Posted in Familial Unit

A Daughter’s Journey with Her Dad: The Final Good-Bye

“I will be right by my Dad’s side, covering his six.  I Love You, Dad, you will survive for many years to come if I have anything to say or do about it.” ~Me, November 21, 2015

Event-01-CD1We only made 9 months, Dad.  My heart is empty without you here with me.

Our Journey together was short-lived but full of many fun and scary memories.

On November 21, 2015, I wrote my first blog entry about my Dad, A Daughter’s Journey with Her Dad: The Battle, and almost nine months to that day, I felt my Dad take his last breath.

On February 17, 2016, I wrote my second blog entry about my Dad, A Daughter’s Journey with Her Dad: The Twist, in which I shared with you, Dear Bloggites, that my Dad’s Doctor told me he was on his downhill slope and we had to take it one day at a time now.  The doctor also told me he did not want any of my family members to even inquire about “three months from now” because he could not guarantee that my Dad would be here in three months.

We made it 6 months, Dad.  I still cannot believe you are not here with me.

Our Battle together was strong, I kept your six until the very end.

It was a Monday morning, July 11, 2016.  See, Dad was struck down by a massive stroke followed by many mini-strokes out of left field.  We were not expecting that at all.  I rode with him in the ambulance to the hospital that specialized in strokes.  We were in the hospital fighting this new battle my Dad faced for almost a week.

The following Saturday, July 16, 2016, my Dad’s doctor pulled me aside late at night and informed me that if Dad stayed like he currently was (not eating, barely drinking) he had three to seven days to live, three to fucking seven days!  The doctor went on to say if Dad started to eat and drink, we maybe had a few weeks left!  He recommended Hospice because we were at the end of the journey with Dad.

Hospice?  Put Dad on Hospice?  He was just laughing and teasing me two weeks ago and now the damn doctor is telling me we are at the end!

My brain could not compute what was being said.  He just wanted two more years!

We had a family meeting (at this point every one of my brothers and sisters were in town and at the hospital with Mom), and on Sunday, July 17, 2016, we all, sans one, agreed to put Dad on Hospice.  He came home July 18, 2016, Monday, a week after the first massive stroke that put him in the hospital for the last time.

We made it 1 month, Dad.  I feel lost without you here with me.

Our twists were many during this journey and we faced them together side-by-side.

On August 19, 2016, my journey with my Dad ended.  The battles we fought have left scars on my heart and soul, scars that will never fully heal.  My Dad, My Hero, My Constant Companion passed from this life into the Ever After.

He took his final breath at 6:47am; officially pronounced dead at 8:32am.

My hand was on his chest feeling his heart beat until it beat no more.

Now, I must continue this Journey alone, with only fond memories and a huge empty space in my heart.  I Love You, Daddy!  Keep up the party with the J-Dude until I can join in!

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Familial Unit

The Road To Recovery…

…is full of twists, and turns, and loop-de-loops.

Hello, Dear Bloggites.  I am sitting here in the hospital with my Dad, yet again.  We have become frequent fliers, he and I.  So much so, the name tag on the door states, “This patient is a star patient, he gets star treatment” followed by the fact he can have a snack at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and midnight.  Such a frequent flyer are we that the doctors walk in, see me and state, “The important one is here” or “Good to see you again” or “Hey! How have you been” as if greeting a good friend you are fond of.

Yes, this is our life and as hard as it is to live, I would not change a thing of it.  The reason I would not change it is very simple.  It means my Dad is still alive.  It means my Dad has not given up.  It means my Dad is a fighter.

I struggle everyday watching him.   He fights each day and I fight alongside him to help assist where I can.  We make it through each day and rejoice when he doesn’t “wake up dead” (his preferred method of dying, “I want to just wake up dead one day”).  I am proud of the fact that he is fighting death with all he has, yet, I am saddened that this fight – no matter how grand – is weakening him more each day.

It is a quandary.

Our life paradox.

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Familial Unit

A Daughter’s Journey with Her Dad: The Twist

“A father’s tears and fears are unseen, his love unexpressed, but his care and protection remains as a pillar of strength throughout our lives.” ~Ama H. Vanniarachchy

I just want to yell, and scream, and rage against the world! I want to know WHO thought it would be a good idea. I want to know WHAT happened at the moment this time bomb was assigned. I want to know WHEN the designated countdown began. I want to know WHERE it is going to end. I want to know WHY bad things happen to good people. I want to know HOW to cope at the moment the countdown reaches zero.

The above paragraph was written back on February 3rd, scratched on a paper towel, when I had to take my Paternal Half of the Parental Unit (Dad) to the emergency room due to some bladder issues. We had been going to my Dad’s radiation treatments and only had one more to go to finish the grueling 30-day program to help shrink the Cancer tumor in his Prostate and extend his life a bit longer when the bladder issue reared its ugly head.

In my previous post, A Daughter’s Journey with Her Dad: The Battle, I talked about some major issues he is facing from his exposure to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.  When we were told his Cancer has metastasized and is in stage 4, it devastated me.  I am the closest one to my Dad and the one most like him.  We began the journey of fighting the Cancer as best we could because he cannot have surgery.  This was our battle, Cancer was the face of the enemy sent to take my Father’s life.  Then, February 3rd happened.  The twist that is tripping up our battle.

*Warning: semi-graphic details & language

Wednesday, the 3rd started off like our regular Radiation Day always did: me driving Dad to the hospital to do his treatments.  Well, this day he noticed blood in his urine when it came out of his catheter he has had for two months.  We had our regular meetings with his Radiation Doc and asked him about it.  The doctor said it was probably a side effect from the radiation in Dad’s system and the blood should go away after two weeks once his treatments were finished.

With that in mind, Dad and I head back home.  Around 3pm that afternoon, I get a phone call from Dad saying that there was no more blood in his urine.  Woo Hooo!  Great News!  Two and a half hours later, I receive another call from Dad saying he was not getting any blood but now he is not even getting urine from the catheter tube.

Dad said it was probably kidney stones (which he is known to pass from time to time).  I told him to keep me posted.  Within the hour we were in the emergency room because of the pain my Father was in.  He started having bladder spasms that shook his whole body as if he was in the throes of an Epileptic seizure.  As we waited for them to call my Father back to be seen by a doctor, his pain only increased.  I will forever have the image burned in to my memory of one moment, when a spasm was hitting Dad, of the look in his eyes.

As a spasm was hitting, I watched my Dad’s body convulse from the pain and when I looked into his baby blue eyes I saw tears glistening in them with a painful pleading look that said, “Please help me!  I don’t understand.  Why is this happening to me? Make it stop! Take it away!”

My heart shattered into pieces because I stood helpless by his side unable to alleviate one simple iota of pain for my Father; my Paternal Half; the Indestructible Soldier and All-Around Superman in his daughter’s eyes.  7 of 7, me, “Miss Fix It”, the one who makes all things better, was unable to do anything except stand silently by his side, holding his hand and telling him to breathe through the spasm.

All night, the scene above played out, over and over.  The nurses went through two different catheters, causing additional pain, and still only minimal urine came out.  His Urologist, whom has been with Dad from Day 1 dealing with Dad’s prostate issues, was not on call the night we went into the ER.  We only had the nursing staff and doctor on duty to help.  They took a CAT Scan of Dad’s bladder and saw that his prostate was so enlarged it was pushing up on his bladder and was cutting off the ureters (this explained the loss of urination).  The results of the scan did not explain why only minimal urine was coming out of the new catheter.

The next morning, Thursday the 4th, Dad’s Urologist came into his room.  He was on fire!  The catheters put in by the ER staff were done improperly and with one catheter they filled up the balloon in my Father’s urethra in the penis!  The blockage issue was already present, but the improper placement of the catheters aggravated the issue with my Dad’s bladder.

The Urologist told me we are now on the downhill slope for Dad.  The doctor said that this situation is not going to be a few days but several weeks to potentially find the issue and for us not to get our hopes up because all we can do now is take it day by day.

Doc stated that Dad’s bladder issue has nothing to do with his Cancer, however, the radiation treatments will delay the healing process.  Doc said he was removing the improper catheter and was going to put a scope up through the penis to see into Dad’s bladder and gauge what is going on.  My thoughts circled around two things: 1. Downhill Slope-Dad is dying, but not from the Cancer? & 2. More Pain for Dad-weeks of pain.

The Urologist goes into Dad’s room and proceeds to try and scope him.  YES, you read that sentence right-TRY.  A few minutes later, Doc comes out with a grim look on his face (my brain kept repeating-Downhill Slope, Downhill Slope-in my head).  The doctor says, “There is an obstruction in your Dad’s penis.  I cannot get the scope to his bladder.  We are going to have to put a suprapubic catheter into your Dad’s belly.  If that does not work, I will have to put a tube running from each of his kidneys out of his body to get the urine out of his bladder.  If that does not work, I will have to take your Dad to the operating room and you know what that means.”

Stunned, I said, “Yes. Broken neck to intubate. Paralysis or Death.” (Read 1st blog here to understand about the broken neck part)

I asked the doctor what was going on with my Father.  The doctor said, “I don’t know.  We have too many unknown variables.  Until I can get into your Dad’s bladder, we can only take it day-to-day.  Today, right now, I have to figure out a way to reroute the urine in the bladder or else your Dad will go into kidney failure.”

I said to the doctor, “I understand.  Do what you need to do to help Dad.”

(My mind was yelling, “SH*T! F*CK! MY DAD COULD BE DYING AND IT IS NOT EVEN THE F*CKING CANCER THAT WILL KILL HIM!”)

The suprapubic catheter worked, however, my Dad was touch and go the rest of the day and night on Thursday.  Dad was disoriented and confused.  He thought it was 1965 during the procedure and he was looking for his wife (Mom, the Maternal Half of the Parental Unit).

After the procedure it was still 1965 and when Mom asked Dad if he found her, he said, “I caught you.”  Throughout the night, I had to be the Reaper of Doom to all the Sub-Units (siblings/kids) retelling and reliving my conversation with the doctor.

We listened to Dad’s incoherent babble all night as well: he said my sister, Debbie (4 of 7), had to fix the blender; he and Mom were going for a ride to see Frannie (his sister who died of Cancer last year in Philadelphia) and Joey (his brother who is alive and in Tennessee) which will take an hour; he informed us ‘Ch’ahlie (Charlie) will take care of it (Vietnam flashback); he also wanted to go talk to those people “over there” whom he did not know (to this I informed him he is in no way, shape, or form to go talk to those people).

We all survived that scary night.  Dad’s doctor came to check on him the next day making sure they were irrigating (flushing) Dad’s bladder every two hours.  I told the doc that Dad was in his “right mind” again and appears to be doing well.

The doc looked at me and said, “He is no way out of the woods.  I don’t believe in sugar coating information.  That is why many people hate me.  I believe in total honesty in all situations.” (Side-note: this is why my Dad and I love this doctor)

The doc continued saying, “I told you yesterday this is a long-term temporary situation with the suprapubic catheter.  He cannot be alone again once he goes home.  Your Dad will need to be watched and cared for 24/7 and your Mom cannot do it.  Until his penis heals, if it heals, and the obstruction goes away for me to look into the bladder, we can only take it day-by-day.  Tell the family that I do not want to hear any questions about three months from now because I don’t even know if he will be here in three months.”

(“SH*T! SH*T! F*CK, F*CK, F*CK!” says my brain)

“I understand and appreciate your honesty.  That is why we love you.” I said to the doctor.

Two weeks have gone by now.  We have had some good days, but more bad days over the good.  My brain is still trying to process it all and my lack of sleep does not help.  We go see the Doc on Thursday the 18th to see what is in store for Dad.

I have been my Paternal Half’s constant companion with the assistance of the Sub-Units: 1 of 7, 2 of 7, 4 of 7, 5 of 7, and 6 of 7 respectively (3 of 7-Ray-is squaring things away in Cali then he will be here to assist as well).

2 of 7 (Glory) left Sunday to go back to Georgia.  1 of 7 (Kathy) will go back to her home in the Houston area on Friday. 4 of 7 (Debbie), 5 of 7 (Nancy), 6 of 7 (James), and yours truly, 7 of 7, will keep watch 24/7 over our Parental Units until it is all said and done.

~4-Ever, P

 

Posted in Familial Unit

A Daughter’s Journey with Her Dad: The Battle

Moe: “I got an idea! We’ll make a mummy out of you!” 

Curly: “But I can’t be a mummy, I’m a daddy!”

~Moe & Curley in We Want Our Mummy, 1939

When we are children, we perceive our Parental Units (parents) as invincible and able to beat anything that threatens our little minds.  We never think about life and the mortality of it: for us or them.  We happily live our childhood with the confidence that whatever we get into, our Parental Units will get us out of (at least that is how I lived my life).  Adult things and the adult world meant nothing to us.  We were young, strong, and invincible.  What we could not beat, our parents were right there to finish the job we started.  That is how life went as a child.

As we grow older and become adults, it never crosses our mind that our Parental Units are also growing older.  We continue to view our parents as we did when we were kids, until the ugly Mortality Monster (death) rears its head and begins to threaten them.  The dread Mortality Monster loves to scare the little child in all of us and sometimes it succeeds.  Nothing we do or say will change the hour appointed for the Mortality Monster to take its next victim.

Right now, that Mortality Monster is starting to come around knocking on the door of my Parental Units’ door.  My Paternal Half of the Parental Unit (Dad) has been battling many illnesses given to him, compliments of Agent Orange, during his stint in the Vietnam War.  My Dad is the toughest of tough; the all-powerful military man who is afraid of nothing and no one.  I grew up knowing that my Father could defeat any threat given to me, my Mom, or my siblings.  My Paternal Half was THAT man – the one who walks into the room and everyone looks at him to take control of the situation whether they knew him or not.

Yeah, my Dad is the sh*t!  Always has been and always will be in 7 of 7’s eyes (me).  See, I have a unique relationship with my Dad, Dear Bloggites.  I was the only one of the Sub-Units (kids) he bonded with as a baby.  Dad was always afraid to handle my older siblings when they were babies until they were two or three months old because he thought he might break them; with them being so small and him being a big military man, it was an understandable worry, albeit a silly one. 😛

However, I was a different case than the first six.  See, Dad received his orders to go fight in the Vietnam War when I was born.  From the moment I came home from the hospital, Dad insisted on doing everything for me and would not let my Mother do anything.  He knew there was a strong chance that the Vietnam War could kill him and he wanted to imprint as many memories as he could into my subconscious so I would always know who he was if something did happen.

Dad and I bonded; so much so, that I turned out JUST LIKE HIM!  Man, oh, man did he hate it when I was growing up!  Stubborn, independent, strong-willed, know-it-all up against the same personality…God Bless My Mother!  She had to play the buffer every single time!

I digress with the fun, scary memories.  Back to the Battle of Paternal Half versus Mortality Monster.  Dad’s worry over the Vietnam War killing him was not met during the battles he faced at the time, but it has come back and is now killing him with the exposure he had from Agent Orange aka The B*tch!  Darling Agent Orange called forth the Mortality Monster and said, “Make him suffer from Psoriasis! Make the Psoriatic Arthritis cripple his body slowly!  I order you to slowly destroy this Soldier who thought he got away from my destruction I wrought in the Vietnam War!”  And the Mortality Monster did as he was told.

Many years my Father has fought and suffered with the disease that is slowly crippling his body and mind.  Many years have I watched (alongside my Mother and siblings), the strong, independent, all-powerful military man slowly dwindle into a shadow of his former self.  Many years have I cried with a broken heart after seeing the confusion and defiance in my Father’s eyes as he fights the monster that is afflicting him.  Many years has the Paternal Half fought and beat back the Mortality Monster to continue to live his life he worked so hard to achieve.

Now, The B*tch, AO, has ordered a new disease to destroy my Dad.  Cancer.  More specifically, Prostate Cancer (ironic that the disease that will ultimately beat my Dad shares his initials as well as my own – PC).

Up until now, my Dad’s Urologist has been able to help him live with this Cancer in containment with a certain shot every six months.  But now, the doctor believes my Dad is in the advanced stages of Cancer and will need to start seeing an Oncologist.  This leads to potential tricky situations because Dad cannot have surgery done due to the crippling effect of the Psoriatic Arthritis.

The Psoriatic Arthritis has caused my Dad’s neck to extend and fuse forward in an L shape from his body.  If a doctor wanted to perform any surgeries that required intubation they would have to break his neck.  Results from surgery-at best, paralysis; at worst, death.

Any treatments the Oncologist will want to do will have to be done without surgery.  This is going to be tricky and until we see the Oncologist, we can only ponder how the treatment of Cancer will be addressed with Dad.   

My family and I know we are just starting to witness the final battle my Dad will face against the Mortality Monster and we will fight alongside him until the end.  We ultimately will lose this fight, but 7 of 7 will do some major damage to the monster because NOBODY F*CKS WITH MY PATERNAL HALF!  I will be right by my Dad’s side, covering his six.  I Love You, Dad, you will survive for many years to come if I have anything to say or do about it. 🙂

~4-Ever, P

 

Posted in Familial Unit

Family Fun

My wonderful son, Travis, wonderful daughter-in-law, Tori, and beautiful granddaughter, Airy, were home this week. It was so wonderful to see the three of them. Only complaint I have is the week ended too quickly.

Airy has gotten so big and man oh man is she a busy young lady! She has this new way of breaking the rules without breaking the rules…her solution to Mommy and Daddy telling her ‘no’ to messing with something is to turn around, put her hands behind her back and begin walking backwards toward the taboo item she was told no to messing with! She is such a smart kiddo! 🙂

Travis and Tori, TnT, are awesome as always. They both would love to move here to Texas, but have to wait for a few more years due to the contract they signed with their home. Hopefully when they decide to come home for good they will both be able to find a job that will be compatible with the money they are making now.

That is pretty much it for now, Dear Bloggites, see you on the Flip Side!!!

~4-Ever, P