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Personal Musings

Dad is hospitalized

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I received a phone call from my mother today. She was calling to tell me that my dad went into the hospital today. He is bleeding internally.

My dad is 79 years old. He has Alzheimer's. He was living with me when the first symptoms appeared. It started with him forgetting the rules of driving, like "red means stop" and making turns from the wrong lanes. By 1999, he was unable to navigate at all and had given up driving. He was homesick for Napa, California, the town I grew up in. My brother still lives there, so he moved out and left Denver to go live with my brother. My brother had to put him into a rest home shortly after that because dad was just too confused. He didn't recognize Napa anymore and was afraid of everything and everyone. He couldn't be left alone and my brother couldn't stay home with him.

I visited my dad in 2002. He didn't recognize me. My brother and I signed him out of the rest home for a few hours and took him to dinner at a local restaurant. He kept exclaiming amazement at things like the multiplex cinema we drove past and the crosswalk signals that chirp to assist people with sight difficulties get across the street. He talked about his favorite TV shows and the cat that lives somewhere near or in the rest home. He didn't remember anything about "yesterday" and tended to ramble about an incident that happened about 45 years ago when his best friend cheated on him with my mother. We had to ask him repeatedly to lower his voice and control his language. Other patrons glared at us. I was glad to get him back to the home and into his room. He was glad to get back to it, too. He immediately set out to find the cat. After talking to the doctor on duty, I went to find my dad and tell him I was leaving. He looked at me -- really looked at me -- for the first time and from somewhere deep in the dying parts of his memory he was able to pull up a link to my face. For a moment, he knew who I was and was overwhelmed with emotion at seeing me. Then he went blank again, and I left.

Now, tonight, he lies in a hospital bed. He has lost a lot of blood. They don't know what specifically is bleeding. They have him on antibiotics and are giving him fluids. He has had two transfusions. My brother has told the doctors that they have permission to give transfusions, but not to do anything heroic. The doctors can't say whether he is dying or not, but if he is not dying, they think he will within a year.

I think he has been dead for quite some time.

I don't want to see him die, but I do hope that time will be kind to him and let him go. He was a brilliant man in his prime. His greatest fear was Alzheimer's, more than heart attacks or strokes or paralysis, all of which are genetic traits in his family history. He feared losing control over his own mind. He feared becoming lost inside his own mind, unable to get out. He feared becoming what he is now. I don't want him to die, but I don't want him to live any longer, either.

Good night, dad. Go silently in the darkness, if you can. I love you.
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Comments

  1. Virgil's Avatar
    My sympathies, Kelly. My Papa passed away on September 18th, a few weeks ago. It is hard.
  2. Kelly_Sprout's Avatar
    Virgil,
    I'm sorry for your loss. Losing a parent is difficult. I am not as devastated with my dad's decline last night as I might otherwise be if he were still strong in mind and an active part of my life, but losing him will be hard when it comes. If it is any comfort, dwell on the moments you treasure about him. My father was a brilliant man and I spent many long evenings with him discussing everything from electrons to math to paleontology to creation to science fiction to the way the brain is wired to relationships. I shall miss those talks, but he will always be alive in my memory when I dwell on them. Thank you for your comment. Please accept my condolences on your recent loss.
  3. 's Avatar
    I'm a new member and yours was the first blog i read (purely by accident). I was so moved by your honesty and willingness to share your thoughts on life, illness and loss. My dad never talked to me about anything other than money and what the problem with me was. As a result i obtained a BA, PGCE and MA degree. Still i would trade all that for him to have a converstion with me, hug me when he arrived home for his stressful job, or call me his princess. Even so, i would miss him greatly if he died although i would have to work hard at understanding why he ever wanted me in the first place.