Circumstances Being What They Are….

“I want to say that I am exceedingly upset about getting rescheduled a second time. Do I need to find another doctor?”

I read the message again then typed a response:

“Yes, you probably do….

For a few seconds I stared at the blinking cursor, waiting for the guilt to overpower my hurt. Finally, I hit the backspace until the words disappeared. I closed out the note and removed it from my tasks box without responding.

I’d spent the weekend on call from my father’s hospital room and I was sleep deprived. He was in excruciating pain, choking on everything he tried to eat or drink. His blood pressure was 88/40. No urine output for almost 24 hours. He wasn’t able to maintain his oxygen levels without supplemental oxygen. And I’d STILL had to fight with the prick of an ER doctor to get him admitted Friday evening.. We’ll just send him out with some codeine cough syrup... until I divulged that I was a physician and knew what he was trying to do was wrong. Codeine cough syrup would not control his pain if 4mg of morphine could not.

Even mean, ugly, crippled people with dementia and a history of leaving the hospital against medical advice deserve compassionate medical care when they are suffering.

Over the next couple of days my father required more and more oxygen and needed my help to use the bathroom.

He stopped eating.

He stopped drinking.

Now it was Monday. I should have been seeing patients.

But I wasn’t.

Because he died...

Instead of seeing patients, I sat in front of my computer in a bare office with no windows. A box of Kleenex waited nearby, ready to catch the unexpected tears that kept sneaking out of my eyeballs. I was there to wrap up loose ends so I could take the next few days to help my mother arrange the funeral, get him buried, and get his stuff moved out of the assisted living facility.

The patients didn’t know this.

No one had any idea that I quit my job of 14 years to move back to my home town because my father’s dementia was worsening. They had no idea that he was in and out of the hospital starting the first day of my new job. At one point he had even barricaded himself in his house for over a week after my mother moved out because she feared for her safety. He would let no one in, not even me, until he finally emailed in a panic because he was hallucinating. He couldn’t remember how to place a phone call. They did not know that I removed 40 guns, some of them loaded, from his house during the subsequent hospitalization or that I helped get him into a memory care unit, that I’d filed for legal guardianship through the courts to make him stay there because he could not understand why he shouldn’t be allowed to drive or own a gun or live on his own.

Over the course of six months a once proud man lost his freedom, his dignity, and his will to live and I’d had no choice but to do it to him.

I still feel so guilty.

In truth, I was not prepared for how much losing a father messes with your head. It came as a surprise that I found myself mourning someone I spent so much of my life hating. Is it easier if you loved them? Yet, seeing someone you hate suffering as he did, trapped in a hell that was not of his choosing… it does something to soften even the hardest of hearts, I think.

It softened mine.

And then there is the guilt, even months later.

I wonder if he understands now… if he forgives me?

So here I am, less than I was in some ways and more than I was in others. I miss my blog. I miss my friends. I miss my old home, my old office with the giant picture window, and I miss my old patients. After almost a year and a half after moving I think I am finally getting past the dysphoria of recognizing bits of my past in the shadows and around the corners of this town.

Progress.

It was unquestionably the right decision making the move, and I would do it again, but it came with costs, some of which are difficult to put into words.

When people ask if I am happy with my new job, I focus on the positives. I don’t want them to know that I am second guessing myself on an almost daily basis. Here, at this place, I can make a difference in a way that I could not before. But I wonder sometimes if I am strong enough to persevere through all of the layers of bureaucracy and politics, things I really suck at, to last any length of time at this. I no longer have the protection that seniority affords and there is such a thing as caring too much. I can feel it eating me alive because I simply cannot let things go and keep my mouth shut. Not when something is clearly wrong or not fair.

Where did all of that outspoken stubbornness came from?

179 thoughts on “Circumstances Being What They Are….

  1. Hi Victo,
    My prayers are with you.
    I don’t know how I would cope with the loss of either of my parents, especially going through what you had to, and working in a new job. So many pressures to respond to. I’m so sorry for your loss. I know you’re incredibly resilient, just from reading this post, and I’m so glad you have an outlet in this blog.
    Welcome back and stay strong.
    Steve

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Funny, I thought of you recently, wondering where you went. Attrition in blogging is common, and I just figured you no longer had the time (it was a miracle you had it before). I am sorry to read of what you’ve been dealing with this past year plus. So much stress. Please give yourself permission to be kind to yourself, true to your heart and take care of that which makes you the happiest. You have nothing to prove except to yourself. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Oh, Victo, I’ve missed you and wondered about you. I’m so sorry to hear about your dad and what you’ve been through. Whether you’ve loved or hated your parent, he/she is still your dad/mom and it’s very hard to deal with their decline and ultimate death. Probably more so for you than others considering your profession. On the other hand, I’m glad that you are still around; I worried when you simply seemed to disappear. Welcome back, and may you get on your feet quickly. I am here if you feel you want a friend who’s not too close geographically – you can always email me and I will give you a phone number.

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  4. Well, it is so good to hear from you after such a long time. I’ve missed your input in so many ways. I didn’t get a chance to ask you if I should or should not allow myself to go through ‘Small seed Brachytherapy’. As it happens it has been a very interesting experience.
    So many times I wondered where you were. I almost feel like saying ‘Welcome Home’

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  5. I am so very sorry for your loss. I lost my father 32 years ago. His death was the first real big loss I suffered. He and I were not close. We were too much alike, and I argued with him a lot. I regret that now. He was often hurt because I preferred my mother. He was impatient and quick-tempered – traits I see in myself every day. It’s funny how we can not be close to someone and still be just like them after all. I missed reading your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am so glad to see your post-I missed you. I am sorry to learn of all you have been through-such life altering things-I so hope you heal – and thrive. I can not imagine dealing with the complexity of such experiences-but I encourage you to take each day and one at a time, allowing yourself a while each day to sort things out. You have what you need to do so, even if you do not feel so-I will be cheering you on.

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  7. This is “Gibber Jabberin.” I’m so so sorry for what you’ve went through and lost. I can relate in some ways as I lost my mother 9 months ago and we were estranged. She wouldn’t let the family tell me she was sick again until it was too late. I flew home but two days before I did she died. I was also surprised by the grief I felt and still do. My heart goes out to you and your family. Welcome back.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It’s lovely to hear from you again. I’m so sorry to hear life has been so tough. My father died of Alzheimer’s so I can understand some of the guilt you might be feeling. I think it’s a part of the process.

    The sudden refusal to let things you believe are wrong go also rings bells.

    It sounds as if your dad was a man of principle whether you got on with him or not. Perhaps that’s why? I don’t know, but I do know that since losing mine it’s like a light has gone out, a force of goodness left the world, and I feel as if I have to add more light on my own part, to make up the deficit.

    Perhaps, also, acting with integrity on your own part gives you more courage to stand up for what is right, which is so much more complicated than the political parties would make out.

    All the best,

    MTM

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    • I have always been a bit of a troublemaker when it comes to jobs. There are very clearly certain things that are wrong and I like to ask people to fix them, particularly when it is a matter of patient safety. My father had a very mutated view of right and wrong that I never could agree with. Women should not wear make up. They shouldn’t cut their hair or work outside the home. Or get their ears pierced. I could go on. Suffice it to say, I broke all of his rules multiple times over.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. I’m so sorry for the painful loss. I know that feeling of second guessing what decisions and actions that were your best effort. It’s easy when you are tired to reframe those moments into something wrong. I don’t know if it will help you, but I find that remembering that I felt right about it and why, combined with the knowledge that my brain does this when stressed or tired, helps me back into the right frame. Mostly.

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  10. Welcome back, your words and your wisdom have been greatly missed. My husband went through a very similar situation with his father about 4 years ago. And it changed him deeply. From that experience emerged a much more compassionate and even forgiving man. Time will offer perspective.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I’m so sorry for your loss, it’s never easy to lose a parent. You have been through some huge changes since you were here last.
    With all of that being said…. is it wrong that I said “yes!!! You’re back!” I even did a little fist pump, made the dog jump…. followed by the stink eye for disturbing her slumber.
    I’m sorry for all of your struggles but I am excited to see you back! Have a beautiful day 💕

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  12. OMG, I am so happy to see you blogging again but so sad about the circumstances. I always wondered what happened but completely understand the pressures of blogging with a personal/work life. Your Dad is SO proud of you – what a wonderful gift you gave him of your time and love. All the good you have given will come back to you. Our health service badly needs feisty, smart, logical women. Bureaucracy is a beast that should be beaten. Be gentle with yourself, though, and remember you are still grieving. There is plenty of time to fight the good fight. Right now enjoy some happy memories of past times and your family should offer a prayer of thanks for having such a good daughter. Love K xx

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  13. I missed you so much and wondered about you so many times. Very glad to see you back. I struggled with the loss of a father I was ambivalent about as well. He is still in my psyche, but it doesn’t hurt anymore. I hope you find that peace as well. I am in recovery from cancer and seeing your post makes me want writing again after a year’s hiatus.

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      • I am. I even found I enjoyed going to radiation every day. The other patients had so much to say and gave me a lot to ponder. It was a fascinating experience, but I found I was too consumed to write. Since seeing your post, I am on fire to get back in. I had the arrogance before my cancer to think illness was a weakness. The experience was a great leveler, for which I am grateful. It was the first time in my life I accepted care and concern. It was life-changing.
        On the father topic, as a small child, I adored my father, then learned to hate him as he became so resentful and mean. My perceived loss of his love was devastating for us both. I am glad to have come to terms with our flawed relationship. I hope that peace finds you.
        I hope you and your children are recovering from your family’s loss. It’s a heaviness for everyone.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. I was so surprised to see you pop up in my email. I figured I must have somehow not been getting your blog posts and was looking forward to reading all the posts I had missed. Instead I read what an awful time you have been having for the past year and a half and the passing of your dad. I am so very sorry. My own dad died almost 30 years ago and while I can’t honestly say I miss him, every now and again I think of him and wish our relationship would have less volatile. I hope you will be blogging again as I so enjoy reading your posts. Glad you are back!

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  15. It’s so good to see you back! We’ve missed you, too. My condolences on your loss. I understand some of those feelings you describe. I experienced something similar with my dad. It sure isn’t easy! Love to you and welcome back. 💜

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  16. We have all missed you. I even tried to research to see if you might be blogging under a different name.

    I lost my father to heart disease when he was only 69 and my mother to sudden onset of adult leukaemia when when she was 80. My older brother is gone now too; dementia was the thief. Presently the brother 8 years younger than I is on Hospice because of cancer.

    So far I am not able to write much about the things that have happened, but perhaps one day I can. I still have one brother 11 years younger than I.

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  17. I am so with you on this and yes, it doesn’t matter how bad they (in my case both parents) were, they were still cared for lovingly as you did your dad. It is the right thing to do. What is surprising is that all the crappy things they ever did, would soon be minimized and supplanted with what good you remember and the ideal that never was. Guilt? Yes, I feel guilt too. It is what it is. My prayers are with you. In time, you will feel better though. You are a bright star and your light will shine again.

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  18. My dearest Victoire. I was both elated and then sad when I saw your post. 🙂
    I am very, very sorry for your loss and the pain you’ve been through. In different circumstances I too had to care for each of my ageing parents. It does take a toll. But the mere fact that you finally posted again is a good sign and gives me great joy.
    Welcome back. (I’d actually searched for an old e-mail of yours “codered…something?” to say Hello.)
    Again welcome back. I’m sure you know you have been sorely missed. We couldn’t help you meanwhile, but you should know “we” are most ready to listen and support you. ‘Want the old Victoire back!
    I hope your family is all right. Your kids? Growing? 🙂
    Hugs. (If I may be so bold)
    Brian

    Liked by 1 person

      • How could anyone forget you? 🙂 Your blog was (and now is again) one of my very favourite. Not many arrive directly to my email.
        As I said elsewhere (sort of) long silences are to be expected in blogging. What matters is the return, and again: bienvenue. Delighted to have you back.
        And again, use blogging as a healing tool. (Works for me every day…)
        B. good, “Victoire”.

        Liked by 1 person

  19. PS. I read some of the comments. Which I normally don’t do, as I feel most are “private” conversations. But I was glad to see all agree on one thing: we missed you. And are glad you’re back. Attagirl. And remember: you’re a fighter. You will get back to be 120% Victoire.
    🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  20. My heart goes out to you and all the others going through this same scenario.Will your father forgive you? Unquestionably. I know that without a doubt. You did nothing to forgive. You were there loving him and doing your best. We forget our doctors are people too. They live with the same troubles the rest of us do. If what you are doing now does not fill your heart with peace, for the sake of your own health, do something different. As a woman coming to my end, I have that perspective. The only thing I ask of my adult children is they do not mourn for me. They are doing their best to care for me and I will be changing addresses and get a new job sometime in the near future. I’ve told them to remember the good times and celebrate an incredible journey. Find the joy in their lives. Your father will remember you with great love from the other side. I’m not a religious person but I remember the in between and we don’t hold onto anything but love. Think only of the love.

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