Monday, March 10, 2008

Is he better? Or worse?

Is that cough a good sign? Or a bad one?
Does he look less yellow? More rosy? Does that mean something?
Is he getting stronger? Or weaker?

Is his face smaller today? Do his hands look larger? How bloated are his legs?

Has he eaten anything? Had diarrhea? How often has he peed? What medication is he on today? Has the doctor been by?

Has he sat up? Walked at all today?

Every move, every grunt, every sigh, every gurgle is discussed. Analyzed. Worried about. Prayed over.

I try to be there over the supper hour and early evening everyday. My mom and sister/brother-in-law-niece share the lunch and afternoon shift. But every night, when I crawl into bed, I feel sick that he's alone in that hospital room. (Well, not totally alone. He's got a roommate - Elizabeth who has just had knee sugery. And of course, in answer to our prayers, I know that God has placed at least two of his angels in room 338 as well. But still... should I be there? Should I sit beside him through the night? Am I going to regret that I didn't watch him sleep?)

During the 21 hours that I am not sitting there, rubbing his swollen/bloated arm, and talking about old movie stars and '57 t-birds, a little adrenaline rush of fear surges through my veins whenever my cell phone rings. "Is this it?"

It's exhausting I tell ya.

I didn't blog yesterday because I was a little over-wrought. Hmmm. That might be an understatement.

You see, I had this idea in my head that my dad would enjoy watching the tape we had made of his surprise 65th birthday party. It was a grand event and most of his favorite people were there (including a few that have since passed away.) The challenge was, we have it recorded to a VHS tape. So, in order for him to watch it, I'd have to get a TV/VCR over to the hospital. I called everyone I knew that might own one of those handy, somewhat portable, units. I was out of luck, "Yeah, we have one, but the VCR part is broken." "We used to have one, but the VCR part blew up." "Ours used to work, but the VCR packed it in."

Sandra offered the brilliant suggestion that I take the tape in to a shop that could transfer it onto a DVD for me. I marched up my stairs and burst into Clint's room, waking him from a dead sleep at noon, to ask him if he knew of such a shop. He did not. "Look in the Yellow Pages," he said as he rolled over.

I stomped right back down those stairs and grabbed the phone book. How do you look up something like "Video to DVD Transfer" shop? Well, let me tell you how easy it is. You go to "Video Tape" and notice that the first Video Tape category is: "Video Tape Duplication and Transfer" and then you phone the only shop listed.

It was in Walnut Grove (15 minutes away) and I wanted to ask them if they could transfer a tape to DVD for me that very afternoon. Because it was so important that my dad see that video on that day. But when I called, no one answered the phone. It rang and rang and rang and rang. So I checked their website. Which wasn't on the web. So I got a little tense. Maybe alot tense.

And then Sandra called and said she thought her mom might have the equipment required to transfer the tape for me.

And then she called back to say, that yes, her mom did have a machine that would do that. But her mom wasn't sure how to use it. And it would take awhile to figure it out. And she couldn't do it today because she had painters in her house redoing her walls, and really? She had too much on her mind. But, there was a Geek shop in Cloverdale that might be able to help me and here was the number.

So I called and asked them if they offered the service of transferring VHS content onto a DVD.
"Uhhhh. I dunno. I don't think we do that anymore. Jusstta sec. I'll ask my boss. Click." the young male clerk put me on hold.
"Hello?" The boss sounded like a 70 year old female. (I wonder if it's the same woman who owns the theatre and the costume store in town.)
"Hi, my friend gave me your number and said I should give you a call. If I bring you a VHS tape could you transfer it onto a DVD for me?"
"No. I told your friend, if you had the equipment, I would walk you through it so you could do it yourself."
"I don't have the equipemt. I don't have a VCR and I don't have a camcorder. I just need to transfer this tape to DVD so I can take it to my dad who is in the hospital. Would you be able to help me?"
"Well, it's a hassle for us. We have to set it up and everything."
"But you can do it?"
"It would take a long time. And it really isn't something we want to do."
"But you can?"
"Well, yes we can. But I don't think it's worth our while. And it's so fiddly."
"If I brought the tape in now (it was noon) could you have it done for me by 5:00?"
"No, everything has to be tweaked. And it's a big job. And ..."
"Thanks for all your help," I said then hung up on her while she was still complaining about how inconvienent it would be to help me.

I stomped back upstairs and challenged Clint.
"You mean to tell me you know of no business that transfers tape to DVD? Isn't this the sort of thing you do? Isn't this your area of expertise?"
"No. I don't know any."
"How about all your creative, nerdy friends? Wouldn't one of them know? Surely someone must know someone who does this sort of thing?"

I am so close to blowing a gasket. Why is this so hard?

I decide to forget about transfering it to DVD and go back to getting a TV/VCR into the hospital room. I have a small TV in my bedroom. I ask Clint to take a look at it.
"If I go buy a VHS machine, could I hook it up to this TV? I'll just take the tape, the TV and a new machine to Bups."
He looks at the TV and shrugs. "It would be better if you could hook a VHS machine to the portable DVD player you bought him last weekend."

I call my sister who is at the hospital. She does not answer, so I call my mom. She answers, and I ask to speak to Jul, then pass the phone to Clint.
"Hi Auntie Julie. Can you check Bups's DVD player? Does it have an RCA feed input blah blah?"
"It doesn't? OK."

I am going ballistic by now. They can put guys on the moon and I can't find a way to allow my dad to see a recording of his 65th birthday party. I'm all tense and not nice, but time is up and it's time to leave. I get Max, then pick up Drew from school (where he saw the matinee of High School Musical) then headed out to the hospital. On the way, we pass a business that helped me at work when I needed to duplicate 60 DVD's. Maybe they do transfers?

I called Clint, who was now at work.
"Are you near your computer?"
"Can you look up a phone number for me?"
"The business is called Exomedia on the Fraser Hwy in Langley. Can you get their number for me? I'll call them to see if they transfer."
"How do I do that?"
"Do what? Look up a phone number?"
"Yeah. What do I do?"
"Go to MyTelus. Then click on phone book. Then go to business finder. Type in Exomedia, Langley. The number will come up."

It was a painful conversation and he never was able to find the phone number for me. But he did end up saying that he could transfer the tape for me at work. He had all the equipement and stuff. Afterall, that's what he does for a living.


Max, listening to my side of the call, asked, "What are you trying to do?" I told him I had a tape that I wanted Bups to see (where was he was all the discussion was taking place in our house?) but I couldn't find a TV/VCR to borrow and I was having trouble transfering the tape to DVD, but now Clint said he could do it.
"Max has a TV/VCR in his room at dad's place," Drew said. "Why don't you borrow that one?"


Oh my goodness. That's all I have to say about that.

Max, Drew and I visited with dad for a few hours, then Jim and Jacquie came by with a surprise for him. (More about that on Monday.) We met Clint back at home, but my tension had rubbed off on them and this house was not a pleasant place to be between 8 and 9 pm. Things settled down as we ate sushi in the family room together. Then while they played x-box, I retreated to my bedroom to watch No Reservations.

This morning, with one less hour of sleep than usual, and after much discussion, most of it heated, the four of went to church together. And during the sharing time, a woman stood up and said, "I am having the worst year. My best friend, who lives next door to me, was diagnosed with agressive, terminal cancer in early January. We've been praying for a miracle, because we believe her work here on earth is not done. Then two weeks later, a teacher at the school I work at died unexpectedly, so we had a memorial service for her at the school. Then in February, a student from our school died, so we have another memorial service and I keep saying to myself, "just hang in there til the beginning of March. Everything will be better in March." I've been counting the days til our long-planned Panama cruise and was hoping to use the holiday to rest and be refreshed while relaxing with my husband and friends. I went to the doctor last week about something that was bothering me, but he told me he didn't think it was anything to worry about. On Wednesday night, I packed up all my suitcases and put them in my car. I was going to work on Thursday morning. then leave for the airport directly from school.

On Thursday, when I got to school, my principal called me into the office to tell me that the new middle school configuration coming in the fall meant that I would be out of a job at the end of the school year. He was giving me notice that I would soon be unemployed. I left the school at noon, was on my way to pick up my husband, when my cell phone rang. It was my doctor telling me to come into the office immediately. Turns out I have a kidney stone and he told me I couldn't go on the cruise.

So I took my husband to the airport where he met up with our friends and I then I went home, only to find my neighbours driveway filled with cars. She had just died.

Then my daughter, who has two children and is pregnant with twins, called. "Mom? Help? I'm in labor!" But it dangerously early for her to be in labor - she still has months to go. So I met her at the hospital where they did all they could to stop the twins from being born and now she's to stay in the hospital for two months and someone needs to care for her little ones at home. So could you pray for me?"

She is having the mother of bad years.

Made me feel real stupid about my whining.

The four of us had lunch together, then the older two went their separate ways and Drew and I went to the hospital. Clint had copied the party tape onto DVD, so I took that and our portable DVD player just in the case the one I bought dad didn't play burned DVDs. Then I packed up Max's TV/VCR machine as well as half a dozen tapes filled with memories of dad and the kids when everyone was younger. Then I packed up my laptop and the third season of The Office for Drew, anticipating he would get bored.

We got to his room, weighted down with equipment and cords and tapes and DVD's, just as the nurse was getting him out of bed and into the chair. He was being nebulized and encouraged to sit upright. So while he sat there, with his nose and mouth under a steaming mask, I set up the 65th birthday party DVD in this player and turned it on for him, excited for him to view it. After 10 minutes, his nebulizing session ended, so I turned off the machine, removed the mask from his head and readjusted his headphones.

"I have to go pee," he said.
I ran to get a nurse, who helped him into the bathroom.
And when they got him settled again, I said, "Can I turn this back on for you again?"
"You want to watch something else?"
"James Dean. Rebel Without a Cause."

And that was that. Hours and hours of frantic tension. And he wasn't interested. He only watched 10 minutes of it... he didn't even get to the good stuff. Sigh.

So how was my dad tonight?
Not too talkative. He would respond to our questions with one or two word answers. Compared to how muddled he was back in November and December, this is definitely an impovement. But physically? He's pretty weak. He was dizzy and felt like fainting after sitting in the chair for only half an hour. It looks to me like his liver is doing its job again ... the yellowness is mostly gone from his eyes. The lasik? lasix? pills he is taking (to help get rid of the water retention) have been working ... his face and neck are not so bloated. But his arms and hands look like they are going to spring leaks they are so full of fluid. His abdomen is quite swollen. Jule asked him today if he was pregnant. He looked down at this stomach and observed, "I haven't had sex in a long time, so I don't think I could be."

His appetite was back for about 10 minutes yesterday. He ate half an egg sandwich, a pear and drank one of mom's homemade milkshakes. Which was more than he's eaten all week. When mom was at home this afternoon, he asked Elizabeth, his roommate to dial the phone for him (he doesn't know how to do that anymore). He wanted to tell mom that he had had a good middoch schlope (afternoon nap) and could she bring an another egg sandwich and milkshake? But by the time she got back to the hospital, he was too tired and dizzy to eat.

Is he getting better? Or worse?
I don't know.

The other day mom asked him if he'd like her to call Pastor Rob so that he could come and visit.
"Why? I'm not dying. And I know where I'm going."
"Where are you going?"
"To Heaven!"
"Who are you going to see in heaven?"
"My mom and my dad."

Which was a very cool answer because he never knew his dad. His dad was executed in Russia when he was a baby ... and he has rarely mentioned him in the past 70 years. His mom never remarried, so when he thinks of her in heaven, he thinks of the two of them together. I love that he is confident that his parents are waiting for him there.

Thank you for praying for him. And for us. I think we're all going a little bit crazy trying to work, go to school, stay on top of regular responsibilites and still be with him as much as possible. Thank you, friends and family for your emails and messages and love.

Three things I'm thankful for:
1. I was in church with all three of my sons. That's how Sundays should be.
2. I think winter is over. It's over right? When daylight savings starts, it's over. I'm sure of it.
3. God has a plan and a purpose for all our lives. Including my dad's. I can rest in peace, knowing He who made him, will keep him.


If you have time for an extra prayer tonight, maybe could you pray for Lorainne? (The lady from church who is having a no good, very bad, rotten year?) And Elizabeth? She has not had a single visitor all week. Not one.

Good night.

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