I think my father’s recent illness and brush with death has been a shock for everyone in the family. You are immediately reduced. Humbled by the experience. You know what’s important and what isn’t. Time seems to elongate and become meaningless. I felt how precious this person was to me. Here was my father, who was always hale and hearty, now gasping for air; his deep brown eyes faded to murky blue. He, who had nurtured me and supported me, now needed my support. I remember the feeling of desperate gratitude I had that first time I saw him in hospital, when I grabbed for his hand and it was still warm.

When my father slipped into delirium, he no longer knew who we were. I sat by dad’s bedside holding his hand, talking to him, while he recounted random sequences of numbers. It was terrifying.

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The family rallied, my sisters flew in from London and Austin. We kept a family vigil at his bedside, offering him constant drinks (which seemed to restore some of his cognitive powers), and we continued to have conversations with him and ask him questions. We kept him talking. My eldest sister had supplied us with information on how to help patients out of delirium. So we asked him questions: what his name was what day it was, how many children he had, where he was born and so on, to keep his mind active and the cogs spinning.

Within ten days, my father had made what the doctors termed a miraculous recovery. His lungs were clear in the x-rays, which they said would have been difficult for a twenty-five year old to achieve.

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The doctors were so pleased, that two weeks after being admitted to hospital with double pneumonia, my father was released home with a “fancy” walking frame and into the care of our family and local nurses.

We had gone in to dad’s home in between whiles and cleaned it from the rafters to the floorboards. Once we got him home, we showed him how to dry his home out in winter and we bought him a dehumidifier. We’ve helped him see he needs to light his fire during the day as well as at night to be warm in winter.

Dad admitted he’d given himself a fright. It’s hard to see his inner struggle as he works to come to terms with the fact that this has aged him greatly. A few days after returning home, the keys to the church were collected off him by another member of the congregation. The job of counting the collection money each week was also taken off dad’s shoulders and given to another member of the church. As he is unable to do these jobs at present it makes sense to delegate them.

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We keep telling him it’s temporary, when in reality, none of us know what the outcome will be. Yet, I think for a man of my father’s generation it’s particularly difficult when you have such a sense of pride. It’s hard for him to lose the ballast of that sense of “usefulness.”

We are aiming to help dad transition fully back to the independent life he once had, if possible. But he went a long way down and he still has way to come back up again. He lost a lot of weight and his appetite is greatly reduced therefore he needs to rebuild body mass, muscle and strength. Dad’s doing as well as can be expected for an 85-year-old who has been seriously ill. He’s still a bit wobbly. We’ve noticed he is bit more forgetful.

001 (2)As a family we want to keep dad in his own home as long as possible. Home is where he wants to be, where he can still make the fire each day, tend the garden and feed his wild birds.

Even so, my sisters, who have been nursing him, tell me dad is ‘down,’ the opposite of his normal happy self. My two younger sons and I will relieve them soon and take our shift to stay with him. The boys will cheer him up with their rambunctiousness.

Whatever happens, our family will move heaven and earth to make sure dad stays where he wants to be, in his own home until the end.

It’s our turn to look after you now, dad, as you’ve always looked after all of us….

papa bear and me

Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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Wealth is the ability to fully experience life. ~ Henry David Thoreau

 

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Comments
  1. lynnkelleyauthor says:

    Your dad has been through the wringer and your whole family were pulled along with him. Each of you suffered and worried and fought for him. What an amazing recovery. Your family apparently did all the right things. So thank you for sharing that valuable information to keep asking them questions and keep them talking when a loved one is suffering from delirium. Very scary for all of you. Yes, it sure puts everything into perspective. I’m so glad family members are taking turns to be with him. Being in his familiar surroundings is so important for him to continue to recover.

    I wonder how long my folks will be able to stay in their home. It’s so hard to watch our parents age and decline. Making the right decisions as far as what’s in their best interest isn’t easy. Especially for my father, staying in their home is the best thing for someone with Alzheimer’s, but it’s so much for my mom to care for him plus care for herself when she’s got multiple health issues. We know the day is coming when big changes will need to be made, and none of us is looking forward to that day. We can only hope for the best, right, and make time to be with them as often as possible. Your father is blessed to have your boys to cheer him up. Yay for the lively silliness and fun-loving goofy antics young ones bring to the table. Hugs hugs hugs to all of you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      Hi Lynnie, yes, he’s been to hell and back. When I first arrived at the hospital, in his delirium he’d devolved into babble. Dad was saying, “I’m knackerated.” And, ‘I’m lost.” It was heartbreaking to witness.
      I think he’s used to being fit and active which is making the transition to a slower lifestyle more of a challenge.
      When you think about it, he essentially lost his marbles for ten days and when he “woke up” again, he’d aged ten years. He’s questioning his relevance to the world now. Maybe that’s just a natural stage of aging?
      Your mum is a hero still looking after your dad. It’s so hard.

      I got together with old girlfriends last weekend. One said she’d been going through something similar with her mum in hospital with heart issues, having to have a stent put in and so on. She said ‘It’s scary isn’t it? Looking at our mortality and all that.’ And I had to agree. In fact, I thought this is when friends are really important.

      So I encourage you to keep communicating and sharing the burden, my friend. Let’s support one another on this rough road called life. And good luck for George’s next procedure!

      Like

  2. Your poor dad. Pride is huge for that generation. Making the fire is at least something. It is quite rare to stay in your own home till the end. What a great thing to do if he can. All the best x

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      Yes. He’s so independent. When the hospital tried to outfit dad with a walker he was indignant. “I’ve walked just fine on my own for eighty-five years, thank you!”
      Funny story, the whole time he was in hospital, dad was a “flight risk” and had to be kept in wards who had “watchers,” staff who watch the patients throughout the day. Dad had to have a watcher in his room because every time he felt slightly better, he tried to go home. He knew he hadn’t built the fire the day he left and he was preoccupied with getting back to lay the fire and do his chores! Sheesh, dad.

      Like

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