I Try to Find the Humor in Everything
My dad has been in off-and-on declining physical health since I was a little kid. He dealt with depression and some other things when I was in middle school. Around sophomore year of high school, he got into a car accident and had to go to the hospital. While he was there they gave him some percoset for the pain, but you can’t give that to people with chemical imbalances or it screws them up.
A while later he started having “shutdowns” – he’d just sort of go away from the world inside his head and would go unresponsive for days at a time. He’d end up at the local psychiatric hospital because there was really nothing they could do except monitor him.
Eventually, these started happening about once a year. Then every six months. Then every couple months. Then he started having seizures that sent him to the ER. I spent several nights out of three straight weeks with my mom waiting on my dad in the ER.
After they got his seizures under better control with medicine, he really didn’t seem the same anymore. He was more docile, less fierce, and was very polite and nice to everybody, and he was weaker.
Eventually, he started getting so weak that he would fall in our house. My mom and I weren’t strong enough to pick him up off the floor – he’s about six foot tall and weighed a lot. He wasn’t fat; he is just a tall, big man. When I was a senior in high school, mom made the decision for his own well-being that dad would need to move into a nursing facility to protect him and get him the middle-of-the-night medical care he might need.
Dad’s health issues progressed until he required a walker to go places. I used to take him to Wal-mart or Hardee’s or KFC and help him do the things he enjoys doing. The doctors say he developed Parkinson’s disease and that it would only progress. He’s in a wheelchair now, and has to be fed because he can’t use his hands. His mouth and jaw muscles have atrophied to the point that his speech became slurred, and then came to the point where all he can do now is sort of grunt at us. He’s still very much of sound mind. It’s got to be as frustrating for him not to be able to express himself as it is sad for us that we can’t have regular conversations with my father anymore.
For almost a year now, I’ve had haunting dreams of being called in the middle of the night or early morning and told that he’d passed away. I didn’t know how I would deal with that in real life, so each time I have this dream it’s just as scary. I know he’s going on to a better place when he does go. He loves Jesus, and I know he’ll go to Heaven.
I got some scary news the other day. I went home last weekend and saw my family, and I noticed Dad was a little yellow. I know that usually means liver problems. I brought it up to Mom, who said she’d noticed to. The doctors looked at him this week and said it might be three things: hepatitis, stones blocking blood vessels to his liver, or cancer. Yesterday I called my mom, and she said they had in all likelihood ruled out cancer.
Today I got an e-mail from my mom saying now they aren’t sure again, since they didn’t find any stones during the ultrasound, and now that there are pancreatic issues that seem to be affecting the liver, they are leaning more towards cancer. They are doing an MRI of his liver and pancreas today to look for masses. Pray for him and my family, please.
My friend Ruff and I were talking about the high costs of medicine and how it, in the end, hurts patients to keep doctors and technicians in a lifestyle they’ve grown accustomed to. We also noted how if they changed the salaries of these people and lowered the cost of their education, that someone would still suffer and as a result the patients would still suffer in the end.
Then, because I’m silly sometimes when I don’t know how to deal with things, I thought about X-Ray technicians, and thought “What if you didn’t wear that lead apron when you got an X-Ray, and instead of getting testicular cancer, you got radiation-induced enlargement and super powers? I brought this up to Ruff, and asked “If there was an equal chance that you’d either get testicular cancer, or super powers in your crotch, would you opt-out of the lead apron at X-Rays?” and he and my other coworker both said that might actually be worth the gamble. We were all being facetious of course, no one wants to risk testicular cancer. But still, imagine what you could do with super powers down there.