The last rambling post told you of the day that finally broke me.
I had called my siblings and went through my nightmare of a day and told them that I don’t know what to do. I can’t sign up to do more for my dad. I don’t trust that he can take care of himself. I was tired of him verbally assaulting my mom and I when we tried to help. I needed some support.
They both live in a different state, so there isn’t much they can do. But I needed them to know that I was going to push for my dad to be put in an assisted living space. I had reached a point that I didn’t feel like we had any other choice. Thankfully they agreed (my other option was to drop my dad at their doorsteps and let them sort it out)…. so I guess I didn’t give them too much of a choice, but at least I moved forward knowing that they understood.
It was still going to be a battle. I didn’t have power of attorney. There was no way he was signing over any control to me. Based on how out of it he was, there was no way that he can be considered of sound mind.
It wasn’t clear what was going on with my dad physically. He was really out of it. He was super combative, they had to sedate him and restrain him to the bed. I talked to a doctor about his 3rd day, at the second hospital and finally had some hope. Not that he had a miracle cure… but hope that he would help set me on the right path with getting Pops the care he needs.
He understood that since the traumatic brain injury (TBI), my dad has never been the same. He understood that every medical setback (seizure, illness, surgery) set us back for MONTHS on his ability to take care of himself. The doc, who had treated my dad before, understood that my dad likely scheduled the surgery in order to get his hands on more painkillers. He understood that even on the “good days” my dad is not able to make sound decisions, especially where his medical needs are concerned.
I worked with the team at our local hospital, and they were able to place my dad in a skilled nursing facility right across from the hospital. They weren’t specifically a good fit for my dads’ temperament (due to the TBI), but they are close to home and would tolerate his obsession with needing to smoke.
The first couple of days were TERRIBLE. Of course my dad wasn’t happy to be there. It isn’t the nicest place, but most of these types of facilities are pretty much the same. My dad refused to walk with a walker, despite being completely unstable. He through a fit about it and tried to hit a nurse with his cane. They brought me in to meet the team of nurses, the nutritional team, and the physical therapy team…. I think they thought I could talk some sense into him, and get him to better behave – they were wrong.
But I tried. I told him to be nice. I told the nurses to hide the cane and leave the walker. Don’t give him choices. He told me he wanted to go home. I told him that this was his home until he can get stronger and take care of himself. It has never occurred to him that he will not likely ever be able to do so.
He hated it there. But I was sleeping better knowing that he was having several healthy meals a day. I took comfort in knowing that he was taking all his meds, when he was supposed to take them. I was breathing a little easier, knowing that if he had a seizure or a fall, that someone was there to help.
I told my mom to block his number. I took sole responsibility for taking care of his demands. I was the bad guy. I put him there. I would carry the weight of it, because I also felt the relief of it all, as weird as that sounds.
So I got the text messages at 2am that he needs more cigarettes. I told him that unless he is dying, he needs to only text during the daylight hours (he would only sometimes remember that). I got the phone calls demanding that we drop off his wallet and leave him alone, because he doesn’t need our help. I asked him how he was going to get cigarettes if he doesn’t need me… that was the only value he could see in keeping in contact with me – his middle kid, that has spent most of her adult life just trying to hold the pieces together.
I got the phone call that told me “Leave me the fuck alone! I don’t need you in my life. I don’t need your help! I am leaving this place and there is nothing you can do to stop me.” Somehow I gathered the strength to reply: “It’s a good thing that you raised me to be strong enough to stick with you. I love you and I will talk to you when you can be a little more respectful.”
The next day, it was as if nothing happened.
Every once in a while, I would get the texts at all hours of the night. Sometimes they make zero sense. Other days are okay.
I admittingly do not go visit him at the home. They still have a lot of concerns with COVID, and frankly my dad doesn’t really register who I am when I am in a gown and mask – it makes the whole thing weird and uncomfortable. I have picked him up for appointments and have seen him when I am dropping things off or signing papers. It’s not ideal, but it is the best I can do right now.
I feel guilty every time I come and go from there. I feel like the nurses judge me. I feel like the whole world judges me for putting him there, but it is something that I have come to terms with for my own sanity.
I have taken him to a few appointments since he has been living there. The first appointment was a DISASTER! He was concerned with some spots on his face (he has had skin cancer previously removed), so we were going to see his primary doctor and probably get a referral. The appointment was around 10am. A very unstable Pops sort of used his walker to get to my car. He seemed “okay” though on the ride over.
He could barely walk from the handicap spot to the door of the doc office. He really didn’t use his walker to stabilize his walk – always had one side off the ground. And trying to get there in a hurry! I finally got him inside, sat him down and moved my car to a proper parking spot. When the doc finally called him back, it was clear he wasn’t going to be able to walk. So they brought out a wheel chair to take him back.
Pops could not stay awake! Keep in mind, that I was just given the opportunity to actively take part in this guys’ healthcare. He didn’t share much with us the past few years. So I did what I could to answer the doctor’s questions. The doc made it clear that he thought I was a piece of shit, because this is the first he knew that my dad had family close by… EXCUSE ME, that is not my fault. All his docs and the social workers kept telling him that he can take care of himself!
The doc agreed that the spots needed to be checked by the dermatologist and gave me a referral. He helped me wheel Pops to my car and get him inside. He was afraid that the home was over-medicating my dad and told me that I should immediately report it. When I got him back to the home, his nurses came out. I told them about the weird behavior and they were SHOCKED. Despite his volatile behavior some days, they love him. He can still be charming when he wants to be… they had never seen him so out of it!
I got a call later, that they did some checking with the night shift, and my dad was so anxious to “go” to an appointment, he didn’t sleep at all the night before. Cheese & rice people…. make it harder than it needs to be!
So we decided that moving forward, we would not tell him until I was pulling up to take him.
A couple of months later, I took him to the dermatologist to get that spot on his face removed and biopsied… We didn’t tell him ahead of time that he had the appointment, so I picked him up and all was good! He was alert. He was excited. He was pretty cooperative (even buckled his seat belt)! We drove to the next town over so he could see the doc and their amazing staff. I filled out the paperwork as best as I could (I’m still pretty new to being in charge of him and don’t know the whole big picture)… but I was still shocked when we went in the exam room.
The nurse was asking him questions about his over-all health. He was flirty and charming, but answered every question with a no. Luckily the nurse was watching me for answers as well… Do you suffer from anxiety? No (as I nod my head yes). Do you suffer from depression? No (again, nodding profusely). Do you have trouble sleeping? No (yep… sure does). Do you have any allergies? No (this time I had to speak… what about penicillin? Oh yeah, I am allergic to that…) Do you suffer from seizures? Nope (I’m sorry, what?!?). No wonder all his docs kept feeling he could take care of himself! He has zero issues!!!
The appointment went well. The staff there was great. As we were leaving, I asked Pops to just stand there in the lobby while I made the follow up appointment. It was hot outside, and there was no reason for him to go rushing out (oh, except I promised cigarettes and McDonalds before I dropped him back off). But he didn’t listen. So I remote started my car to get the air running, and unlocked the door. He was pushing his walker along, and I yelled out the door to wait, there is a step down! As soon as I said it, he fell in the parking lot. Scraped up his leg and arm on the hot asphalt. I struggled to pick him up from the ground, until the nurses came out to help. We got him in the car, and they made the appointment while I sat in my running car with him. So he cussed the whole way back, while I tried to make light of the situation… and then I bought him lunch and took him back to the home.
I’m literally shocked that the staff at the nursing home lets me take him places, because I always bring him back a little worse than when he left.
Lately he has had a hard time keeping his cell phone functioning (I think he just doesn’t charge it). So I mostly hear from his nurses.
One fun day in particular, I got a call at 6:45am. The nurse wanted to let me know that “Mr. Wayne will need cigarettes, he is down to 2.” No problem, I will bring some by after work that day, so he was going to need to pace himself. She called back 10 minutes later – he also needs a lighter, because he lost his…. Okay. After work. She called one more time that morning to confirm that after work I would bring by both things. FFS!!! I was already frustrated by 7:15 am – so I went to the store and dropped off Mr. Wayne’s needs before work – because otherwise who knows how many calls I would get.
This is just to share the “usual” interactions I have with the facility.
One night, I got a call (after 9pm), that said they were calling about my dad, to please call back. It isn’t urgent.
So I called the next day. I spoke to someone who told me that they called because they moved my dad’s room. Okay, cool. You don’t have to let me know that stuff at 9pm – unless it is for a behavioral or medicinal reason, you can move him to any room! That was it, end of conversation.
Later I get a call, and it’s urgent. I call back… Pops has COVID and isn’t doing well. They want to take him to the hospital. I told the nurse that they absolutely should. Then she proceeded to yell at me because I did not answer the call the night before. I told her what I was told when I did call back, and it was still my fault for not talking to HER. I’m sorry… WHAT?!?
These past couple of weeks, he has been hospitalized for dehydration, refusing to eat, refusing his meds… he seems to have given up. I can’t fight for him, if he won’t do his part too. A cough and cold on my side, have been keeping me from going in there and yelling at him to pull his stubborn head out of his ass and get better… But next week we are facing it head on.
This week, my brother and sister will be in town. Maybe seeing the three of us together will be what he needs to change his attitude. Or maybe he is just done… I mean, I kind of get it. He is stuck in the worst version of Groundhogs Day, EVER.
For now…. I just keep hoping. I keep hoping that I will see some glimmer of the dad I know and love. I hope that I can spend 10 minutes with him, without him telling me to fuck off and leave him alone. I hope that I go back to getting annoying texts about needing cigarettes or whatever else he is craving. I hope that he finds the strength to continue to burden me. That sounds weird, but even if he is ready to give up, I am not so sure my heart is ready to do the same.
I don’t know how much more time we are going to get with Pops. I don’t know if any of it will be quality time. I have been mourning the loss of him for longer than I can remember. I am not ready for people to come out of the woodwork to tell me how great he was and how sad they are that he is gone. Trust me… I know. I also know he burned bridges and was hard to be around, even before his health took a turn. But honestly… I’m just not ready for the shit-show of support that will show up, when he is no longer around to benefit from the love and strength of it all.
When you are lucky, a little girls’ first love gets to be her daddy. Please don’t ever doubt that I love this man. I would have washed my hands long ago if I didn’t. He is not the same as the man I grew up loving – but luckily for him, I remember that guy. I never knew what I was signing up for, when I identified as a “daddy’s girl”… but it’s been a wild ride.
Thanks for reading through this… I felt a strong need to share a glimpse of this journey we have been on. I know that in the end, folks will judge & criticize – tell me all the things that I could have done, or should have done – without ever taking the time to see it from my point of view. I’m just over here trying to raise teenage boys, to invest in my amazing relationship, work full time, go to all the events all over the place, help out with school stuff, be a good daughter and sister, be a good friend, be a good bonus-mom (when we have him), and just generally try not to lose my mind. But go ahead and judge. It’s fine. It’s all good.