No, I’m not trying to wring Sunday’s post out for as many comments as possible; things have been very busy personally. I’ve been squeezing work in between caring for my father and attending to any number of requisite allied items. It is massively fatiguing and mentally taxing to say the least.
I had to place my father into a skilled nursing facility on Wednesday, November 5th (Goodbye, House). Since then he’s had to enter the hospital twice for more serious medical complications; first, to have the hematoma on his left leg examined further and for a blood transfusion, and then again on Sunday because the massive hematoma (roughly the size of a very thick paperback book) on his left leg literally burst. He was taken back to Mercy Hospital.
Everything is declining geometrically, it seems. He has an atrial fibrillation, cellulitis, his blood count is all over the map, he is perenially tired. His left leg hurts terribly, his back hurts terribly, everything hurts terribly. Luckily he is now on morphine which, I must admit, creates some very unusual conversations with him.
Worse, however, is the fact that today he was placed onto oxygen. They also wanted two X-rays; one for his chest and one for his left leg. I suspect the doctors want the chest X-ray to determine if he has pneumonia and the leg X-ray to see if his hematoma is in fact a bone tumor. The wound nurse entered his room earlier Monday to decree that the open site is larger and much deeper than she expected.
In his condition, he could succumb from blood clots, a heart attack, pneumonia. He can barely move, is hooked to three IVs, a BP cuff, air bed. I am certain that this is not even remotely how he envisioned himself going. Enfeebled, powerless, limbs uncontrolled, fingers grasping and pulling on his gown, at the bed covers with grim determination but for no reason.
I looked at my father’s face tonight. Skin the thickness and color of onion paper once soaked with water, now dried, eyes clouded, cracked lips, discolored bruises all up and down his stick-like arms and the backs of his hands, white hair tousled, his face unshaven. He couldn’t get comfortable. He raised his arms out to me, I took his hands, then he snatched his arms back as though his brain hadn’t commanded that effort in the first place. He would begin a long-winded exposition then words would fail after a minute. His eyes would limp to half-mast then close.
All the things he’s done in his life, all the things I’ve done with him, how he married my mother in 1942, how they raised three boys in the 50s and 60s, how he retired as a full USAF Colonel in 1984, how he took his wife on numerous cruises, how he watched his wife pass away at a different Mercy Hospital in the same town in May of 2002, a nasal canula strapped around her ears and face. It was the only time I ever saw him weep openly, at her bedside, her face and cheeks cooling. He wept unabashedly. It was frightening to me.
I am jolted back: just as a nasal canula surrounds my father’s face now, back behind his ears.
This is not my father, but it is my father. This will be me one day, perhaps very soon.
I’ll consider it a miracle if we have my father alive on Thanksgiving, much less in the hospital or a nursing home.