Thursday, August 11, 2011

Illusions & Hope

This past Saturday Kim and I went to Bowling Green to spend the day with daddy.  I've been spending two or three days a week in BG, but Kim hadn't been to see daddy since he had been home from the hospital.  We got to dad's place and it was remarkable how well he was doing!  He had great color, his eyes were bright and clear and he was very talkative.  Just a couple of days before he was depressed, quiet and seemingly so weak you wondered if he would even draw his next breath.  Now here he was sitting up, engaging in conversation and even asked me to make him half a chicken salad sandwich with sliced tomatoes from the garden on it.  He ate all but a breadcrust then asked for cake!  This is the man who two days before ate 1/2 a cup of oatmeal and an ice cream bar and that was forced down.  I was amazed.  What is this...acceptance of his future?  Making the best of the time he had left?  It was the best I had seen him in months, honestly. 

Sunday when I called to check on him and again on Monday, he had a lilt in his voice, was chatting about the visitors he had those days and just sounded stronger.  Again I wondered, is this acceptance, is he honestly feeling better, is it the miracle I've prayed for in between the prayers for just making his suffering end?  I felt this spark of something in my being that had not been there for weeks.  It was this little flame of hope.  A friend said to me the past Saturday night that as long as there was a spark of hope, anything could happen.  I've been beating myself up a good bit the past couple of months because I just didn't have any hope for my dad's future.  Before his diagnosis, I knew in my heart it was lung cancer and that it was bad while everyone else had hope it was something treatable.  When the oncologist mentioned the chemo pill that he may be able to take, I knew it wasn't going to be able to help him while others hoped it would.  When he said once daddy got to go home and was able to regain some strength that traditional chemotherapy might be an option, I knew that he was never going to get stronger while others hoped he would.  I've felt sincerely shitty about my lack of hope. 

Those who know me know I am a half full kind of gal.  I usually am pretty good at keeping a positive outlook on things.  Hell, I dont think I could have survived certain things in my life if I was pessimistic all the time.  Daddy's well being over the weekend really got me hoping that he did feel better and would be able to embrace the rest of his life and find some joy in it.  I was so excited about getting to his place last night so I could spend hours visiting with him and chatting about our history and fishing and ballgames and golf and how Tiger Woods sucks.  My illusions were quickly dashed when I walked in last night.  In the three days since I last saw my father, his physical appearance has changed greatly.  His cheeks are sunken, his body even more frail and he is so pale he is almost translucent.  Getting him ready for bed last night, I realized he is even weaker than three days prior and that the smallest task, like brushing his teeth is as exhausing to him as running a marathon would be to me. 

Today Jan took a break from her role as main caretaker and got out of the house early to enjoy some shopping, lunch out and the opportunity to recharge a bit.  She said daddy has usually been getting up and moving to his den by about 9:30 or 10:00.  At 11:00 when I couldn't wake him I began to be concerned.  He is diabetic and I was certain his sugar level must be extremely low.  I tried three different times to get him to sit up and drink some orange juice to regulate his blood sugar.  He could not stay awake longer than a minute or two.  At noon I started to feel a bit panicked and was in tears when the hospice nurse dropped by to bring us some pain medication.  She assured me that leaving him sleeping was the thing to do, not to be concerned with his blood sugar, his morning medications that he missed or anything else.  Excessive sleeping is a natural part of the dying process, she said.  At 12:30 he finally wanted to get up.  It took from 12:30 until 2:10 to get his face washed, him to the bathroom, dressed and moved to the den, where he promptly fell asleep in his chair.  He has eaten about 3 bites of solid food and drank an Ensure all day and only used the bathroom twice.  I know his kidneys are beginning to fail.  Tomorrow we have to take him to the doctor, although Lord only knows why.  He is already dreading going out because it is so exhausting for him. 

I guess when I started writing this entry, it was really about my lack of hope.  I have realized that I do have hope though.  I hope this is over for him soon.  It breaks my heart to think of losing my daddy whom I adore and putting that into words seems almost cruel in some ways, but there is where my hope lies.  Not in illusions of wellness that is not there. 

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