2012 was to be the start of a brand new year of hope, dreams and life..
Instead it was a year of medical struggles, a test of human spirit, and death. Not in my wildest dreams or nightmares could I have planned the way the year played out. It wasn't as depicted in the travel brochure, let me tell you!!
Seems so strange to condense all the happenings of the year into two short sentences, but looking at it, that's truly it in a nutshell.
It started in February with me being in hospital for a week - gall bladder - came home with a drain tube while they contemplated their next move. To be honest, it happened so fast that I didn't have time to plan for it, get upset about it or go to the usual crazy places that a mind goes when faced when yet another stop along the crazy path that I've come to call my life as a guinea pig.
In May my Dad got sick,, and there were several weeks via phone of coaxing him to go to the doctor. As it was, he finally went and by then he was slurring his words intermittently, and for some reason didn't see a reason to tell the doctor covering for his that this was a new issue and not a regular item on the hit parade. I called back and spoke to him and he came to speak to me on his lunch break. Promised to see my Dad again the next day. True to his word he did so.. and Dad was told he needed to go to hospital..
Dad was never a "Hospital" guy, and wasn't going to go willingly into that dark night.. I remember when he'd drive me to the cancer clinic for my chemo treatments years ago how he rarely came inside. He'd drive me down there, with all my gear and packed amusements and tell everyone I was going on a 5 day vacation. My ride down there was my visit. You see, Dad always associated the hospital with death and dying. He hated the smells and if given the choice he just wouldn't go. I remember how shocked I was to come out of that initial surgery and have Dad and one of his older sisters come in to visit. Several of the nurses thought Auntie Eileen was my Mom. I laughed about that one for a really long time. Or was it the funny face Dad made when I told him that they'd thought his sister was his wife? Maybe a little bit of both.. he was always such a character.
It took two weeks of coaxing to get him to actually go -- he was so sure they'd keep him.. but he finally went in June 3rd.. he was so sure he wasn't staying that he parked in the loading zone at emerg. As we suspected, he was wrong - and was admitted immediately.
Thanks to a really awesome friend back home, we were able to get Dad's trucked moved from the loading zone at the hospital from 3500 miles away.
I was on a flight home 2 days later and stayed until August. At that point Dad was still in ICU but stable and progressing -- my Father in-law was going for an expected quadruple bypass. It was to be his second, and things weren't looking good. We were faced with the possibility of losing a valued pillar of our lives and family.
Much to our delight, my FIL's surgery went well - a triple rather than a quad and he was well on his way to being home by the time I went for surgery 2 days later. I like to think of it as all the good karma in the universe that he's thrown out over the years coming back to repay him. He truly is a wonderful man.
I was almost 3 months before my incision healed enough that I could drive, or fly.. so I was forced to do the daily check in's by phone. Dad had a trach tube in so we couldn't speak directly, but we did pass messages through nurses and family friend. The hospital also had what they refer to as a "You've got mail" program so I was able to send e-mails and pictures as well. I wish I could have seen the look on Dad's face when the box arrived with the Halloween decorations for his room.. some of my crafting friends and colleagues sent cards that nurses papered the wall in his room. I like to think that even if he was thinking I'd gone bonkers that it made him smile. I know he particularly liked the blue fuzzy blanket that we sent him. I figured it might make him feel a little more like home, and a little less like hospital (Jail as he called it).
We were about 2 months into our "wait" when my FIL finally got in for the surgery we'd initially been waiting for. After the scare of the first surgery, this one didn't seem as scary but it was clear it was also very risky. We were and are so very grateful that his surgeries went well. He is definitely part energizer bunny that one.. and every bit as loved.
Honestly, I think my brain had gone pretty numb by that point; I was really starting to feel like I was running around in zombie land and not in a hyped up trendy fun way either. Spent an awful lot of time going through the list of have-to-do and need-to-do without a whole lot of concern about everything that was flying at me.
We finally got the go-ahead to go back at the end of November. We were going to fly out for Christmas and spend it with Dad. Then Dad took a turn for the worst, and we arrived November 28th. Dad passed December 1st. This added a whole new set of circumstances and family drama -- way more than I expected..
I am grateful I was there to hold Dad's hand when his time came but I am so truly disgusted at how people Dad called friends behaved and how disrespectful people can be..
Hard to believe it's been 2 months already.. it still doesn't feel real.. not that I don't know my Dad's gone.. but I still catch myself picking up the phone to call every so often, or wondering what he's doing or something and then it hits me.. and I always feel like such an idiot..
They tell me it gets easier with time.. I can only hope..