Bird In The Hand Primitives

Primitive Folk Art Designs and Finished Items
By: Robin Leuschen

" Who you are is God's gift to you........ What you do, is your gift to God !"

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Been away so long......

It's been such a very long time since I've posted here. So much has happened , many things are still ongoing. 
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,
Robin


36 comments:

Twin Creek Primitives said...

Hi Robin, this post is both sad and beautiful. You are a strong, loving woman and it's wonderful of you to give so much. I'm so sorry that you and your father is going through all of this. You and your entire family are in my thoughts and prayers. Hang in there... and God Bless!

Raymond Homestead said...

Robin, I am so sorry you have been going through some trying times, now, as well as in the past. You are doing the best you can do and that's all you can do. You are obviously a very strong woman and bless your heart for all that you do and continue to do. Hugs, Mindy

TheRustyThimble said...

Oh Robin I so know how you feel and what you are going through, my father was partially paralyzed and could not talk for the last two years we had him. He was ill for the last five years he lived. I opted to give up a job and any social life I had , all friends, to move in and help my mother who did total care for him, she opted to take him off of his MANY meds they sent home when he came from the four month stay at the hospital. so she could not get home health care or any assistance. I would not trade anything in this world for that chance to be there, for the countless hours of being moral support to my mother, who I watched struggle so hard to care for her soul mate. My prayers are with you and your dad and your family. God Bless you all. Many HUGS, and wishing you a Merry Christmas.

Alice ~ Folk Art Primitives said...

We never know what someone else's path is. Peace and strength to you walk down this one. You must have a wonderful family to support you thri this. Try really hard to take care of you!

Saundra said...

Wish I was close by to give you a hug and let you weep on my shoulder. You are a beautiful, loving and giving individual and hope you look in the mirror and recognize that you are those things.

You must take care of yourself first, so that you may continuing caring for your father. You must get nourishment both with food and sleep dear girl.

God Bless you.

Saundra

Jen Mayo said...

Robin, so sorry you have to go through all this. Life is such a roller coaster, that's for sure. I do hope everything looks up. We miss you here on your blog!!! Thinking of you and your family, especially during this holiday season. Blessings, Jen

Susannah said...

Oh, Robin, My Dear. Your post has touched my heart. I am in awe of you. I know how you feel exactly. I went through the same thing with my mother. I have you, your Dad and your sister in my prayers. I am so sorry this is happening. But one thing I can say is : You WILL say to yourself - "I will never regret what I did for my father". I know God is with all of you now. God bless.......

Susannah

Danice said...

Oh Robin, I had no idea of the troubles that you have. So sad about family relations. Our family has its struggles also. Some members are just plain uncooperative and spiteful. 'Guess most families have the same issues. 'Will be praying for you and your dad, all of your family. You are a good person, and please do not allow life to make you think otherwise. 'So good to hear from you. Prim blessings :)

Myra said...

Robin ... you have been in my thoughts so many times. I knew it must be some major event happening in your life for you not to have posted for so long. Your words here have been an inspiration and clearly shows Christ's love working through you. Make God's grace continue to surround you and give you peace. My love to you and your family.

WoolenSails said...

My heart breaks for you after reading this. You are an angel, I do not know if I would have the heart to take care of a parent who treated me like this. I do understand his anger and how hard it is to be a caregiver and not take it personally, but harder when it is our parent. My prayers are with you both and please take better care of yourself, you need to give yourself a break too.

Debbie

The Moonlit Stitch said...

Hi Robin - my heart breaks for you. I went through something similar with my dad. Strange as it is, healing and closure happens during this difficult time in some ways...as a nurse you know how taxing it is on the caregiver - the thought of a care facility isn't popular, but it might be the best for you and your dad. Bless you and your family. Prayers going up for you! ~*~Lisa

Linda said...

Robin, I have thought of you often and wondered how you were doing. I feel so moved by everything you have written. I know a little of what you are speaking of. I am going to email you privately at some point but just know that you are in my thoughts and prayers dear friend.
Linda

julieQ said...

From one nurse to another, I pray for your strength on this journey. Sounds like it is full of heartbreak at times, but your courage and love shines through it all. Blessings on you dear!

annie said...

Lord, have mercy honey. So sorry to read all this, I wish it were different for you and him. If nothing else you can look back later and know you did your best. No one could ever ask anymore than that. You are a good girl to take care of your Mom and now your Dad. Hugs, please rest as you are able. I wish you comfort and peace.

~Backroad Treasures~ said...

Robyn I have been so worried about you...my heart goes out to you and your family... So sorry for all the hurt and pasin youre going through.. Stay strong.. We miss you dearly.
Blessings and prayers for you. Take care of yourself....
Rhonda

Julia said...

Robin, what a strong and loving daughter you are. You truly know the meaning of love and forgiveness.
Yours is a sad story indeed but it's like you have been strengthened and tested in fire.

You are a shining star by your example of devotion to your profession and your dad.
May God bless you richly for your loyalty to family no matter what. I truly admire your strength of character.
I'm glad that you shared this incredible story with us.

Hugs and blessings,
JB

Pam in IL said...

I've been on the edge of tears all day because I'm missing my dad so much. Your post has touched me more than you know. Please find comfort in knowing that you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

kelley said...

dear Robin...it is hard enough caring for parents I love and adore...you will not regret the time you've given to care for him...especially now as he needs you so much...Hugs and prayers for you and your family...

Rugs and Pugs said...

Hugs and prayers for you.
Please take care of yourself, too!!!
Lauren

ohiofarmgirl said...

Robin, Call in Hospice. Get help and try to enjoy your last time with your father...you are not able to handle all this by yourself...get help!!! I remember how it is...just please get help. Dianntha

Primitives By The Light of The Moon said...

Oh Robin it is so very hard watching a parent go through this. YOU are quite the ROCk in your family. Many prayers for you, your dad, and your sis as you go through yet another journey.
Hugs,
Ginger

Colleen said...

Oh Robin... I am so sorry and I completely understand what you are going through. Right down to the alcoholism and anger. My father passed away in 2005 from lung carcinoma after a 10-month battle along with having emphysema for such a long time before. It is so hard. I am glad you have a wonderful family to help boost you when you need it. You are in my prayers tonight.

Susan said...

Prayers for you , your sister and Dad.

I encourage you to talk with Hospice soon, they might be able to help in some way to lighten the lead. We just went through this with my mil and Hospice was wonderful helping us through.

I so respect you helping your dad after reading your story. That said, taking care of yourself is vital to you and your family. Peace be with you.

Roberta said...

Robin, God bless you for taking such good care of your father for all these months and after all you have been through. You are such a strong, caring woman and your post makes it clear you wouldn't and couldn't think of doing anything but taking on his care even though it has come at great personal sacrifice. Blessings to you and I hope you feel God's presence and comfort as you continue to deal with your father's medical issues. ~Roberta

TeresaM said...

My dear sweet friend! I'm so happy to see you writing and sharing your hardship! You are the strongest and most caring person I know! Sending you prayers and BIG hugs!!!! Teresa

B.Prim said...

God Bless You Robin! I know what you are going through. Similar situations in my case. You are a very strong woman!.. It is good to air/vent/tell your story. I hope peace and joy comes to you in many ways soon! Sherie

Carrie ~ Cricketwood Prims said...

God Bless You Robin! You are an amazing woman, and life is worth sacrifices. Thanks for sharing and letting others lift you up in prayer and bring healing to yourself by putting it to pen! May grace and peace bless you this Christmas.
Hugs, Carrie

Sandy said...

Robin,
I wondered why you hadn't posted for a long time, now I know. I also know what you are going through, I went through this with my Father-in-law. It was difficult but him and I got closer than we had ever been. I'm also the caregiver for my 36 year old son with cerebral palsy. I don't get out much as it's hard to go places with him. I wouldn't change the things that I've learned from him or the love I have for him, but it is not always easy. People don't understand until they go through something like this to realize how difficult it is, but how wonderful it is also. I know a kind and loving Heavenly Father looks down on you with love and a smile on his face.
You will be blessed in ways you would never expect. My prayers are with you.

suz said...

Wow, this took me back! My Mom and I were oil and water - we constantly argued and fought and I came to the conclusion that although I loved her, I didn't like my mother - she was a very mean woman toward me and my son. After my dad passed away (15 years ago), my sister moved back to Colorado and I was left to care for my mother. She tried her old tricks, including calling my sister to complain. My sister originally would call and yell at me, but she finally realized she had to stop and told my mother that she had 2 choices, live with it or I'd stop helping her. During the last 5 years of her life, my mother's attitude toward me slowly changed and the last couple of years were actually pleasant and sometimes fun. Her health during those 5 years deteriorated a great deal. She had diabetes and that resulted in a whole list of other problems, including serious kidney problems. She also was developing dementia. We finally put her in assisted living, which ended up being the best thing we could have done. It took a lot of the stress off us in caring for her health, and allowed us to enjoy being with her. We went through much of what you are dealing with as that, sadly, is part of the illnesses, but it helped that we had the assistance of the people at the nursing home and that she was able to be moved into nursing care and then hospice as her health deteriorated - and with many of the same people around her, which helped her mental wellbeing. It's a very hard decision to make - and God bless you for being so caring under the circumstances. In the end, though, you'll find that you'll be at peace because you've done the right thing. Keeping you, your family and your dad in my prayers.

Jacqueline said...

My prayers for you and your Dad.

Jan - Life on Buttermilk Hill said...

Robin, I am so sorry to hear about your troubles. T is so difficult when it is time for the role reversal with a parent. Know how difficult and terribly exhausting it is...but you will never regret the effort you gave. Bless you and your father...Jan

Jan - Life on Buttermilk Hill said...

Robin, I am so sorry to hear about your troubles. T is so difficult when it is time for the role reversal with a parent. Know how difficult and terribly exhausting it is...but you will never regret the effort you gave. Bless you and your father...Jan

1890* said...

You are an amazing woman! ...A true hero in the value of family.
*Love and prayers to you-God Bless you Robin!

Kathy L. said...

Love and prayers to you and your family. You are a strong person.

Kathy

Lori said...

Hugs to you Robin.

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