I wrote at some length about my mother, whose recent adventures in medicine continue, but with a very sanguine prognosis. Mom's home, mom's active, mom has great care and support from her community, and she's even learning to use a cell phone, bringing her almost to the brink of the 21st century. The episode has made me much more secure: Medicine worked, my mom is well-supported in her community, and prayer can make a substantive, positive difference.
Now, my father is quite a different story.
A little background, first: my father and I have a very complicated relationship. His life and mine take very different paths: he is profoundly paranoid, and demands isolation, and I am credulous, and need companionship. He and my mother gave me everything a child needed. He was denied all the comforts of childhood by the untimely death of his mother and by a brutal father and brothers.
I can understand the distance between us. But I am profoundly angry that I have never found a way to maintain a constructive relationship with him as an adult.
I haven't had much contact with him in the last ten years -- well, I walked out of his house when he wouldn't remove the cartridges from a loaded shot gun. He didn't understand how I could be so upset. I have nothing against guns -- hell, I have nothing against any kind of weapon, given the right circumstance. But somehow I knew that gun would be trouble. (I wrote this last week before the Vice-
Emperor's President's shotgun mishap. Little did I know that GJC and Darth Cheney shared something in common.)
I was right.
My father suffered a series of mini-strokes sometime last fall. He insisted on being treated at the Mayo Clinic, which did its work and released him. He first went to a nursing home, and then he went home, alone
Now, I knew nothing about this. If I had, I would have been on a plane faster than the Weather Channel on snow in
So as my father tried to hoist himself from his lounge chair, he put his hand on his shotgun, and managed to discharge it into his feet and legs. Thus injured, he was unable to reach the telephone. And so he remained in his house, bleeding, for two days.
When someone finally reached him, he was dehydrated and disoriented in addition to having the trauma of a gunshot wound.
That was November 23.
It's now February 13. Since then my father contracted pneumonia, has had multiple instances of respiratory failure, suffered multiple noscomial infections, has impaired kidney function, and is a very sick man.
And I have no idea what to do.
More to the point, I do know what to do with regard to navigating the health care system. What I don't know is how to work with a parent who is angry, isolated and alone.