A Haven for Vee

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans. ~ John Lennon


On the 24th, I was busily getting the house ready for my sister and her beloved and her daughters to enjoy for Christmas Eve. I was bowing out as gracefully as possible and planning to spend the afternoon and evening quietly with my parents and my grandmother. Those were my plans. Of course, everyone else in the family also had his or her own plans.

When I arrived at my parents' home, my mother was off doing some last minute shopping. My grandmother was shuffling about as she does when she's worried, but she said nothing other than to acknowledge my greeting and to nod toward the den.

So I turned and went there to find my father who was sitting in his usual chair. I think I noticed right away that something was wrong. I asked him how he was feeling and he said, "lsdfhiognd." "Dad, are you all right? What did you say?" Again the strange babbling. Then I noticed that the right side of his face was definitely different...sagging... and his right eye was closed. I took the glass of milk that he was now offering me..."you smdinkg tfris."

Thankfully, my mother was pulling into the drive and I went out to the dooryard to say, "Listen, I don't want to worry you, but Dad is not well; I'm afraid that he's having a stroke; we're calling 9-1-1."

My mother hustled as quickly as she could (she has severe rheumatoid arthritis) to check on him and realized that something was very amiss. The phone call was made, a second phone call to my sister who, as a nurse, is always consulted early and often. The ambulance arrived in fifteen minutes and thus began our new plans...getting my dad to the hospital because now he had become hostile and belligerent and was refusing to go. My mother was pleading, the medical personnel were urging, I was staying out of it since I was the one being blamed for the call for help. Finally, my sister called to tell him, "Behave yourself and allow people to help you." After that things went a little better. My dad listens to my sister.

Eventually, the ambulance pulled away carrying my dad on a stretcher in the back and my mother riding along in the front. I was to follow as soon as someone showed up to stay with my grandmother who was now telling me that my father had been mumbling incoherently all the time that my mom was at the store.

Several calls to my daughter and my nieces had them all there within a half an hour to stay with their great-grandmother...very different plans than they had had, of course.

An Emergency Room Christmas Eve is very much different from those warm, fuzzy ones spoken of in my last post's quotes. Cold, sterile cubicles with needles, x-rays, cat scans, urine samples, etc. One becomes acutely aware of the discomforts and indignities of being human. One watches one's own loved one struggle and suffer and one sees the suffering of others. The worst was a snowboarding accident...poor young man without much of a face left.

Back to my dad...yes, it was determined that he'd had a TIA or mini-stroke; he'd have to be admitted; he'd have to be carefully monitored for the next three days because they are the most critical for having another event. Yes, there was evidence of an earlier stroke...yes, it may have been the cause of all the imbalance and dizziness he's been experiencing since summer. (Don't get me started on the doctors involved in this saga prior to this event.)

So Christmas limped along yesterday. Mother was with my dad for several hours in the morning while I made the preparations at her house. My sister was with him in the afternoon for an extended time. We all had a good look at what Christmas is like without two very special people...the anchors of the family; we didn't like it.

This event has reminded me of a story my friend told me several years ago. During that Christmas season, her friend Denise's mother was diagnosed with a terminal, malignant brain tumor. It was a very fast cancer and the woman was not expected to live more than a month. One day, after a particularly grueling week, my friend was expressing her frustration over Denise's circumstances, what a toll it had taken on the family, and how unfair that it was all happening during Christmas. Her companion nodded and said, "But I thought that this was why He came."

Indeed. This is the reason why He came...to walk with us when we are in difficult times...even through the valley of the shadow. Even when Christmas Eve is spent in an ER, when Christmas Day feels absurd, when we worry that a parent may be in more trouble than we know, when we don't feel adequate, when we are worried about whatever-it-is, when we struggle with our flaws and failings, when we're not sure which path to take...this is why He came.

28 comments:

  1. Vee, I'm so sorry to hear that your father has suffered a TIA and that your family is facing this challenge. We never know what life is going to throw in our direction. You and your family have lived up to the challenge and of that you can be proud.

    His combativeness is not unusual but it presents a particular problem for those who are trying to help and in some cases such as this - save a life. We are battling a similar situation with my 87 yr. old MIL but without the support of extended family members. So I'm glad that at least for you that support is in place.

    I'll be praying for you and your dad. Please keep us posted and don't forget that you are allowed to ask for help also.

    - Suzanne, the farmer's wife

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  2. Vee,
    I am so sorry to her about your dad. Please know and take comfort from the fact that Miss Sandy and her household are and will pray for you, your father, and your family.
    Miss Sandy

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  3. I am sorry to hear of your horrible Christmas experience Vee.

    At a time like this it does not really matter what anybody says or does ..the scenario will still play out as it must.

    I send you my best wishes and a big hug...hang in there.

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  4. Awww Hon, I'm so sorry.... -sigh-

    Mari-Nanci

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  5. So sorry to hear about your dad! We never know what each new day brings...but thankfully we know we are in good Hands! I will be thinking of you and praying for you. May you have the 'peace that passes understanding" today.

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  6. Have just found you via a comment on Philip's blog. My thoughts are with you and trust that your father will make good progress and soon be returned to you.

    Our Christmas was topsy turvy, too, as we heard on Christmas Eve that my Mum's oldest brother had died that morning, aged 94. Mum lives next door to us and is very much a part of our lives. The news shook her (and us), and so our festivities became low-key. But it is a reminder to us all that the stresses of planning for Christmas are nowhere near as important as we think they are when we find ourselves running out of time to add the finishing touches. Nice though they are, they are not vital. Our loved ones are.

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  7. Hang in there Vee. I hope your father is doing better and will make a full recovery. SO lucky you arrived when you did.
    barbara

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  8. Oh, so sorry about your dad.
    I will keep him, you and your family in my prayers.

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  9. Oh, Vee, my thoughts are with you. Today, right now, especially, because of our families loss a few weeks ago. I'll pray for your father's recovery and for you and your family to find strength and comfort in each other. The Holidays are a feverish time, and it's moments in our lives like these that seem to bring the truely important things in life back into perspective.
    Thank you for reminding me of that.
    Hugs,
    Abbie

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  10. Vee,
    So sorry to hear about your father. What an unpleasant and unexpected event for Christmas. I will pray for his swift recovery.
    Hugs,
    Melissa

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  11. Vee- I'm so sorry to hear about your dad's stroke. May the God of all peace surround you with His love and may He cover you with His wings. You are in my prayers. Vickie

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  12. It is nice to `meet' you, but I was so sorry to read about your Dad -I do so hope that he is progressing.
    Hugs from N.Z.
    Liz

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  13. My Dear Vee, I hope that your father is recovering now from his TIA...I know that this has been the hardest thing you have had to go through, but please try not to worry, take each day as it comes and gather your family to you and hold each other close. Just remember that if it hadn't been for your quick thinking, things could have been ever so much worse. And yes, that is why He came...to take our hands and stroke our heads and offer us comfort. Our prayers are with you and your folks...
    hugs
    Sandi

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  14. Vee
    I am sorry to hear about your dad. I will pray for him and for the rest of your family as well.

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  15. oh Vee...I am so sorry to hear about your Dad,,,,I hope he is better??
    I will be praying for him....theres a reason why you went there on Christmas Eve...you were sent.
    Blessings and Prayers.
    Robin

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  16. Hi, I'm new to your blog. I know just what you're going through with your dad. I went through the same thing a year, ago. He recovered quickly and is doing fine, except for some weakness on his left side, especially when he's tired. His speech is great. He celebrated his 85th B-day this past summer.

    God bless you and your family.

    ~elaine~
    roz_etta@yahoo.com

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  17. Thank you, everyone, for your support and prayers.

    My father is improving slowly. He's still very shaky and unable to stand on his own, but he is past the dreaded "third day." His speech is improved though he remains confused.

    Wish that I had time to blog about fun things or even to blog at all!

    Catch you around soon, I hope.

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  18. Vee,
    You, your father, and the rest of your family are all in my thoughts and prayers. Yes, life does throw us some curve balls doesn't it. But that's what keeps us going and knowing that we are in the best Hands possible and that He has everything under control. Take care of yourself during this challenging time.

    Jan

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  19. Thank you for putting an update, as a comment!!! I'm so glad for all the good news.

    Again, thank you for letting us know. I know you are busy. I'm not pushing you, for updates. I'm just thanking you much.

    My thoughts are with you...

    Mari-Nanci
    P.S. Thank you also for introducing me to your counter! I have tried to install such, before. But they were way too hard for me to install. This one is a 'piece of cake.' Thank you so much!!!!!

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  20. Oh gosh Vee, sorry, I'm just getting over to read your blog again and was so sorry to hear about all this. You poor dear and your Dad and Mum and everyone. What a frightening thing. I hope he recovers fully and gets the care he needs. Let us know how things are going. Sounds like a shocking Christmas, but I guess these things can happen at any time. I hope you are managing...

    Love to you and will be thinking of you. Do keep us posted. xo Terri

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  21. Vee, I know I already left an earlier comment but I just wanted you to know that you have not been very far from my thoughts and you and your family are in my prayers.

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  22. Just checkin in Vee, hope your Dad is doing well and that your Mom is coping...don't forget to give her a big warm hug, sometimes we forget that the life partner of an ill loved one can feel stressed and under appreciated...love to you all
    Sandi

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  23. Vee - I'm so sorry to hear about your dad! I hope he continues to improve every day. I know how hard it is to see something so frightening happen to someone you've always believed to be so strong. It makes your world seem like a much scarier and stranger place, doesn't it? Hang in there and keep the faith - all of life's hardships occur for a reason, if only to remind us how blessed we are in the good times. I'll be thinking of you and your family.
    oxo,
    Kari

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  24. Hiya Vee..

    Glad to hear there is improvement with your Dad. It usually takes some time for the confusion to work its way out. Slow and steady wins the race. Just take it one little step at a time...

    Sure as heck don't you worry bout blogging...we will check back to see comments... and updates... good enough.

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  25. Bless your heart!
    How's he doing now? You are so lucky to have such a wonderful, close family.
    God bless.
    Terri

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  26. I am so sorry to hear about your Father. I will pray for all of you. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for this post. I have had a very stessful year with my children and this has helped in ways you will never Know!! Blessings of the Nwe Year to you and your family!

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  27. Oh Vee, I'm so sorry to hear about your Dad, and so thankful that he got help as quick as he did from you all. It must have been very scary for your grandmother...

    I hope rehab will help him get back what has been compromised and that he will make a full recovery.

    I am very touched by your taking a positive view of an otherwise very unsettling experience and keeping your faith in your back pocket. It certainly drives home how difficult Christmas can be for some and how, just because it is a special day, it is not challenge free for many. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers...

    Much love,
    Linda
    xoxo

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  28. I was so sorry Vee to read of your sad Christmas Eve. I do sincerely hope that your Father improves and gains his health again.How fortunate though to have so many family around to pull together.

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