Looks like it did take an entire month for this post to happen. Sorry guys. It was a mixture of busy-ness and honestly just having trouble typing this part out. I love writing and I love sharing all the vulnerable parts of my life. I find it freeing and cathartic; I always seem to find a part of myself that I didn't know quite as fully before. So perhaps that's why I've been putting it off. Sitting down at my laptop and typing it out means that I have to really explore my heart and put words to how I'm feeling.
If you haven't been tracking along with the story about my Dad you can click on these links to read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 first. We left off with the day my Dad moved into his own apartment. He had previously been staying with my sister Nicole, but that arrangement wasn't working out very well, so they found him a tiny furnished apartment in Chinatown. Nicole and her husband James dropped him off at 1 pm.
Just over 6 hours later she received a phone call from the apartment building. They had found my Dad had fallen and was injured and had called an ambulance. Nicole told Gloria and I right away. We were all shocked and worried. The person who called from the apartment said he was conscious and coherent. They found him because there was water leaking from his apartment into the suite below him and they went to investigate. He had left the kitchen sink running. It overflowed and he slipped and fell. None of us were able to get to the hospital that evening so we waited until we could call and talk to the Doctors at the hospital.
Nicole was able to talk to the emergency room doctor that evening and received the news that turned the story upside down and backwards. His blood work showed he had a significant amount of alcohol in his system. Worry quickly turned into anger. We think the actual fall happened around 4:30 pm. When Nicole and Gloria went to his apartment the next day to check things out they found a two six of rye that was nearly half empty. In 3.5 hours of "freedom" (something he had been anticipating and hastening since he "woke up" at the Glenrose in November) he walked to the nearest liquor store, bought a bottle, came home, drank it and promptly fell.
He re-injured his brain and caused another bleed. We were back at nearly square one. He was conscious. He didn't need to be intubated. But it was serious. He needed to have surgery to relieve the pressure. We realized quickly that he wasn't going to be released anytime soon. I didn't go visit for a long time. I was too angry. Nicole and Gloria updated me with news of how he was doing. It wasn't good. He was back to not being all there- he would have elaborate stories to tell them each time they visited. Thinking he went on great adventures out of the hospital, or that he wasn't in a hospital at all.
The Doctors were not willing to refer him to the Gelnrose for a second time. Partially because of the circumstances of his fall, and partially because the Glenrose will not take a patient that doesn't have a "home" to finish the rehabilitation process. Nicole was not willing to take him a second time, and Gloria and I were not willing to take him at all. We met with the social worker at the hospital and she explained our options. The Doctors were recommending that he be moved to a long term care facility. There are different levels of care and they were recommending the highest level of care- one that has round the clock nursing staff. We needed to get him approved for AISH because his CPP cheque would not be enough to cover the cost of a care facility. After the meeting with the social worker I stopped in for a short visit with Nicole. I was only a couple weeks away from moving to Westlock and I knew I wouldn't be back for a while. He remembered that we were moving, and even remembered why. The visit was pretty uneventful and I left not feeling much about it.
And so we waited. First for AISH to be approved, then for the application process for a long term care facility. The hospital couldn't put him on the list until he stopped trying to get out of bed (and falling almost every time) The hospital could restrain him in his bed, but the nursing home policy is to not take anyone who needs to be restrained. It seemed like he would never get on that list because the stubborn man that he is, he just wouldn't ask for help to get out of bed.
I did go see him once by myself. Ironically, the day I felt I needed to see him was Father's Day. I happened to be in the city the day before and I happened to have extra time that day, so I went to a grocery store, grabbed a card, scribbled a simple "Happy Father's Day Dad" inside and headed to the hospital. I felt so stupid asking the nurses at the nurses station where to find him because I didn't know which room he was in. He had been there for months and they had never seen my face.
"I'm his youngest daughter." I stammered. "I haven't been before. I live out of town." I explained, feeling my face turn red, knowing fully that I don't live too far to visit. They pointed towards the hall. He was in his wheelchair. I approached, feeling hot and sweaty.
"Hi Dad." I said, praying he would know who I was. He smiled and greeted me warmly. He thought I was Gloria. I corrected him, choked back the feeling of wanting to turn in the other direction and run, and apologized for not coming sooner. He dismissed my apology and seemed genuinely happy to see me.
And then all he did was complain about Nicole. How she was so hard to live with and he needed to find a place of his own. He didn't need her to police him. He called her "the warden" He thought he was still living there. I gently reminded him he didn't, and he was staying at the hospital now because he fell and got hurt again. "Oh." he said, accepting my truth. Then he told me all about a (fictional) class he was going to there at the hospital- they were teaching him all about his brain. He thinks he left his cell phone on his desk though. I told him he didn't have his cell phone at the hospital. "Oh." he said again. No fight, Not even surprise. Just acceptance that I was right and he was wrong. I stayed for only about half an hour. Tears stinging my eyes as I walked out the door.
I left feeling mad, sad, and overall just very surprised at where he was in his recovery. I didn't visit him in this stage of recovery last time, but I know that two months after the first fall he was leaps and bounds ahead of this.
I felt so angry. Angry at how he spoke about Nicole. The only one of us three who was willing to take him in after the Glenrose. The one who filled out a mountain of paperwork and became his legal guardian and trustee when we were unsure if he would be able to make is own decisions again. The one who missed days and days of work to make appointments, meet with Doctors, social workers, write AISH applications and drive around the city picking up things he needed- clothes while he was at the Glenrose, a walker and a bath seat for when he was released. The one who took him into her home and endured months of his grumpy attitude. Often raising his voice to her and swearing at her when he felt like she was treating him like anything less than what he felt he was- fully healed and rehabilitated. And after all that she still visited him in the hospital once a week. Left her anger at the door and cared for him. And then I walk in- the daughter who he hasn't seen in months and has only kept up with how he is doing because of the diligent updates from my sisters, and he treats me like the star and complains about her?? My blood was boiling.
Eventually the day came and he moved into a long term care facility in the middle of July. That was a very hard transition for him. He was very confused and angry. They called Nicole after the first day or two and told her that phone calls and visits may help so I called him to talk. He told me he was at the wrong hospital and he was waiting to get into the right program in Barrhead. I tried to gently remind him that he was at the "care centre" as we called it in the beginning. He instantly became angry and said "No, you're wrong. I don't know why I even called you if you're just going to disagree with me. Goodbye." and he hung up. I found a little humour in the fact that I had called him, not the other way around.
I haven't called or gone to see him since.
The truth is that I'm still angry. SO angry. He has thrown away so much just because he decided he needed a drink. After more than 6 months without one. From what we know, from what the doctors have told us; it is very unlikely that he will recover to the point where he was in March. He may not recover at all past the point where he is now, which is no better than where he was when I visited him in June. He still gets confused and thinks he sees people that he doesn't see, and thinks he is somewhere else, or needs to go somewhere else. He has called both Nicole and Gloria telling them he needs to be picked up for various reasons (He needs to get to work, the motel won't let him leave etc) He has never called me, which doesn't surprise me and doesn't bother me.
The brain can only withstand so much, and two major injuries in such a short time did a lot of damage. Also, he still refuses help and still falls out of bed. Daily. I think they have recently convinced him to wear a helmet, which will hopefully prevent his brain from further injury and prevent him from getting worse, but it is highly unlikely that he will get better.
When I tell this story in person, this is usually the point where I say "It is what it is" because honestly I don't know what else to say. I am trying very hard to direct my anger towards his addiction to alcohol instead of him, but it's very hard for me to separate the two. So that's it. Congrats for making it through this looong story! I hope to one day write the story of how I've worked through all these emotions, but for now.... it is what it is.
Thanks for reading