Just to give some background...
On June 1, 2010 (I was 3 months pregnant at the time) as I was getting ready for work in the morning I saw a text message from my Mom asking me to call her as soon as possible. My parents live directly across the street from my Grandparents (the ones I am really close to because they had a big part in raising me) and both of my Grandparents have had significant health issues that have put them in the hospital for long periods of time and have made us more than a little nervous. So, my first thought was that something serious had happened to one of them.
I never expected it to be about my Father.
Even though he had gone through cancer five years earlier, by the time he was telling me about the diagnosis, he was also able to tell me what the game plan was. He came through it beautifully - and the key words in that previous sentence were that 'he was telling me'. There is something so reassuring about hearing about something from the person who is 'not ok' - because when you can hear their voice, you know that they are at least somewhat 'ok'.
This time it wasn't my Dad telling me anything.
My mom was telling me that Dad had experienced an odd sort of bleeding in his brain. Although the doctors said it wasn't a stroke or an aneurism, the effects were similar. He was left unable to communicate correctly - he said yes when he meant no and the reverse. He couldn't wrap his head around long sentences and couldn't 'find' words that to most of us come to our lips without any effort. He could understand everything as far as we knew - the 'input' was working fine - but the 'output' was completely broken. Although he could make sounds with his mouth, he had forgotten how to speak, could no longer write, and had to relearn how to do simple tasks like turning on the tv and reading a book.
Over the next few months we learned very little about Dad's situation. Doctors did a number of tests and scans and could find no cause of the bleeding. He also gradually improved until he was almost completely back to normal. Only those of us who knew him really well would know that he was at all different and that his comprehension was not what it once was, and when he stumbled for words or stuttered that this was a result of his odd 'injury'. We were so hopeful.
Until it happened again.
Each time he would begin with less ability than the time before, and each time he would recover to almost what he was like before the current bleeding. It was like he was jumping down a flight of stairs, then taking all but one step up, then jumping down another flight, but each time he was ending up a step below where he had been before.
On Saturday morning I got a text from my Mom saying that it had happened again. This time he was in the ICU and they were keeping him in a drug-induced coma because each time they tried to let him wake up he would go into seizures which would only make the damage worse.
Today they removed his breathing tube.
My Dad is 52 years old, and he will never be the man I used to know. He has one grandaughter (Celia) who is nearly one, and although she might get to know this new man who acts a bit like a child and loves her dearly - she will never get to know the Dad I had growing up. This is unbelievably difficult for me. My Dad was my hero - he refused to let my mother abort me, and when he found out she was about to take off with me - he chose single parenthood over letting me go. My Dad taught me how to be strong, how to be realistic about myself and my abilities, how to work hard for what I want and how to push myself to achieve anything I want to. He taught me how to be strong about what I believe, and although he believed very differently than I do, it has been because of him that my faith has been challenged and I have become so much stronger in my faith and relationship with God. My Dad was a master craftsman who could build anything, even though he didn't really think of himself that way. He was never very good in school, but he taught me to read when I was 3 and it wasn't until I was much older that I learned that when he spent days and days with his nose in some textbook or other, that it took him three times as long to read it as I would because he was dyslexic and had to really focus to make all of the words stand still. He bought me a textbook on philosophy when I was 12 and I read it, and we discussed things in detail and debated everything. It is because of my Dad that I am the geek that I am, and that I have the passion for learning that I do. I can completely respect a view that is opposite to mine because I always respected his, and he always respected mine.
I could go on forever about my Dad, and I suppose no one would want to read it. I think my point has been made, and I hope that my next blog post will have some good news.
Grab My Button
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