It is pretty hard to write this post. It has been easier to work on other things like posts about giving away Dora tickets than to acknowledge what is going on in my life. Entering numbers in spreadsheet for my data capture job rather than putting into words what has occurred in our family.
My father is lying in a bed in ICU in hospital and he can’t move his body. His head is ok though. A drunk driver rode into him when he was riding on his bicycle on Saturday morning.
My mom, being my mom, sent me an email. I do check my emails often though. She said Daddy had been knocked over on his bike and probably had a broken arm. I mentioned this casually to DH and picked up the phone. I don’t think I realised at that stage how serious it was.
My mom was very upset. I was a bit shaken too.
The drunk driver had hit my dad and his car was a mess. Fortunately there was a lovely lady that drove past. My dad told her my mother’s phone number. The drunk driver was still hanging around and he was arrested.
My mom got there at the same time as the ambulance and they were fantastic. Off they went to the hospital.
In the meantime we were out at a shopping centre having breakfast at the Spur while Nicky played and it was becoming increasingly clear how serious this thing was and that I would need to go down.
So as soon as I got home I sat on the internet trying to get air tickets. It took me pretty much the whole afternoon. I was really trying to leave on the same day but that proved impossible. I got a bit waylaid by a cheap flights website but that one was not direct flights. In the end I got one on SAA for first thing in the morning. Once that was done I could focus on other things like packing and getting hold of my sister in the USA.
My sister was also shaken but she moved faster than I had. She phoned my mom and her husband booked the flight while I was chatting to her on Skype.
And Nicky? Well, I explained to him that a car had hit grandpa on his bicycle and he was in the hospital. And we would be going on an aeroplane to be with them. He was very excited about the aeroplane and wanted to go immediately. I explained that it would only be tomorrow. We looked at what toys we would be bringing with (his birthday presents lego, cars etc) and I packed his things first and put him to bed.
I think I kept myself so busy during this day I didn’t give myself a chance to really process what was happening. It was only when everything was packed and the tickets were printed and my head hit the pillow that I felt this wave of emotions from my father. Above all frustration. And anger. And a feeling of all the things he still wanted to do and couldn’t.
And pain. And the discomfort of the tube providing him with life giving air.
Later on I actually had this feeling of the impact of the car too.
I slept for a bit.
Then at about 1am I woke up and felt this intense saddness. Like he was really missing my mom and just wanted to hold her. That was when I started crying.
I’m not sure how much I slept after that but when I saw on our clock that it was 3 :30 am I started getting up as we were leaving at 4 15 am anyway.
My cousin Steve picked us up and DH also came along to help us check in. DH has been a pillar of support throughout this ordeal. He still tells me jokes to keep me sane. The best one remains “I don’t like doing dishes.” I think the maid is going to have her work cut out for her.
We got on the plane and Nicky loved it. We were sitting right next to the wing. Nicky has a book about how planes work and I could point out to him the flaps working as brakes and how the wing changes shape.
Nicky was particularly fascinated by the safety pamphlet, particularly the part about landing in the water and sliding down. He kept looking at it. I did explain we weren’t going to land in the water though.
We did land with a bump which he enjoyed, after flying over the water and seeing some ships.
We were met at the airport by my mom’s friend who took us to the hospital.
Seeing my dad lying there with all the wires and tubes is just a horrible thing. And pale.
But the encouraging thing is that you can talk to him and you can see in his facial expression that he can hear and understand you. He just can’t talk. He smiles when we are talking about something funny.
I did go home for a bit to offload and Nicky fell asleep. But he woke up when we got there because he was too curious about his surroundings. Funny kid, he wanted to go around turning lamps on and off.
Dad went in for his first operation for spinal fusion. They were not able to complete it (they just did the front part) as he became unstable. After this he was deeply sedated so we left the hospital and on the way home I took Nicky to the beach for an ice cream. Of course Nicky being Nicky it landed up not just a stop and after sitting on the rocks he became more interested in the water. At first I pulled up his pants and took off his shoes but wouldn’t you know it – very soon he was on all fours in the water and jumping in puddles. Fortunately I did have spare clothes in my handbag and I could get him dry and changed. Nicky has been an angel through this. He has reminded me of all the good joyful things in life.
That night again I felt this tube was burning and troubling my dad. He had also moved a lot in agreement when I mentioned food so I knew he was hungry and had mentioned that to the nurses.
On Monday we had some time together before his second operation for the back of his neck. It was nice to be with him, he was responding and smiling when we laughed. I did talk to him about how I wanted to ask the nurses about how we could make the tube more comfortable. There were some people by his chart I asked but it turned out to be students. So I went back to him and told him and said the nurses were all in a meeting but I would ask them. And when I did they basically said there was nothing they could do: the priority was to keep him breathing. And about the food they said after the op they would insert a tube for that. So I told him all about it.
One special thing in the midst of all of this was that my sister had recorded an inspiring message which I played to him. He leaned into it and we played it quite a few times. She was telling him she was coming on Tuesday and that so many people were praying for him. I think the best part for me was when she said that he should just take things one breath at a time. Because that is all he can do.
This whole thing has very much been like the title of my blog, one step at a time. But for us it is more like one day at a time.
Monday was a very positive day because we were visited by rehab people and my mom was very encouraged. Although the doctor said that was very premature. (He is a realist)
Tuesday… was a negative day. After his op the previous afternoon he was in deep sedation and was basically unresponsive for the whole day. But on the positive side my sister arrived. It means so much to me and my mom to have her here.
But there is another part of me that wonders if he can stay a while, for my mom, because he is her life partner, and she needs him. And he is such an amazing man who has made such an incredible, loving, generous, humble impact on my life. My father inspires me to be a better person in a lot of different ways.
I don’t have the answers but I do know that we have been beyond overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from everyone. And not just prayer but practical help. Babysitting. Lifts. A car seat for Nicky. Tutorials on how to drive my dad’s car. Lectures to my mom that she must sleep and eat. Food arriving at the house. A helpful book. Just being there. Words of kindness and love to go the distance of this tough journey.
I don’t know what the future holds but I do know that God has the bigger picture in mind here that we do not comprehend. And I have to trust that all will work out for the best.
*For updates on my dad, visit Caring Bridge: https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/brianjolly/*