Nineteen years ago (‘A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away …’) my Dad did some major damage to his back. He spent six weeks in traction in hospital, zonked out on morphine and unable to recognise any of us. His back ‘healed’ over time, however there was one little, niggling piece of a shattered disc embedded in his sciatic nerve.
Yes, he’s spent 19 years with this. Pushing himself, acting ‘normal’ as Mum says and staying off pain medication as much as possible. I understand his logic: if you become used to the medication, when you really need it it won’t be effective. So, he only took pain killers when he’d overdone things and couldn’t get out of bed. When they ask in hospital what your pain levels are on a scale of one to ten, Dad generally lives with an eight.
Well, it finally caught up with him on Saturday and he was admitted to hospital. Dad’s pain scale? 15. They are struggling to keep the pain levels down and he’s now having a bad reaction to what they currently have him on. We are hoping that he can be put onto the waiting list for back surgery and he can finally get some relief.
It’s also the busiest time of year for my brother’s business. His operations manager is out of action as his father has just had cancer surgery. Dad, being the accountant, is trying to give directions from his hospital bed. Mum works in the office and is trying to keep busy and keep up with the increased workload that comes with this time of year. My brother’s stress levels are incredibly high. My Mum doesn’t cope well with a crisis at the best of times, but I was impressed with how well she looked on Sunday. I don’t know how good she will be when she finds out that Dad had a very bad night and is reacting to the medication this morning.
I am eating myself with worry. I’m two hours away and there is nothing I can do from here. I’ve organised to take some carer’s leave later in the week. I know I can’t do much but if I’m at least with Dad at the hospital it is company for him and Mum knows someone is with him. I am trying to remain as calm as I can. I know he is getting the best possible care, that being in hospital means that they can give him immediate attention when things become unbearable. I know he is going to get the help he needs in the near future and I just hope the wait isn’t going to be too long.
Our family has coped with Dad’s chronic back injury for so long now. I’ve seen my Dad’s legs go from under him as he has been temporarily paralysed. I’ve flown from Sydney to home within hours to be by his bedside when he’s been admitted to hospital in the past. I’ve seen my strong father in tears from the pain of shifting to a more comfortable position in bed, if there ever is one. We’ve seen him laid up in bed for days on end while the inflammation heals. We’ve put up with Dad’s stubbornness to live a functioning life (I can’t judge, I do *exactly* the same thing) and ‘keep a stiff upper lip’. Mum has lived with the terror of Dad falling or twisting in such a way that he would be permanently paralysed and she would be the only one home at the time.
Please keep my family in your thoughts. My Dad has been a rock through my treatment and I want to return that gift to him. Everything else seems secondary at the moment so please forgive me for disappearing again.