I've not said anything , because my Father is a very proud, private person. We didn't even inform any family when he was hospitalized the first time at his request. But things have changed .......
He had heart troubles in April, and being that I am the only child near him , I became his caretaker.
My mother passed awAy when I was 15 yo and there was my older brother , by two years and my baby sister. , 8 years younger.
I assisted in caring for my mother while she was home for a temp stay , on a waiting list to get into a local nursing home. She had numerous strokes and at 37 years old, was left with paralysis and inability to speak. Her mind was still sharp as a tack, and she would point to letters of the alphabet to spell out words and sentences and let me tell you , no one could keep up with her. Everyone was forced to ask her to please slow down..... Lol
During this time I also was sole caregiver to my younger sister. She was my baby. But you can just imagine how difficult this was for a 14 year old to juggle these responsibilities along with the awkwardness of puberty and school. I had no social life for many months.
But..... Looking back, I don't regret the hardship. I believe it gave me a stronger sense of compassion and caring. I'm soooo not perfect. , but I shudder to think what I may have been like had I not had these events in my life.
Fast foreword to now.
After my 81 year old father had a stent placed in his heart, things began to change.
Like I said. , I had an older brother , sadly he was killed in a car accident at the age of 23 , drunk driving.
My baby sister was living near Pittsburgh at the time my father fell ill, and then moved to. North Carolina , where her husband had been transferred to for his job.
Now, almost 2 years ago , remember my husband and I happened to find what I like to refer to as my forever home.
This new home happens to be exactly. 1.1 miles from my father's house.
After his procedure and short hospital stay, I began calling and visiting more often , as the nurse in me was compelled. The daughter. , not so much. Don't get me wrong , I do love my Dad, but our relationship has been strained since I was a teen. Especially after those years while my mother was sick.
My Father was an alcoholic , and most of the time , he was not a happy drunk.
When I left home after I got pregnant and married the high school sweetheart love of my life... Still together after 37 years , I didn't have much of a relationship with my father.
He remarried right after my Mom died ( he has since divorced )and this also added stress to an already almost non- existent relationship.
The topper..... My Father for whatever reason , was not at all interested in being a Grandfather.
It was hurtful having a father who was healthy, active. , he hunted and fished and yet never showed an interest in inviting even 1 of my four boys along. He showed up to Birthdays and Christmas's only at the insistence of my stepmother.
And , he actually had to ask me everytime the subject of one of my daughters came up, what their names were.
Once again, fast foreword to now.
I noticed a significant change in my Dad's behavior and personality as the weeks went by following his hospitalization.
His short term memory was terrible and he began to display compulsive behaviors. He was confused more and more. It was now necessary for me to be at his home twice a day every day to dispense his medication and check his blood sugar. He could no longer understand the directions on his medication bottles , I tried sorting them into two separate little divided containers but he still got confused and either skipped his meds or over medicated himself. Then he began to have dizzy spells. Once, he fell into my lap and was incoherent. I had to ease him to the floor and then he awoke. Another hospital visit occurred, when while we were getting ready for a checkup with his family physician, he became dizzy and passed out across his bed and was unresponsive. I had to call 911 and he was taken to the. ER and was diagnosed with hyponatremia( low sodium levels in his blood. ) in fact , his level was so low , Dr was surprised he was not in a coma.
After 5 days in the hospital , running back and forth and taking care of him and his home , he was sent home with new meds. A Kidney specialist was now consulted and this resulted in increased blood labs to be done , more trips to the Dr and he was now unable to safely get behind the wheel of the car and drive.
He was angry with his Dr and anyone else he felt was responsible for ordering an upcoming driving test to assess whether his license should be revoked or not. That test never even took place .....
His appetite began to dwindle and add to that , he was still not very steady and still very confused , I now needed to be at his home more and more to prepare meals and encourage and keep track of his food intake.
Over the few months that passed we talked , laughed ... He yelled at me out of frustration, I cried, still very much intimidated by this man who in reality was a far cry from the mean , drunk he once was.
My father also happened to have the very beginning stages of emphysema and an annoying cough that began to get increasingly worry some.
During these last 4 months , I have been the sole caretaker for my Dad. I've watched his health decline drastically and been witness to the loss of his mental abilities as well.
He has called me at all hours of the day and night with real true emergencies and questions about simple things that have been repeated to him over and over and over again. In the midst of all this , my father learned to trust me. He relies on me and he respects my Nursing abilities( I'm an LPN ) .
The latest hospital visit occurred after a routine Dr visit ended up with an order to go directly to the hospital as it was determined he now had an irregular and rapid heartbeat ( A fib) that if untreated could result in cardiac arrest.
The hospital stay previously had revealed a suspicious area on his left lung.
After 3 weeks and cat scans , bronchoscopes and biopsies he has been diagnosed with small cell cancer of the lung. It is an aggressive , fast growing cancer. It is inoperable.
He received his first round of chemo and is very sick right now.
I was unable to spend Thanksgiving with my family, as it was necessary for me to live in his home 24/7 during that week. He could not be left alone for any amount if time and sadly he still has no desire to be involved with my children or his great grandchildren. He insisted he wanted no visitors whatsoever and I had to respect his wishes. But.... I hold no anger or bitterness toward him over this , only sadness at his loss. My family is wonderful and at his request, he is missing out on what could be something wonderful.
I've had my Dad clutch at my arm begging me not to leave his side. I've had him scream in anger and frustration at me , because his coffee was too cold. He has looked into my eyes with tears in his ,as he apologized for yelling. He thanks me over and over for simply fixing his pillow, offering a sip of water or very carefully allowing him what dignity he has left as I shower him and turn away as he dries himself and struggles to put his underpants on before I finish dressing him.
My sister has driven from NC , back and forth , twice now and is staying here with him for a few weeks during his first round of chemo. I'm so grateful to her for this.
He is weak , sick and struggles for his every breath. Back in April he weighed about 170 lbs. he can't be any more than 135 lbs now and continues to lose weight.
I've struggled with self pity and cried in pain from the physical exhaustion. I'm not in the greatest health and I suffer from debilitating osteoarthritis , both knees need total replacements. I've missed meals , a few times went to bed at night after only a bowl of soup all day ,not good for someone with Type II Diabetes. I've only been home for dinner maybe 5 times in 4 months and slept in , the same amount of times. I have stayed home the entire day once during all this time.
And now, after all of this , all I can think of is how fortunate I am to be ABLE to do this for him.
I've soul searched and not always liked what I've discovered, these last few months, but oh the lessons I have learned !!
A year ago I cried many times because I had few opportunities to even leave my house and now I barely remember what it's like to stay home 2 days in a row.
My sister and I are now faced with the agonizing decision to place my Father in a Nursing Home, even if only temporarily as neither of us are able to continue caring for him at home and he is getting sicker and weaker.
The prognosis isn't good at all ,the Dr stated from the beginning that chemo would not do much but was more of a courtesy since my Father stated he'd like to give it a try.
If he is able to stay lucid and decides he no longer wishes to receive treatment we may be able to get relief with Hospice.
Prayers are appreciated.
Sorry this post is so long , but I just felt the need to write this all out. ????
I miss you all !!
God Bless You,