Monday, August 25, 2008

Role Reversal ... Almost

I alluded to my Dad a couple of blog posts ago. When I went home it wasn't really a planned trip, my Dad had fallen ill and ended up in the hospital. However, we (my Brother and I) didn't know he was in the hospital; we I found out quite by accident.

While my daughters were visiting their father in my hometown they were going to visit their Grandpa (my Dad). On a Thursday night my oldest daughter called to let me know that they couldn't get a hold of Grandpa. It was 10 PM so I thought it was a bit odd, but maybe he'd gone out (he doesn't normally go out late in the evening but I didn't want to panic). I tried calling for about another 45 minutes and was still getting no answer. I went to bed with an uneasy feeling.

I got up in the morning, got ready and headed out to work. I didn't want to call too early in case he was sleeping so I tried at nine. Still no answer... at this point I was very concerned. Concerned enough to call my Brother who was camping.

He hadn't heard from Dad and although we knew he was planning to take a trip to Manitoba we were both fairly certain he wouldn't have left early without telling us. By this time I was in tears because I had visions of my Dad lying helpless on the floor and no one was there. Neither one of us could remember the last name of the neighbor who has a key to Dad's house, without the last name we couldn't look up the phone number so that we could call them. We decided that I'd phone an old family friend to see if she knew anything; if she was a dead end my Brother would drive to the city as he was camping near by.

I took a small break and went to a private office to make the call. Our family friend answered her phone and I explained why I was calling and asked if she had heard from or spoken to my Dad recently.

There was a slight pause on the other end of the phone. I did not like that pause.

She let out a big sigh and said, "Oh, Jennifer, your Dad is in the hospital."

"WWWWHHHHAAATTTTT!!!!!!!!" What do you mean he's in the hospital..why is he in the hospital. WHY DIDN'T ANYONE CALL US????????

She explained that while he'd been in the hospital since Tuesday night she herself had only found out by accident on Thursday. Apparently her sister was working on my Dad's ward, saw him and then called our family friend to let her know. Of course L (family friend) went up to visit him and he told her not to call us as I was on my week on and my Brother was camping. He figured since he was on the mend and would be discharged in the next day or two it was a moot point.

Duhhhhhh, HELLO DAD??!!!! You are more important than work and camping.

Then I was mad. He and my Mother had kept stuff from us when she was ill, with the idea that they were protecting us (we were both well in adulthood by this time). My Brother and I had spoke to them and asked them to please keep us informed when there are serious health issues. We are a big boy and girl who can take the information. So needless to say I was FRUSTRATED at finding out that he was in the hospital, had been for days and we didn't know.

I immediately called my Brother who called the hospital and talked to my Dad. Dad was ok, in pain but on the mend. He had driven himself to the hospital when he was struck with an acute pancreatic attack. He figured they'd give him something for the pain and send him home, so typically old school male. This was not the case, they saw his enzyme levels and admitted him.

Of course he did not have our phone numbers with him. He phoned his neighbor who went in the house but could not find our numbers. Hence, no phone call to either one of us.

Needless to say, as soon as I found out I decided to go home on my next set of days off ( I am fortunate to work 7 then get 7 off). I had to see for myself that he was ok.

He was and is. He is on meds that are helping.

While I was there I wrote my name and my Brothers name on a piece of paper with large "IN CASE OF EMERGENCY CALL:" then I had my Dad put it in his wallet, while I watched. I recently sent him a different cell phone because I had noticed the display on his was fubar'd. Prior to sending it I entered my numbers and my Brothers numbers in it, they are preceded by ICE (in case of emergency) meaning that they will be the first numbers shown in the address book should something ever happen that we need to be contacted.

So here we are at today and my Dad is travelling to Manitoba. Since he was ill I have called him EVERY day, sometimes twice a day to check on him. I toyed with the idea of quitting my job here and moving back to my hometown to be near by, but quickly kaiboshed that plan when I remembered how much I detest that place. He was under strict instructions to phone as soon as he arrived so that we would not worry, while I was typing this he called. He is there.

Funny how our parents become people of concern to us as they age, and we almost take on a parental role without realizing it. My Dad is still fully able to care for himself, he is after all a young 67, but ... when I look at him... he's not my big strong Daddy anymore. He seems somewhat more fragile now.

Maybe it's because I lost my Mom four years ago and my greatest fear is to lose my Dad. Maybe it's because he has seemed to age before my eyes. Maybe it's because I saw the toll this incident took on him .... I'm not sure.

My Dad is amazing. He has taught me so much and I have much yet to learn from him.


Michelle said...

I don't remember the exact date or exactly what was happening but I do remember telling a friend that I had now become the parent. My mom was no longer capable of (or didn't want to) make decisions for herself. It was a hard realization. I don't remember my parents doing for my grandparents that way. But my grandparents (fathers side) were not around and on moms side they died before I was born. I hope your dad is feeling better. I had heard about the ICE in the cell phone. My husbands new cell phone actually has an entry that shows up first for In Case of Emergency. I thought that was pretty cool.

Rebecca said...

Jen, that is a lot of stress and worry to go through. I am so sorry you had to experience that. I am glad he is on the mend! I can only imagine the memories of your mom it brought back. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your dad! And yes, I am trying really hard to pray these days. :)