Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Caring for Daddy

As my father endured his cancer treatments he often would feel so lousy that he simply couldn't bear company. I understood, but often wept once I was given the rejection call where he would tell me I wouldn't be able to come to visit. I often was all ready showered, dressed and in my car with the GPS set for Daddy's.... when the call would come asking me to retreat and come another day.
In the time since then, Dad fell on Oct. 21st, breaking his hip. It seems so unfair to have to deal with a broken hip on top of lung cancer. How could this have happened. He isn't a frail elderly gentleman who falls often. He is a vital 67 year old who was alert and not clumsy. He simply tripped on the oxygen cord that helps him to breathe. It all just feels so unjust.
Recuperation led to a horrible stay at Healthsouth Rehabilitation in Harmarville. I pray you never need to send someone there...and if you have a choice pick any other place, BUT them. The care he received there was incredulous. They were nasty and rude and insulting. We even nicknamed one of his nurses "Nurse Ratchet". He got out by having such a horrible yelling fit with the worst nurse that he had a breathing attack and was returned to St. Margaret's. We thought they were bad, but Healthsouth made St. Margaret's look like heaven. In this day and age of health care, the only way to be certain to get decent care is to have a healthy member stay in your room round clock to be certain of your care, if not doing it yourself altogether.
Though therapy is incomplete, we have decided it best for Dad to return home and simply remain there for the rest of his care. Nurses come and go and therapists as well who all help in his care. Mondays and Thursdays, Aunt Betty cares for Daddy and on Tuesdays and Wednesdays are my days.
I have come to love these days. It's a long drive, but it's a peaceful one with beautiful scenery and reminds me of God's beauty that lay in my path daily. The hours that I missed in trying to visit him in the past year are now mine to spend with him as long as I choose. It is a blessing to be with him this much and to be able to help him. I love playing "nurse" and love making my "patient" comfortable and bringing him lunch on a tray. Giving him back rubs that make him cozy and comfortable makes me feel so useful and I love knowing I am doing all I can for him. I love him so much and look at these moments as gifts. Kathy (my stepMom) is always so grateful bringing me meals, allowing me to do my laundry here (which is so helpful!). She has one of those sets of giant front loaders so I can double my laundry. So they are helping me as much as I am helping them... and that is a double blessing for all of us.
We have good days and bad... and I know that's how it's going to be. I am grateful for the good ones and do all I can for him in the bad. It is a blessing that my darling husband Brian also allows me to come here this much because things need taking care of at home, and he must step up to the plate. He also does things here, such as soon he will arrive to install a shower bar so Dad can take a safe shower. He installed a light and he and Shane and Zane even helped set up the hospital bed. I love my own family even more when I can see their compassion showing through for my Dad.
And then there are the friends and family and facebook prayer warriors who continually lift us all in prayer. I am so grateful for all of you who pray for him. Often I post a request on FB and by the next day, things are looking better.
Caring for Daddy is one of the life changing moments I will treasure always. I love every minute we spend together. Kathy tells me to go home before she gets here, but I simply can't... I must wait till she arrives to be certain he is cared for in every minute. I love being a "nurse" and I am so lucky to have these moments with him.
Keep praying! We are all so grateful to all of you who care enough to remember him in your prayers.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Update on Daddy & My Sons & Helmets

Here we are... May 2010 and I looked at the blog and didn't even realize that it's been since August that I have posted.
First my father-- He is still hanging in there and fighting the good fight! He was accepted at the Cancer Treatment Center in Philadelphia. To fly there, a friend from his girlfriend's work allowed them to use their frequent flier miles for 4 trips! What a blessed gift that someone who never met my father was so willing to bestow upon him. I wish I could thank him in person! People truly are good and have wonderful giving hearts. I also acknowledge in gratitude the Angel Flights program for getting my father to his last 2 appointments! He flew in unique little planes with pilots who are gracious and kind. They won't accept a dime. They tell my father they know they are privileged to own a plane and this is their way of giving back. They fly from other areas like NY and NJ and Harrisburg, PA just to pick up my father and Kathy and take him to his appointments! What a glorious blessing for my Dad to get their safely and quickly and return the same way. So please continue to lift my father up in prayer that flights will continue to come and chemo will keep the cancer at bay! We are grateful for any prayers given and the result is 1 1/2 years after diagnosis... he is still with us! He can't wait to walk into the doctor's offices at the 2 year mark and tell them BALONEY to your months diagnosis. God has final say, not man! PRAISE GOD!
Life's priorities took precedence over any card making activities for sure. Though I miss my hobby greatly, my illness only allows me the time to finish my calligraphy work. I understand that, but hope to be able to visit my beloved card making hobby once again as well as jewelry making and watercolor artwork. I got a fabulous card spinner (FOR FREE!) from an old friend and bought a bunch of dog rubber stamps on ebay. While I have so many fun ideas in my head for cards, I never seem to have time to do them. So while this started out as a blog about card making, it's life we discuss now. Life around here is NEVER DULL!
It's rough being a Mom to two boys who make me feel like I have 8. Their exciting activities including dirt bike riding, BMX riding and skateboarding have kept me in the ER 3 times in one month! Zane broke his ankle skateboarding and is still healing. Shane had a painful abdomen attack and his BP dropped to 42 bottom number, scaring the crap out of me! Then Shane fell riding BMX with no helmet on and his new bike handlebars hit him in the lip knocking him unconscious. He then did a free fall 4 ft. to the concrete below and his head received the most damage. We spent hours in the ER of St. Clair Hospital and then an ambulance took us to Children's for better pediatric care. He was diagnosed with a severe concussion. He had no memory of how he did it, where he was, what color his bike was, who the president is. It was the most frightening thing in the world to hear my child continually repeat the questions over and over "What happened?" "Where am I?" "How did I do this?" "Where are we going?". He didn't know the color of his new bike or what kind it was (after weeks of searching for the perfect bike). He must have asked me 100 times or more. I knew then he had brain damage and I will never forget that day as long as I live.The next morning he became more cohesive as his memories came back to him. He remembered the bike and the president, and I sighed a huge sigh of relief to see him come back to his normal self.
After several tests at the concussion clinic of UPMC, we have discovered that he is still having learning issues 3 weeks later and all school work had to be cut in half as well as teachers needing to give him more time to complete all work.
I am grateful that he is going to be OK. I know it could have been so much worse and that he is very lucky. No chipped teeth (handlebars hit him in the lip and nose) no teeth damage at the dentist yesterday, the lip healed, all bloody places on his face quickly healed. His shoulder popped out for about a week or so. No broken bones were found. No bleeding was found under the skull. I never felt so much relief as the moments they told me all that Shane would be OK with time.
I will never again lose the battle over the helmet. I share his picture today so that if you know any children who don't wear them, may they see this photo and never end up like my sweet Shane did on that day.
Many people prayed for Shane that day and beyond and I will always be grateful for your care, concern and your thoughts sent to God on Shane's behalf. I believe you helped to make him well and will continue to do so as I ask you to pray for him still. Please lift my father too as he continues his battle with cancer. Life can be tough, but it's friends like you who help us all to make it through. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.