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Salem, Mass (Witch City) resident with deep southern roots! Love New England - let it snow! Still making up for all those years south! I'm a widow attempting to make merry but it is very hard. This is my way to vent, share, and talk about my path to finding happiness again. September 2006 I became a widow. My road out of the abyss of grief, guilt, and anger hasn't been easy but I'm clawing my way to something better. Seeing rays of hope and joy. Feel free to comment, share words of wisdom, or just read about my fairly mundane life. Slainte!

Monday, January 19, 2009

When your parents get old

it can really be an adventure and at times it can really suck! My mom never had the chance to get old. She retired at 65 and within weeks was diagnose with colon cancer. At 66 she passed away. My dad, God willing, will be 86 in July! He remarried a wonderful woman that has become one of my best friends. He had a heart attack and a quadruple bypass by deBakey nonetheless back in the 1980s. They gave him five years if he didn't change his life style. Well, he's proven to like a cat with more than nine lives - survivding almost 30 years since then. He's been pronounced dead three times (his claim...I'm not certain). He's had at least one major stroke (right after the heart surgery though no one told me until he was all over) and several TIAs. He retired early and spent many years seeing the USA in his silver bullet (read Airstream). He and my stepmom even drove from Louisiana to Alaska and back! But Dad isn't Dad anymore.
Over two years ago (ironically at the same time my dear husband was dying of lung cancer) dad had an episode where his oxygen levels (he suffers from a heart that is barely working and congestive heart failure among other things) dropped dangerously low. He was rushed to intensive care and the family kept vigil. Mine was long distance as I stayed close to Charlie's side who was fighting hard against cancer. I bought my plane ticket to go back to Louisiana only when told there was no hope. I changed the reservation three times - the last was to cancel. Dad had rallied back and was moved from intensive care to a nursing home for six weeks of rehab. He couldn't walk without assistance and was suffering from short term memory loss. Meanwhile, Charlie lost his fight and we said our goodbyes in this life
Dad is still with us, though he is weaker than ever, will never walk again without assistance and his short term memory is really shot. I still love him so much but our relationship has changed. He tries so hard to hold conversations but he gets confused so easily. I try not to correct unless it is really important so I have to bite my tongue sometimes. In the past two years he has been in and out of the hospital so many times I've lost count. He's had staph infection in his elbow from a cut that took months of IV antibiotics followed by surgery to heal, a hip replacement, and surgery for a fractured vertebrae! Like I said - a cat with many lives!
He is such a trooper but at the same time he is demanding and can be so frustrating. He insists that he will/can walk and he will/can drive. Thus, the crux of my angst today. He can walk only short distances with his walker. He has been told by every doctor never to drive again. This is a huge issue for him. I've been told its very common - a loss of independence - but it hurts and worries the entire family. He even called the local dealership (there is only one in this small town) and asked them to bring a car for him to test drive. (My stepmom was gone for all of 60 minutes!) The dealership did their job and showed up with a car. They let him drive it! I don't know how far he got or how he drove but this is scary! The last time I know of Dad driving, he backed my stepmom's car out of the garage and ran into the fence. He sold his Lincoln over a year ago knowing he would never be able to drive again. But this resurfaces ever so often (too often) and causes all of us much distress. So I played the bad guy and told Dad he didn't need a car and he shouldn't be driving! He is angry and his feelings are very hurt. He will get over it and may not even remember it clearly after today.
But it is so depressing to see someone who was so vibrant, strong, and full of life wear down and not be able to do the things he loved to do. Sometimes I'm at my wits end and my poor stepmom is beside herself. God bless her! I love Dad dearly but he is giving us a run for the money. Patience is a virtue and I'm learning it the hard way!
To be continued...

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