I have been in Manila a week now and getting ready to wind up my spur-of-the-moment trip home and get back to New York. Dad is getting better but will not be 100% of his already less than 100% health before this illness. The pneumonia and the sepsis were ably taken cared of by his physicians, but his body needs more time to recover. He is, after all, 74 years old.
Since I arrived, I have spent my days at the hospital, personally taking care of him. He was already out of the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) when I arrived, but he needs assistance with practically everything from feeding and doing the other human necessities that come naturally to us who are of good health. The doctors said they will try and wean him away from the oxygen that he takes through a tube up his nose, and if they succeed in doing that, they will release him. He is still extremely weak. I have seen him this way once before and he recovered in time, but he was much younger then. This time around, we are trying to make him comfortable at least. We are all hopeful for his recovery eventually, but we are being realistic.
My siblings and I know that the quality of care he will require immediately following and from the time of his release from the hospital onwards will be different. While we are trying to handle our challenges one at a time, we have started thinking about what is happening and what will be done once Dad is out of the hospital.
I have tried to make time to see some friends because this is a time when I need their support the most. I have been deluged with invitations, but it is so hard to fit everyone in with so little time. I have not tried to brush off the jetlag and cope — otherwise, I will be struggling returning to my usual routine once I get back home. So instead, I grab some shut eye where I can, but for the most part, I’ve tried to keep to my New York time zone.
I have found great comfort in being able to personally take care of Dad. As my other siblings all have work, I’ve been the one tasked with taking over the day shift from his other caregiver. I try to make him comfortable.. Sometimes, I just give his arm a gentle caress to assure him I’m there. I see an old man on the bed but I remember the man who used to laugh with such a hearty ring to it — his voice thundering above everyone else’s. I look at his tired eyes and I see the same eyes that charmed people to listen. I don’t see him smile these days but I see a shadow of that smile when I look at him.
The other day, a friend asked point blank if I’m ready to let him go. I came home knowing this could probably be my goodbye to him. There is hope that he will be around longer — but seeing how frail his health is, the possibility of him slipping away in his sleep, or rapidly deteriorating one day soon is not that improbable. I paused and I told my friend, yes.
I had surrendered Dad to whatever fate the Lord had intended. I kept praying and I still keep praying that if he is meant to survive, that he be given the strength to cope — and that if God will take him away anyway, that he go with the least bit of suffering as he has suffered enough. I know it is not my place to haggle with God’s plans, but as they always say, it never hurts to ask.