Saturday, September 6, 2008

My Dad is in a Wheelchair

Yet, another one of my current life's tribulations is the story of my father. He is the only person in my extended family still alive and I am only 36 years old. Last year, after my mother passed away and my daughter got the diagnosis of PDD-NOS, I can remember awaiting the phone calls from my step mother regarding my dad's test results. They went to numerous specialists and even some non-traditional medical professionals over a nine month stretch. Yet, to this day, we have no accurate diagnosis. All we know is that he started losing his balance. He started losing his muscle tone. And because of that, at the young age of 62, he lost his private medical practice too. He could no longer stand long enough to treat his patients. His legs would quiver so much that he couldn't even take one step forward without having to concentrate and hope not to fall down. And, when he falls, he can't get up. I still can't believe my eyes! And, when I call to talk to him on the phone, he slurs like he is drunk although he is not.

When we traveled to Chicago last weekend to celebrate my brother's 30th birthday and watch him run, ride and swim in a Triathlon, I was startled to see my dad in a wheel chair for the first time. It was balmy and crowded and we were all tired from maneuvering through the masses on the crowded sidewalks. I think I drank like ten bottles of water to keep hydrated that day. I would offer my dad some water, or snack and he would decline because he knew that he wasn't able to wheel himself into the bathroom, I think that is why. Either that or he is depressed.

My heart is so sad for him and for my step mom. Today, the Saltville school system is honoring my father in the Hall of Fame for his years of service to the school corporation. Since he had to sell of his practice last year and slide into an unwelcoming retirement, this is a big celebration for him. We are loading the van right now and preparing for our drive there. I am looking forward to seeing others acknowledge him and his dedication through the many years. Yet, I am scared that I and the rest of my family may be forced to recognize his handicap - how it has snuck up on us, how we don't have a name for it and how we don't know how his future will stand.

More on my father, his condition and our past relationship struggles in future posts...


QuietMom said...

Oh wow. So sad for your father and for you.

We've dealt with health issue with my dad over and over this past year - it was like he was just getting over one crisis and another would hit. He's on the mend now but I can understand your feelings. It's so hard to see them grow old with difficulty.

Lilly's Life said...

My father is also in a wheelchair and has been for a few years. Life changes particulalry for thier partners in a major way. The Carers lives change even moreso. My Dad worked up until retirement, went on the big overseas trip with my mother and got sick while he was away. It is tough but the thing I find is, particularly for males, they feel they are not useful anymore. Everyone seems to be doing things for them and they feel like they are losing control. I have made a point of asking my Dad for advice whether I need it or not sometimes. He is as sharp as a tack even though he now is also nearly blind. He needs to know he is still needed and he has value. I think the big thing is that suddenly we also see them in a different light and yet they dont feel any different underneath it all just more useless than ever. Its tough because people focus on the physical disabilities and do not pay much attention to the emotional side. Be strong and celebrate with your father. What a big deal it is for him and he deserves the focus of attention without doubt this weekend. A big hug for your stepmother too because having seen first hand what my mother has gone through they need all the support they can get. All the best for your weekend.

Daisy said...

My FIL is having health problems and has tremendous denial. We (his sons and their wives) got together and planned an intervention to convince him to move out of his house. It worked; he and MIL bought a senior living/ accessible condo. But the whole move is still in progress; he has one more surgery coming up and must "recover" before they move. Hugs to you and your family; depression is rampant in caregivers.

Helene said...

Your father sounds like such a sweet man. I can understand how you'd feel sad for him and for your step-mom. Hopefully the honor he is receiving through the school system will lighten his spirits!!

autismfamily said...

Sorry to hear about your Dad. Lots of emotions I am sure. My Dad passed away a month before turning 67 about 2 or 3 years ago. It was a real shock when I got that call and wondered if there was a way to get me and my boys to NJ, but then the real truth in that it happened two months before they called me.

It is so important to have special needs trustand guadians in place and life ins for our kids. I have a younger brother married no kids in NJ, doubt he would come to CA though so not sure about their future. I need to have it all figuredout before I hit 50 in two years.

Congrats to your brother for competing in a triathalon, think they had one in LA today andthere was an autism org giving out water.

Elizabeth Channel said...

I wish I had words of comfort that might help. I will pray for your father and your family as you all face this new chapter.

Is. 43 Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name: you are mine. When you pass through the water, I will be with you; in the rivers you shall not drown. When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned; the flames shall not consume you.

Carol said...

It is very difficult to watch our parents, once strong and vital, deteriorate.

Your dad's physical decline seems very rapid. It's amazing to me they can't pinpoint the problem. I'm so sorry.

You're young to be facing it all this soon. But there never really is a good time.

Celebrate your dad's accomplishments as you continue to support and love him. It must be really scary for him, too.