Monday, March 19, 2012

I Have a Tan and a Sad Heart

I went straight from the airport to the hospital to visit my dad.


It's very evident he's had a stroke. His face is sagging on one side, especially his mouth, and his eyes didn't focus very well. But apparently he's way better that he was earlier in the week. (On Monday, right after his stroke, his 'massive' stroke, no one at the hospital expected him to live 24 hours. No one. NO ONE.)

He lived. And kept on staying alive. Day after day.

The blood clot is at the back of his head, at the base, which is affecting his ability to swallow. The Parkinson's is also affecting his swallowing ability. (Parkinsons. We never thought it was as big a deal as the dementia or the heart disease. We knew they 'thought' he might have it, as he had alot of the symptons... but it wasn't conclusive because of the dementia (no one knows for sure what he's feeling) and heart disease meds which could have Parkinson's like side effects. Round and round we go with dad's health...)

Because he couldn't swallow, they've been unable to give him his pills. Or food. Or water. So they hooked him up to an intravenous. (To keep him comfortable.)

That was the plan... keep him comfortable and pain free. For a few days. No one expected him to live past Thursday.

He ripped out the IV, got completely undressed and grunted 'home'.
(His IV is now in his foot.)

That man has an iron will. He wants to sit by the fireplace in his favorite chair and watch Ben Hur. He wants to go home. 

The nurses have been trying to get his meds into him - by crushing his pills and mixing them in with pudding or apple sauce. And finally, sometime this week, he managed to swallow a spoonful. No one expected that. If he can swallow once - he can swallow again. It's a long process, mostly unsuccessful, but they keep trying.

When Max and I got to the hospital he was lying on the bed, staring at my mom. His black shoes and black leather jacket were on the bed beside him (he had been wearing them earlier - it's his 'going home' outfit). He struggled to say "Jane" when mom asked him if he knew who I was. His eyes moved in my direction, but I don't think he was able to focus... he quickly adjusted his head back to my mom and locked on her face.

It's so hard to see him like this.
My whole body is sad.

He is a fighter. He doesn't know any different. In order to survive you just keep going... one step at a time, day after day, walking through Russia, across to Poland, and step by step across the rest of Europe til you get to a boat that takes you to Canada. He arrived poor, uneducated and unskilled but determined. He learnt the language, did some farming, worked in a mill and every day woke up determined to live fully and completely til the next day.

He is 75 years old and one of my last conversations with him before I left for Palm Springs included him saying "I don't want to die. I want to go home to Billie. I just love her so much."

When mom is with him, he's calm and settled. And when she's not? He's agitated. Restless.

Swallowing one or two mouthfuls of pudding and pills is likely not going to be enough.
But we all know, that if they put a feeding tube in (up his nose and down his throat, or directly into his stomach) he is going to rip it out. He's ripped out bladder catheters and IV's regularly. He wants to go home. He's tired of being there.

He doesn't understand. He doesn't have the capacity to understand.

But he does have the capacity to love. And wish. And desire. And have longings.

Julie and Daryl flew Mandi home for the weekend so she could visit her Bups. When she walked into the hospital room, his eyes bulged wipe open with joy. He's missed her incredibly since she's moved to Alberta for a year of Bible School... and her presence at the foot of his bed sparked facial expressions he hadn't tried since the stroke.

I don't know.
It's confusing and sad and difficult and numbing.

I had supper with my mom, then talked on the phone for a few hours with my sister. And since then? I'm just been sitting and thinking. (And praying? It's hazy. Am I talking to God or to myself when I ponder and plan and ache and cry?)

It's been almost a month. Almost 30 days of feeling heavy in my soul. Almost 30 days of 'waiting'. Almost 30 days of intense emotion. Almost 30 days of praying for the same thing even though none of us know what it is we're praying for, other than for God's will to be done. Almost 30 days of feeling drained and tired. Almost 30 days of wishing things were different. Almost 30 days of blech. (True, Jule went to Vegas, and I went to Palm Springs during this 30 day period, but dad's health issues definitely accompanied us.)

And I know.

I know that people, (friends, even) have walked this journey too... and for some of them, this path takes months and months to complete. Years, even. Years and years of intense sadness and deep emotion, and heartbreaking pain and never-ending visits. I don't know how they (you?) do (did) it.

If you're praying along with us, thank you.
If you're wondering how to pray for us in this situation, I don't know.
Dad's life is in God's hands... and we continue to watch Him work, in utter amazement.

Three things I'm thankful for:
1. Safe travels for the Palm Springs gang.
2. My mom loves my dad.
3. Max has a job that, so far, after 2 full days, he really enjoys.



Anonymous said...

Aching for your dad and all your family. Thanks for your words that are full of so such of who you are. God's peace to you Jane.

-Kevin S.

Anonymous said...

The way that we walked through 10 years of illness was just like your dad came to Canada and made a go of day at a time (sometimes a few minutes at a time) It's hard but God is right there with you in that room and there are no platitudes that make it just is!
Praying for all of you...
Love Lynne

Anonymous said...

O jane,
It is with such saddness that I read your post. As my Dad said to me when he was alive nobody really knows how hard it is for you to walk through something like this. seeing my Dad suffering was so hard. So different than your journey, yet so hard. May the God of the universe, the God of justice and mercy shine down upon you and your loved ones and give you peace. Love you lots,

Anonymous said...

Let us know if you want company - to hang out, to bring Kev's home cooking by, to weed your garden, whatever. We are close enough to drop by....
Love the Snyder Peters Co.