Monday, April 25, 2005

My Dad

My father had a massive heart attack yesterday. Luckily he was in Hospital at the time on dialysis. My sister was on duty on the dialysis ward as well. So they had to drag her off to let some one with more objectivity try and save his life. They managed to bring him back but he was in a bad way. A very bad way. I was called and I shut the shop to dash over to the hospital. I arrived to find father unconscious but in convulsions thrashing and bucking about the bed due to oxygen starvation.
The doctors told us it was all over and it was only a matter of time before he died. We prepared for the worst. They were pumping him full of morphine to stop him flayling and thrashing. That was traumatic for me I just cried my eyes out and fell into my sisters arms. Who by this time had gone back into professional nurse mode.
They were just about to read the last rites. The doctor had agreed with my sister that if he had another attack they weren't going to even try to revive him. He was too far gone. My mother was on holiday with my cousin in Majorca and they were back very late last night. We couldn't tell them because they had to drive all the way from Gatwick airport. So we thought it was kinder to let them get home before we gave them the devastating news, rather than let them drive in tears all the way back.
Father continued with the convulsions. That was the worst thing. It reminded me of a cat I saw when I was 8 years old in Cyprus, that had been hit by a car at high speed. It convulsed for several minutes. John our neighbour shouted to me to get a kitchen knife to put it out of it's misery. Without thinking I ran to our house and got a fucking huge kitchen knife and ran back, I gave it to John and he sat by the side of the road with the knife in his hand weeping, he couldn't do it. The cat pulsated some more then fell still. It was dead. I thought about that with my dad.
Then with Mother and Me and my cousin standing next to his bed he fell silent. He wasn't dead. The morphine had kicked in and he was asleep. We kept vigil by his bedside for hours until for me three in the morning and for my mother four in the morning.
I was absolutley exhausted, dead on my knees. I got home had a whiskey and went to bed I couldn't keep my eyes open. But as soon as my head hit the pillow I was wide awake. Funny that. I couldn't have been more tired but I couldn't sleep. I tossed and turned for hours finally falling asleep seconds before I woke up again at 10.

I rushed to the hospital to the intensive care unit to find the screens round his bed and the nurse talking to father. What? He's supposed to be dead. In a coma even.
Mother and my sister and cousin turned up. We waited until we were called.
Two by two we went to see him.
"Mike give me a lift up." whispered my father.
"What for?"
"I want to go home now."
"You can't you've had a massive heart attack."
"Have I?"
"But I'm OK."
"No you're not. You are very ill."
"I feel tired."
"Well just rest then."
"Can I go home? I want to go home."
The nurse came over "You can't go home there's no one to look after you at home."
He points to my sister "I have my own personal nurse."
"Don't be silly dad." says my sister.
"I want to go home now." says my dad. "I'll bloody well discharge myself."
The nurse patiently said "You haven't the strength to lift a pen to sign the forms."
"Haven't I?"
"Oh! ......... When can I go home then?"
"In a few days time."
"A few days? I want to go home now." and he tries to get up but doesn't even manage to get his head off the pillow. I can see he's trying. He swings a leg off the bed. That's all he can manage. The nurse puts it back.

We take it in turns to be by his bedside until it's obvious he's so tired he needs to sleep some more.

Rosemarie is there, the friend from Cyprus whose husband is John (with the cat) I ask Rosemarie "Where's John?"
"John can't cope with hospitals. he hates to see anyone suffering."
I know that. We all laugh. It's funny that we all laugh despite the seriousness of the situation.

I was dashing to the hospital and seeing all the people wandering about do their own thing smiling and laughing and thinking "They wouldn't be smiling and laughing if they knew my dad was dieing. How dare they?"
But then I thought there are times when I'm having a great time and someone somewhere is in great pain. It didn't seem real though. I am in the depths of despair and everyone around me is laughing and smiling.

Father is still not out of the woods yet. He needs dialysis urgently but there's no beds free. He is like a child in his bed. When once I was a child in his arms, he is like a child in mine. When once he was strong for me and my idol, now I have to find the strength in me to be strong for him. It's not easy. There are no evening classes available to prepare yourself for this. For many years he has been my safety net while I trapeze through life. I haven't needed that net for many years now but it's always been there, giving me confidence.

Its inevitable he is going to die. Just like it's inevitable I will die. But it doesn't have to be today does it? Just one more day......please. I don't want to lose my dad.


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