A little over a month ago, my daddy seemed to be on death’s door.
“I don’t hurt, Angel,” he said to me. “I just don’t have any strength.”
Of course I worry. And Mama worries. She was even warning me that Daddy might not make it more than a few months. Broke my heart! But then my best friend reminded me that Daddy goes through these mini-crisis about every six months. It usually starts with him not drinking enough water and having trouble with his kidneys. Since he lost his bladder to cancer 16 years ago, he has to drink lots of water to flush out the potassium. When he doesn’t, things go really bad — for all of us. Daddy is the cornerstone of our family. When Daddy’s down, the world goes flat!
Well, that’s all past — even if it’s just for the time being. You know what Daddy’s been doing? No, he isn’t sitting in his recliner just watching TV. He bought three metal security doors and he’s been installing them on every door in their house! I marvel at his resilience.
A few weeks ago, my best friend asked me to go with her to Kaiser to see her psychiatrist. She believes I often see what’s going on with her better than she does. We got to talking with her doctor about the time of the year that seems to be hardest for my friend and my Daddy. Early spring, March to be specific and early fall, usually in September are the hardest months for both my Daddy and my friend.
“It makes sense,” said the psychiatrist. “Those are the hardest months on anyone with an illness and especially for those who suffer from depression or other mental health issues. It’s the change in the amount of sun we get each day. It does something to our internal clocks and wrecks havoc with our moods.”
Before Daddy’s remarkable recovery from chair sitting, I reminded him of what my friend had said.
“Daddy, don’t you remember last year at this time you had a bad spell?” I said to him. “Remember I took you to the emergency room because you thought you were dying. You told me you didn’t think you’d ever make it back home. Then the doctors found you had a kidney infection, gave you medicine and it was no time at all and you were feeling much better.”
At that visit last year, the doctors insisted that daddy start Dialysis. Daddy said, “No.”
“No, I didn’t remember that,” he said. “Did that happen last year at this time?”
Within a week after that conversation, daddy got better. He started to get on his riding mower and putter around the yard. Then he was fixing Mama’s little arbor and now he’s hanging doors. Okay, he’s had a little help from my son and me, but he hung the last one all by himself.
Daddy is happiest when he’s productive. The world is round again. The moral of this story — don’t give up. If you’re a caregiver — encourage the dickens out of your loved one. Remind them about how many problems they’ve overcome. And as always, take care of yourself — your mental, physical and social health. I do my best to remind my Mama to do the same. I can’t imagine a world without her or my Daddy. But I’ll think about that tomorrow . . .