Saturday, July 7, 2012


It’s foolish to make plans when my days are so unpredictable, but plans I made.  Al flew in from London last night to see her parents at a neighboring adult community.  Twenty years ago, someone had the foresight to market NJ as the new Florida, evident by the dozens of adult communities, hospitals, medical centers, and care facilities.  Most families from the town I grew up in have relocated to this region to retire.  I hoped to see Al today, run a few errands, get some work done and vacuum my parents’ house.  When the doctor from the care facility called at 1030am and said my father had extremely low blood pressure and was unresponsive I abruptly left the house.   To see anyone in such acute pain, especially a parent is heart breaking.  My father was aware of my presence as I held his hand while the medics transferred him to a gurney.  Choking on each breath, made speaking difficult, so he would take my hand to his lips and kiss it. No one deserves to live or die this way, and I question the application of modern medicine.  Yes, the chemo shrunk his tumor, but it also suppressed his immune system resulting in a 103 fever, an extremely low white blood cell count, a urinary track infection and water in his right lung.  I held his hand as he moaned in pain, bed sores festered on his butt from the bone marrow test, and infection raged in his body.  And still, he didn’t complain.  He told me it would be okay and not to cry.  He continually thanked me for my love.  After 5 hours in the ER he was admitted to the critical care unit.  Rubbing his head and stroking his hand I said goodbye and wished him a peaceful, morphine induced rest.  I’m typically not big on pain meds, but I was all for reducing the agitation in his body.  His legs were twitching, and his body ached from another day of probing and prodding, and weeks of lying in bed.  My mother is still in recovery from her surgery last week, and was spared seeing my father in this state.  A blessing I’m sure, but interesting that she is so removed from my father’s decline.  “He’s better and more comfortable now,” she stated when I returned home.  Not sure if she’s in denial or if it’s just too extreme for her to even imagine.  My father said to tell her he loves her, but he hasn’t asked for her.  I often let him know she’s home recovering, or she’d be there by his side, but I can’t imagine her there.  This is a reality, a world I’m not sure she wants to witness, and perhaps it’s best for her not to have these images in her head.  I don’t judge how people handle such situations, but I’m fascinating by the wide range of behavior.  Eight of us clinked our glasses tonight and toasted my father.  “To life”, we declared as the sky darkened and a electrical storm raged.  And to crossing over, I thought, as I pictured my father in his hospital struggling for every breath. 

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