tHe haPPy grOUch

tHe haPPy grOUch

Friday, June 28, 2013

I've wanted to write these last few days. I have.
The last thing I wrote was my father's obituary. I don't know if I've felt I could form any coherent words since then. Not in pen form, or spoken... Hell, I can't seem to even function coherently.

I am stuck in Monday. It's like that movie, Groundhog Day. I keep reliving Monday. Willing the elevator to go faster. My sister texting me- "hurry now". Making it to Dad's room just in time to see him take his very last breath. Holding his hand. Stuck in Monday.

I'm completely surprised at my own inability to handle grief.

I cry a lot. Of course I do, right? It's normal.
I walk through the grocery store crying. I cry in front of my son (goddamnit.. I'm not supposed to do that.. he's too tender..). I cry each night while trying to watch tv, or read, or sleep. I cry at the bank drive-thru, the Dunkin drive-thru. I cried while trying to cash in returnables. I cried while dropping Dawson off at Ben's house yesterday.
Why can't I stop crying inappropriately?
At first I tried to cry in my stolen moments... In the bathroom. In my bedroom. At night, away from the children. In the garage at my computer desk. Sitting alone in front of the fire yesterday.
And I did plenty of it. It's not like I held it back too much, and this is the result.
I just cry, quietly, without any control over it. It doesn't matter where I am, or who I'm around.
That's great.
I need to get back to work tomorrow night. We're completely broke. But how? I know I will just be crying into people's beers and beverages. Right in front of everyone. "Hi, what can I get you? (blubber, blubber, blubber)"... Jesus.

And as the week has gone on, I've also gotten angry. Really, really frickin angry.
I want to break stuff or beat someone. But I don't.
I've thought about going to my back yard and yelling, hollering, swearing and screaming. But that would scare the shit out of my mother next door.
Seriously though... I've never been so angry. And I don't know how to release it.

Again, I'm taken aback by my inability to cope with grief.

When my Bampa was dying, I remember standing outside Sunny Gables apartments, where my grandparents lived, talking to Ben (Dawson's Dad)... As he hugged me, he said something like- You're the strong one of the family, you'll get through this, and you'll help them... He misread me.
I wasn't the strong one then, and I'm not the strong one now. Such a joke. Such a fallacy.

And I don't have some desperate need to "be strong".
I just want to stop fucking crying. I just want to be able to actually function normally for a day, for christ sake. I want to be able to express my love to my children and husband. I want to be able to have a normal conversation, with anyone. I want to be able to focus on a tv show or a book, or a grocery list, or anything. I want to be able to eat and sleep. I don't want to feel consumed anymore. It's like I'm losing my mind.

I'm surprised at my own inability to handle grief.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I had the very sad honor of writing my father's obituary today...


GLENBURN - Glenn J. Jakacky died peacefully Monday, June 24, 2013 in Bangor. He was born on February 1, 1951, in Pittsfield MA, to the late William and Grace Jakacky.
 
Glenn visited Maine in 1969, where he met Tina (Smart) Jakacky. Glenn and Tina married, and lived briefly in Massachusetts before making Maine their home. Over the years they shared their passion for music, performing in multiple bands together. Glenn was known as one of the best bass players around. He was a traveling soul, and the family called many different cities and towns their home. He spent his lifetime working hard, and was also a well renowned RV technician. In his spare time, Glenn loved restoring old cars and jeeps (and his father-in-law’s beloved antique tractor), performing music, playing with his dogs, watching the birds, tending to his “enchanted forest”, and exploring the coast with Tina.
 
Glenn is survived by his wife Tina and their daughters, Crista Jakacky and husband Troy, Sharla Moretti and husband Gary; grandchildren, Logan Norton, Dawson Emerson, Avery and Colby Hamor, and Kayli Varnum; siblings, Laura Garrity and husband Bob, Bill Jakacky and wife Christine, Mary Larkin and husband John; mother-in-law Georgia Smart, and many nieces, nephews, in-laws, and extended family. He is predeceased by his parents, his brother Wayne Jakacky, and father-in-law Edward Smart.
 
A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday July 20th at 2:00pm at Pathway Wesleyan Church in Bangor, downstairs in the Schoolhouse building, 185 Harlow Street. www.pathwaywesleyan.com

Sunday, June 23, 2013

As it turns out, the decision of whether or not to continue Dad's medications seems to have been made for us.
He has spent the last 24 hours asleep. He can't take anything by mouth if he's asleep.
I should mention here that he's not asleep in the fashion that you and I are thinking.. you know, the kind of sleep where you can wake a person.. "oh, good morning"... He's in the kind of sleep where you could holler and shake him, and he will simply flutter his eyes, open them for a brief moment, small twitch of the eyebrows, maybe even a groan. Then it's right back out. His arms are dead weight, always.

Side note...
Even though I am a devout skeptic, I can't help but think there was something cosmic in this. As if Dad knew that Sharla and Mom and I would never agree when to cease medical treatment... That Sharla would wear her "nurse hat", and push for strictly comfort care. That Mom and I would be the "clingers", and not be able to agree... As if he knew, and made the decision for us.
Anyway...

We know that this is part of the dying process.
First they stop eating (which he did a few days ago). Then they stop drinking (he took his last sips last night after check in at Bangor). And then they just sleep. All the time. Like Dad.

Mom and I, in our last desperate moments of denial today, decided to take him off the morphine drip. Wondering if he'd have any moments of wakefulness. Just one more second to make eye contact, get a smile (or grimace), or one last "I love you too"...
I should mention that he is on the lowest dose possible; 1 milligram per hour. Many people could operate a car under that dosage. Then again, Dad's liver and kidneys aren't really functioning, and so there is the theory that it would be more potent for him, as it's not necessarily being metabolized.
Statistically (here come those statistics again), in a "normal" person (with functioning organs), after 120 minutes, half of the morphine will have passed out of the body. Another 120 minutes, the other half. But of course, these statistics don't really apply to Dad.
And so, unfortunately, we'll never really know when or if it will have made any difference, unless we leave him morphine free for a good while longer. He's been off the drip since 6pm (it's midnight as I write this).

And then there are the potential medical complications of taking him off the morphine.
And the moral issues as well...

Besides pain relief, morphine also relaxes the muscles and allows for easier breathing. And dad's breathing is already quite compromised as it is. If in fact he was getting even a little relief from the small dose, we may see his breathing become even more arduous. And more uncomfortable.
Then there's the pain question. Is he in pain? Is he uncomfortable? Are we making him more uncomfortable? Are we making it worse? Is he aware of his pain? Is he scared because he can't catch his breath?
And of course, he can't tell us. We will most likely never know.

Mom is staying with him tonight. The nurses are keeping a close eye on him. The palliative care doctor said to call anytime during the night. If his breathing becomes more labored in any way, or if he gives the slightest hint of pain awareness (groans, twitching, agitation, anything), they will give a bolus of morphine and restart the drip.
And if there's been no change tomorrow morning when Sharla and I return, we will discuss restarting it anyway. If he is truly in the sleep that is the precursor to death, then we will make sure he is comfortable in his journey. We all at least agree that it appears it will be a short one, no matter how much we want to deny it.

I sound like any author, just telling a story.
This is my coping.

Saturday, June 22, 2013


We brought Dad home yesterday. Well, not quite home, but to Bangor. After having the conversation that no person wants to have with his team of doctors.

During the first of the week, Dad's mental state got progressively worse (from the encephalopathy, the toxins in his body). Wednesday his renal (kidney) function was failing. Wednesday night, we made a trip to Boston.
Thursday, we had the conversation with the attending doctor- Dad's not getting better. He's in fact getting worse. He has not responded to any of the treatments since his he was admitted in Bangor on June 1st. He's not responded to any of the new medications they've been giving him at Mass General. 

So then there were three choices- 
-Remain there at Mass General or transfer to a closer hospital, and continue giving various medications to "treat" the diseases and prolong life.
-Get him to a hospital closer to home and initiate palliative care.
("Palliative care" is similar to hospice care, but is available to people in all stages of disease. It takes place in a hospital or nursing home, and treatment is geared towards relieving symptoms from chronic disease, rather than providing medicines that actually cure the disease. So basically, ceasing all antibiotics, steroids, and other various meds that supposedly support the liver and kidneys and heart, and strictly provide comfort care).
-Take him home and initiate Hospice care.

Mom, Sharla, and I are the trying to make these decisions, with the support and guidance of our significant others, the medical team, friends, family, pastors, etc... And of course, all while trying to focus on "what Dad would want"...

We all know what Dad would want.
And yet, it's never that simple.


Mom and I are still in a bit of denial. 
Well, I guess I can't speak for anyone else, so I'll just speak for me.
I'm in denial. I've dreamt these last three nights that Dad was in Bangor and was getting better. I keep hoping to see his labs trend upwards instead of continuing to spiral down. I keep waiting to see if he'll look any better when I go into the room. I'm waiting for a miracle. I desperately want a miracle. I don't pray. I'm spiritual,  but not a christian. It's very difficult for me to believe in things that aren't tangible. 

I asked God to save my Dad, and he hasn't. 
(Please don't give me any advice on why God has decided to take him, or it being his time, or any of that. I respect and appreciate your beliefs. But I'm losing my Dad, and right now I would prefer not to hear them.)
Anyway, I digress...

I know what Dad would want.
But there was this one conversation I was privy to in Boston last week.. (I mentioned that conversation in an earlier blog)... When the social worker came in and talked to him, during one of his infrequent and brief moments of lucidity... Where he expressed the will to live, almost desperately, wanting to change, wanting to be able to do the things he loved again... as if he was changing his mind... After having given up all these years and using alcohol to leave this world, suddenly, he knew it was coming, and wanted it to be different. And we cried. 

Somehow it seems that this all would be easier if he would have said something different during that conversation. If he had only said- I want to go, or, I am ready, or, I knew this was coming.. or something.
But I suppose, many people facing the end seem to change their minds in the last moments...

So anyway...
Now we decide whether or not to leave his medical treatment status quo- continue providing all the meds he was getting this entire time... The albumin, the octreotide, antibiotics, pentoxifylline, lactulose, heparin, pain meds (and the list goes on and on and on)... all these medications that support kidney and liver function, heart function, reduce swelling in the brain, reduce toxins in the body, etc, etc, etc...
Or, discontinue the clinical care and initiate "palliative care"... Just provide him with some pain medication, make him comfortable, and allow the body to decide it's natural progression. 

At this time, he is still on the medical protocol that he was in Boston, receiving all the various medications. They've also started a very slow and minimal dose morphine drip, to relieve his pain. He is asleep basically most of the time. But he was asleep most of the time before the morphine drip. The doctors tell us that we can expect to see that as the progression continues. That he will just sleep.

The three of us have to sit and talk now that Dad is home. 
If we initiate palliative care right away, the hospital will probably only keep him for a week or two, then he will move to a nursing facility.
And honestly, clinical care OR palliative care, we don't know how long we have. It could be days or weeks. No one knows.
Although statistically, there is a 28 day mortality rate (from time of admission) for those with serious (alcohol related) liver and kidney disease, like Dad.


I see my Dad. I really do.
I see his almost complete mental and physical deterioration.
But I still see him, at my wedding, at Christmas, mowing his lawn, cruising in his jeep, fixing this or that... And I know I'll always see him like that. I'll always have that.
But I'm not ready for this. 

Not that anyone is ever ready for losing a parent, or any loved one for that matter... And it doesn't make a damn bit of difference that we all "knew it was coming".  Not a goddamn bit of difference that I watched him from next door, rapidly deteriorating, slowly killing himself.
I can't say goodbye to my Dad.
I'm not ready.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Later Tuesday afternoon (after writing my last blog), we received some disturbing news from the kidney specialist in Bangor, which may have prompted his move to Mass General on Wednesday.

The kidney specialist told us that Dad's kidneys were breaking down due to a couple of reasons- the proteins that are released when there has been a heart attack and muscle decomposition, and from his liver failing. The kidneys can recover from the protein damage, but not unless his liver starts functioning. He said that 20-30% of patients see success with the treatment that Dad's receiving (supportive meds, proper nutrition, etc). When asked what happens to the other 70-80%, his answer was- they get a liver transplant, or die.
Dad is not a candidate for dialysis because of his overall general health (he's far too sick to tolerate dialysis). And according to Bangor (which was later confirmed by the liver team at Mass General), he's also not a candidate for a liver transplant. Transplant centers require that you abstain from alcohol use for a certain amount of time before you can qualify. And he has several other health issues that prevent him from being a candidate as well (the heart, the kidneys, etc)...

Wednesday was a whirlwind.. No, it was worse than a whirlwind. One minute we were waiting to hear back on a potential transfer to Boston. The next minute it was- they have agreed to a transfer, and are waiting for a bed to open. Then it was- There is an open bed, he's leaving in a half hour.
Troy, me, Dawson, Logan, and Mom all rushed to the hospital to say goodbye to him.
That's when last-minute plans were formulated for me, Troy, and Sharla to follow him down.

Dad was not excited about going, But when he got there Wednesday night, we were all fairly impressed with the staff, the patient care, the attention, the supposed plan...
And the plan since Wednesday night has been very similar to the plan in Bangor. After seeing the liver team yesterday, the only difference has been a change in one medication. (They were giving steroids in Bangor to try and assist the liver healing, and they just changed it yesterday to something else in Mass because he didn't seem to be responding to the steroids). That is also when the liver team told him and Mom and Sharla that he was not a candidate for a transplant.
The plan is basically supportive therapy (medications, nutrition, and physical therapy), and wait for his liver to (hopefully) start functioning properly. Everything else depends on it. Just wait...

Yesterday, the attending doctor on his floor told us that patients can recover from this, but that it will take a long time. It took a long time to get this sick, it will take a long time to improve.
Same as in Bangor.

Everything is the same as it was when he went in that horrible night. His "levels" are all the same (kidney and liver enzymes, white blood count, etc). He is still very ill, exhausted, and very confused. He still can't get out of bed. He is so yellow... (yesterday, he told his doctors he could just wash that off)...
There has been no improvement in two weeks.

We are all frustrated, exhausted, depressed.
One of the things that bothers us the most is Dad being alone there, unlike in Bangor, when we could all just go visit every day, whenever we wanted.
Sharla is frustrated as well.. she says- give it a few days and ship him back to Bangor. She thinks he is receiving the same care. And on the surface, it certainly appears to be the case. But what if it's not? What if Mass General can offer more than Bangor in the event that he doesn't get any better? Or heaven forbid, gets worse? I just don't know.

Side note.. On Thursday, the social worker for the floor came in to talk to dad. They talked a lot about his drinking, and about how sick he is... During one of his moments of clarity...
He talked about wanting to be able to do the things he loved again... his fairy garden, working on Bampa's tractor, restoring old cars.
He talked about his drinking.. He said- "I would drink a fifth a day. Fall on my face. My wife would help me to bed, and bitch at me in the morning. And I don't blame her. I was an ass."
He was crying.
So was I.

Leaving him yesterday was very hard. I cried off and on all the way back to Bangor. Mom and Sharla are there with him now, until tomorrow. But then what?
I wish I could afford to be there all the time with him. I am looking into different options, but none of them are ideal. Housing is too expensive, hotels are too expensive... There are some home-stay programs (much like housing a foreign high school student), but there is a waiting list and an approval process.
As long as Mom stays with Sharla in Portland, they can commute if they want, it's only two hours one way. Or they could take the train. But I can't stay there, Sharla's house is already full... Her and Gary and Avery, Gary's daughter and her two kids, and now Mom too.
Troy and I are trying to brainstorm ways to come up with extra money to at least allow us to get down there two-three days each week. But what about Dawson? What about the dogs? What about Kayli? At least maybe try to get me down there, so that Troy can be here for all the other stuff, for life that keeps going on when shit hits the fan... (Although the idea of traveling alone gives me anxiety on a very ridiculous level)... I guess I could drive to Portland, then take the train. Then come back the same night. But that's exhausting and costly too.
All the options just seem so unattainable...

Keep us all in your thoughts and prayers. Especially Dad.



Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Over the weekend they moved dad out of ICU and onto the third floor.

On a daily basis, his liver and kidney levels fluctuate (they are all still inflated). One day, this or that level will be a little better, while this or that level will be a little worse. For example, his bilirubin and creatinine continue to inch up daily (up is not where we want them to go). He still continues to look quite yellow. More yellow each day.

His white blood count continues to inch up daily as well. All the doctors keep saying that this is from the hepatitis and his body's overall decomposition. And also the prednisolone (which is the drug they are giving him that helps kidney function, evidently it increases the WBC).

The other day he developed severe swelling in his abdomen and legs and feet. It happened almost overnight. Sunday they did a CT scan of his abdomen and yesterday they did an ultrasound. They are attributing his leg swelling to being in bed for so long.. although his feet are blown up like footballs. They were giving him a medicine called Lasix to reduce his fluid and swelling, but that increased his creatinine levels, so they stopped giving it (It's always checks and balances). They now have him on a restricted fluid intake, I think only a liter a day. They did "tap" him yesterday . They removed 2 liters of fluid from his abdominal cavity.

He doesn't want to get up and sit on the edge of the bed, or try to get into a chair, because he's afraid he doesn't have the strength. And he keeps saying he's too tired to try. He's "wiped", he says. We're not really abiding by his wishes anymore though, and Sunday, we got him into a wheelchair. It was QUITE a production. Actually, getting from the bed into the chair wasn't the hard part. It was after he'd been sitting up for a while (and getting more and more tired) that we had the issue. He did fall, and five people later, he was back in bed. But at least he got cleaned up a little... He had (FINALLY) agreed to cut his nasty long hair and beard! So, I spiffed him up, and he looks like a new man. Although he looks much better than he actually is.
He wasn't able get out of bed at all yesterday.

Late Sunday night, they had to move him to the cardiac side of the third floor. His heartbeat had gotten more irregular, and they found that his troponin levels are up (as I may have mentioned before, troponins are enzymes specific to the heart, and elevated levels indicate heart damage and heart attack). His levels were already elevated, but evidently they increased further. His blood pressure is still very, very low.

His mental capacity is still diminished... That's obviously from the encephalopathy (the general term for brain injury. But mainly for dad, swelling or damage to the brain from years of consumption; otherwise known in the business as "wet brain"). Plus the toxins associated with cirrhosis of the liver that eventually permeate the brains protective lining (hepatic encephalopathy).
Although these last couple days he hasn't been telling any stories or having any more hallucinations that I know of. But he did ask me yesterday if we managed to get the seats back in my truck (which we did months ago, in the SUV that I no longer even have). Now he just seems exhausted and sometimes confused.

His mobility is a HUGE issue. He has very little (if any) strength in his legs. From his painful arthritis, and mostly the last year of deconditioning. He will get an eval soon for occupational and physical therapy. He needs to become more mobile. I ask about the eval daily, but I think they are waiting for him to become more stable before it happens.

The Doctor did say that it took many years for him to get this sick, and that it will take a long time to see any significant changes. But he will be living with liver and kidney disease, and heart damage. The organs may heal themselves to some extent, but they will never really recover.

We had a little family uproar here when the POA (Power of Attorney) and Guardianship came around. And things are still very tense. No one seems to understand why I was so hurt by that situation, and so I will try to explain...
When originally doing up the papers with Dad, he asked if Sharla and I could be "co-POA's". But that's not how it works. One person has to be first, ultimately yielding all responsibility. After a lengthy discussion at dad's bedside (so, he was privvy to this conversation), Sharla and I decided to put my name first on the POA and guardianship, under the understanding that we would confer on all decisions.
Later that afternoon, when the social worker came to dad's room to notarize the papers (and I had already gone home for the day), the change was made, and Sharla was put first as POA and guardianship. As per dad's wishes, in what I considered his diminished mental capacity, and in my absence.

By no fault of her own, Sharla has been in Portland for the last year, and has rarely had opportunity to visit. She did not bear witness to Dad's quality (or NOT quality) of life and his rapid degeneration. She has been mom's ear and support. She saw mostly one side of the story, moms side. While I was here next door, making sure he had something for dinner, calling and emailing him daily to be sure he hadn't fallen, going up to the house to check on him, driving him to the doctor's, mowing his lawn, buying him knee braces, elevated toilet seats, shower stools (which he never used), and yes, picking his butt up off the floor when he had fallen. More than once.
Not to mention how close Dad and I have been for many of my adult years. And I think that's because we are so much alike. I am a carbon copy of my father, inside and out. I know his quirks, I understand his moodiness, I can relate to his constant need for change, his desire to always seek out fulfillment, his love for music, and animals, and hobbies (as varied as they have been over the years.. much like me), his beliefs, his inner workings ... I know this man. I get him. And I think he recognized that over the years.

So yes, the change on the paperwork (in my absence) took me by surprise, hurt my feelings, caused me to be skeptical, even suspicious. But mostly just hurt.
I've already rationalized it with things like- It's because Sharla is a nurse.. It's because she was who was standing in front of him at that very moment (considering his short term capacity and confusion).. It's this or that or whatever... But it's still been the proverbial thorn in my side for these last few days. It's painful.
Regardless, I am in hopes that we will all pull together to make the right decisions for Dad. I will have to trust that we can. I am trying.

Whenever he is well enough to leave the hospital (and no one knows when that will be), he will go to a rehab center for more physical therapy and continued healing. What happens after that is still undetermined. Nursing home or assisted living? Or perhaps the ability to live on his own? (which I doubt).. No one knows yet.
And where will they go? (They meaning him and Mom)... If I had to guess, I would assume that Mom will take early retirement and they will go to Portland. She has wanted to move there since Dad was let go from Harvey RV about a year ago. I guess I wouldn't object to that, as long as whatever family is nearest to him will be able and willing to see him. More often than they have this last 6 months-year.

He does seem to realize how sick he is. I think he wants to get better. It's hard to tell with him. These last several months, he has just given up. I don't know if this will change that for him or not.
Even if he wants to, he will need a COMPLETE lifestyle change to get a few more years out of his body. Even IF he is able to have some semblance of unassisted living, Alcoholism is a disease, and I don't know if he is strong enough, motivated enough, to conquer it.

Yesterday I brought him some large photos of some of the things he loves (his "fairy garden", his jeep, a corvette he used to own- he loved collecting and trading old cars, Bampa's tractor that he restored, etc). I hung them on his wall to give him something pleasant to look at... but more so, to remind him of his vitality, and that there were parts of life that he loved.









Friday, June 7, 2013

Update on my father...

It's been two days since I've written, and it appears that dad may be getting a tiny bit better. Except, there's not really much better about the entire thing.
No matter how little his levels improve, it's still end stage liver and kidney disease.
If/when he gets out, he needs a COMPLETE lifestyle change to get a few more years out of his body. And not just the liver/kidneys and alcohol... His heart, his physical impairments... Not to mention the failing cognitive functioning...
Last night he asked me why there was a school bus out in the nurses station, and if it had been in a wreck. Yesterday he said there were icicles caught on his glasses, and when trying to knock them off, he "accidentally" pulled out (all three feet of) his feeding tube (this was the third time he'd pulled it out). The day before that, he told us the doctor had come in and said he has evidence of a head injury in the CT scan (which there isn't). The other day he told Mom's pastor a story about how he'd given a kid a bass guitar 20 years ago, under the understanding that he must learn to play and keep up with it, and that just this week the kid had given it back to him.
He tells these silly stories daily. A few times a day. Just goes all weird. He is symptomatic of a dementia patient (from the alcohol induced encephalopathy).. speaking inappropriately, hallucinating, difficulty maintaining a conversation, shortened attention span, memory issues, anxiety, a sad overall difference in his personality...
I don't know which is more difficult to comprehend, his failed physical health, or his failed mental health.

Assuming he gets all the way through this hospital stay, he'll need extensive physical therapy to become functioning again. It is still too early to tell whether or not he will have to go into a nursing home after this, or be able to have some semblance of living on his own. Or who will care for him. Or where he will go.

Speaking of which... Aside from my heart break for the loss of the man I once knew, I am discovering how the technicalities of these critical times; the stress, the grief, or a POA and Guardianship, for example, can open old wounds, loosen family ties, create rifts that possibly can't be undone.

I am spending less and less time at the hospital now. I'm not needed there. Nor can I stand it most of the time anyway. I'm probably experiencing one of the many stages of grief; anger. And it's more than just anger. I'm furious. It's like a poison.

I'll update with anything new as the days pass.
Keep us all in your thoughts and prayers. Or whatever.
(Wednesday, June 4, 2013)

I've spent the last three and a half days at the hospital with my father.

Those of you followed this blog know the "back story" to all of this. So I'm not going to bother with the history. I'll just tell what happened since that call came in at 4:17pm on Saturday.

While in town picking up a pizza on Saturday, I got a voicemail (for whatever reason it didn't ring through, just went straight to voicemail). I was standing inside of Pizza Hut listening to a two minute message of nothing but my father's mumbled groans, cries for help, the television in the background...
I left right away, called Troy (who I knew was almost home from dropping off Kayli), told him to get to Dad's, something had happened. Troy arrived at Dad's and called me immediately.. "call an ambulance.. he's unconscious on the floor", he said... I called 911 while driving to Glenburn like a madwoman. I called Mom and Sharla in Portland and told them to get up here. I got to the house just after Troy, and well before the ambulance.
The scene when I got there was something I'll never forget... Dad, sprawled out face down on the floor, barely clothed, immobile, injuries from a fall, mottled skin, unresponsive, lying in his own filth.. (I have no idea how long he'd been down, or when he was finally able to get to a phone).. He was in and out of consciousness. I tried to keep him calm while we waited for the ambulance, although I'm not sure if he even knew I was there. The paramedics finally came. He cried out in pain every time they tried to move him. After much ado, they were able to get him rolled into a hammock of sorts, and got him into the ambulance.They had to stabilize him before transport, his blood pressure was dangerously low, and his heart rate was in the 180's.
Off to the ER.
Side note... to our astonishment, there was no alcohol in his blood panel.

After several hours in the emergency room, they moved him to ICU late Saturday night.
And that's where he is now, three days later.
Acute liver and kidney failure. Heart damage, a likely heart attack. Pneumonia. And still the encephalopathy ("wet brain", swelling of the brain and lining, a general term for brain injury, due to years of alcohol consumption). A ridiculously high white blood count (despite antibiotics), indicating infection, which they can't seem to locate the source of. Dislocated shoulder (and who knows what else), which they will address after the critical issues (liver and kidneys). The acid and bilirubin in his body are still at toxic levels despite all the medications, antibiotics, and fluids... again, from years of consumption. He is as yellow as a dandelion.

As of Monday, the doctor gave him a mortality rate of 50/50... Said that if he had family, he would tell them to come. And so we did.
As of yesterday, his liver and kidney levels showed a HAIR of improvement. Still pneumonia. Aspirating on anything by mouth, so he now has a feeding tube.
He is immobile. He couldn't get out of the bed even if he wanted to. Painful arthritis, years of deconditioning (with this last year being especially bad).. He told the nurses that he crawls at home to get from point A to point B. The "rug burn" looking wounds on his elbows and the bruised knees are evidence to that.. That was even news to me. If I had known, I may have been even more furious than I am now.
He's sometimes lucid, and sometimes very silly, mumbling and telling stories and not making any sense. That's from the encephalopathy, not the drugs.

Now we sit and wait. Wait for every 24 hour period to pass... To see what his levels are. To see if his kidneys and liver will recover. That's the first thing. Then, IF they do, they address the heart attack. Then the pneumonia. The self-inflicted brain injury. Then the injured bones. Then the mobility issues.
Rehabilitation. Maybe nursing home. But no one knows. It's still too early to tell. He's only 62...

What IS evident is... the man who was once an active jeep enthusiast, the man who played bass guitar and sang like Hank Williams Jr, the man who mowed his lawn every week and planted in his "fairy garden", the man who fixed all my cars and lawn mowers and leaky faucets, the man my children called Dzadzu, and who called my Dawson "Hubba Bubba", the man who kept us laughing with his wit and grinding our teeth with his grumpiness... is gone. He's just.. gone.

Keep us all in your prayers (or positive thoughts, vibes, or whatever)...
Pray that my sister, the nurse and rock through it all, can continue to shoulder the medical explanations, the 20 questions we all give her.. that she can continue to bear the brunt of my anger and frustration, and bridge the gap between me and my mother, or at least make sure we don't kill each other.
Pray for Troy, that he can separate this horrible experience from one very much like what he went through with his mother and step-father. And that he can stand by me and not choke me when I am losing my shit. :)
Pray for my mother, who is probably experiencing sadness and anger (and possibly guilt) of her own right now. Who, no matter how angry I am with, has been losing sight of her dreams while living with an alcoholic husband for 40 years (my therapists words, while trying to help me understand her position).
Pray for me. That I don't kill anyone. That I can hide my crying fits from my children. That I can continue eating, sleeping, and simply maintaining, while spending these exhausting, draining days at the hospital, watching my father unravel.
Pray that Dad can survive, and somehow gain some of his self back. Pray for my father.