This apology goes out to my wonderful and weird family and friends. I’ve been, MIA more or less, for over 5 years. A lot of you have hung in there, regardless. We kept in touch via the internet, e-mail and Facebook. It was all I could manage, to tell you the truth.
A lot has gone on and it just ripped the life right out of me. Tired all the time. What’s the expression? Felt rode hard and hung up wet.
Here’s the scoop; you knew the basics but I’ll share this with you as my “excuse” for not being such a great friend.
In 2009, Dad was diagnosed with a form of leukemia. Relatively common in older folks. He had to take meds and then undergo blood transfusions. The transfusions started at every 6 weeks and eventually down to every 2 weeks. He had bad reactions; terrible rashes and other symptoms. He lost weight and his heart started to take a beating. Never lost his sense of humour though. Finally his heart couldn’t take it anymore and the doctors told me he needed an operation. He underwent a barrage of tests only to find out he was a poor candidate. They suggested a new procedure and gave us all hope that this would work. Told us the odds were terrific etc. etc.
Daddy was pretty pragmatic, so he asked me to get the notary so he could do up a will and a medical mandate. He assigned me as executor and power of attorney for both. I didn’t think that it was going to be necessary. The doctors were so optimistic. Dad had a choice, leave his heart the way it was – giving him very little time or the operation, which would afford him a better chance. The thing that scared him was that his heart would give out and Mom would be left to deal with it.
The operation was not a success; Dad failed twice during the operation. The doctors, IMO, didn’t take, into consideration, the beating his kidneys also took as a result of the transfusions. He came out of the operation and his kidneys failed to re-start. He coded during the night on Dec. 22nd. He died.
I called the hospital that morning to see how Dad fared; that’s when they told me he had died. I called my brother to go over to my Mom before she called and found out by phone. Then the bureaucracy of death took over. My Mom did not handle Dad’s passing well. In addition, after the will was excuted, it became clear that she could not maintain the house. We had to pack up her life, determine where she would be most comfortable and safe.
During Dad’s illness and his passing. I lost a good friend to cancer.
We had to build a space for Mom to live, with us. Dave and Logan worked night and every spare minute preparing a space for her. A space where she would have independence but she would still be safe. Her health was deteriorating fast. She had stopped eating well, at her home. Her kidneys were going and her diabetes was hard to control as was the condition of her blood. She had had a diabetic stroke in 2006 and was on Coumadin.
She had to go to the hospital twice a month for blood tests, then there was the kidney specialist and the cardiologist. In 2012, she started to get worse. She had heart crises that necessitated a number of visits to emergency, sometimes by car but more often by ambulance. I knew a couple of the techs by their first name after a while. This continued throughout 2013. I would go with her to her appointments because she would forget (probably intentionally) what the doctors were saying. I had to set out her meds and there was so much of it. She couldn’t be trusted to take them, so I had to call or come home at lunch, to ensure she was taking them and that she was okay. I found out that she was flushing some of her meds down the sink. I discovered a pill that was not quite dissolved in the sink.
In 2012, things weren’t going well at work, I was still locked up with the paperwork from Dad’s passing, taking care of Mom. I hadn’t had time to grieve. I melted down in February of 2012 and had to take 4 weeks off from work.
Then, Mom started to have issues with her foot. It began to turn colour, deep red. Off to a podiatrist – asshole. He kept giving her creams…it was the circulation as a result of blogged arteries in her leg and he was giving her creams. I took her to her GP over the foot – she sent us down the hall to a specialist who took me aside and told me to get her to the hospital immediately. This was in 2013. The doctors told her should would need surgery. She refused. We had to go back and forth, she would have a heart incident and we’d go through the same discussions. She needed an operation.
During this time, Mom stopped eating. She said everything tasted horrible. So we had to ensure she ate; often, she’d wait until we were busy and throw her meals out. This played hell with her diabetes and more crises occurred. (During all of this running back and forth, I realized that I had to get my license. The taxi fees were killing me, financially. So in November of 2013; I got my license and was able to drive her to appointments and such.)
Her foot started to turn black. This time, I had to lay down the law and forced her to go back to emerg. The hospital transferred her to the Jewish as they were unable to help her. They didn’t have the specialist required. It was then that the doctors told her that without the operation to repair the arterial damage in her leg, she would face amputation or death by gangrene. She finally agreed to the operation.
They tried without general anaesthesia at first. It didn’t work. They couldn’t get past the blockage. She would need to go for major surgery with general anaesthetic. The prognosis was not good due to her heart and her kidneys. She made me do the notary thing again; again, I was executor and holder of her power of attorney for the medical mandate.
She had the operation and the surgeon tells us that it was a success. We had hope. After all, he was doctor, he knew, right? Mom’s kidneys never re-started. The kidney specialist was incensed. The surgeon kept sending Mom for tests and procedures. The kidney specialist, Dr. Libman, was the only one who told me the truth. He told me, Mom was dying and that the tests were pointless. I will forever be grateful to him for being the only person who had the balls to speak the truth. So for the next week, I watched my mother die. I wanted her transferred to a palliative care facility near my home. The facility refused her. No one ever told me why she was refused but my guess is they thought she would die before the ambulance could get her there. Mom died on May 12th, with my brother and myself at her side. The end was peaceful. She stopped breathing and it was over. All the pain, the grieving for my father that she felt every day was over. But I had lost not only my mother but my best friend.
Then, I lost my uncle, on April 7th. He was a huge influence on my life and the lives of my kids. We all loved and respected the hell out of him. He passed in his sleep and while it may seem an odd thing to say; I’m glad. He left us the same way my grandmother did. He did not have to go through the years of pain my mother and father both suffered. For that I am grateful.
I know a lot of folks were put out by my lack of interest in things going on around me. And…well, all I can say is that one day, you may find yourself in my position and you have my sympathy because it is an awful place to be. Yes, I was abrupt and angry at the world. If those who called themselves family and/or friends can’t wrap their heads around it? So be it. That’s life.
Well, I have spent 6 years in hell and the fires are dying down. My interest in life is returning, slowly. The past ½ + decade is slowly passing to memory. A lot of it is fuzzy and maybe that’s a good thing. There was so much, in such a short space of time.
I hope that I am forgiven for not being around. Dave and I hope to change this. Maybe start with one of our Bar B Q’s and go from there. My apologies to all but I think you can see why I was so distant and cold. I had nothing left to share during this span.