Tuesday, December 05, 2006


I sat straight up in bed and shouted, "MOM!"

I was startled. I never do things like that, shouting in my sleep. A glance at the clock told me it was 5:45am, plenty of time left to sleep in.

It stayed with me all day, that feeling of trying to reach my Mom. I only had to pick up the phone and call, which I knew I would do in the evening, for our weekly chat.

Being 300 miles away may as well be 3 thousand at times.

Something in me was avoiding the call. I finally made it.

They had a difficult time waking up Dad in the morning. He was very weak, could not pull himself up. His blood pressure was somewhere in the 40's. Later I learned his pulse was a scary 42. He was in the wheel chair all day. They could not make it to church. The Angel, Jeannie (the nurses aide that Mom found several years ago) called all day long to check on Dad.

I realize that one day I will wake up thinking that this day will be like all the others. I'll get ready for work, go to work, I'll carry on with tasks the day demands. And then the cell phone will ring. I know it will be my sister Kitty, I'll not understand anything she is saying because she is crying.

Then that normal day will change into the day that everything changes.

Its been over three years ago Dad suffered from congenital heart failure and we almost lost him. It was almost six weeks before we were able to bring him home. He went to a re-hab hospital to regain strength and learn how to walk with a walker, pull himself up out of bed, feed himself etc. etc. All those basic things that we take for granted become a small miracle when practiced by someone who was so close to death.

Then very soon after he came home he had a stoke. The time spent in the hospital are worse than anything imaginable. But he managed to come home again and one of the ER room physicians suggested that a new drug just released to treat Alzheimer's be given to Dad.

It was like a miracle. It breathed new life into Dad.

Several months after that, again on a Sunday, his blood pressure dropped so low that he could not be waken up. The ambulance was called and once again he was admitted into the hospital for observation.

It was then that the Wicked Nurse gave us a piece of advice, do not call the ambulance any more when he begins to go. It's his time, she was trying to tell us, and it is their profession to cheat the inevitable if they can, but our family must make a decision about the quality of his life.

I wanted to get in her face and tell her that if it was her Father she would feel differently.

Years later, I have forgiven her for her bluntness. Because I have a better understanding now.

They did not call the ambulance this Sunday. And he bounced back.

I am not prepared. I think I am, but I am not.


Laura said...

I don't think that Wicked Nurse should have been blunt like that. It is not her job to impose her values on you. She probably thought she was being helpful and honest, but she wasn't. I think your 6th sense woke you up yesterday morning. I, too, am dreading that day of discovering loss and wish there was some way to avoid it all together.

Michelle said...

You articulate you fear so well. I'm sorry that your dad has been going through this. I've seen a Wicked Nurse at work before, and it's not cool. This particular one told the family that they should send the patient in kidney failure back to El Salvador to die...in front of him. There should be empathy training or something...

Anyway, hang in.

Cynthia said...

You can never be prepared for the loss of a parent. Even after years of illness, it still hits you, and then suddenly you realize that you're an orphan. You know you're all grown up. You know that you're a logical, responsible adult with a child of your own, but part of you knows that you're an orphan, and you can never be ready for that.

Anonymous said...

I suppose that we all will get a phone call like that eventually. You are so right that when it comes, our lives will forever be different.

Anonymous said...

Dementia is a bitch, isn't it?

Lisa :-] said...

I wanted to say yesterday, and then I got kicked off the internet:

It is so hard to let them go. We are ourselves over fifty, and we think we are big, strong adults...but when our parents begin to leave us, we become little kids again. "Don't go, Daddy. Please..." I've already lost my dad, Mar. And I know it sucks. You are never quite ready.

Anonymous said...

My mom died in September. We knew it was coming and we still weren't ready. Your never ready to lose parents. They are precious. The only thing you can do is enjoy each day until it comes.

Nelle said...

My Dad has been in congestive heart failure for 2 yrs. He does less and less and it's sad. No matter what, you just cannot ever be ready.