Friday, May 18, 2012

Oy Vey

My dad is in the world's most expensive wheelchair. (It cost twice as much as Drew's car.)
Yes.  I'm probably exaggerating when I say it's THE most expensive. Probably there are ones with a higher price tags and more bells. Bigger whistles. Better shocks.

Anyway, he spends at least half of his day in this chair, so it has to be comfortable. And easy to drive. And repositionable. And reclinable. And he mostly hates it. He is constantly trying to get out of it. He wants to walk.

The nurses asked that we buy him a better seat belt, one with a key(?) so that he can't wiggle his way out, or figure his way out.

Despite all the precautions? This morning? WHILE STILL BELTED INTO THE CHAIR? He managed to stand. And then fall forward. FACEFIRST onto the floor. Because he is ummm, difficult to manage at times, they have an alarm attached to him for incidents exactly like this. The nurses came running and found him facedown in a pool of blood still strapped into chair which was on his back.

They steri-stripped his gashes. (One on his nose. The other on his forehead.) (They JUST took the stitches out from his eyebrow two days ago from when he fell out of bed at the hospital.) His head? The thing that houses his broken brain? Has taken a beating lately.

By the time I dropped in to see him, he was all sorted out.
"Hi dad! What happened to you?"
He shrugged with both shoulders. "Don't know."
"Your nose has a bandaid on it. Did you fall?"
"YES. I FELL," he bellowed. (One volume these days... loud.)
"Are you sore?"
"NO. I'M FINE." He looks at me for a minute. "JANE!"
"Yup, it's Jane."
(We're seated in the dining room and the care aid has just placed his pureed food in front of me.)
"How about if we have some supper?"
For a man who landed on his face a few hours ago, he sure is chipper.
"Did you? Both a bath and a shower? They sure cleaned you up good... your hair is so clean."
"Did it feel good?"
He shrugged. "Don't know," he said quietly.

I fed him two bowls of pureed mush, a serving of vanilla pudding and a serving of strawberry pudding. Plus, seeing he's not a fan of water, coffee or tea, I brought him a strawberry/banana fruit smoothie. He ate like a champ.

"Yup. You ate it all. Should we go?"
"YES!" And he tries to stand up.
"How about if you stay in your chair and I push you around abit. Let's take a look at what's going on around here, OK?"
"Don't know," he said, quietly.

I parked him at the end of the hallway in front of the big window overlooking the traffic on 96th Ave. He's talkative, but his memory seems to have taken another hit.
I comment on the cars that drive by, just like I did the other day, and ask him what his favorite color is.
He tries to remember. Finally he shrugs with both shoulders. "Don't know," he says quietly.
"Is it yellow?" I ask.
He nods, "YES, It's yellll..." Then he stops. "No. It's not yellow."
"How about green? Is green your favorite color?"
"Noooo. I don't think ..." He shrugs. "Don't know," he says quietly.
"I think it's red. You like red best, don't you?"
He nods.
"Rot es de liebe," I say in german. "Did I say that right, dad? Red is for love?"
He nods his head.

"Where is mom?" he asks.
"My mom or your mom?"
"Mom," he says.
"YOUR mom is in heaven," I say.
His eyes get huge.
I can tell he's talking about my mom.
"My mom was here this afternoon. Nan. Billlie. Hilda. Your wife. She was here already."
"No she wasn't. No one was here."
"Sure she was. You were in bed. She sat beside you in the room where your TV is. Don't you remember?"
"I don't remember."

I pull out my cell phone, call my mom and hand the phone to dad.
He loves holding the phone to his ear. He loves hearing her voice. They talk for quite a while about her visit. He continues to say, "I don't remember" until she mentions the rabbits that they watched (in the pens on the main floor) and a teensy bit of memory comes back. He hands the phone back to me.

"Hey, dad. Guess who's birthday it is tomorrow?"
"He shrugs his shoulders. "I don't know," he says quietly.
"YOURS. It's YOUR birthday. You're going to be 76 tomorrow. You are getting old."
He smiles. "My birthday?"
"Yup. We're going to get a taxi, and have supper at the ABC."
"It'll be good. Mom, and you and me and Daryl and Julie and maybe Jim and Jacquie and maybe Drew will be there for a few minutes..."
"Where's mom?"
"She's watering the plants."
(He'd asked her the other day if she slept in the bedroom next to his. He wonders where she goes when she's not with him...)

"I have to go, dad. I'm meeting Clint. I'm going to borrow his truck so I can load it up with stuff to take to the dump. OK?"
His eyes fill with tears.
"Want to watch a movie?"
He shrugs his shoulders. "I don't know," he says quietly.

I wheel him to his room and park him right beside his bed. I lay out all his DVD's on the bed beside him and ask him which one he wants to watch.
With his right arm wildly waving he reaches over and grabs Shane.
He nods and closes his eyes.
I put it in and sit down beside him. His eyes are watering/tearing. "THIS IS THE FIRST MOVIE I EVER SAW IN A THEATRE"
"I didn't know that."
We watch for a few minutes and he relaxes. His eyes close. His body starts to shake.
"Dad? I have to go. I'm going to put your chair back a little bit, OK? Just like this. You can rest your head. If you feel like sleeping for abit, you can, OK?"
He nods. The sparkle has totally left his eyes.

I kiss his forehead.
"I'll see you tomorrow. I love you."

He looks at me and says, "I love you too," quietly.

I leave and cry all the way to my truck. And continue crying half way to Vancouver.

This is hard.


Three things I'm thankful for:
1. A good visit with Clint; we had a two hour dinner and talked about events, marketing, not-for-profits and business. So good to use the other side of my brain for the first time in two weeks. I'm proud of that boy.

2. Good update re: Jessica -- From her brother, Eric: Jess continues to make improvement every day, doing a 10 hour trial yesterday off the ventilator, then was supposed to do a 12 hour trial today.
She will be transferred to surrey tonight, and operated on sometime this weekend.

3. GREAT bookclub meeting on Wed evening. We talked about The Age of Innocence, which was a rich, delicious read. 


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