Today...I found myself here with Dad again...
If you guessed we were at the library or Pizza Hut, you get a goose egg. We made our weekly trip to the ER for another infection. Since the placement of Dad's SP tube, infections have been popping up weekly. We're on a hamster wheel...around and around we go. He's only off antibiotics for a day or two before another bug starts brewing. We see the urologist again on Thursday.
How long can this go on, I keep asking myself? Can one be on antibiotics forever? Doesn't seem like a good plan, but what are the options? A 90+ bladder is a puzzling thing. Dad's spirits are pretty good, although he's very tired of ER runs. I'm grateful we have a good ER set-up and to date, the docs and nurses have been very kind. We should be racking up some frequent flyer miles though.
We're flying to MD this weekend to help my in-laws get settled in a new apartment. My father-in-law had a stroke last week and is now in rehab. The hubs and I are going to be helping clean out the old townhouse and hoping to bring some cheer to these youngsters, who are 85-ish. When you work with 90-year olds, folks in their 80's look pretty spry.
I've been helping my folks for five years, since Dad's stroke in 2009. It's been such an eye-opener to realize all that's involved in helping the elderly. As body parts deteriorate, there are many, many issues that have to be addressed. Geriatrics is an entire field of study that I never thought two hoots about until my dad needed assistance. I continue to be surprised by how complicated the body is and how one weak unit affects the others. It's like trying to play catch up with a cheater. The game isn't really fair, and we never get ahead.
I know our time with my parents and my in-laws is limited, and we do our best to be helpful. I somehow think that will change all this - that the right care, enough attention, enough encouragement will make the decline stop, or at least slow down. But, it doesn't. This makes me very sad, and sometimes, I just cry for no reason. I'm not having a bad day, and nothing triggers it, but tears just come. I think my heart is weary of the long goodbye.
|My sweet mother-in-law with two of her seven children|
I've heard people who have a loved one dealing with Alzheimer's talk about this. Neither my folks, nor my in-laws have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's, just some standard dementia expected at their age. But, it's true that walking through the years of decline in a loved one is like a relentless grieving. You know the end is coming, but you don't know when, so you guard yourself, and yet prepare yourself, and the heart goes back and forth and up and down and outward and inward.
My only strength is in God, and His love for all of us. I have no strength of my own anymore to uplift and help Mom and Dad. My flesh is truly weak. Even up to last year, I thought the efforts of my family could change things, but they really can't. There will come a time when all I have left to do for the folks is to just hold their hands and smooch their foreheads.
This whole letting go thing is so strange. Dad thinks he will walk again and visit his childhood home in Indiana sometime. Mom thinks if Dad took better care of himself, he'd live forever. They both think every doctor visit will offer some new solution that will cure them of all their ills and turn back time.
And I keep thinking all of this will surely get easier.