Friday, 26 April 2013

Sigh. Oh Daddy.

My Mom called.  She was back at the emergency room last night with my father at 11:30 pm.  He was admitted 3 hours later.  Although only days ago he was so dehydrated, he now has to be given water pills to get some of the water out of his system.  His belly is swollen and distended.  He was in such pain he couldn't sleep anymore.

Part of the problem is that he doesn't seem to be able to regulate his electrolytes anymore.  His kidneys, both of which had the original cancer, are frail from having been cut down to size to remove any trace of the tumor.  They don't seem to be functioning the way they should.

I hate this, that he's suffering again.  Back to the hospital with the Acute Care of the Elderly ward on one side and the mother and baby ward on the other, and the elevator ride down 17 floors separating them.

But, I also hate the idea of his cancer lingering on, weakening his bones until they snap every time he sneezes.  I hate the idea of keeping him alive another year if that year is spent in agony.

"Don't tell the kids" he admonishes my mother.  "Tell them I went to hike the Bruce Trail."  The Bruce Trail, up and down the Niagara escarpment was a passion of his, he had a goal to walk every kilometer of that path.  Now the wilderness and beauty of the trail represent tripping hazards and threats to his safety.  He will never hike the Bruce Trail again. 

My father doesn't want to worry us.  He doesn't want us to replace the childhood memories of him teaching us to read with the adult memories of watching him suffer.  And people will give you the platitudes.  I fucking hate platitudes.  "Just spend as much time as you can" they will say.  But those people don't understand that this isn't what my father wants.  He doesn't want to see us when he is ill or weak or frail.  He fears that very new encounter will supplant a memory from our childhood.  That memories of home and safety are being erode in the wake of memories of hospitals and illness. 

It is a fine line that we walk as we accompany a loved one on their final steps.  His final weeks or months on this earth will be pockmarked with indignities and loss of power.  He wants comfort and yet the instinct as a parent is to comfort in return.  To protect his children from the pain he is going through, to tell us that everything will be okay.  That Daddy will fix it.

The truth is that Daddy can't fix this.   And neither can I.  And so we sit.  Helpless at your bedside.  Watching shift after shift of bubbly nurses do what I can't.  Bring you some relief from your pain. 


  1. I'm so sorry about your father. It's incredibly hard to watch our parents age, and become sick and vulnerable. My dad had heart surgery last week, and I was really struck by how small he looked in that hospital bed afterwards. I am suddenly protecting my protector. Hugs to you... I feel your pain.

    1. Hugs for you too. .. I hope your father is on the mend. Hospitals have a way of doing that. . Making us feel small and helpless. .. thank you for your thoughts