Mewsings from Lowecat (aka Indianacat)

My rants, ravings, and overall 'mewsings' on life, the universe, and everything.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Daddy Has Gone to a Better Place.

My daddy died today.

Wow.  Four little words that have altered my life forever. 

See the picture to the right?  That's my daddy from seven years ago.  It was taken when my step - mother was at Methodist Hospital, Indianapolis, for back surgery.  He was still pretty energetic then, able to wear his contacts and get around pretty good. 

Five years later, in 2009, Daddy started to lose that vitality and enregy.  He still had a positive outlook, but daily things like dealin' with the mail and the house were becomin' more
difficult for him.  

Daddy was born in Harrison County, IN, in 1927.  He grew up on a family farm.  He was the oldest of three surviving children.   He loved workin' on the farm, even in later years after Grandpa had gone from farming to runnin' up and down telephone poles to keep the Farmer's Telephone Company in operation.  Though there weren't animals on the farm - except for cats and the dog - we produced popcorn and tomatoes, potatoes, fruits, corn, all kinds of good things.    To him, rest and relaxation was workin' under God's sky, tillin' the land, weedin', plantin' and harvestin' the crops.  

Back before transistor radios were the thing, if he'd be weedin' or otherwise workin' on the farm without havin' to be on the tractor, he'd run a long extension cord from the milhouse to the edge of the garden and plug in a portable radio to that cord.  He'd turn the dial to WGN Chicago to listen to the Cubs play while he was workin'.   I think I know the theme song from those days by heart. 

I can remember how much Daddy enjoyed drivin' the tractor and/or workin' on the tractor.  I'd get to ride with him when he had the tiller on the back of the International Harvester, but always asked 'Why can't I ride with you with the mower deck?"  To me, the mower deck was less dangerous than those tiller blades!  

Daddy liked to work with his hands.  He was very good at maintainin' the family vehicles with regular oil changes, grease jobs, and radiator flush and fills.  I'd often hang around to 'help' and watch.  Guess where I got my love of cars from? 

As a minister, Daddy tried very hard to lead by example.  This is why he didn't drink alcohol or smoke or chew.  He firmly believed that if he was going to preach about a topic, he needed to be fully prepared with facts to back him up.  He wouldn't just preach for preachin's sake.  If he was referrin' to sports, or politics, or anything else, he would research the topic very thoroughly before he wrote his sermon.

I'm ashamed to admit that in my youth, I often was jealous of the way he deal with the congregation's kids as compared to me.  Of course he'd be a little stricter with me, I was his kid!  But sometimes he'd use a gentle tone of voice on them after I'd been scolded for some lack of decorum on my part, and the green eyed monster would rise up.   One day, in a fit of pique, I asked him why didn't he talk to me like he did the other kids?  "Because you're my child, and I love you, and it's my job to keep you on track by disciplinin' you when you need it.

We shared a love for the Chicago Cubs, the IU basketball Hoosiers, and Mopar.  My father had a wonderful sense of humor, and enjoyed gentle teasing of his sister and neices and nephews, and of his friends.  Frankly, I don't think mnay people disliked my father.  He had a way of makin' a person feel welcome upon first meetin' them. 

Daddy was human, and like any human, had his faults.  We all do.  There are things we wish we could've done differently; that if we could go back and change, we would.  Daddy once told me that he wished he'd gone to more of my basketball games when I played for Washaington High School, Washington IN.    "Daddy, you would've been bored to death!"  I assured him.  "I spent more time on the bench than I did playin'!" 

But he was there for my drama club and choral performances.  He was there for the appearances I'd make with the youth singing group at Central UMC.  He encouraged my interest in music, even acceptin' the fact that I took up guitar (thanks to my maternal grandmother!).  I'm sure it disappointed him when I chose to study broadcastin' instead of music, but he supported me anyway. 

Because he loved me. 

And because he loved me, he sometimes had to make choices that weren't easy for either of us.  When he felt he needed to remove himself as my financial safety net, he did it and stuck with it, leavin' me to sink or swim on my own.  It was the hardest thing (next to divorcin' my birth mother), he'd ever had to do.  But we survived it, and we were able to repair our relationship.

Bein' a father doesn't mean just donatin' sperm.  It means givin' of yourself - your time, talent, energy, heart, and soul.  It means sittin' up at night when your child is sick or in the hospital, which he did for all the eye operations I had as well as the tonsillectomy.  It's bein' the disciplinarian when it's needed, it's havin' the guts to hold your child accountable for their actions and behaviors.   It's sayin' 'NO' and stickin' to it.  

My daddy died today, and a big chunk of my heart died too.  But I know that he is at peace.  He went peacefully, without pain, to the next life.  And I know that while I won't get the daily phone call from him, or hear him say to me 'Give each other a hug for us, and the kitty cats a pat on the head so they know they're appreciated.', that I'll never again call his home or cell phone and talk to him just to say hi, I know that some day, if God is merciful to me, I'll get to see him again.

Daddy had two great friends in the ministry who preceeded him in death.  I take comfort in the fact that he's reunited with them, and probably havin' a grand ole time. 

My Daddy died today, but he was also born again today. 


Thursday, May 03, 2012

Facing a Painful Reality

Unlike the kitty in the picture, I've had to face up to the reality of what is happenin' now with my father, and what may happen in the future. 

My father is a DNR, also known as a Do Not Resuscitate.  This is his desire.  He does not want to be hooked up to machines keepin' the blood pumpin', the air goin' in/out of his lungs.  He doesn't want Life artificially maintained like that. 

I've come to find that sometimes there is a fine line between prolonging life, and medically required treatment.  Blood transfusions, the bi - pap machine, the feedin' tubes, all these are considered by myself and the doctors to be medically required treatment, much the same as the IVs o keep him hydrated, the medications to make him better, and the therapies to keep his muscles in tone and to try to help him communicate. 

Treatments such as dialysis and intubation have been discussed between the doctor and the nurses caring for him and myself.  As daddy's power of attorney, that is my duty to him.  It means giving approval to things like the transfusions and etc.  Sometimes I have to wonder if a certain treatment is 'medically necessary' and have turned to the family for guidance. 

This morning, I received a call from a family member who has been very helpful in keepin' the rest of my father's family in the know about his situation.  She's also the one I've been turnin' to when I've not been certain what to do. 

And this is where we differ in opinion.  I see Daddy each day, sometimes for a short bit, sometimes for a longer period.  Seein' him loose ground hurts a lot.  It also hurts to have to make these decisions for him, and hope that I'm doin' the best.

This family member means well.  She is in daily telephone contact with the nurses on Daddy's floor.  But, she refuses to accept that there could be a possibility that Daddy won't come out of this the way we want. 

I applaud her for not wantin' to give up hope.  I wish I could be as stubborn. Gawd knows stubborn runs on both sides of the family, and yours truly got more than her fair share of it! 

But I'm also realistic enough to face facts, even the ones that hurt.   I see my father slowly losin' more and more ground, and know that the chances are great that he will not pull through this one.  Writin' that out and speakin' it are one thing, whether I'll accept it when the time comes is a different thing.  Note, 'if' didn't enter into this equation.  'If', for me, is less than a definite than 'when'.  

The family member believes that I'm wrong to decline the intubation.  That means havin' a machine force Daddy to breathe.  The bi - pap assists the breathin'.  Daddy doesn't want to be hooked to a machine that an intubation would require, I respect and honor that wish.  I spoke with the nurse assigned to him today at some length on this issue.   She told me that once a person in my father's condition go on intubation, they don't get off of it.   It would not be a 'temporary/medically necessary' process.  

Dialysis has apparently been taken off the table at this time.  Again, there is the possibility that he might not survive the process.  Not everyone who is on dialysis has to be on it permanently.  Again, there is Daddy's weakened condition to consider.  While it sounds good to have his system flushed of toxins, which dialysis would do, in the long run, it has the potential to do more than good for him. 

I allowed the family member to vent; to say what she felt should be done for my father/her brother.  I let her say her piece even though each word tore through me like a hot knife through butter.  Once the call ended, I felt like my soul had gone through a spinner/shredder.  

She mean well.  She loves my father.  She loves me.  She wants to help and has helped.  She's just not yet come to that point where the reality of the situation has smacked her upside the head like it has done to me.  It's probable that it's gonna hit her hard when she comes up to see him this weekend.  

I'm quietly encouragin' the family members to come see him.  I don't wanna scare him into thinkin' they're doin' the 'better come see him while he's alive!' thing.  Other than the DH and me, he hasn't had visitors.  Fresh faces might be a good thing.  So the Hoosier area family and my truck drivin' step brother have been contacted.  

In the meantime, I've started to look into the work policies on bereavement time and FMLA time for after; workin' on the 'in memoriam' to be published in the annual conference report when the event takes place (Daddy gave that job/honor to me several years ago after I wrote the script for the slide show retrospective for his retirement reception); tryin' to determine the best way to handle things for my step - mother, who suffers from Altzheimer's and whether she'll understand that her husband has gone on Home ahead of her (again, when the time comes);  and writin' up somethin' to share (should such an opportunity come up) at his service - providin' I don't fall to pieces before hand. 

I'd like to hope and believe that all this preparation is not gonna be necessary.  Unfortunately, I'm afraid it will be.  At this point, while I don't believe Daddy's on Death's door, it's on the horizon and seems to be inchin' closer.  

To some people, this epistle might come off as me bein' a cold hearted bitch for refusin' to believe anything but that he'll get better.  Well, everyone's entitled to an opinion.  



Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Sad, Scared Update on Daddy

Well, the situation continues to deteriorate where my father's health is concerned. 

On Tuesday, I spoke at length with the attending physician.  The prognosis was grim, but there was a chance that Daddy would recover enough to be able to go back to the nursing home.  There was no way he would be able to live independently.  He had had a rough day, with the kidneys not fuctioning correctly, his feet and hands were swollen and hot.  He had a lot of difficulty with coughing and expectorating phlegm.  He had sat up in the chair for 90 mins, but was completely exhausted afterward. 

Wednesday morning, I received a call from the hospital at 1030 AM.  The doctor stated that Daddy's temp had shot up to 102, and asked about a more aggressive breathing treatment (ie, a machine to force him to breathe as opposed to the bi - pap that has been ASSISTIN' with breathin').  I said that it went against Daddy's wishes and declined. 

When I stopped to see him, the doctor told me that the elevated temp came on all of a sudden, and that they took cultures.  He felt that Daddy might be sufferin' from sepsis. 

Sepsis is a potentially life-threatening complication of an infection. While sepsis can happen to anyone, it's most common and most dangerous in people who are elderly or who have weakened immune systems. Sepsis occurs when chemicals released into the bloodstream to fight the infection trigger inflammation throughout the body. This inflammation creates microscopic blood clots that can block nutrients and oxygen from reaching organs, causing them to fail. If sepsis progresses to septic shock, blood pressure drops dramatically and the person may die.  (from on line article by the Mayo Clinic).

Daddy did not open his eyes while I was there.  He was breathing in short bursts, almost panting like a marathon runner.  I couldn't get him to open his eyes to look at me at all.  

There's the inner little girl that wants to have a good old fashioned temper tantrum, to fuss and cry and scream about this.  I want to say "Daddy, don't go!"  But that's the selfish thing.  He's gone through a lot over the last three decades.   I want him to be free of pain.

Right now, the quality of life is nil.  He lays in bed, sometimes the tee vee is on, often not.  He sleeps a lot.  I believe he is fully aware of what is bein' said around him, and that he understands what is bein' said to him.  I suspect that the ability to hear/understand and to communicate back has been severely impaired.

So, at this point, I continue to pray that whatever God intends, he gets it done.  Not to put me out of MY sufferin', but to bring Daddy to a place a peace and/or healing.  If he's gonna continue on this plane of existenence, I want him to get stronger and be able to go back home. 

But if this is not in the plan, then I wish that God would go ahead and take Daddy on Home.  That's not the end result I want, but then it's not my will that is to be done.

To those of you in all walks of life, all faiths, all beliefs who have taken time to lift Daddy, myself, and the family in prayer, thank you.  The last time he and I had a conversation, I related about all the people thinkin' of him.  He said, very sincerely,  "I appreciate that." 

We all do.

Early treatment of sepsis, usually with antibiotics and large amounts of intravenous fluids, improves chances for survival