Not My Journey...


...this reminder was told to me today in a hospital room.  (CCU to be exact.)  This words came from a very wise woman.  (Obviously NOT me.)

It's a reminder that each of us have our own journeys.  We may have people who join us and stand by us on this journey, but ultimately our journey is our own and no one else's.

Let me be blunt, my father is dying.  That does not mean he is going to die today, tomorrow, next week...well you get the idea.  To be realistic, from the moment we are born, we are dying.  From the instant we come out of the womb, we are crawling slowly (or perhaps not so much) towards the inevitable end.

My father has faced many health challenges.  There was a quadruple bypass surgery back in the late 1990s.  Then in about 2014 he got a serious infection that landed him in the hospital for weeks.  After that his health was a bit more precarious.  A simple blister on a toe, which wasn't felt due to neuropathy, lead to infection and in many cases amputation. Neuropathy in the feet became neuropathy in the lower legs.  There was arthritis in the hip.  There was spinal stenosis. Issues with his manual dexterity.  None of which got better with age.  And with his heart issues and advanced age, there was no simple surgery that could solve any or all of the problems.

He's relied more and more on his sleep chair.  It was the place where he was most comfortable.  He relied on a walker to get from one room to the next, which became more and more difficult.  Until he fell in January of this year and despite the fact that no bones were broken, walking, even with a walker, became next to impossible.

Pressure ulcers became inevitable and lead to the path that he's been on since February.  There have been infections, hospitalizations, discharge to home, hospitalization, discharge to rehabilitation facility, hospitalization, discharge to  a different rehabilitation facility and hospitalization.  That's not a fun journey.  Not for him and not for me as I made the decision to come down at least once a week to check in and take care of "chores" (like paying bills).

When I got the call the other day that he was being sent to the hospital again because of a high fever and unresponsiveness, it looked like the journey was at an end.  I listened with care to the palliative care nurse as she reviewed his vitals and the overall situation.  I made plans to take the next day off.  And then at the end of the day, his caregiver called me. She put him on the phone and he sounded...fine! His voice seemed strong (or at least stronger than the last time I had spoken to him) and he was alert.

Nonetheless, I went to see him in the CCU of the hospital.  While his situation is serious and he is mostly spends the day sleeping, I have no idea what might happen next.  He has improved slightly, but his age and overall health mean that these pressure ulcers (again I had no idea that things could become so severe) will never heal.

So while death is inevitable (he is in his late 80s), it doesn't mean that it's just around the corner.  Even though it may have looked that way just the other day.  He may get better and be able to return home.  (Albeit, confined to a special bed/mattress that I will need to have in the house and he will most likely never be able to leave that bed.)  He may get worse.  There is no way of knowing, even with advanced medical knowledge.

And while I admit to being controlling, I cannot control this.  (To be honest most everything is out of my control and I just give myself the illusion that I have control.)  This is his journey, not mine.  I have been there for a long part of it.  I may be there at the end.  I may not be.  I cannot know and I cannot/should not give up my own journey to monitor his.

This is his journey.  I cannot change it.  I cannot alter it.  I can be there to support, but not at the sacrifice of my own life journey.  (This "selfishness" is difficult.)   This is his journey. 


Popular posts from this blog

Not Guilty

Please Don't Ask Me...

Lowe's LIES