My dad arrived back at Manteno via ambulance. It is quite an ordeal – this type of transport and besides a very bumpy ride – he has to go through a re-orientation of sorts, with the doctor and nurses here.
From being weighed (using a sling type lift scale, extremely awkward and uncomfortable) to having all his vitals re-checked upon arrival, a change in whatever tubes are attached, etc. A conversation about the use of a catheter was not well-received by my dad but it was necessary to have at this point. Dr. Win said “you could have died Mr. Tallman” more than once, and reminded him that the high fever complicates so many things. In the past my dad would have said and I’ve heard him say “them why don’t you just let me die?” Dr. Win would laugh and say that he needs to keep him alive so he can keep his job! Now, this doctor is from Burma and has a weird sense of humor, but so does my dad. He also is constantly giggling and where my dad used to get annoyed by that, now he just accepts it and seems to giggle a bit himself when trying to have a conversation with him.
My dad took some time to get re-oriented to his room again. Looking around quite a bit and thinking he was in the hospital for 2 weeks, but it was 6 days. He knew everyone’s name and even if he calls people by other names – he remembered that as well! For example, he often refers to Steve (his roommate until last month) as Ralph. Ralph was my dad’s good friend and neighbor when they lived in Florida. Those two had a ball together and I recall one placing the other one in the trunk of their car and taking pictures!
My dad looks worn and torn. My brother and I agreed that we really were thinking he wasn’t going to make it this time around. That with all his progressive disease, etc. that the damn UTI would take him. Twice in one month, not a good sign. We pray the writing is not yet on the wall. When I look at him – and see him so discombobulated, so dependent on so many, it breaks my heart. Too many times when I follow him in an ambulance for transport to doctors, etc. I can barely look through the window in front of me; seeing him stuck in a wheelchair anchored to the floor of the vehicle, looking in one direction – whatever one he is facing.
My dad has always been the strong one in the family – to a point. Always very sensitive to others and helpful to everyone he could help, he never imagined himself in this scenario. Now 18 months into this new life, whatever quality of life he’s had – is likely due to his family, his care and his attitude. Never once has he seemed angered about his situation; only sad that he couldn’t be there for us, my mom 18 months ago (today), and that he misses her and so often when he wakes, even from a nap – he says he reaches over to hug her and calls her name and then he realizes, she is gone.
His life, as he knew it, is gone. We don’t know where he gets the strength to keep going. I don’t know that I would have it. But we never know, do we, until we have no choice but to try.