July 09, 2005
Yesterday was my Dad's 73rd birthday. I had plans of writing another long post about some of his stories. Something about how he got his degree in his mid-30's with 4 small kids in the house hiding in the laundry room for peace, or about how he would help his Dad making sure everyone got to their blackout shelters in WWII.

But that was not meant to be. Instead we spent a very quiet evening looking after my Mom.

I posted last week that my Mom isn't well. I can't remember what I wrote and am too knackered to look it up, so if I repeat myself, it's my blog so I can. [grin]

My Mom has emphysema. It is worsening. We knew it was coming, we knew this is not just a minor illness. But everyone expected it would be a long way off. Apparently we were wrong.

When my Mom got sick the day after her birthday. she got steadily worse. By last weekend, she was unable to get oxygen, and would pass out and even had a couple seizures. My Dad dutifuly looked after her, and I called every 2 hours. I had a friend in town from San Fran, and also I knew she couldn't take visitors as it was. My Mom is a fighter, and that is what I am sure is helping her as much as it is. She refused to go to the doctor for the first week, and would blast anyone who tried to tell her to go to the hospital.

But she finally did last Friday. The doctor respected her wishes not to be hospitalized but put her on major medications, including strong steroids. She did warn her that things needed to turn around quickly or hospitals would no longer be a choice.

My Mom has improved since then. But they are tiny tiny steps. Now she can speak a full sentence without losing a breath, and she can manage to sit on the edge of her bed. Yesterday, she walked into the bathroom unassisted.

She went back for the doctor to check her yesterday and the doctor was none too pleased. She should be much better than she is, but her lungs are deeply inflamed and all the medication in the world is not helping because effectively the route is closed. She ordered her to the hospital, but my Mom once again refused. She said it took every bit of her energy but there was no way she was going. She told the doctor 'I have my husband who will take care of me to my dying breath and I am not going into some germ-filled, overcrowded hospital'. Her fear isn't unfounded, and I know she believes deeply that if she does go, things will get worse before they get better which she doesn't have the strength for.

So the doctor relented. She is at home on oxygen, with a nebulizer she must use 6 times a day. The doc has given her until Monday to show some improvement or then she must go.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a sort of two-fold issue with the rest of my family. One is this quiet undercurrent that she has somehow done this to herself. That her years of smoking, although she quit about 5 years ago, has been some sort of self-multilation and therefore, it's ok not to really respect what's happening to her now. The other issue is that frankly, my brothers are doing what they do best and sticking their head in the sand and pretending it's not happening. They call every 2-3 days (or should I say their wives) and then they've somehow done their duty.

I live very close and have done what I can, but it's not as much as I would like to. I have had a little injury myself and am a little immobile. Apparently, last week by doing absolutely nothing at all, I have torn my LCL in my right knee. Walking is, at the very least, challenging.

Dad is exhausted. He was nearly falling over yesterday but he will not relax. He won't leave her side for even a minute. He's exactly where he wants to be, but I worry for him too. He's not getting any younger and this last two weeks has aged him deeply.

I call her every hour or so, just to check. My Dad is deaf as well so it's difficult to see how he's doing but I've had a few conversations with him while I'm there. Not easy though...he's a stoic guy and his love for her is so strong right now. It makes me a little weepy to know that after 53 years, their love has grown stronger than any relationship I know.

Yesterday, over cake, my Mom apologized to my Dad for being sick and not being able to do anything for his birthday.

To which, he looked at her with dogtired eyes and said 'You have given me the greatest gift. You are here and that's all I wanted.'

Vancouver, British Columbia
A patriotic Canadian full of visions of a better Canada, random thoughts and a lot of hot air. Who am I? A struggling writer and photographer, who looks forward to a better Canada. I read. A lot. I learn. A lot. I push myself. A lot. The world is a small place, and getting smaller every day. I'm proud to have friends in every corner of the earth, and abide by the old adage that there are no strangers, only friends we haven't met yet.

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Turning thirty and a half
  • July 2004
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