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Monday, November 07, 2005

I'm Back Alive!

(Take the title any way you prefer.)

The trip to New York was grueling. And it hasn't been much better since I got back to Wisconsin, but hopefully things will slow down a little over the next few days.

I guess it's been a while since I last flew. Although there is still within me the six year old boy, excited about flying through the air on a big airplane, face plastered up against the window staring down as the buildings and cars and farms and lakes get smaller and smaller, the industry has been working hard to take that joy away from me. At about the time that I was standing in yet another line, my ticket and driver's license in my teeth, my wallet and PDA in one hand, my cell phone in another, my beeper in another, taking off my belt and simultaneously holding up my pants with another hand, and holding both shoes with my last hand (I counted six hands there), I decided that flying was no longer much fun.

Of course I went to see my Dad. Veni, Vidi, Vici. I came, I saw, I got pissed off. I can't blame any one person. The whole system stinks. The hospital is sorely understaffed and many people seem to suffer from the "it's not my problem" syndrome. There were a few people I came across who were exceptions, like the physicians assistant who, although she was just covering, took time out to go through the chart with me and write some much needed orders (like for my father to be taken out of bed for the first time in ten days), but even they were in over their heads and readily acknowledged that they would like to be helping more, but they can't be in ten places at once.

Once again, I'm glad I don't have to practice medicine there. Anyway, after that I got in my rented Dodge Neon (a sweet little car) and took my Mom into Manhattan to pick up Fudge. Only I didn't realize it was the day of the New York Marathon. Various streets were closed or diverted, and no dose of Benicar was able to keep my blood pressure in check. The restaurant was good and deserves a post of its own. Although my mom found some curious similarities between the hospital and the restaurant that made her laugh out loud. Several times. Well, it's good she can laugh about it.

Anyway, I'm glad I went. Seeing the situation really helped. My Dad's main problem is that although his mind works well, it is disconnected from the world around him by failing vision, poor hearing, and a body that doesn't work too well. No wonder he's depressed.

I think I was angry with him before this trip. Why doesn't he try more? Why is he just sitting there? Why doesn't he look at his grandkids and talk to them? Why won't he stay awake? Sitting with him in the hospital, I began to ask myself what I would do in his situation. I'm developing more of an empathy with him. I think my anger with him was partially a fear for my own future. I don't want to see myself in that bed in 40 years. What can I do, now, to get myself off that path? And is it too late to turn him around?


Stacey said...

You have already taken steps to keep yourself off the same path. And hopefully it is not too late for your Dad.

It's got to be depressing when your body fails you in so many ways. I am glad you have an understanding and empathy for what he's going through. And I am even gladder that you made the trip and fixed some things with his care.

Shira Salamone said...

I'm glad you got to see your father and were able to help out. I imagine that'll help *both* of you feel better, in the long run.

Speaking of long runs, you might want to do yourself a long-term favor and get off coffee again, or at least cut way back. Herb tea, anyone? Love the stuff, myself.

Um, this is going to sound like one of those stupid suggestions, but you know where I'm coming from. Or didn't I ever mention that, in addition to my son, my mother and first cousin are also hard of hearing, as was my maternal grandmother? Has your father ever considered hearing aids? Unfortunately, because hearing is a much more complicated process than vision, it's not yet possible to give a person with hearing loss perfect hearing with even the fanciest hearing aids. Nevertheless, they can be very helpful. Assuming, of course, that their outrageous cost doesn't discourage him too much.

If I'm preaching to the choir, I apologize.

MC Aryeh said...

It is so difficult to watch someone you love age. Certainly makes you feel your own mortality. How was seeing Fudge?

Jack's Shack said...

That is a hard thing to do and to see. When my father was sick last year he went through a very bad period of time in which he was very depressed. It wasn't easy for him or us.

Ezzie said...

Sorry it was so tough. Refuah shleimah to your dad.

Essie said...

Although we have to be thankful for every aspect of health and longevity, it seems that when the patient is mentally OK, it's harder to deal with the physical limitations. Refua Sheleima to your Dad. Sounds like dinner with your Mom and Fudge was nice, so your trip wasn't all depressing.

tuesdaywishes said...

Oy,oy,oy. I know there are lots of reasons to be angry at your dad, but i really, really advise you to try to forgive him and release yourself from that anger while he's still here. When a person is in pain, they just can't see past it. Their world shrinks to the room they are in, maybe just to their own body, and they really CAN'T care about anything past that. If he knows you were there, then at some level, he does appreciate the effort it took for you to get there. Try to believe that he is trying as hard as he can right now.

As for yourself, focus on happiness and not on annoyances or other negativity. It might not make you live longer (though there is research that it does) but you'll enjoy the time you have more. And take care of your teeth! Long-term low-level inflammmations such as gum disease are now thought to play a very big role in heart disease.

Kiwi the Geek said...

Physical deterioration is rough. But IMO, mental deterioration is much worse, especially for those who are forced to sit idly and watch it happen. I hope your dad will regain his vitality, even if he doesn't get everything 'fixed'. And, um, refuah shleima. (Get well soon?)