Friday, March 16, 2007

A Special Day (a long story made long!)

(this is an image that I found online... it is not my parents' home)

A year ago, March 2006, my father was taken to hospital (damn, but he has too many "frequent flyer points" with hospitals) and was seriously ill, having suffered several seizures and the doctors thinking the worst -- that he was going to remain in a vegetative state.

I had to cancel a trip to California to attend a friend's daughter's wedding, and to meet a number of L.A.-based bloggers. Even a blog commenter was going to travel from Las Vegas to meet me and the others. I was disappointed to have to cancel, and then learn that the bloggers were not going to meet if I was not there. (okay, so that fact also stroked my ego)

Fellow bloggers helped me keep the faith, warming me and my family with constant prayers and encouraging words. And thank G-d, my father proved yet again that miracles and prayer and mind over matter work.

It's a year ago today, Friday, March 17th, that my father walked out of the hospital and went home. Yes, weaker indeed, and albeit with the use (occasional) of a cane, but still very much his own person with his mind and body rather intact. He and my mother's much-aniticipated 50th wedding anniversary was celebrated in June, along with special birthdays and family Yom Tov meals.

Almost three months ago, my father was taken to the emergency room with chest pains. After overnight observation and tests, his heart proved to be fine, but he began to suffer from multiple seizures, seizures that truly debilitated him both mentally and physically. He was over-medicated in order to control the seizures, but both that and the seizures themselves took their toll. Improvement was not noticeable for a while, as it had been last year.

He was moved from department to department, still observed for both his heart and his head. Finally, when a bed became available, he was taken to the rehab wing, and we were told that he'd have to go to a long-term rehab care facility to help serve his needs. We were told that patients either went home, to a home or to a rehab facility. And of course, the one he was accepted to was at the end of the city, and we dreaded the day that he would be transferred there. There would be no signs of Jewish life for him, no Kosher food probably, no Jewish chaplain if needed, and traveling time to get there would take forever.

As it was, my dear mother has been spending an average of 10-12 hours a day by my father's side, being his right hand, so to speak. Everyone -- including us -- tell her to look after herself or she will get sick too. But dedication is dedication. My father would put my mother before him; my mother puts my father before her!

A couple of weeks ago, my mother told me that my father's assigned doctor began to change his tune, saying that my father didn't really need the rehab long-term care any longer; substantial improvement ( my father had to learn to walk again and do little daily things; his mind had to be cleared and made lucid too when the drugs were minimized) was evident. We were thrilled to hear this, but were fearful of bringing him home and the changes this medical setback would carry into family life -- caregivers, special equipment, further loss of independence, etc.

Plans are in action to get my father what he needs and to help him adapt to the changes. But my father is a stubborn man; he wants to go home without help there, wants to just be in his own bed and away from the hospital environment. Only after settling in, will he decide what is best for him.

My father is anxious to go home; he began to tell the staff he wants to go. A team of social workers, doctors, occupational therapists and physical therapists met with my parents, assessed the situation and gave my father the green light.

Today, Friday, March 16, 2007, after spending nearly three months in a hospital bed, my father is G-d willing going his own his comfort zone.

My husband wanted to arrange for a medical transfer service to bring him home instead of my mother and I. I thanked my husband but told him: "My father is anxious to be home. He's made great progress in these three months. His great pleasure will be kissing the mezuzah as he WALKS through his front door. That is his achievement. He does not want to go into his house while lying on a gurney; he's been taken out of his house several times while lying on a gurney."

And my husband completely understood.

Yes, we are all scared of the life changes due to his still-weakened medical state, his many medications and their side effects, the mental/emotional/physical toll this all takes on my mother and on my father, and the lifestyle changes. But I know my father, I know his strengths.
One of his greatest strengths is that his stubborness has always helped him achieve success, if only on a low-key level. Whether that success is emotional happiness, financial contentment or breaking down barriers and leaping over hurdles, my father is the man to get things done...his way. He made great strides in his mental and physical capabilities these past several weeks, not because of any professional therapy given to him, but because he is his own therapist; he knows what he needs to do to improve and works hard to do it.
My father has two grandsons' bar mitzvahs to look forward to -- this summer, and next, G-d willing. My oldest brother turns 50, G-d willing, at the end of this year. And every day is a reason to celebrate, my father says, if you wake up reasonably healthy.
Although I stopped writing about my father's medical situation quite a while ago, I would still get emails from people, asking after my father's status. I thank you all once again for traveling this road with me and my family since mid-December. Your continued support, even from great distances, means a lot to me. A lot to us.
I hope to be able to share with you many more special days celebrated with both my parents, my siblings and their families, my husband and my children.
A special day indeed...!
L'chaim! To life!