Thursday, June 28, 2007

I am back in Kona now.

I have a new ambition in life and that is to die before my body falls apart. Let me tell you, getting old is shit.

Dad went to his appointment with the cardiologist today; I took him. The doctor readjusted his pacemaker which was put in more than four years ago when Dad had his stroke. In the doctor's office, Dad ran into an old acquaintance and former neighbor, Irwin, who was also in to have his pacemaker checked. Irwin, like Dad, is in a wheelchair, and the two of them strained to carry a conversation. I had to wheel Dad closer to his friend so they could hear each other.

Just to give you a fuller picture of my father's recent health woes, here's what's happened up to the present:

1. Dad had a stroke. I was home when it happened and was the one to find him face down on the floor, unable to move much other than his right arm, which he used, with success, to wake me up in the room next door, by hitting the common wall with a shoe. Dad was hospitalized for some time after this, then came home, in a wheel chair.

2. Dad broke his hip. I was also home when this happened. Dad was doing something in the kitchen when the phone rang and when he went to get it, he tripped over himself and fell, breaking the hip bone. He had replacement surgery, then spent a good long time in the Rehabilitation Hospital of the Pacific in Honolulu.

3. Upon his return, Dad fell and broke his shoulder. The treatment for this required a bit of creative taping and orders not to move. He didn't, and he got better.

4. Non-serious fall.

5. Non-serious fall.

6. Non-serious fall, etc.

7. Last month, I get a frantic call from Mom. Dad was in the hospital with some kind of leg infection (you see, his legs are swollen, puffy and purple from always being in a wheelchair) and while he was in, they discovered he had pneumonia. He was in the hospital for nearly two weeks, then Mom suggested I come home to spend time with him before I am due to head out to Columbia.

8. Two lumps have been found: one in his right lung, about 6cm big, and another the size of a hen's egg where a lymph node once was. In fact, we do not know the status of these lumps, but we will shortly. Dad is very weak, tires very easily and his once beautiful voice only barely squeaks out because there is something pressing against his vocal chords. Dad has also had a catheter installed for easy fluid evacuation. He keeps the attached bag in a "modesty pouch" and he refers to the whole unit that he has to drag around as his "evil cousin". Yesterday, his "evil cousin" released himself onto Dad's bedroom floor. Thankfully, the room is tiled.

Dad entrusts his medical care entirely to the Office of Veterans' Affairs. This means he has a VA appointed doctor who orders numerous treatments from various specialists, a VA nurse comes around every now and then to make sure Dad is still alive. I am very concerned about how all this works, however. It seems that there is very little communication going on between all these disparate caregivers and poor Dad just carries on, taking the THOUSANDS of pills that have been prescribed to him by all of these different doctors. He's got the largest pill box I have ever seen.

At 82, it seems somewhat unavoidable that Dad is at the end of his run. We don't exactly know how things will play out, but without a doubt, things are not looking terribly hopeful.

Dad is known for his many, many quotes and expressions, and the efficiency and appropriacy with which he wields them; the one I hear most often, now, is "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may..." I don' think I've heard anything truer in some time...