Sunday, November 9, 2014

Perhaps today is a good day to die

When I posted the Blog4Peace post on November 4, I noticed that I'd blogged four times in four years, and three of them were Blog4Peace.  I also noticed that I hadn't blogged in 2013, even a little one.  And I remembered why, sort of.

In October of 2013, my father was diagnosed with cancer.  When it was found, it was in both lungs and his liver.  Considering that the man went to the doctor on a very regular basis, getting all recommended tests, taking his medication, doing what he was told, it seemed unreasonable that cancer hadn't been detected earlier.  

That is what detected at all is serendipity.  His doctor of eight years, who replaced a wonderful doctor who had moved his practice to another city, "went out of business."  With the help of friends, we found a new doctor who examined Dad and listened to his concerns.  I was there, because Dad felt he was losing his memory.  Dr. Yousefian found Dad to mentally facile and seemed confused that Dad thought he was confused.  I explained that Dad's mental ability started here (putting my hand far above our heads) and now he felt it was here (putting my hand only a little above our heads.)  Dr. Yousefian understood.

Dad had routine blood work and we set up a follow up appointment.  The blood work revealed infection somewhere, and so Dad took antibiotics.  He had a very bad reaction, and so we went back.  Dad told Dr. Y that he'd had a cough for a while (a year or so) and Dr. Y ordered an x-ray.  Then a CT-scan.  Because Dad had pneumonia, but something else too.  Cancer.  For about a year, Dad had been taking Robitussin (as suggested by his old doctor) for lung cancer.  

Dad read about lung cancer and liver cancer, although he didn't say anything to us.  Between the shock and the reaction the the antibiotics, Dad kind of slipped from us mentally.  I can't imagine how this diagnosis would feel to him.  He was a reserved man who would not share his feelings easily.  It all went inside.

And my brother and sister and I were faced with his unnamed fears and our unspoken fears.  And it was pretty hard.  For a while he couldn't sleep well and would get up, falling twice.  My sister, her husband, and daughter bore the brunt of this, since he lived with them.  My son and daughter-in-law stepped in the help during the night, but you can't really take a mental burden from anyone else.  Especially when you are carrying your own.

One day, early on, my sister called me to say that Dad wouldn't get up.  He said he was going to die.  We should all gather at his bedside.  

All the way over, I prayed.  I prayed, "Not today" and slight variations all the way from Hopkins to Forest Acres.  Not today.  I know it will be someday, but not today.

We went in Dad's room, where he was lying on the bed with an angry expression.  

Dad, you need to get up.

No I don't.

Really, Dad, you need to get up and go sit in the living room.

No I don't.

So you've decided to die today?, I asked, not tearing up.

Hell no, he said.  Indignant.

We look at him.

Then you have to get up.

He gets up.  He goes to the oncology center, where they give him fluids, test everything, say encouraging things to him in cheery firm voices.

While we are waiting for the doctor to come by, Dad looks up, kind of bemused.

I guess today isn't the day, he mumbles.

Of course not, I think but don't say out loud.  God told me it wasn't today.  

Someday.  But not today.


Mimi Lenox said...

This touched my heart. It was hard to read. Reminded me of so much.
You had a rough year. I hope you will continue to write these stories of your father. You tell it well. What a wonderful man he was.
Thank you for sharing.

Mimi Lenox said...

I left a comment previously...where did it go??!