2021 New Year – New Journey? PART II
Continuing with the drama called my life in 2020…
So we continued to deal with my dad the best we could through the remainder of summer and into the fall. In October, we (me, my ‘husfriend’ and my son) went out of town to be with my daughter and her family for my granddaughter’s birthday. We were monitoring the house via our security system and could tell that my dad had not let the dog out since we left 5 hours earlier. I called my dad a couple of times and couldn’t get an answer.
Often times, he doesn’t hear his phone ring – but I can have my ‘husfriend’ call him and he will pick up. So we try that. Sure enough dad answers and ‘husfriend’ asks him to please let the dog out. He mutters something and then hangs up. Nothing happens. So I call him and he answers and I ask him again to please let the dog out. He yells at me and tells me that ‘husfriend’ has already called him and he did let dog out. I explain that is not true and we bicker back and forth. I tell him I have to drive in heavy traffic and am not going to discuss it any further. We hang up – and guess what? He then goes and lets the dog out.
We then get to spend the rest of our evening while trying to celebrate my granddaughter’s birthday with my dad calling me, slurring his words to say “I let the dog out!” and then hanging up on me. He did it a total of 12 times that night – and if I didn’t answer, he would leave a voicemail. Needless to say – it was emotionally stressful.
When we got back home I was so wound up I was afraid I might really say some hurtful things – so I opted to keep my mouth shut. We unpack and no one speaks a word. However, after we sit down to rest – my dad makes a comment about how I didn’t call to tell him we made it okay when we arrived at my daughter’s house. I blew up. I am embarrassed to say that I yelled at my dad – I mean really laid into him for the first time in my life. At the time, I didn’t see it because I was too busy being angry – but looking back I now recall the truly confused look on his face when I was telling him of his actions/calls to me. He studied his phone and kept asking me how that could be because he didn’t show that he made any calls on his phone, etc. It was ugly – plain and simple.
For the next few weeks, the atmosphere could be cut with a knife. It was strained. I do recall finally pulling up the voice mails he had left and let him hear them. The look on his face was utter shock and dismay. You could tell that he was really struggling to understand how he could act in such a way when it is not typically in his personality. And, he didn’t remember any of it.
The back and forth drama continued randomly over the next few weeks. We left town again to celebrate my grandson’s birthday right after Thanksgiving. This time, we paid to have the dog boarded so we didn’t have to deal with the chaos.
On Monday, December 14th, I was headed to work after dropping my son off at school and just happened to check my work email (which I seldom do – work is for work time and not my time off). I see that my boss sent an email to everyone in the office to say that he and his adult son (who works in the office too) had tested positive for COVID over the weekend. I had not felt great over the weekend – but couldn’t really put a finger on what my issue was. I assumed it was exhaustion. But once reading that email – I decided to go be tested too before going in to work. I tested positive.
So, we start the quarantine thing. I stayed in my room and life went on. I was pretty sick for about 4 days with lingering symptoms continuing up through day 7. My 10th day was December 24th – the day that my daughter and he family were due to come stay with us for the holidays. We decided to be on the safe side and have them stay with my son-in-law’s family. However, after spending 2 days disinfecting everything in my home, from linens to all surfaces and having all of our windows open to air out – we did allow them to come over for about 3 hours when they arrived in town.
During this time, I noticed my dad sniffling but having no other symptoms. He did opt to wear a mask the whole time so as not to share the germs. My daughter and her family went home on the 26th – and unfortunately she and my son-in-law tested positive on the 27th. The grandkids did not catch it – thank God! BTW – my ‘husfriend’ ended up with it as well – but my 15 yr old son did not – thank God again!
I went into work on the 28th and we all gathered to meet and discuss how to proceed with business with my boss still being out with COVID. Unfortunately, he had to go into the hospital around the 22nd and was eventually placed on a ventilator. That morning during our meeting – his best friend/partner was leading the meeting and made a teleconference call to his wife to discuss a matter. We were then informed that my boss had passed away early that morning.
This was so unexpected as we had been led to believe he was improving. This was a man with so much life and always lit up any room he walked into! He loved life and everyone he met. You couldn’t help but be drawn in and laugh along with him whether you knew him or not. We were devastated.
After that news – I headed home around noon and told my dad I was taking him to a free-standing ER to be checked out. They ran tests and decided that he had COVID and had apparently had at least one mini-stroke at some point. So they had an ambulance take him to the hospital.
That day was hands-down the worst one I’ve had in years. Not only was I trying to answer questions and recall things for the medical staff on my dad and still lacking in energy myself after COVID, but I was answering multiple phone calls from people finding out about my boss. They simply needed to talk to someone. To cry. To express sympathy. It was an awful day.
Ultimately, everyone in my office except for one person got COVID. And most people in their families got COVID. And we had a funeral to deal with.
About a week later – the family decided that they were going to shut the business down. Meaning – we were all out of a job. We were asked to stay on for about a month and a half to help shut things down.
So, to say that my platter was full would be an understatement. It was overflowing. And not in a good way. I was receiving multiple calls a day from the hospital where they were telling me horrific things about my dad. I was still trying to help others deal with the loss of my boss. I was trying to recover my energy and mental acuity after COVID and I was trying to look for a new job before I ended up losing my home and vehicle (I just bought 10 months earlier).
Not only that – but somewhere in the middle of all of this – on the coldest day so far, I came home to find that my furnace was not working! Yes. Can you believe it!? I was beginning to wonder what the heck I did wrong to reap all of this stuff on myself. But I will get deeper into that in another post.
Also in the middle of all of this – I keep saying that because all of the days blur together after awhile – I had a doctor call to say that my dad was in really bad shape. Funny thing is – they never mentioned COVID and he was never put on oxygen the entire time. At one point, I asked if he did indeed have COVID and they confirmed that he did. Anyhow, the doc told me that they had moved him to the Cardiac Care Unit because they were struggling to get his blood pressure and heart rate under control. It was going crazy and they were trying multiple combinations of meds to no avail. He also let me know that Dad had had mini-strokes and was in A-fib. He also had pneumonia from COVID. And he had a little dementia.
I mentioned that I had suspected dementia but the ‘expert’ had ruled it out. He said they would have a neurologist see him to confirm. They were also doing an MRI to look for additional mini-strokes, etc. At the end of our conversation, I honestly did not expect to see my dad again.
I received another call – this time from the neurologist – who wanted to get some background info on my dad. After telling him what I could – he said he could definitely confirm that my dad had vascular dementia. When I told him of my dad not sleeping – he said ‘that’s called Sundowning’ and then explained what it meant. He even gave me examples of things the people do — and it was my dad all over again! I could have cried! I told him I was relieved to know that I wasn’t crazy and that I had indeed detected something was wrong regardless of the ‘expert’ who tested him. He explained that those type of tests that were performed are ‘okay’ – but you have to talk to loved ones, etc. to get the full picture. He said by talking with me – it put all of the pieces together. He also said it was evident that Dad had had dementia for quite some time, but that it just wasn’t consistent enough for us to know for sure at the time.
To wrap this story up – Dad was in the hospital for 21 days. He is back home with me. It has been difficult and we are still learning how to deal with all of this. I have guilt over getting so upset with him – but at the same time, I know that we didn’t know. I guess there is a little comfort in knowing that he doesn’t remember any of it.
I was offered a job at a place I always thought I’d love to work. However, I find that I’m not real excited. I’m thinking it is possibly because I’m simply burned out and tired emotionally and mentally. Or, it is because the pay is about half of what I was making. The idea of going backwards is not appealing. But I also know that any other place in the little city would not pay any better. I had to work my way up to that pay and I guess I get to do it all over again.
There is so much more to this story and I will continue in future posts. But rather than it be a recap of the chaos in my life – it will be more of how I believe that God is trying to show me things and teach me some things through all of this.