I was so hoping that today I would share photos of snow-capped mountains, snow angels and maybe even a snowman or two. I had planned on taking photos of fabulous food and showing you all bits and pieces of my home town. It was going to be a light, bubbly and interesting post.
But alas, as the old adage goes “Life is what happens, while you are making other plans.”
In short I had the worst weekend of my life and I am for once not over reacting!!!
It started on Wednesday night when we had a really bad night with dad. He was very restless and seemed at times to be confused as to which day it was and where he was. On Thursday (a public holiday in South Africa in honour of Women’s day) I stayed home with dad to make sure he was ok. He had a fairly good day but slept for most of it and did not eat much. Thursday night he did ok but in the early hours of Friday morning I woke up to find dad standing in the middle of the passage panting. He was very different when I asked him if he was ok he looked at me like I was mad and said “I’m fine for someone who has fought a mountain lion in their”. He pointed to the bathroom and I must admit that at this point I was failing to see any humour in the situation. I walked to the bathroom and he kept on telling me to be careful cause he was not sure the mountain lion was dead and that there was blood everywhere. Of course when I switched on the light there was no mountain lion or blood. I got him back to bed and when he woke up he was doing really well. But I was very upset….
I phone a friend of mine who works for a neurologist and asked if he would be able to squeeze me in for a quick chat. I ended up spending over three hours with the doctor and at the end he assured me that dad was not displaying any signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s but that I would have to have dad checked out to see what in fact was going on.
Friday night dad and I giggled over the mountain lion episode, he ate the spaghetti I made and even had lovely scones with blueberries and strawberries for dessert. It was a wonderful evening and he went to bed feeling good. Then came five o clock on Saturday morning!!! I took the dogs out for a “cleanie girl” and on my way back to bed dad started shouting at me. He carried on and on about how it is his wedding day and how I won’t let him play rugby and I am this awful awful wife. We then got into a discussion on how much water he had to drink during the night and he was arguing with me because he wanted more water. To cut a two hour long story short my dad was not himself. He was speaking only in Afrikaans and swearing like a sailor (my dad does not use bad language at all) and singing at the top of his lungs. At one point my mom told him that it’s still very early in the morning and that he should try and get some sleep and he well….let’s just say he gave her a very non dad like answer and one he will spend years paying for. It was like he was drunk…his words became slurred and he was really talking in circles like a drunk would. He was a different person and when I checked on him he was almost aggressive in the way he spoke to me. Eventually, dad quietened down and I thought he went to sleep so I settled back into bed only to be woken by the most disturbing sounds at seven o clock.
I thought one of the dogs had gotten hurt but it turned out to be my dad. I went to him and I tried to talk to him but although he was looking at me he had this vacant look on his face and his eyes kept on rolling back into his head. He did not answer any of the questions I was asking him and eventually I woke my mom thinking that maybe he did not recognise me. But mom got the same reaction or more accurately the same non reaction.
I started to suspect a stroke even though I could not see any visible signs of one. I made the decision to call an ambulance and while I did that mom and my brother started to dress dad. But it took major effort because he could not move or help himself in any way. I could not get hold of any of his treating doctors (probably because of the long weekend) which was very frustrating. The ambulance arrived about 20 minutes later and I could see that the paramedics were not sure what was going on with dad. I also learnt that our house is not built to have a gurney come down the passage so it was a major thing to get dad in to a chair we could wheel him out to the gurney and then slid him onto the gurney.
While I was waiting for the paramedics to sort out the logistics of hospitals and so on I stayed with dad and at one point he turned his head and looked at me with this vacant stare. It was in this moment that I realised I could never let him suffer just because I want to keep him with us…..with me longer. I took his hand and looked him in the eye and I told him that if he needed to go, if felt it was his time then he could let go because we would be ok. I told him that I would miss every day and that I would love him until my heart stopped beating but that I could not watch him suffer so if it was time to be clothed in a new body in heaven then he needed to do that. When I turned away the one paramedic had tears running down her face and she told me that should something happen on route she would do everything she can……..
I don’t know why I found peace in that moment but I did. It was as if God lifted the burden from my shoulders and folded me up into His arms and carried me. I felt strong and calm and because of that I was able to keep my mom calm, I was able to make the necessary calls to family and to our minister and I was able to get into my car and drive to the emergency room without shedding a tear.
When I got to the emergency room they told me that dad was already doing better. I was surprised that they knew so quickly how to treat him. Turns out that en route to the hospital the ambulance had been met by another ambulance who had a more experienced paramedic on board and he apparently took one look at dad and clicked what was going on. Of course if the despatched had listening when I told him that dad has CCF, is allergic to iodine and is diabetic the paramedics would have been able to treat him sooner. But it seem the dispatchers brain got stuck at CCF and did not register the diabetic part.
Within half an hour of dad arriving at the hospital he was sitting up and able to talk a little. It turns out that dad went into an diabetic coma with his glucose level falling to 1!!!! Normal levels are between 4.4 and 6.1. Dad had not fallen asleep as I had thought but had actually slipped into a coma. That freaks me out!!!
Although diabetic dads glucose levels have never been a problem. He eats well and follows a diet, he tests his levels every morning and he is vigilant. But the past couple of weeks dad has been battling with a tummy bug and apparently that affects your insulin levels as well as your potassium levels. Because of the tummy bug he has been eating only very small portions of food and when nauseous he has not eaten and when he was in hospital a month ago they changed his meds. All this lead to Saturday morning and the worst moment of my life when I had to say goodbye to my darra.
Dad remembers nothing and that is his “trauma” because for him he fell asleep in his bed on Friday night and woke up in the emergency room on Saturday. He has no recollection of what happened and is very embarrassed about the behaviour and things he said. For us of course the “trauma” is very different because we lived through it and had to deal with it in a very real way. I looked at my dad and let go because I really thought I was going to lose him. I can still hear those sounds he was making ringing in my ears and I battle to fall asleep because of it. I know that my brother will forever have to live with seeing his hero powerless and my mom will live with the fact that the love of her life did not respond to her voice.
Dad’s glucose levels have stabilised and he was discharged from hospital this afternoon. We are very grateful that this was not his time but I am very thankful that in thinking it was I was able to do what he wants me to do and that is let go. Dad is very ready to sit at God’s feet. He has a lot of questions and discussion points and is ready to get started on an eternity of being in the presence of his Maker………but darra I am not so ready. I will fight every day tooth and nail to keep you here with us, but when the time comes I now know I will be given the strength to let go so that you can go onto your heavenly reward.
But Father please let that day be very far off…..
Although this is not the truth because my family I received a lot of support from friends and family......at the time this is what it felt like!!!