Dad’s Sick

My dad is in the hospital. He went in last Sunday with heavy sweating, shortness of breath and PVCs (one kind of arrythmia). They kept him until Wednesday, trying to figure out what was causing the problems, but they didn’t find anything. They just increased his insulin, since his blood sugar level is apparently not under control. He stayed home Thursday by himself and by noon had called the ambulance because he was having pressure in his chest, heavy sweating and he felt like he was about to pass out. He said that he knew that if he had waited for my mom to come home from work he wouldn’t be here. He was scared out of his mind and so am I.

I’m out of being strong energy. I am very scared. They still haven’t figured out what is going on with him. He was wearing a heart monitor when he had the last episode, but it showed nothing. That’s strange to me since the EMT said he was in atrial fibrillation when they got to him. They are doing a catheterization Monday to see if the stints they put in 2 years ago are still in place or if something else is wrong. He has not had a heart attack. But these close calls are so scary. I love my dad. He’s only 61. I’m not ready to start thinking about life without him. I walked out of the ER to make a phone call on Thursday and when I came back in I heard a woman wailing, “Oh, no!!” I thought for sure it was my mom. I don’t ever want to feel that feeling that went through me in that instant ever again.

My dad is in the same hospital where his sister died 2 years ago. He’s on the same floor. We went walking yesterday, so he could get out of the bed, and when we got to “the room” he goes, “Yep, that’s the one. That’s where Sharon died.” I knew then that he’s been thinking about it from the second he got there. The smell of the floor is the smell of her death in my mind. It triggers my sense memory of those horrible last couple of times I saw her. I don’t want my daddy to die ever, but I know that’s unrealistic. I’m not ready to think about all of this, but the truth is that he and my mom both have health problems. I am angry with them often, because I don’t think they take their health as seriously as I want them to. The docs prescribe meds and they take them. More and more meds every year. I’m not against medicine, but they don’t change how they live, how they eat. That’s so frustrating to me.

Yesterday I was talking to my dad and he was joking with a nurse in his room about sneaking out of there to get a steak and cheese. I said, “If you ever eat another steak and cheese I’ll hit you.” I know that was mean and it sounded like I was blaming him for being in this situation, but it was the most honest thing I could have said to him at that moment. I am not willing to cook for them every night, so in that sense, I don’t have much to say about it. I just wish they would do better. I wish they would exercise. I wish they would stop eating junk.

Then there’s my mom. I don’t really talk about her much here because she is so sensitive (fragile) that I can’t really risk anything I say here getting back to her. Suffice it to say that she will not do very well if something else happens to my dad. Especially if he dies. I don’t think that what’s going on right now makes that imminent, but I wasn’t so sure earlier this week. When he had the stints put in 2 years ago, he got really sick – an infection that wouldn’t clear – that he was out of work past the 12 weeks FMLA allows and they fired him. This was not the first time my dad has been out of work. He was burned when I was 8 and out of work for 8 years. He went back to work for 10 years or so and was laid off when there was a change in leadership at his job. He was out of work for 5 years I think and when he got the new job, they fired him after he got sick. I know that is on my mom’s mind now. They have used up all of their retirement trying to keep things going during my dad’s non-working periods and hers. She was laid off after 30 years at the same job. It took her 2 years or so to find work again. This all worries me.

It worries me that I’m not really in much of a position financially to do much about whatever goes down, and it worries me that I don’t know what their state of affairs is. I know that they have contingencies if someone dies, but I don’t know what happens if one of them is sick and unable to work for a long period of time. My dad seems to get sicker and sicker every year. I really don’t know how much longer he’s going to be able to work full time. He makes a lot of money, and their livelihood depends on his salary.

This is all very frustrating and emotionally exhausting for me.


14 thoughts on “Dad’s Sick

  1. I don’t know you, but I spotted your post in the WordPress Health tag.

    I’m very sorry to read about your parents’ health and job difficulties. Your dad, despite his current heart problems, must be an incredibly strong person to pick himself up and start again after losing a job twice due to health issues beyond his control.

    I lost my dad to a heart attack almost 25 years ago. I still think about him and feel regret about the lost years, those life experiences I could not share with him.

    The very best way we can love and honor our parents is to take care of our own health. If we are strong, we can support them in their time of need, and after they pass, they live on in our hearts.

    I wish your family strength in coping with the health and financial challenges you’re facing.

  2. You love your dad so much, I don’t think you’ll ever be able to think of life w/out him, no matter how old or ill he is. He’s always going to be your daddy, the exceptional exception to logic or platitudes. If your love for him constituted his heart function, he’d be in perfect health.

    If you can handle financial planning or know someone who can, you could help your parents (if they let you) that way.

    My thoughts are with you and your cherished paterfamilias. One of my mother’s sayings:
    Curita, curita sana.
    Lo que no se cura hoy, se curará mañana.

  3. Thank you so much, Macarena. I do love my daddy.

    I also feel like a whiney baby when I consider you and friends of mine who have already lost a parent. I should be grateful that they are both still with me. But the contemplation is very scary.

  4. I think one of the hardest things in life is to watch your love ones be ill and be helpless to make it better. Speaking as a daddy’s girl myself, I can only imagine how terrible you must feel. My thoughts are with you and am wishing all sorts of healing and good stuff. besos

  5. Aw, Lex, you don’t seem whiny at all, but whining wouldn’t be inappropriate. Your feelings are what they are; you can’t be objective about someone you hold so dear. You’re a lot closer to your dad than I was to my mom when she died, and I’ve never been close to my dad. You can’t be expected to be considerate of others in the midst of your fear. I think you are grateful to have him, hence your ongoing concerns about his lifestyle.

    I don’t think of my loss and mutter to myself how lucky you are or whatever. I can see your situation on its own, without returning to or wallowing in mine, and I have perspective because it is your situation, not mine. It’s like I’ve crossed the water ahead of you, but I’m not waiting for you; I hope you won’t have to cross.

  6. As I said to you before, we are what’s called the “sandwhich generation” trying to take care of our parents and our children at the same time. Caring for my father while he was sick was one of the most difficult periods of my life so I understand how you feel. We expect our parents to stay young forever and to always be the ones to take care of us.

    For me it became the thought of wanting to do for him what he had done for me when I was a kid and I was sick. Giving him all of his favorite things and sitting by his bedside holding his hand. Because we knew it was the end for him, it became an opportunity to leave nothing unsaid and to express all the feelings that I had for him. The conversations that he and I had during the three weeks before he died left me kowing him better than I ever thought I would.

    The good news is that we know your dad is going to get better, but you should still take this opportunity to leave nothing unsaid. Make sure that you have no regrets. I am thankful that I had an opportunity to do this with my dad. It made his passing slightly more bearable.

  7. Lexie, I’m so sorry that you and your family have to deal with these very real and devastating problems.

    And you’re right. 61 is too young. I hope your dad recovers from this quickly and goes on to renewed good health.

    Both your parents are very lucky to have you. I know that you do everything in your power to make their lives as good as possible.

    Sending good thoughts and prayers your way always.

  8. Thank you so much to everyone for your well wishes. My dad is doing a little better. The scheduled another catheterization and then canceled it. The ruled out arrythmia. It turns out that he has a bacterial infection. We found out today that it is in his heart valve (among other places, I guess). I don’t know all of the details yet.

    He’s still in the hospital, but it doesn’t seem as bad as we thought it was before. They said that this type of infection could have killed him within 3 days had it gone untreated.

    Thanks again, everyone.

  9. Pingback: Reving Up for Fall « Fine Tuning

  10. I hope you are ok. I’m going through the same with my dad. I understand how scary and painful it is at the same time.

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