In the end, the most important thing is being in the moment with your loved one, ‘in their world”.
In November of 2016, I had just come back from a week of total body cleansing, called PanchaKarma. I had spent the previous full year battling my second cancer that had come back after 3 years.
What I came home to was a very sick father who had lost all mobility in his body. That started the three-year path of caregiving and trying to get him back to healthy. We went through a maze of complications with no answers from dozens of specialists. Each doctor wouldn’t know the answer and would send us down another rabbit hole. Frustration was building up and no answers were found. Dad was getting sicker and weaker. To this day, they all missed the boat and were not able to figure out his rapid decline.
Mainstream Doctors specialize in parts, ie; heart, lungs, kidneys etc. They don’t look at the total body as a super functioning machine that works together with what you eat, what you think, along with exercise. The final consensus was he had a bad heart valve and needed surgery. That started his demise. When you are trusting that doctors know what they are saying, you do anything to keep your loved one alive. His surgery did not go well, his age didn’t help, and he just never returned to normal after all the long hospitalizations. The heart hospital would not let me take him home. The hospitalist there told us he couldn’t leave on oxygen at a number 4-5 level. That was an incorrect statement, and I knew it. So he made us send him to a rehab facility. The people there never helped him get better, they left him in a cold room, ignored him and were killing him by neglect. It basically was a vent farm not rehabilitation. I drove there each day to find him weaker, sicker and tethered to a chair. I complained each day to someone new, and they all pretended they were going to help him, and never did. Finally, I went there at 6 am one morning, met the doctor and told him I was taking him home. I received all kinds of resistance, but I just said, get the paperwork going, he’s leaving tomorrow. What a blatant Medicare fraud facility.
The hope from the surgeons was he would live another 6 months after his valve replacement surgery; but I kept him going for another year and a half with a healthy diet, vitamins and as much walking as he could do. He didn’t die from heart failure. Matter of fact a few hours before he passed away the heart doctor in the hospital, stopped in and said his heart was strong.
Why am I telling you all of this?
When my father was brought to the emergency room for the last time, the ER doctor who was probably the smartest of all the doctors my father had seen said one thing – “has anyone checked his thyroid? His symptoms would all lead to thyroid issues.” No, no one ever did, and now that I look back on his declining health, it could have been key to his recovery.
By this time, Dad was too sick and struggling. But I thought he would pull through. He died from his kidneys and liver shutting down from all the massive antibiotics and drugs they gave him while in the hospital. How many drugs can a body consume before the organs give out? Drugs in this country are the cure for everything, but no one tells you about all the side effects and how they will make your organs shut down.
No one prepares us for becoming a Caregiver. It just happens and we get put into a tough situation that overtakes our life. Most times we are so busy making sure our loved one is comfortable, preparing their meals, getting them to eat, drink water, take medications, get them cleaned up, bring them to the numerous doctor visits, that we miss the real importance of just being in the moment with them…Enjoying every minute of time together.
I wish I had had the time to sit more with my father and just talk to him about anything, but most days I was running ragged to get all the things done. We spent some time each day getting outside and walking. I pushed him to exercise and he did his best, but it was tough for him. When Dad was struggling so hard to walk, he would just turn around and sit in his walker, take my hand and tell me he loved me and to be patient with him. Holding hands and hearing him tell me he loved me is what I miss the most and will always cherish. In those moments we shared, we did spend time talking, laughing and just being in the moment together.
Appreciating the small wins.
As my father became weaker, the talking and walking became difficult, but he tried so hard to do it. It didn’t matter how far we walked down the street, to me it was a major win. I always encouraged him to try and he never let me down until he was just too weak to do anything. He stopped talking, walking and eating and I had to come to terms with his passing. He wanted to go and I had to let him go.
I will forever have my Why’s. Why didn’t I do this or that. Why didn’t I see this or that? But I can’t live with that sadness. I did my best, but it wasn’t good enough to have him live longer. This is where believing in God has helped me understand it was never in my hands to begin with.
To your health and happiness,