It’s been a bit, hasn’t it? Thank you for the messages and support.
Gosh, where to begin? I wish I had some sexy tale of having been at slave camp, naked and abused and fucked to titillate you with, but alas, I have nothing that exciting. I was at my parents in Illinois, doing dutiful daughter duties.
I think I last ended here by saying my dad had fallen. And he did. From the top of an extension ladder onto a concrete floor. He suffered a compound fracture to his elbow – crushed it, actually, and shattered his knee cap. There was a few days of waiting on information, he switched hospitals twice before anything was done. The first one, the one nearest to them, said both injuries were too complicated so they referred him to the V.A. Hospital. Once there, that surgeon also felt the surgeries would be too complicated so they moved him to the University of Iowa Hospital. He fell on Wednesday morning- he went into surgery to fix the breaks on SATURDAY. Can you imagine?
Anyway, he ended up with many pins and screws and wires in both his knee and his elbow. He also had a lateral crack in the hand opposite the broken arm, but they didn’t do anything about that. From the beginning he’d been complaining about stomach pain but xrays were clear so they dismissed it.
For 7 days.
Until his bowel ruptured.
He was then rushed into emergency surgery, they removed a section of his intestines, he ended up in ICU, medically sedated and on a respirator- and that’s when I left here and went there.
My mom, up to that point, hadn’t left his side. At all. She hadn’t eaten (because she couldn’t get to the cafeteria), she wasn’t taking her meds (because she couldn’t get to them), she was sleeping sitting upright in a chair. Her legs had swollen and her gout had flared so badly she couldn’t walk.
I have a lot of unpleasant thoughts about the family members who live nearby and their… inadequate actions. A lot of anger, actually.
I was getting bits of information, incomplete information, up to that point. They (siblings) would assure me they were doing one thing, and when I’d get the chance to talk to my mom, she’d tell me something else. I was relying on the family members for information because my mom’s cell phone was spotty, she was out of her mind with worry and scattered and stressed. She’s 73 and in poor health herself.
I was livid when, on the Saturday of my dad’s first major surgery, an 8 hour long procedure, NOBODY went to the hospital to be with her. She sat in his empty room, unable to walk or go anywhere. Worried, scared. Alone. I tried to talk her into going to a hotel, offered to pay for it over the phone, everything. She wouldn’t leave him. I knew it was because she was afraid to do it alone, but I couldn’t get any of the family to stay there with her.
But it’s easy for me to sit in judgement from where I am, right? Far away, removed from any responsibility. I was itching to go from the very beginning. But… slave.
I’m not going to paint Master in a bad light here. His objections were entirely legitimate. Why did I have to drive all the way from Houston when there are at least 15 capable family members living literally within 10 minutes of my parents. Why did he have to give up his slave, fund the trip, absorb the hassle of animal care (and serve himself, do his own laundry, suck his own dick…) (I kid, I kid.) (….mostly.)
The simple answer is because they weren’t doing what needed to be done. Next question?
Or, at least it was that simple to me. It took him a little bit longer to get there, and it took a little bit of me getting upset about it. It took me reminding him that my DAD was in ICU on a RESPIRATOR. Now am I leaving right now or what?
Why yes, yes I am. He’s not a bad guy- Master, that is. I think he just wanted it to not be as serious as it was. He wanted to not have his life or time interrupted.
Anyway. I got there. Am had come to visit me just prior to all this so she went with me. There are ‘family rooms’ that you can rent right there in the hospital. They are pretty much exactly like small hotel rooms. Beds, private bath with shower, mini fridge. There were even laundry facilities and a snack room with full size fridge and microwave, coffee pots, vending machines. So I paid for a week, got my mom into a shower and into bed, set Am to stay in the room with her, and sat up the whole night in my dad’s room. The only reason my mom wouldn’t leave is because she wouldn’t leave him alone. Just… in case… you know? I knew she’d go if someone was there with him. Nobody else was willing to sit there all night.
My mom was in bad shape. She was getting confused- lack of sleep and lack of food and lack of taking her medications, most likely. She was shaky, she looked terrible. My mom, like I said is 73 years old. She has never- not ever- spent a night anywhere alone. Not in her own house, even. She’s either had my dad or her kids at home. Her anxiety level was through the roof.
I mean, she was afraid he was going to die. And he could have. Did I also mention he had a pulmonary embolism? That the reason he was on a respirator is because they couldn’t get his oxygen level out of the 80’s, that his blood pressure kept rocketing to 180/100.
They don’t put someone into ICU, medically sedate them and attach them to a respirator for funsies.
He could have died. Legit.
SO WHERE WAS EVERYONE? THE FUCK.
It took a few days of meals and sleep and getting her medications before my mom started to look and feel normal again. She broke down and cried several times over the course of my visit because she was just so relieved to have someone there. The hospital is HUGE. Really, really huge. How anyone thought my mom, who can barely walk around a grocery store on a good day, was going to navigate that hospital on her own is beyond me. I wish I would have taken my fitbit with me to see how many miles I logged in a day, pushing her from our room to the cafeteria to the ICU, multiple times a day. It was many, I bet. Many miles.
I even got her out of the hospital a few times to go to Wal-mart to buy supplies, or to grab a bite of non-cafeteria food. Just for a change of pace. Fresh air. By then my dad had been taken off the respirator and moved from ICU to intermediate care (the intermediate care wing is also the burn unit, and there was a child.. maybe 2 years old, a burn victim, and I had to listen to that baby cry and scream and beg for his mommy and daddy all night long and it broke my heart, y’all. So sad.)
After a week, to the day, my dad was being released to a nursing home. That was pretty good progress I thought. From ICU to discharge in a week? Go Team Dad!
You might be thinking that since he was out of immediate danger, I could have headed home then, right? Of course not. Because my mom was going home then, and that presented a whole nother set of problems.
See, my parent’s house was built probably in the 1920’s. Or thereabouts. A long damn ago, anyway. My dad has literally rebuilt the entire house, room by room, gutting it to the studs. They’ve lived there for 30-some years. He’s still doing reno. Or.. he was. Anyway, the house had never been set up for a furnace. They’ve heated with a wood stove for forever.
They did install a furnace, several years ago. And then never used it. I suppose my dad knew that someday he’d have to give up wood cutting so he’d better have a contingency plan. But the furnace didn’t work, and there wasn’t the ductwork to run it anyway.
So. Now my dad has a broken arm and a broken leg. And not just a simple bone break, but a shattered, wired-together mess of joints. And had major abdominal surgery, with an incision literally from nipples to groin. And my mom can barely carry a gallon of milk- and that’s IF she can walk that day at all. So who’s going to haul that wood and feed the fire so they don’t freeze all winter? Hey! How about all those family members that live nearby.
Anyway. I got a furnace guy out there. He came back with an estimate of a few grand. $2200.00, in fact. Repair the furnace, run ductwork, put in a thermostat, blah blah. I also needed to have their propane tank filled up. That was an additional $300.
My parents have 6 kids. There are 17 grandchildren ranging in age from 19 to 37. Of the ones who were willing to help out with the furnace, kids and grandkids, we split it and we each had to give almost $400. You do the math.
My parents could have maxed out their credit card or taken a loan and fixed it themselves. They knew it had to be done now with everything going on. I didn’t want that. Who knows what other expenses they will have now, or what might crop up because of the accident. I wanted to do this for them because they’ve always always gone above and beyond for all of us.
We could have paid for it in full ourselves, too. But why the fuck should we have to? I’m not an only child.
The sad thing is that my 3 kids, no joke the poorest of them all, each donated 100 bucks to get the propane filled.
Out of 23 working, financially capable adult family members, it was only my kids, one sister, and three nieces who covered the bulk of the cost, with another sister and a nephew pitching in what they could afford.
It’s not just the money, not really. It was the lack of visits or phone calls. The empty offers to help and then not doing anything. The almost complete dismissal of the seriousness of the situation. My dad is (or was, anyway) unable to get to the bathroom without help, literally just off his death bed, and someone wants to know if they are still hosting Christmas dinner.
Are you fucking kidding me?
Someone else wants to know if my mom can babysit? Or, hey.. do you need help with the chickens or do you got it? Like, seriously.
I’ve pretty much disowned my entire family by this point.
Master even took his last two weeks of vacation and drove all the way up there to help out. And also to spend the holidays with me because I wasn’t going to make it home in time. Because of the holidays, the furnace guy couldn’t even get out there to do the work until after Christmas and regardless of my dad being out of danger of dying, my mom still had no heat except the fire, which she couldn’t do herself, nor could she manage the chickens. Hauling 4 and 5 gallons of water out to the coop every day, filling up the feed containers. They have 25 chickens, that’s a lot of work for an old woman. In the winter when it’s cold and icy and she can hardly walk. But no, it’s okay guys, she’s got it.
My dad made it home. On Christmas Eve. To a hospital bed that’s set up in the living room. He’ll get physical therapy at home, thanks to the V.A. He’s on blood thinners for the clot in his lungs, and pain meds of course. He can get up by himself, and walk- slowly, painfully- with a cane. He was just getting good enough to go up the stairs when we left on New Year’s Day. He’ll recover. Not overnight. Maybe not even ever fully. He’s no spring chicken, and they were incredibly awful complicated breaks that he suffered. His stomach still pains him more than the breaks combined. A perforated bowel isn’t something you just shrug off.
I’ll drive back up there tomorrow if I have to. Because that’s what you DO. Or at least what you should do.
I was there a month to the day. It’s good to be home.
I was so hoping Master would have forgotten about the whole ‘ask permission to use the bathroom’ thing but no. No he hasn’t.