Sunday, February 24, 2008

Our Harrison Weekend

We left Langley at 3:30, "right after school", then stopped in Abby to pick up Clint. Another stop at Future Shop to pick up a photo card (but they were sold out) so another stop at London Drugs. Then over to the Castle Fun Park exit to fill up with gas and get Clint a Subway sandwich cuz he was starving then finally we arrived at the resort at 6:30. Dad and mom had arranged our rooms and were waiting for us in the lobby as were Daryl and Jul and their kids.

As is tradition, we walked two blocks down the street to the Black Forest for our annual meal of goulash and schnitzel, playing 3 rounds of Scattergories while we waited. Only this year it felt different; dad was still winded from the walk, so he was very quiet. Jul didn't play - she chatted with dad. Mandi didn't play - she did homework. Max and Zac didn't play - they just heckled. I had a feeling that I was playing my last Scattergories game with this crowd. (I started this 'bring a game to supper thingy' the first time I took the five kids to Harrison with me by myself. Clint was 12, Mandi was 10, Max and Zac were 9 and Drew was 5 and I was worried they'd be bored while we waited for our meal. Since, then, I always brought it along for our first Harrison meal of our annual extended family vacation.)

The kids ate and ran, the rest of us dawdled for awhile and took our time walking back. Once again, dad had to stop a few times because he couldn't catch his breath. When we got to the hotel, he leaned up against the wall looked beat.

A few minutes later, he looked very unsteady on his feet and he kinda fell sideways into the nearby couch. A security guy (coincidently named Peter Classen) noticed and asked if he could help. He paged his partner and together they administered first aid, including oxygen:

They encouraged us to call for an ambulance, and 10 minutes later the best paramedics in the world arrived and whisked dad off to the Chilliwack Hospital.

Clearly I thought the whole thing wasn't too serious, evidenced by my taking pictures for scrapbooking purposes. As an extended family we've been going to Harrison once a year ever since I was 16. That's 30 years of memories. There was the time the power went out and they didn't have a generator, so they put hundreds and hundreds of candles all over the hotel. Then there was the time that it snowed a foot over night and we had to dig our cars out the next day. Then there was the time we brought fireworks along and threw them out the window at midnight on New Year's Eve. And so on... I thought maybe this would simply be the year that we called the ambulance guys for Bups.

Mom hopped into the ambulance as well, and the rest of us hung out at the hotel.

A little bored.

Doing homework.

But mostly bored.
And maybe a little bit worried.

It was a long evening.

At 10:30 pm, in the pouring rain, I drove over to the hospital to see what was happening.
Dad was in emergency and he had gone from being weak to having full body convulsions.
Do you know how hard it is to watch someone going through that?
Do you know how hard it is to watch YOUR DAD going through that?
My dad has never been afraid of any aspect of his health issues. He's had complete confidence in the doctors and nurses assigned to him and he regards it all as a 'piece of cake'. He's always "good" and never in pain. But on Friday night? With his body twitching uncontrollably and his inability to lift up his right arm? He told mom he was scared.
He can't communicate much these days. He still only talks about half a dozen things. And it makes us all sad to see the dad we knew disappear before us. But watching him struggle in confusion in that gurney in the ER was heartbreaking. He didn't understand what was going on. But then, no one really knew what was going on.
The ER doc pulled mom aside and prepared her for the worst... he thought dad might be having a series of mini strokes and that they could be a sign that a massive one was on the way. He wasn't all that confident that dad would last the night.
He kept asking for root beer, which surprisingly the nurses don't have in their ER fridge, so I told him I'd go look for some. I asked the security guys if there was a vending machine closeby, and they opened up the locked doors for me and allowed me to walk the darkend halls of the closed-down-for-the-night wings of the hospital to look for root beer.
My hip?
Was a pulsing, burning, pain-filled mess as I limped through those halls.
Every drop of stress and tension was centred in that knot and I longed for a cane. And some serious drugs.
The fourth vending machine I found, about 10 minutes away from the ER had Barq's, so I got one for him and made my way back through the maze of hospital hallways.
"God? How do I pray? What do I ask for? What do I say? This is all too much for me to figure out. Do I pray that you heal him again? Do I dare ask that you allow him to hang around with us longer? What is Your will for his life? Is his time up? Do we need to accept that? Or do you want us to learn more from him? Or learn how to care for him? God, he's scared; please comfort him. God, we're scared; please give us peace. God, this doctor isn't sure what's going on; please give him wisdom. God, we commit him into your hands and pray Your will be done. We can't stay all night - so while we're back with the kids, we trust that You will look after him for us."
He drank the rootbeer in one swig and said "prima". We stayed with him til his last set of blood tests were done, and when he rolled over to go to sleep at 2 am, we left to go back to the hotel, fully prepared to return if he needed us or if things got worse.
I got to my room at 3, and the kids were already in bed with the lights out. Max and Clint were sharing one of the queen sized beds, Drew and I would share the other. Before I crawled into bed, I opened the sliding door, letting in some fresh air and some lake and street noises. I was a little worried about my snoring (well, alot worried. At one point, earlier in the week, I considered getting myself a private room because I was anxious that my snoring would become an issue. Shitty how this snoring thing is robbing me of the enjoyment of travel). As soon as I laid down, I wished I had brought some painkillers along for my hip. It was not only throbbing, it was shooting burning pain darts down to my ankle and around to my back. I lay there for half an hour, flat on my back, praying that I would be able to sleep despite the discomfort.
I jumped 6 inches off the bed as someone hit me with his pillow.
I saw Clint stomp over to his side of the room with his pillow snarling, "Quit snoring!"
I lay there, stunned and nursing my hurt feelings.
"Wow. God? That didn't feel like I was loved. He didn't gently bump me. Or shake me. Or nudge me to roll over. He just punched me with that pillow and it hurts. It hurts. He was angry and mean about it. And I'm just so very embarassed. God? This snoring thing is awful. And I wish I didn't do it. And I have a feeling the next time I want to book a holiday with the kids, they aren't going to want to come because I snore. Can't you make it go away? Can't this not be an issue? Can't I just be a quiet, feminine sleeper? Why do I have to be awake again? How is dad doing? Are You keeping an eye on him for us? Please, God, don't let him be scared tonight. Help him to have a good night's sleep. Help him to feel safe. Please help me to fall asleep again. Help me not to snore."
I rolled over onto my side but was afraid of bugging my kids, so I stayed awake and prayed for everyone on my mind. At 7:30 am, Clint's phone's alarm went off, not waking any of them (? but my snoring does?) and I drifted into a dream-filled light sleep for an hour or so.

Saturday morning the sun was out again, so while Daryl, Julie and mom went to the hospital to check on dad, the kids and I stayed at the hotel. Zac and Max stuck to themselves most of the day (that's them at the back of the pool), Clint went to Stillwood to do some video recording and photography for work, Mandi and Drew sat in the lobby, each clicking away on their moms' laptops and I wandered around, praying and feeling useless.

In the early afternoon, I decided to sit on the pool deck and soak up some of the sun's rays. It felt like it was mid June and it was warm and wonderful and I wished my dad wasn't in the hospital twitching.

By 3:00, Daryl and Julie and mom came back; the hospital wanted to keep dad in for another night of observation. His convulsions had stopped, and the test results concluded that it wasn't a stroke. Dad was resting, so we relaxed for abit.

I took my camera out for a walk and prayed, telling God I really didn't know what to pray for.

As I walked, I remembered alot of the previous trips I had enjoyed here. When I was teenager, when I was a young married, when I was newly single...
... I have alot of good thoughts about this place.

This has been my loneliest trip.

And spending alot of time by myself isn't a bad thing, but I'm not used to doing that in this place.

Usually, Harrison is about conversation, and group walks, and game playing, and hanging out watching the Food Network.

It wasn't like that this time.
Mom called the hospital at suppertime and they let her talk to dad. He said he was bored and thirsty for rootbeer, when was she coming?
So, leaving the kids with Daryl and Jul, mom and I drove into Chilliwack with 2 cans of rootbeer.
The ER was overflowing with new cases, so they had moved my dad and two home-less looking women into the X-Ray waiting room hallway. He hadn't twitched for hours, was no longer getting oxygen, and he'd been disconnected from all the monitors.
He was bored. And wanted it to be July.
He wondered if we had brought him a radio or CD player, because he remembered that he liked country and western music. And he wanted it to be July.
The nurse came by to take his temperature and blood pressure and ask him some questions. He didn't know what day of the week it was, but he did know his name. And then he wanted it to be July.
We talked about July. And old camping trip memories. And his favorite foods. And what the kids were doing, but he really wanted it to be July.
It was like talking to a 3 year old with a one track mind.
We left at 8:30 pm, hoping he'd settle down for the night, leaving him, again, in God's hands.

Back at the hotel,

Drew and

Mandi were still on their moms' laptops,
Max and Zac were doing their own thing,
Clint was in the hottub,

so we hung out and talked.

til midnight.

I made sure I slept on my side, but it didn't work.
At 3 am Max belted me with a pillow and said with disgust, "no one can sleep with all your snoring".

I allowed a few tears to fall.
This has been a hard trip.
We got home at 2:00 and I fell asleep on the lawn chair on my back patio wearing a tank top and shorts. It's Feb 24 and that is just awesome. Drew and I watched the Academy Awards and ate pizza and I'm just not sure if I'm ready for another week.
I called my mom to see how dad was doing, and she said his second night in the hospital had been hard on him. When he had gotten up to go to the bathroom, one of the homeless women had crawled onto his gurney and said she was going to sleep with him.
When he said no, she wasn't, she said, "Aren't you Ray?"
He said, "No. I'm Pete Klassen and this is my bed. You get out and sleep in your own."
At some point near the end of his stay, he had gotten out of bed, but couldn't find his way back to it, so he wandered up and down the halls for 'a long time'. Finally, someone asked him if he was lost, and he said, "I am Pete Klassen and I don't know where I'm supposed to be".
"God? How do I pray? What do I say?"


Anonymous said...

wow, what a hard weekend, I'm praying for you all.

ramblin'andie said...

Funny that you were seeing ghosts of us in all the beach sculptures/driftwood. Every woman on the beach yesterday looked like you. I was very disappointed that we didn't bump into you.

still praying for your dad. Love ya.