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 Book Review

Book Review: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

“People don’t have useful things anymore.  People just have shit.” ~ Ove (in Fredrik Backman’s book A Man Called Ove)

Life is a roller coaster full of twists, turns, and loop-de-loops.  This is a much delayed book review on the Books & Broad’s Book Club choice for JULY!  As many of you have read, Dear Bloggites, my Paternal Half of the Parental Unit (Dad) is dying of Cancer.  A few weeks ago, he suffered a stroke that rendered him incapacitated on his right side of his body and a crooked smile like my beloved pup who I had to put down almost a year ago.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik BackmanAs you have all guessed, I did not get to finish this book, but I did learn quickly within the first few paragraphs that Ove is my Dad.  My Dad is Ove!  The July book club choice was A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman.  This is Fredrik Backman’s first novel and it is a winner!  From the first utterance from Ove asking if the tablet in his hand was an “O-Pad”, I was hooked and laughing and crying and just giggling my head off.

The talent of the author, Fredrik Backman, with infusing the different characters with such quirky traits while keeping the storyline on target was amazing to me.  The author is a Swedish writer and so the novel was translated into English.  Many books that are translated tend to lose the impact or purpose the author is trying to convey throughout the novel.  This did not happen with this book.  The translation was on point and the reader understood the purpose of the storyline.

A Man Called Ove is story about an old, grumpy man with many quirks that are off-putting to all he comes in contact with throughout his life.  The entire story, Ove unsuccessfully tries to kill himself because there are certain things that must be made right before he goes to see his wife or else he will have hell to pay once he is dead.

Sounds like it is a sad story, huh, Dear Bloggites?  It is not.  From the moment Ove’s new neighbors move across the street, he is constantly being interrupted during his quest to kill himself.  Add a stray cat into the mix, and you have the makings of a great storyline.

All the characters were developed and complex.  Everyone had a backstory that you learned about throughout the book but did not break the streamline effect of the overall story.  The descriptions given in the story from Ove’s point of view, allowed the reader to truly feel as if they were standing right next to Ove witnessing the silliness or stupidity of the world around him.  Unexpected friendships, new purpose in life, and a life worth living in the end makes this an amazing book for any reader of any age.

I give A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman 5 out of 5 Bookmarks.  To steal a phrase from the books description, “Ove is all you need.”

~4-Ever, P

Posted in This & That

15 Minutes of Fame-Revisited

Above is a picture I took a few years ago.  It received some national coverage due to an incident that had happened at the beginning of the Baseball Season that year.  My friend, John, Tweeted the picture with a little blub to a few known sports writers as well as blogged about it on his blog site, Goin’ To The John.  I enjoyed my 15-minutes of fame and would like to share that memory with you, Dear Bloggites.  Never give up your dreams, your 15-minutes can happen at any moment, too…

Two years ago today, I had my 15 minutes of fame, my viral moment, in this social media driven world. We are probably all destined for one, at least according to Andy Warhol, and he made that claim before Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube existed – let alone the concept of the internet. Or the “information […]

via Cut Flowers — Goin’ To The John

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 #BloggiteBits Campaign

#BloggiteBits-Young D.E.S.I.R.E.

Young D.E.S.I.R.E.: Devoted time, Eager to please, Special feelings, Intense reaction, Reverent acts, Enthusiastic love
#BloggiteBits
#BloggiteBits-Young Desire
Young D.E.S.I.R.E.

Oh to be young and foolish again.  Or not.  Being young has its good and bad sides.  The good: youth, energy, physical fitness, and an inconsequential mind of death.  The bad: inexperience, naivety of the world, reckless, and an inconsequential mind to death.  In this installment of the ABCs of encouragement with the #BloggiteBits Campaign, I am going to help you tap into the good parts of Young D.E.S.I.R.E. to bring some of the wonders of youth back into your life: Devoted time, Eager to please, Special feelings, Intense reaction, Reverent acts, & Enthusiastic love.

 
Devoted time: Think back, Dear Bloggites, to your youth (for some not too long ago for others it may seem like a lifetime ago).  Are you there?  Remember when you could devote your time to whatever you were currently interested in?  Be it school, family, relationships, friendships, you were able to provide total devoted time to the interest.  To tap back into your young desire for life, you just have to give your all into whatever activity you are interested in.  If you have a busy life (like most of us), look over your schedule and find a time each day to devote to the passion of choice you are currently involved in.  You will find that allowing yourself time to chase your dreams and passions, you will have a much lighter and stronger desire to embrace life.
 
Eager to please: Remember a moment in your youth where you were smitten with the puppy love that only the young experience?  That eager to please mentality found during the “puppy love” stage in relationships is actually a good thing.  Busy lives (like we all have) tend to prevent you from really getting outside yourself and into the world of others.  To tap back into your young desire and eagerness to please others, all you have to do is respond to someone in a positive way when they ask you for help or even a simple question.  Being eager to please does not mean you allow yourself to be walked all over or taken advantage of by others, it just means you show an eagerness to make someone’s day a little better by providing a simple act of kindness or service.  You will find your outlook on life begin to show a positive view on your day to day activities.
 
Special feelings: The giddiness, the joy, the butterflies, and anticipation of seeing your special someone you had a crush on when you were younger-sweet feelings, indeed!  Most people do not feel that carefree giddiness of emotions as adults, but I challenge you to reach deep inside your soul and reawaken that special feeling again.  To tap back into your special feelings, you just need to remind yourself of the good qualities of the person or people you are interacting with daily.  There is a reason you have the people you have in your life and I bet it is because of some special quality that caused your feelings to attach to each person individually.  Make an effort to focus on the special qualities of each person you are blessed to come into contact with.  Life is a gift to all of us and you will find that your view of people will be less tarnished when you actively look for the special quality of each person.
 
Intense reaction: “Shock! Thrill! Oh MY!” fills your senses throughout your body as a younger you feels that first intense reaction to someone or something.  Oh, beloved youth of yesteryear, wherever have you gone.  Nothing beats the thrill of feeling such strong, overpowering emotions that an intense reaction provides a person.  I am not just referencing a physical attraction sensation, I am referencing the sensations that course through our mind and bodies when dealing with people or situations.  Intense reactions can be a wide range of feelings.  No matter what those feelings were when you were younger, they had an impact in your life.  To tap back into your wide range of intense reactions, you just need to open up your emotional floodgate and feel each sensation.  I am sure the emotional sensations that show up are the ones we usually stomp down as we grow older: awe, joy, giddiness, appreciation, love, hope…all these positive emotions are sadly repressed as a person grows up and has to “act like an adult” in life.  Embrace those long forgotten intense reactions and be prepared to embrace a freer-feeling you.
 
Reverent acts: Reverent acts sound so serious, however, a reverent act as a young child is that of a child believing their parents are all powerful and nothing can defeat them.  I am sure you can think back on a time when you witnessed something spectacular that a parent or grandparent did.  That feeling of overwhelming love and admiration washed over you and you looked at the person who caused those emotions as if they were a fairy tale hero come to life.  The pure intellectual honesty you felt as a child is where you felt the emotions stirred by the reverent acts you witnessed.  To tap back into your reverent acts mentality, you have to open yourself up to the pure intellectual honesty and begin to see all the everyday heroes inside the people you interact with daily.
 
Enthusiastic love: Enthusiastic love was the giddy joy you felt as a child when a person you were enamored with talked to you.  Did you know, Dear Bloggites, that there is a mature kind of enthusiastic love?  Well there is.  To tap back into your mature enthusiastic love, you just have to add a little rose-colored glasses to your mind’s eye when dealing with others.  The mature enthusiastic love is the ability to embrace someone else’s success as if it was your own.  I am a firm believer that we should always build each person we engage with up to help them reach the next level of them on their journey in life.
~4-Ever, P
Posted in #BloggiteBits Campaign

#BloggiteBits-Live F.U.L.L.Y.

Live F.U.L.L.Y.: Flourish in challenges, Unique outlook, Love unconditionally, Look for the humor, Youthful exuberance

#BloggiteBits-Live Fully
Live F.U.L.L.Y.

When you wake up in the morning, do you ever say, “Today I am going to live life fully to the best of my abilities!”?  Nah, I am sure you don’t, but what if you tried that one day?  In this installment of the ABCs of encouragement with the #BloggiteBits Campaign, I am going to challenge you to Live F.U.L.L.Y. each day of your life: Flourish in challenges, Unique outlook, Love unconditionally, Look for the humor, & Youthful exuberance.

Flourish in challenges: As crazy as this statement sounds, it is possible to flourish in challenges faced in your life.  Everyone has a choice when they are faced with something that is unfamiliar and challenging to them.  Those choices are to wither away and hide or face the fear and flourish.  Anytime you find yourself faced with a challenge, think of how you can turn the negative aspect of the challenge into something that is positive.  By finding the positive in a challenge, you allow yourself to look outside the proverbial box and flourish within that challenge.  Flourishing in a challenge could be something as simple as getting through it to the other side with minimal damage.  It can also mean getting through the challenge a stronger, more confident person than you were.  Either way, you still beat that challenge because it did not defeat you; you flourished because you defeated it.

Unique outlook: Most people who are living life fully have a unique outlook on it.  They are the ones that always seem to fight the status quo and find their own way.  To live life fully, you need to change your perception of what life should be and begin to make it what you want it to be.  Having a unique outlook in life just means to question everything.  Question why you are here, in this situation, at this precise moment in time.  By questioning the ‘norm’ you will begin to create your own unique outlook.  Once you have that unique outlook created, you will begin to truly live life fully.

Love unconditionally: We have all heard this phrase.  Loving unconditionally is hard for many people.  It is very rare to find someone willing to do something without any strings attached in this day and age.  The “me” mentality of people cause them to always look for some kind of leverage in all situations to make it beneficial to them.  In order to live fully in life, you need to stop thinking with the “me” mentality and trying to find what is in it for you.  Being able to love unconditionally frees a person because they are not waiting for the pay off, they are just living life fully.  Learning to love unconditionally takes practice and will challenge the most emotionally aware person out there.  If you do learn to love unconditionally, you will find yourself feeling freer than you have ever felt before and this freedom will begin to help you live life fully.

Look for the humor: People are waaaayyyy too serious.  Did you know that every situation has a humorous side to it?  No matter how bleak life may seem, look for the humor in it.  Laughter truly is the best medicine for the seriousness of life and when you look for the humor in life you begin to live fully in the moment.  Humor in serious situations does not take away from what is going on nor does it mean you do not realize the importance of the situation.  Looking for the humor is a good release for most people.  By breaking up the mood with something positive and humorous, no matter how fleeting, you will find that you are a bit more relaxed and able to cope better.

Youthful exuberance: This suggestion may seem off for the subject of living fully, but I feel having a youthful exuberance about life helps you live fully.  Think back on your childhood.  Were you carefree and excited about finding out what the day held for you when you first woke up?  Now, think about how you feel when you wake up as an adult.  Do you still feel that excitement about what lies ahead?  Probably not.  Having a youthful exuberance about life helps you look forward to whatever is in store for you each day.  Making yourself view life with a youthful exuberance each day will help you begin to live fully.

~4-Ever, P