Today I found out my dad is getting seriously minor league medical care. He has two main doctors: his general practitioner, and his cardiologist. Two weeks ago he got out of the rehabilitation facility in which he spent six weeks following his stroke. He also had a doctor overseeing him there.
So that’s three doctors.
Today I learned that my dad’s long-time g.p. has no idea what medicines my dad is currently taking (and limited interest in the matter, which made me want to chew off his head). Each morning he takes over a dozen different pills, and each evening three others. This is the medicinal regime prescribed to him by his doctor in the rehab center (who in six weeks examined him once, for maybe two minutes, right before he was released).
Turns out the g.p. hasn’t conferred about my dad with the rehab doctor—and neither of them has discussed my dad’s stroke with his cardiologist. His cardiologist didn’t even know he’d had a stroke, or had spent six weeks recovering from it in the rehab center, where no one had thought to tell him.
It’s unbelievable. My dad would get better coordinated medical care from a group of hillbilly glue sniffers.
The crazy thing is, he’s gotten a lot better. When first out of the rehab center, he was in pretty bad shape: he got dizzy easily; he slept all the time; he sort of drifted in and out of coherence. Cat and I came out here because we thought he was dying. But right now you couldn’t beat the guy to death with a frying pan. In the five days we’ve been here, he’s practically turned into Johnny Weissmuller. Day before yesterday, he took one nap. Yesterday, he was up all day. He’s sharp as a tack: he’s crackin’ jokes, singing, telling stories. It’s like hanging out with a nightclub act. In the worst club ever—but still.
He really does think he’s Joe Swinger. He thinks he and Frank Sinatra were separated at birth.
Of course, yesterday he also, by way of warming up a bowl of stew for himself, put a cereal bowl filled with stew atop a stove burner, and turned the heat up to high. And if he tried to drive his car (as he constantly wants to), he’d wipe out half the houses in this neighborhood. And if he stands up too quickly, he still gets pretty dizzy.
But who doesn’t get dizzy if they stand up too quickly? It’s ridiculous. By the time we leave next week, he’s gonna be climbing the ranks of the WWGW (World Wide Geriatric Wrestling).
So here’s the thing: Cat and I are feeling like maybe we shouldn’t be leaving so soon. It kills me that he’s getting such messed-up medical care. And I don’t really know how bad it is; I’ll know more about that today, after we see his cardiologist. But there’s a big part of me that just wants to stay, and get his healing done right. Do the exercises with him he he’s supposed to be doing. Make sure his meds are all dialed in. Get his diet right. Get this thing done, you know? Heal him up.
He’s still my father. Yes, with him Cat and I only experience three emotions: Fear (when he launches into yet another rage, and we fear he’s finally going to die of a heart attack), anger (when he’s being unbelievably rude and obnoxious) and boredom (when he’s fifteen minutes into yet another of his eeeeeeeeeeeendlesssssssssssss stories that are so boring you curse the day God gave you ears). So it’s not like he’s pleasant to hang out with. (As I write this, for instance, he just got done giving me his lecture about what a “crazy, abnormal, stubborn pain in the ass” I was when I was a kid.) But he’s still my dad. Growing up, I still (sort of) idolized him. I still marveled at his physicality. He’s still the funniest, most articulate person I’ve ever known.
Anyway, I wasn’t expecting this. I wasn’t expecting to not feel sure about leaving. I thought after a week I’d bolt right out of here. (Right now he’s in the kitchen, moaning and groaning—and I mean loudly—as he shuffles around getting himself a cup of coffee. You’d think he was in there strangling to death and butchering a cow, for all the suffering sounds he’s making.)
Do you know what? To me, this is what praying is for. People say they pray for guidance all the time, about all sorts of things. But I don’t. The right thing to do or think is never much of a mystery. But every once in a while, I come to a very dense dynamic that feels evenly split, and I really don’t know what to do. That’s when I sit down, close my eyes, and seek wisdom from God.
I realized last night that it was time for me to do that. It’ll take a couple of minutes I haven’t yet had; I’ll do it sometime this morning after we’re back from his cardiologist. I’ll get alone somewhere, and bring the situation to God.
On the one hand, screw him: let him die.
On the other hand … well, he’s my father.
The thing is, I can’t help him. I can’t really set things up for him here. He won’t move out of this house. He might pay to bring people in here after we’re gone to help him take his meds and clean the house and all that, but he’ll be so obnoxious to them he’ll be lucky if after two visits they don’t start slipping him arsenic and rat poison. What he wants is for Catherine and I to live here with him. But I don’t need God to tell me that’s not going to happen. We couldn’t afford to do that if we wanted to. He can afford to move out to San Diego to be near us—but he won’t.
Anyway, prayers ‘a comin. I’m pretty much always grateful to have with God the very clear relationship I do. But never more so than on those rare, intense occasions, such as the one I’m in now, when finally I must come before him, lay down my concerns, and wait for him to deliver unto my meager little mind and soul the kind of answer that only he can provide.
It’s so weird—and wonderful!—to have one father who’s such a pain in the ass, and another who virtually never fails me.