Friday, October 8, 2010

It's been a while.....

It's been a LONG time since I've blogged. I am still among the living. This past year has brought about an abundance of change to my life. The biggest being that my father has been ill for the last year (since last summer) and is now living in a nursing facility for round the clock care. It has been one of the hardest things I have gone through in my life. It has also been a roller coaster ride. Back and forth trips to Ohio almost monthly since August of 2009. He is my only living parent, my mother passed away in 2005. He remarried a lovely lady, my step mother, whom I adore, but she too is in poor health. So it's been much like having 2 extra children and trying to care for them 4 hours away.

It's a long story so I will try to condense it down to a readable version. Last summer I took the kids to Ohio for our usual Summer Retreat to the homeland (we're Buckeyes, born and bred). I had this feeling before I left home that something was going to happen, like this trip was not going to be our usual fun filled adventure. Well I was right, in more than one way. Soon after arriving in Ohio I set up camp at my "best friend's" house. She and her husband had been having marital problems so I was uneasy about staying with them in the first place, simply because I didn't want to add anymore stress to the household than what they already were trying to manage. She insisted I stay so we did so. My daughter ends up getting sick shortly into our visit, ending our short time there with a projectile vomitfest all over their dining room floor. That was my que it was time to go to my Dad's, let her rest, and visit with my family. Also at this time, my friend thought it would be a good idea to lecture me on my parenting decision to send my daughter to kindergarten in the Fall. THAT is a whole story in itself, which I will save for another time or perhaps not even tell. So it was definitely time for us to vacate. Hailey was sick, and I was extremely hurt and agitated by her overly aggressive opinions on my parenting. We get settled in at my Dad's, Hailey gets over her stomach bug and then proceeds to catch a terrible cough! My step mom at this time was also sick and ended up in the hospital on her birthday no less. The day after that, is when my world changed. I was going to drop my son off at his Grandma's and my first instinct was to call her and tell her just to come pick him up. When will I ever learn to go with my gut? I was tired, had been doing a lot of running and a lot of taking care of my father in my step mom's absence. When I go to Ohio for these "vacations", I often feel the need for a vacation by the time I get home! It's more wearing than anyone knows. Anyway, I go to drop him off and my Dad wants to come along for the ride. His mobility was already shaky, but I felt for him being couped up at home all the time. So I told him to wait in the lobby of their apartment building while I pull the car around, then Brandon could help him out to the car. By the time I pull the car around, he was off to the races approaching my car. I jump out scolding him for being too hasty, and the next thing I know, he goes to get in my car, maneuvers the wrong way, and down he goes. He is a big guy and luckily I broke his fall or he would have surely gone backwards cracking his head on the cement. My heart just sank as it seemed to happen in slow motion. Seeing your elderly father in such a helpless state, and not being strong enough to help him back to his feet yourself (even with assistance from my son), it's disheartening to say the least. A kind couple drove by and pulled over, and called 911 for us. They stayed with us until the Medics arrived. The firemen gathered around him and without hesitation, began hoisting him up. However, his leg was under my car door. As they kept yanking I saw that his leg was trapped, so I pointed out that they might want to move him back before pulling him up. They did, then got him up and in the car and were ready to be on their way. I felt they might want to check him out before rushing they checked vitals and told me to call if I needed them again. Now how on earth was I supposed to get him OUT of the car and back inside? I put that on hold while I took my son to drop him off, then I began calling cousins to come help me when I got back to his apartment. Just then my Dad very calmly tells me his leg hurts. I assumed it would, it was probably badly bruised. I told him we would look at it, but first I needed to get help to get him safely back inside. A couple minutes later, he tells me his leg hurts really bad, and that he wants to go to the ER. He was very calm, so I was still thinking it was bruised. I take him to the ER, I sit with him for about an hour, but at this point it's getting late and I have my daughter with me who is sick. So I tell the nurses I am going to run home and get her medicine, a nice warm bath, then I will be back. I do just that, only before I had a chance to come back, the nurse calls me. She informs me they are admitting my Dad, his leg is broken badly in two places!! I begin bawling. All I can think of is how I should have made him stay home or insisted that my ex mother in law come pick up my son for her time with him. A million things rush through my mind, as I bawl into the phone to this stranger. She assures me he is quite comfortable and asks me if I want to talk to him. I sobbed yes, so I pulled it together as they put him on the phone with me. My Dad sounded fine and dandy (thanks to Morphine), as I whimpered to him how sorry I was. He jovially asked me why I was sorry? He said "you didn't push me down, I fell". Well yes, there is that small comfort that I didn't throw my Dad down to the ground, but still, if I'd done one little thing differently, his leg would still be in one piece and none of this would be happening. So we wrap up our conversation with I love you's, then he puts the nurse back on the phone. She proceeds to tell me that my Dad will need surgery the next day to fix the breaks. I fell apart all over again, once again sobbing to this barer of bad news. This surgery would set in motion a whole chain of events that would be the downfall of my father. He has not been "right" since last summer. He has not been home since last summer. He has been in and out of hospitals, and is now in his 3rd nursing facility. He has never fully regained his mobility, his overall health has declined, his diabetes is out of control, we learned he has congestive heart failure and kidney failure, and last but not least, some dementia that at times, resembles Alzheimer's. Every visit I make is bittersweet now. It's always good to see Daddy, but seeing him in the state he's in now, and gradually getting worse, is a constant weight in my heart. As for my step mom, she is now also in the same nursing facility, though hopefully not permanently. I continue to make my treks back and forth, as none of my siblings that live down there are helpful in any way. It's the right thing to do, to be there for your parents, to visit, to care, to help. Because one day I will be old and frail and I will hope that my children take heart and visit me too.

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