During the course of the past few months I have written numerous times about personal challenges that my family has faced. I haven’t done it for sympathy, but because this is just cathartic. I am not always as effective at expressing deep emotion verbally.
I don’t really enjoy it, not that you need to. And I certainly do not always feel comfortable spilling it out every which way, but some things need to be expressed or they eat at your insides and that is not healthy.
So here is a short summation of life since April.
April 17, 2004- My parents fly out to New Jersey for the birth of my sister’s third child. Wow, how did my little sister get 3 children? Forget it, I don’t need details.
April 19- My nephew is born.
April 28- My father is in the hospital. He has pneumonia, has suffered a heart attack and has a number of other issues. My BIL the doctor says that I need to catch a flight ASAP because they are not sure if he will make it. I force my BIL to be honest and he says that it is less probable that he’ll survive, but he cannot say for certain. I catch a flight out to New Jersey.
My father is the CCU. He is unconscious and on a ventilator. He cannot breathe without the vent and grimaces and rolls around the bed like he is tremendously uncomfortable. He probably is, there is a tube down his throat and they have him in restraints. He is drugged, but his eyes flutter open. They are a bright blue. Piercing, they were part of a glare that scared us as children.
Now I fight to get into his line of sight and let him know that I am there. I am not 35 anymore, I am 8 or 9 and my daddy is sick. At least it kind of feels that way, I am choked up seeing him like that. After a while I adjust and my attitude returns. I tell him that he will not die, I haven’t released him from his duty, nor has mom, my sisters or any of his grandchildren, including the one he hasn’t met. My wife is pregnant.
I spend almost a week out there and return home, the last image I have of him is on the vent. He is too restless, so they increased his meds and his eyes do not open at all. I sit with him listening to the vent and other machinery. Around me there are other families, some of them in tears because their loved ones have died. I hope not to join them.
At home I have my pregnant wife, son, two other sisters, and three 90 year-old grandparents, including my father’s father who just happens to live with them. None of the grandparents know the severity of my dad’s illness because there are still few details and we are afraid to give them too many unknowns.
May 9- My birthday. My father frees himself from his restraints and pulls out the tubes. He is too drugged to know that he is hurting himself, making it more difficult to save his life. They intubate him again and life on the vent resumes. A couple of days later he uses his tongue to push the tube out.
For a moment I am very happy because I think that if his mind can come up with that trick somewhere it is fighting to stave off the infection and return to health.
Approximately three weeks later they get him off of the vent and give him a trachiostomy, followed by a trip to a rehab facility. It is getting more promising, they think that he’ll survive and as they wean him off of the drugs we learn that his cognitive skills are good, but motor skills very poor. His newest grandson is learning to move his arms and legs, if dad is not careful the kid will be mobile before he is.
June Arrives and my father is discharged from the hospital. He moves into my sister’s home. He is not able to fly home yet, there is a regimen of treatment he must go through, but now we know that we are going to get him back.
Time passes and I get a phone call from my mother. My sister is in the hospital undergoing surgery, her gall bladder has unexpectedly gone kaput and she has it removed. She makes a speedy recovery, but who needs anything else.
July arrives and I am getting anxious, the baby is due at the end of the month and my folks are not back. My dad undergoes more tests and it looks like they are coming home. My sister purchases tickets for her family so that she can bring the newest child home to introduce to the great grandparents. Two days later my dad undergoes a routine angiogram, the news is bad.
He has severe blockage and needs surgery. Five days later he has a triple bypass. My parents are stuck in New Jersey for another six weeks. I am about to post his picture on the back of a milk carton.
August comes and goes as my sister and family come home without my parents. I haven’t seen her in my parent’s home without them since the early 90’s, it is weird to have family dinners without them.
In the meantime my father continues to improve and finally receives permission to come home. They book their flight for today, Saturday night 9/04/2004. I tell them to expect me at the airport, I am going to get them and bring them home.
At 10 am we get a call from my dad, LAX is closed (http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=519&ncid=716&e=6&u=/ap/20040905/ap_on_re_us/airport_closure) due to security issues, they may be delayed. I decide that if terrorists have picked this day to try and mess with LAX they are going to deal with me and prepare to issue my own fatwa. Fortunately for all parties involved it doesn’t come to that.
Let me tell you, I was prepared to go Three Stooges on anyone who got in my way.
It is now after 5 and I am going to take a nap. In a couple of hours my parents will end what would have been a 2 week trip. It is just short of 4.5 months that they have been gone. What a wacky world.
Can’t wait to see them and introduce them to their newest granddaughter.