Thursday, December 28, 2006


I like to do the limbo.

I don't like to be in limbo.

We are in limbo with/about my dear father.

Here is my father's head-related medical history. You will then understand what kind of head traumas he's had, and the long-lasting effects, and thus the seizures.

November 1981 -- brain tumor; benign. We discovered it as a result of a grand-mal seizure he had at night in bed. He went to bed with a severe headache that night. He had surgery to remove the tumor, was on anti-seizure medication for over a year, couldn't drive, but thank G-d made wonderful progress and a complete recovery.

January 2000 -- mild stroke; slight confusion and garbled speech.

April 2003 -- fell on my icy front steps; hit his head; suffered grand mal seizures; in intensive care during SARS crisis in Toronto; horrible time. Back on anti-seizure medication.

March 2006 -- suffered several grand mal seizures; rushed via ambulance to hospital emergency dept.; medical personnel thought he'd had a massive stroke; in hospital for 2 1/2 weeks; lots of confusion, some memory loss, weakness, but came back to us...walking out of the hospital, albeit now with a cane to help his balance.

December 2006 -- chest pains and general weakness; taken to emergency; chest fine; begins to have several seizures -- grand-mal and continual petit-mal seizures. HORRIBLE confusion, great weakness, sleeping constantly; severe memory loss. And in among all that, there is still the dear, sweet and gentle man who's concerned and worried about all those around him. With his many lucid comments shine his true personality, his base qualities!

Why is he still having seizures if medication is supposedly controlling them? Till they find the right dose, I suppose. Funnily enough, this is the same medication he first used 25 years ago after his brain tumor and the surgery to remove it.

But it is also anti-seizure medication, and at high doses, that lends itself to severe memory loss.

My father always says that he was reborn 25 years ago. He remembers the date of his surgery and thanks G-d every day and especially every anniversary of that do we.

Last night I was with him until just before midnight; in between his sleeping and the few petit mal seizures I witnessed, he spoke both with lucidity and also with confusion. In one of his lucid conversations, he told me how important it is to be a good person, but how it sometimes backfires on you. He told a story, reverting back to his mother tongue, Yiddish, of how in the war, when he was in Russia, he was trying to come to the protection of someone and the person who'd been attacking that someone attacked my father, beating him over the head with a stick...that led to severe injury, probably a concussion and the need for stitches.

I said, "Dad, that beating might've been the start of all your head troubles."

Twenty five years ago the doctors indeed said that a head injury received earlier in his life might've led to the growth of the tumor.

In any case, over all these years, there has been a buildup of fluid around the brain. It is this fluid that presses against certain nerves, and thus causes seizures. But with his cocktail of numerous medications he must take for his several ailments, one never knows how other drugs impact everything, too.

He went in to Emergency a week ago today, not feeling good, but knowing everything, being able to do just about everything, and being very much his own person. A week later, he is a synthesis of fragmented memories, little physical mobility and great confusion.

Will keep you posted....

If you can, please daven for Yaakov Arieh ben Chaya Malka.


Anonymous said...

You and your Dad are in our thoughts and prayers.

JMK2006 said...

Sounds as if a series of minor miracles has kept him alive thus far.

Anonymous said...

He sounds like a special man, and your family has been through a lot with him. We're davening.

torontopearl said...

Thank you all very much.

My father is indeed a very special person, RM, and all those whose path he crosses in life, continue to say the same. You're a mother; you know how you "kvell" (beam with pride) when people say something nice about your children...? Well, I feel the same when people say that about my mother and father.

I wrote JMK (Jeremiah) a note earlier and said that today, in his lucid, but depressed, moments, my father announced very emotionally to my mother and to whoever was in the room, "This woman has given me 50 years of life!!" (they celebrated their 50th anniversary in June, which my father had waited for for a LOOONNNG time) My father doesn't recognize that he has given so much in return.

And as I told JMK in an offline note, it is not only miracles but the survivor instinct, a simple but complete faith in G-d, the love of his family and his family's love in return, and his caring and concerned nature for others (I always say that even if he wasn't well, he saw beyond his own nose to how others were faring) that have kept my father going all these years, through countless medical crises, not to mention surviving the war and losing close family members during the Holocaust.

Alan aka Avrum ben Avrum said...

dear toronto pearl

first off, may your dad have a refuah schleima!

secondly, your story hits close to home because my son Ben Z'L had epilepsy!

i am ...

very sincerely yours,

alan d. busch

kasamba said...

I wish him better- soon!
we'll all be davening on my end!

A Simple Jew said...

I will be sure to daven for him.

Anonymous said...

Your description of your dad with his lucid and confused moments intermingling reminds me so much of my own dad when he was ill with brain cancer. This must be so difficult for you all. May your special father have a refuah shlaima.

Danny said...

Oy, oy, oy, your dad sounds like an amazing man and this all sounds like hell. We will definitely be including him in our prayers this Shabbat and beyond.

Mia said...

Pearl, I was so sad to read this post (literally keeping back tears). I wish your father refuah shelema and he is in my prayers.

Please keep us posted, we are all feeling with you!!!

cruisin-mom said...

Pearl...hope you feel the care and love we are all sending your dad, and you and your family. I can only imagine how your hearts are hurting.

torontopearl said...

Thank you all for your continued good wishes and davening. My family appreciates it very much.