe I’d feel better if I wrote down my thoughts. I think he’s right. (Don’t tell him…let it be a surprise.)
For those that may not follow me on Facebook, or who may not know me in real life, I’ll fill you in: about 9 days ago or so my Dad was taken to the hospital via ambulance. That’s nothing new in my Dad’s life. He’s an old hat when it comes to hospitals, ER’s, doctors, etc. Except this time was different.
We don’t really know what all happened. We’re not sure if Dad had a stroke, a bad fall, a bad infection…and I guess it doesn’t really matter, because it doesn’t change with what we’re left with today. And that’s the shell of the man my Dad was last week.
We do know a few things: he had sepsis (to the point that the doctor told us frankly that only 50% come back from), he had a bladder infection, his gallbladder took a dump on him and his kidneys were in trouble. Let’s add to that Stage IV Congestive Heart Failure, COPD, GERD and a host of other things…and let’s just say that Dad was a hot mess.
Somehow, someway – he made it through. Or at least, his body did. The man that doctors warned at the age of 50 that he wouldn’t live to see 52…well, he’s now 77 and he’s still beating the odds. At least, on the outside.
But right now, we’re dealing with a new normal. My Dad can’t walk much on his own. He needs oxygen almost 24/7. And he doesn’t always know what’s going on. And he gets very angry and confused.
Last night he told me to not go home through Ripon…because traffic may be bad. For those that may not know, Ripon is in Wisconsin. We haven’t lived there for more than 40 years. But he was there last night.
He was also angry with the nurse and I because his chair “wasn’t spliced properly! The damn alarm is gonna blow this whole place wide open!” We looked at each other and tried to assure him that it would all be taken care of – the alarm wouldn’t go off unless he fell. He still grumbled and swore that he was rewiring the damn chair. (To which, I had to warn the next nurse not to give my dad a scissors or finger nail clipper or anything that may be tool-like…because he actually does know how to re-wire things. And I’m most certain the next time they looked in on him, they’d have a huge surprise on their hands. Kinda funny in this whole mess.)
For those that may visit, or have visited, and all of those praying, I can not say thank you enough. You have all been amazing. Sometimes he’s awake and alert and although maybe a little hard to understand, he attempts to talk…and sometimes he’s not.
By the grace of God, Dad is healthy enough to be discharged from the hospital. But unfortunately, we cannot take care of him at home. And there is where the problem lies…
and I’m broken.
We have tried to explain to my Dad that rehab is the only place where he is safe. And that once he gets some strength back, he can come home. But he’s adamant that he won’t go. And the hospital told me today that they cannot force him to go. Which places it solely in our laps.
I can’t even begin to describe what this does to my family. Or how the dynamics play out. Just know that the last few days have been difficult at best. For nine days I have sat at a hospital, doing what I can, praying for answers, talking, researching, holding a hand, rubbing a back, massaging lotion on skin stretched too taught, deciphering, translating, communicating…and yet…
My Dad is angry with me. He doesn’t want to talk to me. He hung up on me earlier when he tried calling my mom, but she couldn’t understand him. He’s frustrated. And although I know he doesn’t mean it, it hurts when he says those things. Although we have been there since 9 this morning, he accused us of not having stopped to see him today. He said I don’t care.
I know he doesn’t know what he’s saying sometimes…but still. This is my Dad. And I’m not alone in this. My siblings and my mom have all had to go through this together. But I’ve always been the one that “takes care of things.” Like paperwork, medical records, treatment plans, etc.
Everything that my Dad never wanted to go through…it’s all happening right now. And I cannot do what he wants me to do. I need to protect him. And my Mom. And it breaks my heart.
Even though you will probably never read this, Dad, please know that I love you. Through it all, I have always loved you. And above all else, I just pray that you find peace and relief from your pain. You’ve worked so hard…and you have earned your rest. I just don’t want you to hurt any more.
That is my Christmas wish.
Love you Val!! We will be praying for peace, love, joy, and hope for your family this advent!!
Love to your dad and I will never tell Mark he was right but I may have to say thanks if it helped. Love the image of your dad rewiring things and I can totally see that in action!
Oh, Val, my friend, so sorry you have to go through all of this. I think your role in your family sounds like the one I always had and it is never easy especially when we can’t make things turn out the way we want them too. Just know that your dad does love you and it is the illness and everything going on that is doing the talking, not your dad! These decisions are always hard we went through similar things in July with my mom. You want so much that things will be different but its all beyond our control and only in God’s hands. Our thoughts and prayers will be with all of you at this very difficult time.
My heart goes out to you! Take care of yourselves, and whatever you decide is the best you can do. You will always second guess yourselves and your decisions after the fact! This is just as hard as if they were gone in a heartbeat! Been through it both ways! Listen to your heart and your mind and have faith that whatever you do is the best you can do! The love will always be there to sustain you and help carry you through! You are strong! Believe it!!
Oh damn. I’m sorry this is so hard. Frankly, it is almost always hard–it is rarely easy and simple. You all will be in my prayers as your dad finds his way to peace and God’s love. ❤️
I have seen this situation from a few sides, and here are a few truths. No matter what your decision is, the anger is part of the illness. Take care of your needs, prop your mom up as best you can, and just put one foot in front of the other. Rehab can do wonders, especially if a person has a stubborn streak. Many times that stubbornness will fuel the effort. Praying for you and your family.
Beautifully written! You guys have always been there for your dad and I really admire that. Sending your family all of our love. Let me know if I can do anything to help.
The gift of being able to be with someone as the take their journey through what we believe may be their final days to eternal life is a mixture of many blessings, questions and many times tears. May God give you all strength, peace and love as your travel this road together.
Beautifully written! Our prayers are with you as you have to make tough decisions and then be the ones to enforce them. May God give you His strength and courage to do what needs to be done. God bless & Merry Christmas.
Tim & Jen ( Belmore)
I’m sorry you and your family are going through this. I’m glad you were able to write and I hope it helped. Praying for your situation.
Love y’all!! So sorry this is such a hard time! Decisions are so difficult and confusing when caring for others. Trying to do what is best and keep the persons wishes at hand does not always align. Praying that God’s hand is in every decision and outcome! Know that your dad loves you!! Sending warm love from Georgia!
I bet this is a hard time, for all. Good luck you guys! Stay strong.
I’m so sorry you all have to go through this. You may be the one who takes care of things, but please take care of yourself too. You are a treasure to so many. Keeping you, your family and especially your dad, in my prayers.
Our thoughts and prayers are with you, Val, your Dad and family. May God grant him peace
Ken & I both lost our fathers at Christmas time, the same year, and it’s not an easy time, never is.
Keep your head up and God will see you through this all. Love & prayers, Rachel & Ken
They say that parenting is the hardest job you will ever have, but my husband says “Parenting your parents is the hardest job you will ever have.” You are not alone in this and don’t be afraid to ‘take shifts” with your siblings. You are a “fixer” as I am, but somethings are not yours to fix. Step back and send these jobs to God. He never sends us the bad stuff on helps us get through it. We are all praying for you, too. You are surrounded with angels here on earth…let them help all of you. God Bless. Lori