the lesson i learned as i watched my father die
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
My dad died.
He had been a sick man for a long time. He had gone thru surgeries, heart disease, diabetes, copd. and the thing that finally weakened him to the point he couldnt recover, osteomyelitis. His spine broke down with infection, he had a pic line for antibiotics and pain medicine since April. He had gone into the ER back in April and was put on a ventilator, where he stayed in the ICU for about a week.
He had been back and forth to the hosptial for at least 3 stays since then and had to use a hospital bed and was on Hospice care since about summer.
I complained about having to take him and my mom to their appointments, but I would give anything to spend an hour in the car with my dad right now.
I felt put upon and relieved when they would ask my sister or brother.
Selfishness is what I felt then and regret is what I feel now.
My dad felt really bad the day before, I had taken my dog down there for him and my mom to keep while I went to the store. I didnt pick her up that evening, I called and my mom said just leave her the night. She told me my dad would just sit and whimper he was dying, and my little dog would wimper back. She told him to stop because he was scaring the dog.
Why didnt my mom call me?? My dad knew he was dying, he told her over and over that night. The next morning she said he got up and was using his potty chair because he was too weak to make it to the bathroom and when he stood up, he just slipped into the floor. Her instinct was to call an ambulance, us kids, we sat in the hospital with him, the doctor said he could put him on a vent, but my dad had said not to do that again, the doc told us he had most likely had a heart attack, his blood pressure had bottomed out, he was never fully awake, never spoke up, he would mumble a little thru his oxygen mask. We would talk to him, tell him we loved him, and he would mumble back, turn his head toward our voices, squeeze our hand a little. The choice wasnt easy, but the doctors asked us to make it and we did, on his request, no heroic measures. Oxygen, pain meds, catheder, and wait. My son, my nephew, sister, brother and mom sat with him thru it all. He was taken upstairs to a room where we stayed with him thru the day, from about 10 am til he passed around 330. His children, wife and a couple of his grand kids were there. We took our turns sitting next to him and talking, he wasnt fully out of it, a few times he said he wanted to sit up, he wanted the cath out, his pacemaker was shocking him and he would raise his arm up. I watched him take his last breath, watched the muscle in his chest around his pacemaker fall, I laid my hand on his stomach and watched as there was no more movement. The hospital let us stay with him about an hour before calling the funeral home. He was 75. and had for the most part spent the last 30 years of his life dealing with some illness, some pain, some health issue or another. He fought hard for the last year, but he was just too weak to fight anymore and so he died.
I have good and bad memories of my childhood, my dad was a strict and often emotionally abusive parent. Maybe it was the way he was raised. But he was a good provider, kept a roof over our heads, food on the table. He and my mom were together from the time she was 13 and he was 17. 58 years.
So, I havent been here any til today.
The ladies at the church and the community cooked and cooked and I ate and ate.
Dealing with it in the traditional way, food.
I am choosing to put that aside and start working hard again, I am going to use my dad and his poor health, some of it a result of his poor choices, some hereditary, some environmental, as an example, a reason to work hard for better health.
I dont want to have a pacemaker, or a tube stuck in me, or a pic line pumping medicine into me for pain.
I want the good memories of my childhood, my dad taking us on a road trip to Lincolns birthplace, and to Camden Park and riding the chair lift and calming me while I screamed in fear. I want those to be the memories I have of my dad.
Not the last days.
Not my guilt over not doing more or spending more time with him.
There is one truth we can all face, we will face this, with a parent or a loved one. Time isnt promised to us. So, when you hear or read about telling someone how much you love them or appreciate them, etc. Dont put it off.
Dont let the final memory you have of someone be them squeezing your finger as they lay on their death bed.
And as if that wasnt enough to deal with, one week to the day after we buried my dad, my mom was visiting the cemetery, on a cold snowy, slick day and fell and broke her ankle. So, she is now having to go to the surgeon tomorrow to find out if shes going to require surgery or a cast. Me and my sister and nephew have taken turns going to stay with her, shes having to use the walker and luckily for her all my dads stuff, hospital bed, walker, wheelchair etc was all still there and so I have just been so busy trying to stay with her and then come home and take care of my own house, This is the first time I have even logged into SP.