Sunday, April 24, 2011
This is a really hard blog to write, unbelieveably hard, and one which is going to require a large box of tissues to write.
For the past months my health has not been good - no one major thing, but just one health problem after another. These past weeks I have been having trouble with being able to eat anything and keep it down. No trouble eating, just that it wouldn't stay where it was meant to. Constant visits to my doctor who did all manner of tests and found nothing there to explain the reason helped relieve my worries, but still it continued, and along came the migraines, then the complete lack of energy, then my arthritis flared up to be as bad as it ever was at its worst. The list goes on...
As most of you will know, Dad is in our local nursing home, and each day a little more of him slips away. My family have chosen to believe that I brought him here to live with me solely to exploit him, thanks to my sister's conversations and phone calls. No one, other than two of my daughters, have been near him now the end is drawing closer, and even phone calls to family members were never returned, no one even called the nursing home for an update on Dad's condition. I am there with him each day, even though he most times doesn't know me, tells me to go away, but then at other times he lies or sits there holding my hand for hours. I will continue to be there for him, just as he was always there for me whenever I needed him - never ever had to ask, he just knew when he was needed.
After being hospitalized for several hours again yesterday, my doctor has laid it on the line for me - I either remove all commitments from my life, focus solely on my own health, or I will be faced with more than the prospect of having to postpone the rest of my Aged Care course, I will be unable to work at any time in the future. He has agreed I can still go spend time with Dad each day, knows that to be forced to give that up will just make things much much worse, but that's it. Everything else has had to be dropped, and done so immediately.
I know I need to do this, I know I need time to myself, I know I am falling apart physically as well as emotionally, but it really hurts to have to leave Spark People behind till I am better. I have to realize I don't have the ability to bounce back from things as I did when I was in my teens and 20s. As he said yesterday, I will be 60 in 2 1/2 years from now, and if I'm not going to start acting like a responsible adult, when do I plan to start?
So,,, I won't be round for some months, but you will all be in my thoughts and prayers each and every day, and when I am better and am able to, I will be back to catch up on all the wonderful things in your lives I have missed out on hearing about.
In the meantime though, I have had to leave Lexie as the sole leader of 'Finding and Loving Your Inner Tigger' team, and have just had to notify Thiagram, who herself was taking a break from leading 'Sparkling Knitters' that I had to go as of now. Please, if you can help lead these teams, contact the leaders on the team page. Don't just expect them to carry on without help - specially Thiagram, cos she asked me to take over from her. Please, if a few of you get together, you would only have to do a little each to help keep the teams up and running.
Think about it at least.
I am so sorry to have to go with no notice whatsoever, but if not this, then I am facing extended hospitalization, and need to be here for Dad, my dogs and my cats, and my daughters of course. Please understand and forgive me for having to leave in this way. This is definitely something I want to do, or ever thought I'd have to.
Love and good luck to you all. Thank you for all the love and friendship and for all the laughs and information we have shared in the past. Hopefully it won't be too long before we can again, God willing.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
I just want to thank those wonderful fellow Sparkers, friends and team mates who read and gave their opinion on the question I asked in yesterday's blog. Read them a short while ago, had tears in my eyes while doing so, but they were tears of gratitude for having people such as you in my life, telling me what I need to hear, giving their honest opinion when asked. You are all such a blessing in my life.
I finally got some exercise yesterday - walked to the main street for a little shopping, from there to see Dad, and then a few hours later continued on through the park around the lake opposite the nursing home, watched the ducks, past the barbecue and playground areas, and through the open space on the other side where the carnival people are getting ready for tomorrow evening's carnival opening.
This week is the first of two weeks' school holidays, and tourists and regular visitors to our town are starting to arrive. The playground was filled with children having a wonderful time in the lovely sunshine, making new friends, renewing old ones. Our quiet country town really comes alive each Easter, people from all over the world arrive here annually, accommodation is usually booked a year ahead - this is the home of the Stawell Easter Gift, one of the world's most prestigious foot races, which will be held on Tuesday this year.
I walked the rest of the way home, glad I was in the sunshine, getting a little gentle exercise, and feeling again that thrill of excitement at the prospect of our town and the surrounding area really pulling out all the stops to offer entertainment of as wide a variety as possible in order to help persuade those here for the Gift to stay a little longer, help boost our local economy. Last year a few friends and I went to the carnival on the Thursday night - it only runs till the Gift final is run, and the locals generally go on the first night where we don't have to queue for rides, etc. We aren't used to having to line up and wait here in our town, not very often anyway - one of the benefits of living here. Hoping maybe we can take another trip back to our childhood again tomorrow night...
Today I will take that same walk again, and check out the progress that's been made with the carnival preparations, see if any carnival rides have been set up since yesterday. For anyone interested in learning a little more about what brings our town to life each year, or anyone interested in footraces, here is the link to some info on the Stawell Easter Gift -
Monday, April 18, 2011
What follows below is something I just posted on the Caregivers' team daily chat board. I am still so uncertain as to whether I did the right or wrong thing, keep telling myself I need this, I need time out for myself if I'm to be able to be there for Dad as I need to be. I would appreciate your thoughts on whether or not I have done the right thing...
..Yesterday I took a giant leap of faith, as a result of the constant reminders from my friends of my promise, and at the suggestion of my doctor - I agreed to take 5 days away in early June to fly with two friends (one the niece of the other) to the Gold Coast and have a complete break, go do the theme parks, hopefully catch up with my daughter, grandson and granddaughter one day, and just relax and be 'me' again for a while. This trip originally was scheduled for my birthday October 2009, but Mum was admitted to hospital as her health failed (cancer) so the others took my 'birthday trip', brought back photos and gifts for me. Last year we planned it again, were about to book, and Dad became unwell in the nursing home, and my friends' father was hospitalized with complications from his cancer treatment.
Yesterday, after speaking with nursing home staff, we did it - we booked our trip. Sure, Dad is slowly deteriorating and my friends' father/grandfather is too, but we all NEED to take a break and just relax for a while.
Hoping and praying everything is going to be ok, but I am prepared to fly home at a moment's notice, as are my friends, should something happen. As nursing staff said yesterday, Dad could still be hanging on to life as he is now in 6, 9, 12 months from now. They encouraged me to go while I am able, rather than waiting longer and having more chance of his health deteriorating.
Still trying to convince myself I am doing the right thing - know it mentally, just doubtful emotionally.
...Please, be honest. Am I doing the right thing?
Sunday, April 17, 2011
These past weeks seem to have been filled with one thing after another going wrong, but, as the old song says,' there is a season, turn, turn, turn...'
Dad is holding his own, still just a matter of time, but the immediate danger has passed and although there is less of the Dad of old there than before, we are still blessed with being able to visit with him, and I go feed him his meals each day, sit holding his hand, and at least now he isn't in any pain, nor is he worrying about everyone and everything as he was.
The old house is over and done with, and I managed to fit in times between Dad's being awake to get the last of the heavy cleaning done, the yard cleaned, the outside looking as I wanted it to. Received a visit and a phone call from the agent handling the property to tell me he and the owner were grateful that I had left it in a far better condition, and with new drapes and blinds, light fittings, etc. than when I took over the lease. I loved the house, leaving those things was my parting gift to it, but it now feels like that chapter of my life is closed, and a new one is opened, filled with possibilities.
Computer problems appeared overnight, first one thing, then another. At first I couldn't get any response when I turned it on, and it just sat there ignoring me, sleeping while I tried all I could. Got an IT tech, luckily the son of a good friend, to check it out, and the problem was resolved reasonably quickly, but he did warn me there was a chance of further problems occurring because the 'something' - can't remember what he called it, may have been damaged.
Yes, he was right, and so it led to me being computerless for some days, and what should have been a fairly hefty repair bill. Luckily, he has the same attitude to life as I do, that we share what we no longer need with those who don't have so much, and he only charged me the cost price for parts, no labor, saying I'd given them enough furniture, tools, etc. that I no longer needed, when they were doing it hard, so this was by way of thanking me. Can't tell you how wonderful it is to be surrounded by friends and neighbours who feel that way.
I was coping ok with Dad's deteriorating condition emotionally, because we had had many discussions about what Dad wanted as regards being allowed to die with dignity compared with being kept alive with no quality of life. I still have my Dad, not quite the same Dad as he was, but the fact that he is still here is because he held on to life, not that I made the decision for him. He is calm, not worrying, and just sits there in his chair quietly, no signs of stress. Once the immediate danger was over, maybe 4 or 5 days ago (I too seem to have completely lost any sense of time just now), I suddenly became ill. Everything was ok, but couldn't keep any food or drinks down. My doctor tells me it's my body's reaction to all that has been happening, that where for some people these things effect them emotionally, for me it was this. Getting over it slowly, meds to help settle my stomach, and it will disappear just as it has at other stressful times.
A friend has moved into my old house, and he loves it. He has always been there to help anyone who needed anything, and this is the beginning of a whole new chapter of his life too. He is leaving all the memories of his health problems, being defrauded out of what money he had saved, the feeling of hopelessness, and is finding the same joy in that house as I did. To see the happiness on his face, the sparkle in his eyes that has been missing for so many years, really makes me believe that house has some elusive, almost magical, restorative property about it.
I have just weighed myself, and since my last weigh in, maybe 4 weeks ago (guessing, as I said, the days seem to have run into each other of late) I have gained 5 pounds. No exercise, eating things my wonderful caring friends prepared for me, my own choices of drive-thru fast food for dinner at ungodly hours of the night when I was too exhausted to cook, all these things helped add those pounds. Small price to pay for what has happened in my life during that time, and I know I will get rid of them little by little, thanks to Spark People, my Spark Teams, my Spark friends... just a need to return to a healthier, more energetic lifestyle, watch what I eat a little more closely. No biggie.
I just want to let you all know, all you wonderfully caring, supportive fellow team mates and Sparkers, that I am so very grateful for all your support and for the love you have shown through this time. I have had some really great, caring friends around me, feeding me, helping me in any way I needed dhelp, and just being there for me. It is wonderful to be so blessed as to have that support here on Spark People as well.
This is definitely 'my' song of late. Hope you take the time to listen to the lyrics, enjoy a trip back in time for those old enough to remember when it was first released... Enjoy - the song, and every moment of your days.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Firstly, sorry about my complete disappearance from Spark People for a few days, but Dad needed me by his side constantly, and I also had to finish the floor to ceiling clean of the old house, which I fitted in when Dad was a little better and was sleeping while one of the wonderful nursing staff sat with him. Deal was that if he woke, they would call immediately and I'd drop what I was doing and return. As for sleep, I've managed to get a few hours each day, so doing ok.
As things stand, he is still hanging in there, his breathing is a little easier, the oxygen is now only being used when he is having difficulties, and the constant fluid build up in his system is being taken care of with increased diuretics. As for his heart, it's just a matter of time, he knows what's happening, wants me to be with him all the time. He panics when he wakes and I'm not there holding his hand, but staff cal me immediately and I go back, spend time with him till its safe to disappear for an hour or two.
I called my sister, left a message on her machine explaining what the situation was with Dad, but it produced no result. She has totally ignored the fact that Dad wanted to see her, didn't even call the nursing home to check on him, won't return my calls, so I have given up. My eldest daughter's reaction was also disappointing, just said to let her know what happened, say hi to him, she had to go do the housework, cut the call.
Positives? Yes, there are some, definitely.
Dad knows he is not long for this world, has told me he is looking forward to being with Mum again, to seeing her free of pain. Says its been tearing him apart since she passed away to think of her and have the mind picture of her as she was in her final hours. He wants to be with her again and see her free of pain, and with that smile on her face she constantly used to have. He is actually looking forward to the end.
But... I called Julie, who was set to jump on the next plane, was going to do whatever it took to get her to be with her Pop, till I persuaded her to wait, to see what happens. Dad doesn't want her to come down, says he would just be causing her added stress, so please wait till he's better, if that happens, then come to see him under better circumstances, or to come say bye to him at the funeral. She will do as he asked. I told her its her decision, but no, she will do as her Pop asks, same as always.
Fiona, although she was meant to be spending at least another few days in bed, got in the car and drove straight up to be with her Pop and I, only stopping to print up some photos of the wedding and put them in an album for Dad to see, to honour her promise to him that she would do so next time she saw him. The look on his face when he saw her walking down the corridor towards his room was one of absolute happiness. He was so vague, so confused, but he grinned and said 'Fiona's come!'. I left them together for a while, they both had things they needed and wanted to say to each other, and when I returned they were both smiling and holding hands.
After Dad being given a mild sedative,, fell asleep for a while, and Fiona and I went over to the house, worked like crazy for 3 hours, then moved the last of the stuff over here. She was determined she was going to help me with it, no way would she take no for an answer. We had a really good talk about Dad, about his wishes, about what we would both like to include in his final farewell. Fiona left late that afternoon, refused the offer of a friend of mine driving her home, as independent as her grandfather, lol. She is coping with the effects of the stress of Dad's illness on her fibromyalgia and emotions by making up a video of Dad's favourite music, photos and wording, from as far back as we have the photos till the current time. This will be a part of his funeral service. He loved the one she did for Mum and Dad's 59th wedding anniversary, said then he'd love one for his funeral... she is making sure she does all she can to grant his wish.
My friends and neighbours have been a tower of strength, have fed and walked the dogs, fussed over the cats, helped me with the house, mown my lawns, etc. One friend has helped me each time I went to clean the house, and brought freshly cooked meals with her. Definitely not meals which will help my weight remain at goal, but at this point in time, I don't really care. The love that has gone into each and every meal has been far more important.
To the teams I haven't had time to post to, sorry, hopefully I will be back in the next day or so. Dad is ok at the moment, but I will stay beside him as long as he feels the need to have me by his side. He worries about me getting 'the call', wants me to be there with him so I know he is at peace, rather than feeling guilty because I wasn't beside him. He has to be my first priority, just as I have been his during most of my life as a single parent.
Please understand that I am with you all in spirit, even though not on the team message boards, not posting. I am, however, sending love and support to each and every one of you, and a promise I will be back to normal just as soon as I can be. Sorry I have just had to abandon the teams temporarily. I'll be back to normal within the next few days, as Dad comes to terms with the fact that there is every chance he will be here for a while yet. It's just the uncertainty and disbelief of that fact that means he needs me so much just now.
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