You’re Never Ready

I am sorry I have not written anything in quite some time. I have been going through some rough, sad, and downright exhausting times.

My Dad entered the hospital on February nineteenth with congestive heart failure. The next day he went to the Critical Care Unit with a breathing tube down his throat. The breathing tube stayed in a full seven days, but those days dragged so that it felt much longer! His breathing didn’t improve the way the doctors had hoped, however by the next Friday, the rotating doctor said that the breathing tube had to come out.

I should have ordered a ride to the hospital that day, but I did not. So, when my sister called to tell me I should get to the hospital, my only option of transit was to hop on two  city buses to go to approximately four miles.   When I arrived about a hour and a half later, the breathing  tube had been out for several hours.  Mom said the hospital had called asking  for permission to take out the tube,  but hadn’t realized they would proceed without his family being close at hand.   It made us upset knowing that he could have slipped away without any loved ones being present!

Family and friends stood vigil in a waiting room for the rest of the day.  My brother, sister, and I went to Dad’s bedside.  We were encouraged  that he was trying to talk to us.  However, his throat was dry and stratchy from the breathing tube, so he had to  struggle a bit to be understood.  After several tries, my sister figured out what he was trying to say.  “Let’s get the show on the road!” A very typical phrase  Dad liked to say.  It was his way of saying, “Let’s do everything we can to get me home as fast as we can go!”  The three of us bursted out laughing.   it was a relief to see his personality again!

Dad asked us what he needed to do in to order to go home.  My heart dropped right then.  I thought if he needed to ask that question, then he was far worse than I  imagined!   We told him that he had to continue to rest, and start breathing better.  We each, as if in harmony  started demonstrating how we breathe.  Dad began to breathe like me in quick shallow breaths.  I stopped forcing myself to breath, or rather, hyperventilate, and inwardly groaned.  To myself I thought, “Seriously, Dad!  Don’t follow my way of breathing!  Please, mimic Marilyn or Jim’s intake andout take of  air!” 

Dad had three possible breathing  resources   available to him.  He had the regular two-prong nose thing-a-bob, that didn’t do squat.   Next he had a sleep apnea machine which covered his mouth and nose.  It did a fair  job.  However, his best source of oxygen came from a full frontal mask.  The only part of his face that was not covered by the mask was his forehead, and family were constantly stroking his forehead, or smoothing out his bangs.

On Saturday, Dad was moved out of the Critical Unit and into a private room.  My sister and I happened to arrive at the hospital just as they were moving him.  I naturally thought it was a good indicator that he was getting his own room.  After Dad was all settled, we finally got to see him.  He wasn’t much better from the previous day.  He was more asleep than awake, but I sensed  that he knew we were there!  I felt like insisting that Dad be taken back to Critical Care where he received closer supervision, but then reasoned the medical staff knew what they were doing.

I am told that Dad had an eventful day on Sunday.  The nurses got him up into a recliner for a few hours, that he drank some apple juice, and had a few bites of mush.  I did not witness this happening, because  my cupboards held silm pickings, and I ,thought I should take advantage of having a car, so I went grocery shopping.   My sister said I didn’t miss much, that it wasn’t our typical Dad sitting in that recliner; he was still pretty out of it.  Sometimes in life you just have to except the decisions we have made, because if you don’t, it will just rip you up inside! 

The next morning, shortly after eight the call came.   All I heard was my personal assistant repeating the request, “Can I get her there Asap!”  I knew!  My adrenalin kicked in, it had to have, because I don’t think I could have functioned without it!  I rushed to my bedroom, and picked out clothes.  I was always cold at the hospital, so I grabbed the warmest sweater that was in my closet!   

Meanwhile my personal assistant was trying to figure out how to get me to the hospital.  It is not easy for me to find transportation at the drop of a hat, regardless if it is an emergency.  I will explain it all later.  Somehow a cab van appeared!  Bless the driver!   He was appraised of my situation, and when we got to the hospital  he tried make sure I knew what was happening.  I didn’t want his small talk; I just wanted to get to my Dad’s side!  Only because there has always been a force within me to prove that I am a thriving soul, I tried my best to answer his question, and then indicated that I was really in a hurry!

As soon as I reached the room, I saw my Dad, my positive outer shell of my Mom, and a tearful eyed sister.  I asked my sister what I didn’t have to ask.  Dad’s body was shutting down.  Family trickled in.  The small room got smaller and hotter!  I have never been present while someone was going through the final stages of life, but I was right where I belonged that day! 

The hospital’s chaplain  came to talk and pray with us.  My Dad had beautiful ruddy red cheeks, and when they started fading to an ash color, my heart nearly broke.  His cheeks pinked back up a few times, and a nurse came in to ask if we wanted to take him off the oxygen.   Not everyone was there yet, so with Mom’s pull we had the nurse leave.      I knew he had gone on to his new home.  I think everyone knew, but letting go is the hardest part!  When the nurse pronounced he had passed, Mom proclaimed that he had slipped out the back door, just like he would do when he went out to work on the farm.  Everybody had to chuckle at the truth in the statement! 

I was in that room for approximately five hours.  I needed out!  I needed to process through what had happened.  So, my personal assistant who had been quietly by my side the whole time helped me to get out.  I write when I need to work things out.  I was numbingly  trying to write on my communication device , called the Pathfinder, when it decided to freeze  on me.  I ran through all the things I know to get it back working.  Nothing worked!   It felt if the Pathfinder was giving me a free pass to mourn, but didn’t want the pass, I wanted to communicate, even if I only wanted to communicate with myself.  I wanted, no needed someway of getting myself to cry, and I couldn’t find one!   Darned technology, seemingly to always  fail when I needed it the most!

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