Just ‘Cos You’re Breathing Doesn’t Mean You’re Alive

I’m tired and fed up; fed up with being brave, fed up with pretending everything is going to be okay and honestly a little resentful at putting my life on hold again. The truth is that despite being in denial for some weeks, my lovely Dad will never be the same again and whilst he’s made a wonderful physical recovery he struggles most days to remember what day of the week it is and what he had for breakfast. Heart-breaking though it is, I have to admit that overnight we have lost my beloved Dad.

This is the post I have dreaded writing the most because by doing so I have to finally admit that my Dad will probably not be coming home and writing those words fills my heart with an unfathomable sadness. I know that my Dad’s no more special than any other dad but to me he’s been the anchor that has steadied our ship and his kindness has enveloped us in an embrace that warmed our hearts just like an old favourite sweater on a winter’s day, reassuring us that there was goodness in the world on even the darkest days.

The surgeon made him aware of the risks when he had his hip operation and we were told that they had a medical dilemma which meant that they couldn’t treat both the stroke & shattered hip simultaneously but he had been adamant that he wanted to pursue the operation. I remember someone telling me that the sooner you treat a stroke the more of the person you save and in my Dad’s case it was to be very little. When the old fella made the decision he was completely coherent, had been driving the “old folk” to the supermarket the day before for the weekly shop, read a broadsheet every day and was able to discuss current affairs almost as well as a foreign correspondent; now he struggles to operate a basic television remote.

The fact of the matter is no amount of sleep, medication or a different environment will alter that now. Our lives have changed dramatically, I go to work and visit him on the way home every day but when he thanks me for coming I realise he doesn’t remember that we had the same conversation the day before and the day before that. There will be no evening telephone calls to discuss our day & bid him goodnight because quite simply he is unable to concentrate on anything for very long. He still kisses my hand when I leave that’s on one of the rare occasions when he hasn’t fallen asleep mid conversation.

We’re not the only family who have been left devastated by the effects of a stroke and no doubt we won’t be the last but at this time and moment I am suffocated by black despair. There’s no quick fix this time around, no magic potion waiting to wake him from this deep slumber and regrettably we are just starting out on this journey of unchartered territory. Some days fragments of my old Dad appear and then just as quickly disappear again. There will be lots of dragons to slay along the road not the least being the callous and faceless bureaucrats with their senseless & often ridiculous form filling.

As he has always told me we never know what’s around the corner, I think I’m all out of wishes and I have frequently wondered during the past few weeks if my Dad really understood the decision he made exchanging physical well-being for mental coherence. I can’t help but feel that sometimes he made a deal with the devil and came up short-changed.

roundabout

30 thoughts on “Just ‘Cos You’re Breathing Doesn’t Mean You’re Alive

  1. Impossible to like this post or the situation you are faced with, Dallas. Words aren’t going to comfort or change anything in the slightest, but we do all want to give you that group hug. Some day you’ll have your life back again, without Dad, but for now you know you can only go on, doing your best for him, and feeling short changed and angry, but at least you can let the frustration out. Wishing you strength, hon.

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  2. My heart breaks for you my sweet friend. There are no words that’ll help you through this…only those to let you know you’re in my heart and thoughts daily. I HATE that this has happened, even more so, HOW it happened. All we can do is be there to support the decisions they make for themselves for as long as they can make them and pray they are the right ones. He may never again realize the choice he made may not have been the best one, but there’s little consolation in that for anyone. I’ll pray for small miracles for him, patience and taking time for yourself for you, and peace for your Mum when she has those days that even a cup of tea won’t fix. Love you Tink…and if you ever need a shoulder, you know how to find me. I’ll always be here. xoxo

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  3. All I can say is that I am so very, very sorry. *hugs* *hugs* *hugs* and more *hugs* to all of you. I hope you have good friends and/or family who can help you in some way — even if it’s just giving you a hug when you need it or bringing you a good meal — as you struggle with this.

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  4. I am sure all these feelings you are having are justified. When something is so very good (most kids don’t have a relationship with a parent like you did), it’s hard to accept so much less. Just take it one day at a time, honor your feelings, as you have done here by airing them, and at some point, I know you will be grateful for what he’s able to give now. Who knows if it was the right decision, but it was the decision he made based on his life experience. He probably didn’t know what he was in the process of losing. Take care, dear one.

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  5. What a precious picture you added at the end. You’ll just have to give it time to heal, but life will never be the same again. My mom drifted into Alzheimer’s for at least 6-7 years (hard to pin down exactly when it started). It’s been about six years since she died on her 96th birthday. These days, more often than not, it’s the sweet memories that pop into my mind more often than the pain…
    Hang in there and you’re in my thoughts very much!

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  6. I am so sorry. Could your dad benefit from cognitive therapy at all? Have you spoken to the docs about the possibility or is all lost for good? If he liked music when he was younger, try to find some from that time period. It is good for the patient. Good luck.

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  7. Oh Dallas, very sorry to hear about your Dad. Sad that perhaps he wasn’t in the best position to make the decision he did. It’s make the best of the moment time and I’m sure you’re already way down that road. Hope your Mum is holding up.

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    • Mum’s as an ex midwife probably has a grip on his medical condition more than we do; I always hoped a good night’s sleep and better surroundings would help but sadly that’s not the case. I think you’re right when we talk about making the best of a bad situation

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  8. It is so very unsettling when the anchors in our lives become unmoored. We have gone through this process with several family members in the last few years. It is an impossible position to be in – allow them to preserve their fiercely guarded autonomy or step in for their safety, or our sanity or… Thing is, there are never any perfect answers. Every time we end up struggling with a list of “what ifs.” Your Dad seems like amazingly resilient person. He may have a few surprises yet.

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  9. I missed this one somehow, I am so sorry. I wish there were words of comfort, words of strength, words of anything other than just to say, ‘I hear you and I am here’.

    Lifting you and your family up to the light in my thoughts and meditations. Sending you love and strength from across the water.

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