Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Bittersweet Happiness

In a strange way, rain seems to be healing for me - mostly on an emotional scale. I get to shut down, withdraw or perhaps just regroup, recharge and start all over again. While I don't expect life to be a complete bed of roses, I know there are going to be challenges ahead. It's not a matter of "if", but "when".  I've been praying and praying for a span of calmness, happiness, togetherness with my family and friends and God has given that to me. I know that any given moment, I can get a call in the middle of the night saying, "Dad's in the hospital again" or "Come down, Dad's sick - what should we do?" We all anticipate these occurrences and somehow pull through it, but there's a tiny part of me that "stays awake", even if asleep, as though I'm waiting for the call or waiting for the 'alarms' to set off. My shoes are always at the end of the bed with a pair of jeans just in case I have to slip into them to rush over to the hospital. I'm always on 'ready, set', but the 'go' part seems to get paralyzed. It's almost as if I'm denying what's actually happening. Even if I'm hopping into my jeans, making my way up to the ER, my body starts reminding me of how it can react to stress, whether it's rushing to the restroom, developing chest pains from indigestion (then making me think it's a heart attack) or just simply withdrawing altogether becoming numb; in a state of silence. I become useless in helping out in any situation. I always joke around and say to everyone, "Well at least I'm in the hospital in case I need to check in for any of my ailments."  And that has happened while Dad was admitted. The ambulance had to pick me up and admit me into a room above my dad. "Don't tell Dad, it'll stress him out. Just say I'm home with a cold," I would say, because he's not allowed visitors who are sick due to his low immunity.

There was a good span of time, which I prayed for. I asked God if He could take away my dad's pain and give him back his joy again. I haven't seen Dad laugh, smile or joke around since he got sick. It was very sobering to see my father with low spirits since all my life I've known him to be the funniest, sarcastic S.O.B you'd ever meet. But God answered my prayers. Dad started to eat again, laugh again, and even dance again with my mom. I even saw him riding his tractor around the property like he used to do. He hasn't touched that in over a year or so. Out of the blue, he started telling jokes and I swear, it was like being around a stand up comedian. He starts singing songs or he'll just say something so random that it'll have you laughing hysterically. Even though this is great news, it's also bittersweet in a way. I had told a few people that I'd rather Dad have a month of pure happiness with no pain, than six months or a year full of misery and pain. Part of me thinks, "Wow, we got our old dad back - happy, funny, and full of life" - and the other part of me has a much harder time thinking about his illness while he's this happy. But, it's all about him - not what I want. And I certainly don't want him in pain, but why is it easier to have the ability to let someone go while they're suffering? When they're happy and painless -- it makes it much harder to even comprehend that your loved one is sick - even if there are no signs.

The other day we noticed that dad's left leg swelled up like a balloon. The nurse from hospice came over to take a look at it and said it may be from the tumors growing on his kidneys and bladder that's blocking the fluid from flowing properly, a sign of the progression. It was almost as if I had forgotten that Dad was sick. "The progression" kept repeating itself in my head. Then of course, we all were concerned about it being a clot in his leg since he is lying down a lot.  The nurse checked his lungs which were clear, felt if the swelling was hot to the touch and it wasn't and said to just have him take a water pill to relieve the swelling. But later on, it was decided that he had to go get checked out at the ER, which he hates because they treated him so poorly there. I know because I literally had to go out of his room and yell at the doctors and nurses for not supplying him with the needed medication as promised while he was lying in the bed screaming in pain. I experienced a lack of professionalism, compassion and overall care from the staff while I was there myself. Dad pleaded with me, "Please Deb, don't let them take me. You know how they are."  And I do. He can't go to any other hospital because the hospice care he's receiving is part of that division as well as all of his doctors. Every time he goes back into that hospital, his spirit dies. Part of me was against sending him back there because the nurse checked him and said it was only water retention, possible 'progression', and the other part of me wanted him to go so I don't lose him in case there was a blood clot with no evident signs of it. He started to manipulate all of us, saying, "If I go and die in there, have it be on all of your consciences!" Then he'd put his head down regretting what he had just said, hoping we'd tell the EMS crew to leave.

(The photo on the left is Dad before he was sick, laughing hysterically while I was filming him.)
Honestly, I don't know what 'the right thing to do' is as far as caring for someone who is terminally ill and is being taken care of by hospice. Isn't it all about what they want and their wishes to either decline medical care or take it? He also has a DNR, so God forbid he has a heart attack, they're not going to try reviving him. We all want Dad to stay with us longer, but in my opinion, going against his wishes during this time is counteractive in making him happy. The anxiety he had while waiting for the EMS alone was enough for me to call them off.  The extreme levels of his anxiety could have been enough to give him a heart attack. Then again, if we didn't have him go in and it definitely was a clot, we'd not only lose our dad, but we'd have a much bigger issue on our consciences from his little 'hex' he put on us. He checked out fine and was out of there within hours, but my heart broke when he learned he had to go back to the place where he hated. Thankfully, it didn't kill his spirits. He's back home and joking around again. It's just very confusing and heartbreaking to see your loved one begging and crying to decline medical care when all you want to do is make them stay a little while longer with you. Making any medical choices for someone has to be the most difficult thing in the world. I give anyone credit who is strong enough to do so.

Please keep my dad in your prayers?

(I'm posting random tweets now from people relating to my articles. One of them really stood out. She reminded me of myself asking for prayers for her dad too.)

Please pray for my dad who had to be rushed to the hospital a little while ago :( 

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.deprapasquella.com

3 comments:

The Elephant's Child said...

I am so sorry. I called the ambulance for my mother much against her wishes ('she just wants to get me out of my home'). Less than twenty hours later she was dead, and our last words were angry. Would I have let her stay at home if I had known she was so close to death? I don't know. I hope so.
This is such a hard time for you and your family. Sending good wishes your way.

Deb said...

It's that kind of decision that's so questionable. What's the "right" thing to do in the case of someone denying medical attention and especially if they are terminally ill? I'm so sorry you had angry words with her - but in the big scheme of things, she sees and knows why everything is the way it is, and was. I believe that. Thank you for your best wishes. I appreciate you sharing that with me.

the walking man said...

Deb..We are all terminal, period. some will go before us and some after but truth is we will all die.

Your pops sounds like a wonderful father and great guy, but he has made his wishes known with DNR...ok respect that but on the other hand if the hospice nurse says he needs to go to be looked at for something (swollen leg) then tell him to go but also tell him you will bring him home that same day and he can be treated at home.

Seriously what the hell can a hospital do with someone who has a written advanced directive that says DNR? But if by going his pains are relieved and conditions diagnosed and having you not your sisters but YOU telling the damn doctors and nurses whats what then you will get him the hell out of there as soon as possible.

Ther is nothing that strikes fear into a doctors heart more than a pissed off angry Italian woman. This last surgery for me, my Italian wife sprung me from that fucked up hospital within an hour of her getting off of work.

Seriously he wants to be home but those damn doctors are making to much money to make house calls but that doesn't mean he has to stay overnight again in a shit hole hospital.