Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I love U Dad!


How many people have Thanksgiving Day stories that changed their life? I’m willing to guess tons of people do. Some people are stressed out because their prized pecan pie just isn’t right, or their cousin isn’t showing up because of some stupid family drama, or the spare bedroom renovations won’t be done in time for guests. Other people are stressed because they have to pack up the family, take time off work, and travel (money is tight). Maybe a sad anniversary pops up to put a damper on the day. Or the despair of unemployment finally becomes a reality as Christmas veers its ugly little head. Being the romantic that I am --I believe there are a few gracious people out there who are excited and enjoy the day for what it’s worth: good food and family.

This post is dedicated to my dad who taught me last year that when the going gets rough I could handle anything. Everything family related in my life is unorthodox-- to put it mildly (borderline dysfunctional). My Mom is in another state and I pretty much unofficially wrote her off about ten years ago. She spent the first 19 years of my life disappointing me, putting me down, and leading me in all the wrong directions. So in this life my family...my immediate family as in immediately available to visit is just him and I.

Last year my aunt and uncle planned Thanksgiving Day at their house. My uncle is an amazing cook and we were all looking forward to my cuzin’s husbands pumpkin cheesecake. Unfortunately for me, my dad became seriously ill. Exactly one week before Thanksgiving I got a phone call at work that my dad was at the urgent care for an arm infection. Turns out he waited to long to see a Dr. and had a rad staph infection in his arm which needed to be treated with some super duper strength anti biotics. After several tests they decided that his blood pressure was too high and he needed to be admitted for more testing and observation. His arm was humongous and he was in bad shape. My dad is only 52 and other than his filthy smoking habit he is in good shape. I hustle down to the hospital and prepare to take care of him for a day. That evening.... lets just say my dad had a little reaction to the painkillers and the nurses found him out in front of the hospital, face down in the grass. I had already driven back to L.A. and planned to work half day then return to the hospital. The nurse called me at 6am and frantically insisted I come back because my dad was completely incoherent. I’ve never been so terrified in my entire life.

To make a super long sad story shorter I saw a side of my dad that my 28-year-old brain was not ready for. He was too young for this. He was reduced to an infant that week. The roles were reversed. I had to be around at all times the accommodations were less than comfortable. The poor guy would be choking his mouth was so dry and the fucking staff would leave him without water for hours. They basically put him in the room and ignored him while a brain specialist and infectious disease dr. took turns guessing about what could be wrong with him. Which we never really found out exactly what caused the infection or why he had such strange reactions to it. He developed a migrane that made him puke, super high blood pressure, he was incoherent, and his arm was taking a long time to heal.

The eve of Thanksgiving the Drs. wouldn’t release him because they couldn’t get approval for this crazy antibiotic from his insurance. They wanted to have him on an I.V. at home. That feeling of helplessness activates an instinctual survival mode that is indescribable until you actually live it. I turned into the bionic woman. After five long days of me sleeping on his couch, taking care of his stupid dog, bringing him clothes, food, and entertaining him, not to mention making sure he ate, slept, bathed, and dealing with his visitors, I had enough. I took his credit card out of his wallet, went to the desk and told those mother fuckers, who treated him like a second class citizen all week, to give me the fucking prescription, I drove to Walgreens and paid for it in full. $5 thousand dollars later (no joke) my dad was at home. (he was reimbursed by his insurance, I made sure of that!)

The next day, my life in shambles-- because I had neglected everything to be with him I reluctantly shower and get dressed to join him for our Thanksgiving dinner. We spent the afternoon, just him and I, devouring the food my aunt and uncle packed up for us. That day my dad looked at me differently. I have to say to see the pure contentment on my dads face, enjoying the simple things, eating good food, and watching football with me was worth all the money in the world. (Maybe thats how parents feel about their kids?) There were many details left out of this story but lets just say I was pushed to the limits and beyond that week and forever I will remember Thanksgiving as the day my dad learned that he could count on me no matter what.

I hope this year we can all put the economy, politics and old dumb bad feelings aside to remember that no matter what we are blessed. Love your family and be good to each other.

1 comment:

Law Ingenue said...

When I was 23, I spend Christmas Eve in the ICU at the hospital with my dad who had just had a massive stroke. He survived and is still alive today, but I can certainly understand that holidays are a special time for family.

Thanks for sharing your story!