Tuesday, March 27, 2001

Man... I have GOT to get on the ball. I haven't done any work on the book in about a ... week? I did however, do some work on the speech yesterday; and scrapped the whole thing. It's not flowing right... We had a birthday party for my dad on sunday; it was a nice family get together... I love hearing my dad and his friends and family reminisce about their "glory days". Wish me luck; I'm gonna start back working on the book tommorrow. (Have I said this before??) :-)

Friday, March 23, 2001

Ok, spent most of today playing tetris and talking on the phone... listening to music. for some reason; I am just not getting motivated to keep writing. I decided to set a goal for tommorrow; either finish my speech or write 3 more pages for the book... I need to finish the speech so I can start practicing. One thing that is definitely making the whole 'process' more difficult, is rehashing and in effect reliving this whole experience thus far... it's so hard. Today I was listening to a cd of songs that remind me of last summer; and there is one song in particular; that I totally identify with in regards to my dad getting sick. The song is Wonderful by Everclear; and though it's about a child's perspective of his parents divorce... the general message is applicable to any trials and tribulations one can face. I'll end this entry with the lyrics from the song... I'm going to try and find a way to incorporate them into the book eventually.

wonderful by everclear
I close my eyes when I get too sad
I think thoughts that i know are bad
close my eyes and I count to ten
hope it's over when I open them
I want the things that I had before
like a star wars poster on my bedroom door
I wish I could count to ten
make everything be wonderful again
I hold my mom and I hold my dad
we'll figure out why they get so mad
I hear them scream, I hear them fight
and say bad words that make me want to cry
I close my eyes when I go to bed at night
dream of angels that make me smile
I feel better when I hear them say
Everything will be wonderful some day
promises mean everything when you're little,
and the world's so big
I just don't understand how
you can smile with all those tears in your eyes
tell me everything is wonderful now
please don't tell me everything is wonderful now
I go to school and I run and play
I tell the kids that it's all ok
I laugh a lot so my friends won't know
when the bell rings I just don't wanna go
I go to my room and I close my eyes
I make believe that I have a new life
I don't believe you when you say
everything will be wonderful some day
promises mean everything when you're little,
and the world is so big
I just don't understand how
you can smile with all those tears in your eyes
when you tell me everything is wonderful now
I don't want to hear youtell me everything is wonderful now
no, I don't want to hear you tell me everything is wonderful now
I don't want to hear you say, that I will understand some day
I don't hear you say you both have grown in a different way
I don't want to meet your friends, I don't want to start over again
I just want my life to be the same just like it used to be,
somedays I hate everything, i hate everything,
i hate everything everyone and everything
please don't tell me everything is wonderful now
please don't tell me everything is wonderful now
please don't tell me everything is wonderful now
I don't want to hear you tell me everythign is wonderful now
please don't tell me everything is wonderful now
ohhh yeah yeah everything is wonderful now
everything is wonderful now

Wednesday, March 21, 2001

No work today on the book... mental blocks suck.

Tuesday, March 20, 2001

yikes, It's Monday evening; I am recovering from a dental appointment this afternoon; I didn't get to work much on the book today; but did spend some time on a presentation I am going to give in May. I am going to start speaking publicly about my dad's stroke, and the effect it's had on our family, starting with a presentation in a psych class at highline community college. I am really really excited about this, and am really getting into it.

Last week, my parents and my sister spent the week in Canada. They were there for hyperbaric oxygen therapy. It's an alternative treatment, but one that has had a lot of positive feedback; so they gave it a shot. It was so great to have the house to myself; actually my cousin Matt was there too, but for that week I got to pretend that life was normal. I got to forget about Dad's condition and disability. It was heaven. I was very disappointed when they came home; at first because I thought they were spoiling my plans... but when I thought about it; I got to live a dream life for a week while they were gone, and upon their return I woke up to reality. My disappointment eventually subsided; and I am now left with the conclusion that perhaps it would have been better that I had not gotten that taste of escape; because now, more than ever I want it back. In the last 8 months (is that all?) Since dad got sick; I went through (as did my family) the steps of the grieving process. I didn't realize it at the time, until a friend pointed it out; but I have been grieving. I grieved not only for selfish reasons (my loss of my personal freedom; so I can help my parents out financially and help care for my dad,) but also for my father, and the things he's lost... independence, control, productivity... etc. I hate looking at him and seeing him in the wheelchair; and seeing how his life has been altered; against his will. I hate what this stroke has done to him and to our family. I have been in denial, I have been angry... I have tried bargaining... I think I am finally accepting it. I no longer wake up thinking today that dad will "snap out of it". I know that the odds are he will never be the same as he was before the stroke. I know that he will probably not make a full recovery. I no longer feel the need to lash out and make others hurt the way that I do. I know that nothing I can do will reverse the effects of this stroke. so I guess I've finally reached the point of acceptance. I am not embracing it or anything, but it's a lot less exhausting than fighting it.
Anyway, that's all for now, I'm off to bed! Good evening, and God Bless.

Sunday, March 18, 2001

Ok, I am not sure about the title ... "Surviving my father's stroke" I like that it implies that a stroke is a hardship for an entire family; and not just the patient, but I don't want to undermine the battle that the patients have to fight. I am at a standstill for now on this matter... at the end of this entry I have included a few paragraphs... from the first chapter. I am also looking for any good tips on getting it published; have heard conflicting opinions on getting an agent, and I'm not sure whether or not to have it edited before I shop it around to different publishers or let them decide what they want to do with it. Ok, enough babbling!

Here is the latter portion of chapter 2, to set it up; it's the day after dad suffered the stroke.

Periodically I would go in and see dad; he wouldn’t open his eyes for me. I would make an attempt at conversation; but what do you say? My cousin Cindy kept making jokes, and would say things like “since when do they let nurses go naked?” But dad wouldn’t or rather couldn’t respond. When we would lift his eyelid; he would make eye contact, so that lent some hope that he was in there. Some of my friends came down to be near me, and comfort me. At one point we went out and got my dad some balloons. Family and friends trickled in from all over. Aunts and uncles from all over the state made their way in to Seattle to see dad. My dad’s father, whom is a bit estranged from the family for one reason or another, even came to the hospital. He came into the waiting room, and I think every jaw dropped. He lived about 3 hours away, and when my mom told him what happened, he didn’t seem too worried. So when he arrived, you could’ve blown us all over with a single feather.
He was greeted with surprised silence at first, followed by hugs and tears. We quickly escorted him down to my dad’s room, and as soon as he spoke… my dad opened his eyes. We couldn’t believe it; this was the first sign of life since my dad slipped away from us nearly 24 hours earlier. Tears of despair were quickly replaced with tears of hope and inspiration. Grandpa talked to dad, and to us; and my dad opened his eyes once or twice more.
One of my mom’s dearest friends, (“aunt”) Ruth, also my godmother, drove out from her home 250 miles away. She along with Karen would remain at my mom’s side for the next few days (and nights). The tiny waiting room was now overflowing with our friends and family. They stayed for the duration… all day and well into the evening. I was particularly impressed with my ten year old twin cousins: Cassie and Cori. They were fearless, and unbelievably cheerful. Here I was 23 years old, and falling apart… unable to even stop crying. Here were my ‘little’ cousins, holding my dad’s hand, talking to him; and being so brave. Throughout the day, a rumor had been circulating that one of my dad’s best friends (“uncle”) Rory was going to make an appearance. My Uncle Gary and Uncle Rory were my dad’s closest friends, and partners in mischief all through their teen years, and well until their forties. When I was growing up it was normal to see Uncle Rory and Uncle Gary at our house all the time. If they didn’t come to our house, we went to theirs. My favorite memories are of listening to them relive their glory days, all their misadventures, and pranks. Unfortunately, the friendship between the three became strained. While my dad and Gary were still close, Rory seemed to just fade out of the picture.
Of all the people that came and left throughout my life, I think I missed Uncle Rory the most. I admired him growing up; putting him on a pedestal. He was funny, handsome, charming; the life of the party. I missed him so much. I know my sister and uncle Gary’s son Bobby felt the same way. Uncle Rory was our hero. His presence in our lives was sadly noted.
Bobby was in Seattle for the summer; he normally lived in Sweden with hi s mom. Since he was a child he’d been making semi-regular visits to his dad, and we would spend the summers inseparable. He and his stepsister Ashley, along with Lori and I. This summer, a more ‘adult’ Bobby had come to visit. I remember several conversations even before my dad’s stroke about Uncle Rory and how he wished they’d all just make up.
So there we were in the waiting room, and Bobby (who’d been a rock all day; no tears at all), had asked me if he was still coming. I had no idea. It was already close to 7pm and I was beginning to doubt it. Someone overhear our conversation, and said “ who Rory? He’s in Glenn’s room right now”. Bobby, Lori and I shot out of our seats and raced down to the room.
Lori reached him first, he was standing next to dad’s bed crying. He welcomed Lori with open arms and then saw me, enveloping me in the hug as well. We were all crying, I kept saying we missed you, don’t go away anymore.” He said, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I won’t go.” When the hug ended, I pointed to Bobby, and said “check out the stud”, Uncle Rory started crying again and hugged him. That’s when I saw that they emotions had reduced us ALL to tears, even Bobby.
Turning our attention back to dad, mom told us that when Uncle Rory had come in, and greeted dad, he opened his eyes again. We all stood around dad’s bed, listening to our hero tell jokes, laughing through our tears. With Uncle Rory there, it seemed as if anything could happen. And it did. He stood there telling us about his last fishing trip, he said “I couldn’t catch anything; not even a cold”. My dad smiled. It was his big goofy laughing smile. In fact, it was so big the oxygen mask was coming off his face.
Then we had to leave; it was time for dad to be suctioned again. Because he had been a smoker for 20 plus years, and apparently had a sinus infection before the stroke; his lungs were full of junk. He was being suctioned about 1-2 times an hour. They would stick a tube down his throat into his lungs and suck out … a lot of junk. Not a very pleasant experience, (For the patient or the person watching.) Pneumonia had set in the 2nd day and along with breathing treatments and massive antibiotics, the suctioning was a necessary evil. I noticed that some of the nurses spoke to dad and some didn’t when they were attending to his needs. I voiced my opinion that if they were going to touch him; they tell him what they were going to do first. I wanted him to have some dignity left.
While the nurses attended to dad, we made our way back to the waiting room. Uncle Rory sat down, and him and Uncle Gary started trading one liners, then they started joking about our family. He was telling jokes that my dad would’ve laughed hysterically over; in fact at one point, Uncle Rory said, “Is there a way to pipe this into Glenn’s room? He’d love this.” He was right. Dad would’ve loved it. I just kept praying that he would be ok, and that he would remember some of this.
Apparently at some point during the day, the doctors figured out it was a stroke. Now they just needed to see if it was the result of a brain bleed. They did know that the stroke occurred in the part of the brain that controls the functions of the right side of your body. I was standing next to dad’s bed when mom told me. Without thinking, I said “Oh, that’s great. He’s already got a crippled left side, and now his right is paralyzed? He’s fucked!” Mom shot me a look and whispered to keep quiet; that we didn’t know what dad could or couldn’t hear.
Before I left for home that night, I taped a picture of my sister and I to the rail of the bed. I had this irrational fear that dad would forget who we were. I gave mom strict instructions to reinforce that I was out of town for work, and that I loved him. I didn’t want him to think I didn’t care; that I was not at the hospital because he wasn’t important. Nothing was further from the truth.
Upon returning home from the hospital that evening; I asked my sister’s boyfriend to help me with my car. I wanted to check all the fluids before the lengthy drive in the morning. I grabbed a flashlight, and we attempted to find where to put the transmission fluid. After about 10-15 minutes of shining the flashlight into the darkness of the engine, we gave up. Bryan couldn’t find it, and neither could I. It was all I could do not to burst into tears. I was so angry. My dad should’ve been able to help me, I was overcome with frustration. I gulped back my tears, and felt my insides raging. I hated this stroke. I hated what it had already done to my family in the short time since it had invaded our lives. I realized how much I had taken for granted in the past. I wished and prayed to God to make this a nightmare. Please, God… make this all a bad dream. Please God. But I knew that wasn’t possible. This stroke was very real… and very much a part of our lives now. No amount of praying and wishing could change that.
That night, I was grateful for sleep to come and take me away. Little did I know that sleep wouldn’t even be much of an escape for long.

Thus far I have 13 chapters... am still debating how much backround info on my dad I am going to include... how much "dirty laundry" I want to air so to speak.

Ok, first and foremost: Thanks to Nate for setting this up for me! ( I really really appreciate it) To everyone else, this entry is an introduction; I will be using this diary as a venue for posting parts of my book: Surviving My Father's Stroke, and would LOVE feedback! I will also use this as a tool, to record the happenings in my life; so I can look back and refer to this as I get further along in my book. I would love any comments and/or feedback you have regarding my posts, so please email me at MIHA77@aol.com, also, keep in mind that this is the first draft of my story, and I am not a professional... (so be kind in your criticisms!) Until later...