Saturday, May 5, 2012 Permalink

The last few days have been interesting ones, and have brought back A LOT of memories. I hadn’t set foot in a hospital since my father’s six-week stay last year, which culminated in his passing; and the sense of deja-vu has been quite scary.

My mother travelled to Brisbane (where I live) from her regional Queensland town last week for surgery. The operation she required wasn’t a big deal, but involves a 5 day hospital stay and she will need to take it easy for a while.

The memories started just before she arrived in town. I’d been sick, just with cold and flu type symptoms so was already feeling a bit tired and emotional which has probably contributed to my angsty-ness.

Firstly I started worrying about not seeing her before her operation IN CASE something happened. Naturally then I went to that bad place of ‘what if?’ Since my dad’s death she’s really all I have, given my lack of partner and family of my own. (Naturally I was making it ‘all about me’!!!)

Then I started pondering on dad’s last weeks – his initial admission to hospital for some bowel problem, his subsequent fall in hospital in which he fractured his spine and was unable to move, his bizarre delirium and finally the diagnosis (that aside from everything else) cancer had spread throughout his body. After two weeks in his hometown he was transferred here for a couple of weeks until the final diagnosis (and prognosis) was known after which he went into palliative care for his remaining time.

The hours I spent at the hospital on the day of my mother’s surgery were confronting. The waiting. The uncertainty.

Mum and I joked about it initially: at her pre-op appointment as she pulled out her little bag of medications and compared it to my dad’s. As a heart transplant recipient, my father’s medications had their own condo.

But then it got real. The hospital bed she’s in isn’t as amazing as the one dad had for his spine, but getting instructions on how to work it (along with the pain medication pump, reading light and nurse’s buzzer) was all very deja-vu-ish.

Each time mum raises the back of the bed I’m reminded of dad’s pain as we tried to sit him up enough to eat and the difficulties we had feeding him over those final weeks. The beeping of drips and various other things around the bed are also far too familiar.

Today my mother dozed briefly during my visit. I watched the rise and fall of her chest and remembered my brother, mother and I holding our collective breaths each time my father took one, wondering if it would be his last.

At least the worst is out of the way now. I’ve had my hospital revisiting cherry broken – in a manner of speaking.

It’s just over six months since dad passed and it still doesn’t feel real. Perhaps it never will. The hardest part is to not go ‘there’: to the ‘what ifs’. Mum and I talked about it today. We don’t regret any of the decisions we made about his care… but I said, ‘If I’d known what the last week or two would have been like, I might have cherished the ones before it more.’ 

But we never know. What’s ahead. If I was a different kind of person I’d comment here about making the most of today. Blah blah blah. But I won’t. I’m not that kind of girl.


  • loulou
    May 5, 2012

    I can’t say much right now Deb
    *tears* for you, *tears* for your mum and brother.
    Wellness for your mum to come soon and happy days for you x
    (gorgeous and heartfelt words Deb)

    • Debbish
      May 5, 2012

      Thanks Loulou. Mum’s fine and recovering really well. It didn’t occur to me that it would be quite this confronting though!


  • Hayley
    May 5, 2012

    *hugs* That sounds really tough, Deb!
    Praying it will become easier for you, and that you will remember the happy memories from your time with your dad, and not continue to have those comparisons.
    Hayley xx

    • Debbish
      May 5, 2012

      Thanks for your kind words Hayley… much appreciated!


  • jess
    May 5, 2012

    I don’t really know what to say here….

    My dad is starting to look old. I notice it more now and it scares me a little. I should make more of his time. I should complain less about him and just enjoy it.

    • Debbish
      May 5, 2012

      Yes… my brother and I spent a lot of time at the hospital in my father’s last week and last days and I’m really glad we did (as well as in the preceding weeks). I do reminisce about the weeks before though – when he was alert and able to engage with us properly.

      Hindsight – a beautiful thing. (Though, as I said, I try not to have any regrets!)

  • Juliana Sherman
    May 6, 2012

    Deb…… My heart goes out to you as I empathize everything you may have experienced prior, during and post your mum’s surgery.
    I too had a similar situation where after dads traumatic passing, my two children had required surgeries for tonsillectomies a month later although not at the same hospital.
    I was still numb from the previous experience with dad that I became quite android like in the my children’s preparation for surgeries, going through the motion as a proffessional theatre nurse rather than a loving mother to two ( 7 yrs & 4 yrs old).
    I probably didn’t have that reflective time post op like you to conjure memories of deja vu, but I was too busy stressing about whether my two came out of anaesthetics post op and bleeding. so I went through the thoughts of … what if something happened to them? I couldn’t go through this again. So I possibly shut off all emotions till just these last couple of months. Emotions returned with advengen …. so unpredictable to when those tears, memories and grieving return, only needing a trigger of any sort to really bring back through memories of our fathers in their last days with us.
    Debbie I’ll always remember your fathers funeral as the same day as my fathers birthday whom passed a month before on the same day as our dear friend Michelle’s father’s passing.
    I’ll always be thinking of you and Michelle of the how our beautiful fathers left this life for better pastures with similar diagnosis and prognosis, and yet we three have been friends since primary school.
    Debbie, I hope you recover from these lapse of memories of your father as wonderful memories rather than déjà vu, as time pass, it becomes less of a emotional turn but rather than those last days become beautiful memories instead. They become peaceful….. I think that is what I want peace to know I can have no regrets.. That what you said no regrets Debbie which is important to let go .
    Your memories of your father with your loving family were beautiful ones although you may remember the pain etc but look at them as the last time you were able to give a part of you to help ease your fathers journey from this world. Treasure it as the memories may become less confronting.
    My heart and love for you and your gorgeous mother as with regards to Peter and his family, hope the journey becomes less emotional. Hope your mother has a speedy recovery and I send all my love to you both.
    Baddow xxxx

    • Debbish
      May 6, 2012

      Laughed at the Baddow thing! I wondered what it would be like for you working in an environment which reminded you so much of your own father’s passing… let alone the kids’ illnesses!

      I’m about to head up to the hospital again now and I suspect it will get easier and easier to be there. I must say I think I’m very fortunate that I have my mother with whom I can discuss our thoughts and feelings honestly – plus lovely friends who are so supportive.


  • KCLAnderson (Karen)
    May 7, 2012

    I know I’ve probably said this more than once already, but even though losing my Dad very suddenly and unexpectedly was a shock, I think I am grateful for it versus having to see my Dad through a more drawn out illness. No one understands the sobering reality of losing a parent until you’ve been through it. I’m glad your mum is doing well, but I can very much understand, given what you went through, how hard it must have been to see your mum helpless and in the hospital. Here’s to her continued recovery! {{{Deb}}}

    • Debbish
      May 7, 2012

      Thanks Karen… I think each visit to the hospital helped me get past the initial shock of being there (and the memories it brought back). Mum’s also doing well which is good. She was doing so well they let her out today so she is with me at the moment.


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