Friday, June 24, 2011

the day after. the void

My Dad's spot, empty...

well the first day is halfway over, not fast enough. The house has been very quite which is unusual for our family, we are pretty damn loud. besides the phone ringing non stop from loved ones calling to give their condolences, i can actually hear birds chirping outside for the first time. seriously, there was something always going on at the house. whether it was having the grand babies over or yelling at the laker game with my mom for fun. His presence was HUGE, he filled the room with his joking and teasing. he would tease me and tell me to shave my legs all the time, but being the hippie farmer i am, it never happened, he tried. its the afternoon now and my mom, sister and i are sitting in the living room watching our shows we all watched as a family. some iron chef, minute to win it, the evening news. we didn't eat much for dinner. we just all felt the absence of my dad and all we can do is get used to it. i am worried for my mom, they were a package deal, as she would say. they did everything together, they were very much in love after 32 years. she is very lonely...i will make trips to L.A. every month to comfort her, as well my brothers, sisters, and grand kids. time will heal us all. we miss u dad!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

its time..

after 48 hours of intense suffering, my father passed away this morning at 5:10 am. The last 2 days have been really tough, his body was shutting down inside and out. He fell into semi coma father's day evening after all the kids left, his eyes and mouth stuck wide open. i moved the couch up to his hospital bed to make one large bed and slept next to my dad, holding his hand all night so he knew i was there. there were times my hand slipped out of his and he would moan, i couldn't believe it! On Tuesday, our on call nurse came by and told us to call all my brothers and sisters over to say good bye, it wasn't looking good. we said what we wanted to say and stayed with him the rest of the night. he ended up fighting thru the night, (he's a stubborn man!) and at 4am wednesday morning, the gurgling began. we've been hearing ab0ut this gurgling for quite sometime now from numerous people, its kinda like the calm before the storm. he was a mess, in semi-coma, brown fluid from his lungs drooling out of his mouth, dead & black mummified feet, and numerous infected bed sores all over his body. To be his daughter, who also happens to be his caretaker, i had no choice but to stay strong and continue to make my dad as comfortable as possible. i can't begin to explain how painful it is to watch someone you love in that much pain. after doping him up every hour on the hour, a continuous care nurse came to the house to help out. all of us took a breath and tried to relax and prepare ourselves for what was about to come. my mom, sister tina and i never left his side through out the evening. we took turns holding his hand, rubbing our fingers thru his hair, telling him stories, jokes, telling him we are going to be ok and to go to the party that awaits him! i would get a cold wash cloth and wash his face, it was refreshing to him, i can tell. like i said before, i am daddy's little girl, always have been, always will be. my dad and i are a lot alike, we understand each other. i'd go over and bullshit with him and he would raise an eyebrow or blink or squeeze my hand. its amazing what touch and hearing can do, they say those are the last to go. my mom fell asleep on one of the couches like every night and i would soon after. i got up at midnight and told my mom to go to her bedroom and get a good night sleep. i told her that knowing dad, there is NO way he is going to pass on with us in the room, its just the kind of guy he is. so she said good night to him for the last time and kissed him on the forehead. i followed her lead. I held his hand, told him he did a good job, he was a good man and an amazing father, we are proud of him. told him i love him and kissed him many times over. last thing i said was , "dad, i'm turning my back now to let you do your thing. have a good trip handsome guy, good night. i love you, i love you, i love you."

515 am, i open my eyes to the nurse standing over me. in her heavy czech accent, she told me my father had just passed. i got up quietly, making sure not to wake my mom and sister. i went over to the empty vessel that used to hold my fathers spirit and soul. i combed his hair and kissed him. i called and texted my brothers and sisters to come over so we can wake up my mom and tina together. they got here an hour later as i sat anxiously awaiting, staring down the hallway hoping they are sound asleep. mike was the first to show, he took mom, i took tina.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

Today is father's day. i've been up since 730am hanging out in the living room next to my pops hospital bed. My mom and sister Helen left to go to the mortuary to make arrangements. I lied and told him they went to breakfast, he soon forgot they left in the first place. Vegas Vacation plays in the background, we always enjoyed chevy chase movies as a family, we can relate to them in many ways. I had a cup a coffee, made myself some gluten free toast with manucka honey and watched my dad as he fights for his last couple days of life. I stare to make sure he is breathing, sometimes he stops. his mouth is cracked open, his eyebrows frowned, he has fear. Its like someone is literally trying to take his breath away. He jolts up many times saying things that don't make sense.

everyone came by today, my brother and sisters and all the grand kids. It was tough because today has been one of the hardest days we've had so far and having the celebration over stimulated him. A couple hours in, we kind of lost him. He began to talk about people he saw in the room that clearly weren't there or talking gibberish. many times he said he wants to go, lets go, come on we are going to be late. my flight is going to take off, he says with his eyes wide open. He tried to pull out his catheter, he was obviously very anxious. my favorite part of all that was when my dad looks over at me, notices everyone in the room, then asks me, "who are all these ass holes?" he went in and out all day. we had moments when he snapped out of it and was himself again. those moments were nice, i feel that i have shared everything i've wanted to with him.

it is now 11pm, we got a visit from his nurse Toni today after the family left. Toni is a badass. she is about my dads age, is missing a lung, still smokes, curses like a sailor and calls us 'doll babes.' she gave us the real deal and didn't cut any corners. the worse is about to set in. his lungs are beginning to fill up with fluid which is normal when the body starts shutting down, its called terminal pneumonia. he cannot swallow anymore, he cannot fully communicate with us anymore, shortness of breath, and a lot more crazyness has just begun. she gave me some strict instructions since i am the main care taker other than my mom. we are taking shifts on keeping an eye on him. i'm sleeping on one couch, mom's on the other and our cat Rocco is on one too. the count down starts now....

Saturday, June 18, 2011

like a child...

mom & dad giving the hang loose sign

i'm sitting next to my dad right now, like i always do even if he is asleep. checking emails and such, i know it makes him feel safe that i am here. we got some bad news today by the hospice nurse. she says the fact that he has stopped eating, drinking and peeing, is not good. those are all signs that his body is shutting down and the cancer is taking over. His feet are also beginning early stages of gang green, its been almost 2 weeks since his unsuccessful foot surgeries. we knew this was coming, but we didn't expect it to be so soon. he has been such a fighter! this nurse happened to be an on call nurse, not our regular nurse and her story was so coincidental it made me think that we were meant to meet her. after we got my dad all fixed up, i followed her into the bathroom to ask her some questions. she told me that she just lost her father to the same cancer a month ago and he too worked for the airlines like my dad. he was also the same age and there bdays were a few days apart..AND she showed me a pic and they look so much alike! her family also got the news too late and before they knew it, he was gone in 2 weeks. she gave me some advice, told me the truth about what to expect the next couple days and said good bye to my father.

the last couple of weeks i feel like i've been taking care of a child, its really cute. my dad will make faces mostly to communicate, i like when he frowns his eye brows or when he won't let go of his water cup. he'll say the same thing over and over, like, "where is my leg stace?" i answer and point. he says ok, then 2 minutes later, "stace, you sure my leg is right there?" i find it funny...then there's the whole eating puddings, jellos and juices, not to mention diaper changing and making sure they don't feel abandoned. there is something so rewarding about giving back to someone that has given you so much. tomorrow happens to be fathers day, all the kids are coming over to be with dad/papou. we are having a pot luck, making some art together, and making sure he knows we love the shit out of him!

Friday, June 10, 2011

nurse mom & nurse stacey

thats right! mom and i are now "uncertified" nurses. my dads last 3 weeks of life is in our hands. i never thought i'd be doing this. keeping him as comfotable as possible and loved. When shit hits the fan, like if he has a seizure, or starts losing his mind, guess what??? thats on us! that decision made my stomach turn. not because i thought i couldn't do it, that was never a doubt in my mind, i was worried for my mom and tina. taking my dad home to die, watching his body deteriorate in front of our eyes, when he screams in pain, its us that needs to fix it. i get to go back home to Portland after this nightmare is over, but for my mom and tina, they will have to wake up everyday after he passes and be reminded of that hospital bed that once lived in the living room.

We met our hospice care nurse Toni and i instantly loved her. she is such a badass, she's not a B.Ser, curses like nobodies business with a raspy smokers voice and best of all she makes my dad smile. my brother mike liked her right away too, we felt safe with her. she told us to call her if we needed anything, otherwise she would see us twice a week. she pulled me aside and told me that i'm in for a hell of a ride. she warned me on what to expect when things go south and educated me on his meds and how to properly take care of him. she had a chat with my mom too (she sensed my mom's fear) and told her to keep her shit together!!

the first week was rough, our family isn't used to this, i mean, what family is?? there were times that the stress got the best of us, we would break down, but never gave up. wipe the tears, suck it up and keep trucking because the man we love needs us. good thing we have plenty of back up =)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

testing one, two. testing. is this thing on?

after a few days in the hospital, my dads right foot was completely purple, cold and in a lot of pain. An emergency surgery was in order. the doctors explained the dangers of the surgery because of the blood thinner meds he is on and the complications due to his health. they had no choice but to go ahead with the surgery, his foot was at stake. my mom and family thought this might be it for dad. of course the hospital fucked up and fed my dad more shitty food when he should of been prepped for surgery. we had to sit around and wait about 9 hours for the food to pass through his system before they can begin. all 7 of us and my mom helped wheel his bed down to the surgery room. we said good bye and crossed our fingers. we had burgers that night, waited 3 hours and heard a phone ring in the waiting room. my mom ran to it and they said, "is this mrs. givens?" she said yes, is my little honey ok? he was fine, he survived and after an 8 inch clot was removed from his leg, he was ready to relax for now, as were we.

i booked a flight to portland and was expected to fly back with emma just for 2 days to take care of the farm and move things out of my room for sublet. on my way to the airport i find out dad had to go in for another foot surgery, the clot was back, the foot looked worse then before! my dad and family told me to go and take care of things, they told me he would be fine. i landed at midnight, and quinne met me at home to talk. i got a phone call from my mom, then my sister helen, then of course mike. they said he is fine, but the clots are so bad, there is nothing they can do. they can't even amputate because he would bleed to death. so now what? i fly home as soon as i finish harvest and went to the hospital to talk to doctors. my dads oncologist came by and the surgeon to tell my dad and family that he is out of options. we were advised to look into hospice care and that his foot would eventually die and turn gang green, in turn killing my father within 3 weeks. we were shocked!! what do you mean you can't help him?! i interviewed hospice folks and felt good about trinity hospice here in the south bay. they got us out of there and set up at home within a few hours, my dad couldn't wait to go home, home for his final weeks. it took 4 dudes to get my dad up the stairs in a chairlift, he is a heavy fella. it just got harder from here on out. it was on, my mom and i became instant nurses over night for the next 2 weeks, we had no choice!!