A Year of Difference

A year ago today I was speeding along New England Highways trying to get from NH to NJ as fast as humanly possible.  What had started out as a fun weekend away to celebrate the wedding of a good friend had turned into a nightmare.  One that would last for several months and rob me (and my family) of most of the autumn and winter.

My son had started school on Thursday.  On Friday my husband and I had sent him off; then the two of us headed northward to New Hampshire.  It was a rarity; a time for the two of us to get away.  We love being a family of three, which is why we rarely, if ever, go away without my son.  But we knew he was in good hands with my parents.

The plan was simple.  While we headed to New Hampshire for the weekend, my parents would drive up from the Jersey Shore, pick up my son after school and take him for the weekend down there.  We would return to Northern NJ on Sunday afternoon and they would bring him back around the same time.  They had fun plans for him which included a trip to the aquarium.  Unfortunately, the fun never happened.

When I checked in on Saturday morning, my dad wasn't feeling too well.  He'd been sick on Friday afternoon and was getting worse.  At first it seemed like some sort of stomach bug.  I wasn't too worried, although I did feel guilty for being away.  While my husband and I had a lovely day on Saturday; a visit to a local winery in addition to a lovely wedding, my dad was getting progressively worse.  We woke up early on Sunday and decided to get a move on home.  I grabbed coffee at the Dunkin Donuts across the street from our motel while my husband filled up the gas tank.  Traffic was light early on a Sunday morning and I didn't bother to call my parents to tell them we were already on the way home as it wasn't even eight o'clock.

I planned on making a pit stop on the Mass Pike and calling them at the shore at that time.  Eight thirty in the morning seemed like a reasonable time to check in.  But I didn't even get that far before we got a call.  My dad was doing much worse and after calling the doctor, it had been determined that he ought to get to the ER.  They headed north to the hospital in North Jersey and we whizzed south.  The pit stop in MA was quick as I broke all speed records getting back to NJ.

I called my mother's cell when we were twenty minutes away and she met us at the entrance to the ER so we could pick up my son.  My father was being admitted to ICU.

I went down to see him that afternoon and it was truly frightening.  He was NOT the person I knew.  He was completely different from the man I had known all my life and I had just seen him a week ago.  

What had started (or so everyone assumed based on the events that were to follow) as a scrap from getting off a boat two weeks prior (where the skin had not even been broken and there had been no bleeding) turned into a full blow STREP infection that completely took over.  My dad's kidney's shut down and he was put on dialysis.  He bled internally from a stomach ulcer that somehow developed.  His heart beat was irregular.  Perhaps it wouldn't have been quite so scary if my father were not such a strong and opinionated man.  Seeing him docile and weak gave me nightmares.

Writing this a year later, it's hard to remember it all.  Maybe it's because I don't want to.  He spent nearly 2 weeks in ICU.  He was eventually released to a rehab center (what we used to call a "nursing home" and no matter what you call it, it is still a place that you don't want to be).  He got better.  He came home.  And then the infection came back again and he ended up in the hospital over Thanksgiving.  (So did my mother, but that's another story.)  Suddenly the infection was in his big toe and the doctor was saying that part of it had to be amputated.  Things got better again.  And then the infection got into the second toe and IT had to be completely amputated.

Looking back, I don't even remember what happened and when.  September, October, November; the months ran into each other.  When I started visiting the hospital it was hot and the sun was still out when I left in the evening.  Then there were days when my car was covered in snow as I made my way in.  I discovered my own "secret" parking space.  Christmas decorations went up.  My dad came home.  A new year began.  My dad ended back in the hospital.  I can't remember exactly when he FINALLY got well.  The days and months they have blurred and blended.  But somehow, SLOWLY, he got better.

He is still a bit unsteady on his feet.  (Hey, it isn't easy to when you've only got 8-1/2 toes.)  My mother keeps a close eye on those feet (since that seems to be where infections settle).  I tend to be overly cautious around him.  (Which I am sure drives him crazy).  Somehow, he managed to make it through the spring and summer.  My son spent time at the shore with my parents as he always has.  It was as if nothing had really changed.  This summer was ALMOST just like last year.

I say almost because today marks a year.  And I am reminded how quickly things can change.  How you never know what can happen.  How something so simple and unnoticeable can turn into something life threatening.

It's been a year.  What a difference.  


  1. I'm so glad he's mostly ok, I remember those days and being worried about him (and YOU!)


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

As Is

Dear Mom & Dad: Coming to a Close

Where Is My Document & Check?