Sunday, 2 October 2011

A Little Less Conversation, A Little More Action Please..... Part 1

The good news is that I am getting a lot better ~ things are slowly improving and I am no longer living in fear of imminent eviction and I can look forward to not having to make the choice between the kids eating and me eating ~ and all too common occurrence over the past couple of years. The bad news is that I have the need to unburden my last, nasty secret ~ so let's do it!

By the time I moved over here a couple of years ago, I had had to make the difficult decision that my Dad needed to be in a Nursing Home ~ his health issues included Parkinsons Disease, Skin Cancer, Prostate Cancer and Dementia as well as having lost his mobility and, quite frankly, I could no longer look after him.. I'd nursed him on my own as well as raising 3 kids and trying to juggle the enforced sale of my beloved home ~ it had nearly killed me and I had lost half by body weight and any ability to sleep. 

When I moved over here Dad was still in a Nursing Home near Southport so I was still driving the 90 mile round trip about 3 times a week. My partner wasn't terribly keen on anything to do with illness or old age so I tended to do this on my own during the week, which was fine. 2 months after I moved I had a call to say that Dad had been taken to hospital with complete Renal failure and could I get there, in a hurry? I arrived to find my Dad hooked up to loads of machines and unconscious. The Doctor carted me off into another room to ask me whether I wanted him resuscitated or simply made comfortable. I already knew the answer but to say "please put a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) Marker on him" nearly killed me. I had called my brother to tell him to come up and he did for a few days.

I spent the next 2 months driving 90 miles a day to sit with my Dad.. the stubborn old bugger had recovered his kidney function and slowly recovered to a certain degree. The only days I didn't drive over there were the days over Christmas and my Wedding Day, mainly because there were several feet of snow and I was worried I wouldn't make it back.
I arranged for him to be moved to a home nearer me so I could spend more time with him and he was moved over in the January. I remember seeing this tiny, wizened  figure being carried out of the ambulance and into the Nursing Home ~ that couldn't be my Dad, my Dad wasn't the biggest of men, but this tiny wraith-like figure was just too small and too helpless. And then he saw me and smiled, and life was OK again, I had my Daddy close to me, where I could be with him. I used to go there and feed him and hold his hand and tell him the same bits of news over and over again ~ Dementia's a bugger like that. Some days he thought I was my Mum and that was quite tough, I didn't have the heart to tell him Mum had died many years before. He also used to ask after my beloved eldest brother, how could I remind him that his golden son was also dead? So I used to lie and say they'd be in soon to see him ~ was that wrong? I thought it was kinder, as the only time I had been truthful he had cried in my arms for hours.

Soon after, and for reasons that have no place here, my eldest daughter decided she wanted to go to South Africa to live with her father. So I flew her out to Capetown and flew back.. 13,000 miles in 4 days. On my return I discovered that the house I was renting was to be sold at action within the month, leaving me and the kids with nowhere to live. For a lot of reasons my family and I had never moved in with my new husband and his family so I suddenly had to find somewhere to move with little or no local knowledge and very strapped finances. I made the decision not to tell my Dad about any of this, he was too ill and his ability to assimilate this sort of information was so compromised it wouldn't be fair on him. 

So I found a house and we moved, it's not easy doing that sort of thing when you are as disorganised as me, and it was a nightmare of boxes and swearing, but it got done.. I had deliberately not been to see my Dad for a couple of weeks as I did not want any of this to touch him and worry him, and then I had a phone call from the Nursing Home.

I drove there and found my Dad in bed - the staff were brilliant, they understood my position and, in my absence, had made extra efforts to treat my Dad ever more kindly than they usually did. My dad was barely conscious and, in the 2 weeks I hadn't seen him, had withered away to nothing. I turned around immediately and hustled the kids out of the door.. they could not and would not see their Granddad in this state. 

The next week was the stuff of nightmares ~ spending all day with my Dad and trying to arrange childcare for my kids for the evenings so I could go back to the Nursing Home. The Matron had been very honest, Dad had very little time left, it could be a week, it could be day, it could be a few hours, and I didn't want him to make that journey alone ~ he would be scared and it was my job to look after him right up to the end.

My husband had told me that I should just walk away and wait for the phone call, after all I was a mother and I should focus on my kids. This was not even an option and so the relationship with him fell instantly into nothing, with hindsight, he was not capable of dealing with my pain and my emotions and so chose to withdraw from the entire situation.

I spent as much time as I could with Dad, dropping the kids to school and going to the Nursing Home, leaving to collect the kids, feed them, offload them somewhere and drive back ~ I even spent some nights sleeping on the bed next to my Dad.

It took a week.. he died in my arms on the evening of Monday 19th July last year, and the pain cannot be described. I was truly alone ~ my Mum, Brother and now Dad had gone and left me, and I had no one to turn to. My kids were devastated, they had grown up with their Granddad in the same house and to lose him was unbearable, I had to look after them and help them.. but who would help me?

And then I went mad.....

To Be Continued.....


  1. No wonder you were traumatised! I remember sitting with my Dad for 4 days & nights while he died from cerebral bleeding, as the single most horrific experience in my life. Sympathy & respect....

  2. Bloody hell! I have all this to come but not for many years I hope *hugs you* xxx