Monday, March 26, 2012

5 Things

Five things I've observed when your parent is not bouncing back from a massive stroke/heart disease/Parkinsons/pneumonia/and thrush:

1. A blanket of sadness covers your day. Every day. You have the strength to pull back the covers for a few hours, but mostly, it's there. Everything requires additional effort. Making a To Do list is mostly a waste of time. That sadness? Saps you of energy. Give yourself permission to let a few things slide.

2. Little victories give a sense of (false?) hope. "He swallowed two spoonfuls of pudding!" "He said I Love You!" Ultimately, though, the doctors bring you back to reality... and you are reminded that your parent's life is in God's hands. Living one day at a time becomes your new motto. Accept that each day will bring exciting highs and disappointing lows.

3. Every time the phone rings you wonder if this is 'the call'. And that fear turns your insides to liquid. After 5 weeks, your stomach is conditioned to cramp up every time the phone rings; and you have to decide - answer the phone or run to the bathroom. Know that this will eventually end. I hope.

4. Life goes on. Your kids will have mini-crisises, special celebrations, broken hearts, broken beds, new jobs, and old issues... expect to feel torn more than usual. Should you sit at the hospital and slip ice chips into your dad's mouth, or stay at home to fill the fridge with homecooked meals? Understand that some days you'll make the right choice, other days, maybe not. Pray that everyone affected will extend grace and understanding when their needs are not met.

5. Be thankful to the hospital staff for their gentle care. Bless and affirm them. Express your appreciation to them, and treat them like people, not slaves who should be changing diapers quicker. It's easy to get frustrated at understaffed, overworked nurses. But visible annoyance is not going to increase the quality of care your parent will receive. Be nice.

6. While you're praying for your parent, might as well pray for the other guys sharing his room... they may not have anyone praying for them. While you're at it, throw in the doctors and nurses too. They could use your prayers. And if you still have time on your hands, pray for those people who love your dad and are affected by his hospitalization. Hey, sitting with a mostly non-responsive person for a couple hours a day gives you lots of time to pray. LOTS.


Three things I'm thankful for:
1. I sat in my backyard and tanned this afternoon. Yes, I sure did. You will want to buy my house because my backyard? Faces south, is protected from the wind, and is completely private.

2. It was Julie's birthday today. I am so thankful for her. Everyone really should have a sister. Mine? Is selfless, hardworking, gentle and caring (especially with dad) and a great cook. Plus she is faithful, dependable and beautiful. Happy Birthday Jule. Love you.

3. God.


(Update, re: my dad - He has thrush on his tongue and it looks uncomfortable. And, kinda gross. He was very sleepy today... Julie's visit with him in the morning was quiet, and my visit with him in the evening was similar. He only took in a few mouthfuls of food, and slept 95% of the day.
I sat beside him for a few hours tonight, holding his hand and praying. He'd open his eyes every 15 minutes or so. I'd say "hi sleepy head!" or "hi handsome!" "Hey dad!" and he'd smile then stare vacantly and drift back to sleep. His breathing is labored for a few minutes, then he stops breathing all together and I wonder, "is this it? Seriously? On my watch? God? Hello? Now? Should I scream for a nurse? Ohhhh good, he took another breath...")

I'm mostly putting these updates here for out-of-town family members. None of us are great phone-callers, so this is the most efficient way of keeping everyone informed.
I feel bad, though, for taking the rest of you along on this ride.


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