Monday, February 24, 2003

Dad's Grand Mal Seizure

Here are mom and dad around 1945.

My dad was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2003. He had surgery in 2003, just after Mom’s 2nd surgery for cancer. (She ended up having 6 surgeries, radiation and chemo.) The tumour affected all of Dad's critical thinking skills, as well as language processing. It was difficult. A friend suggested that all you can do is to look for the diamonds every day. A diamond was a small moment when you feel great joy, love or a special moment of bonding, when that father-daughter relationship manages to shine. There were many such moments in all the chaos. Eventually, I became clinically depressed, had to quit work, and focus only on Dad. It was all I could cope with. I begin going in and feeding Dad dinner, as he couldn’t manage eating utensils. This was well after he lost his ability to use the phone, had lost his hearing aids, and could not figure out the TV clicker. He died on February 16, 2007, in Leisureworld; I was there with him.

Dad was in the kitchen preparing a snack. Dad was fixing it since as Mom is still weak and tired and they had just come home from her surgery. I should describe the house. It is built on a rock, as the pink, gray, white, and black of the Precambrian shield rises up out of the ground, a perfectly solid foundation. The second floor is a large bedroom, 16 x 24 feet, with an ensuite bathroom. The sliding glass doors look out over the lake. Or they could, if the overgrown trees were not there. The main floor is open concept. Perfect to call to someone, or bellow orders across the living room, dining room and into the kitchen. The woodstove, the main heat in the house, sits in the one mini-wall of the living room. Off the living room in the TV room, down the wee hall is a bathroom and what should have been a bedroom. Mom and Dad decided, since it was their retirement home that they do not need another bedroom and this is Dad ’s office, with sliding glass doors that go out to the driveway. The house is on a small lake in Bala, the self-proclaimed Cranberry Capital of Canada.

Mom rested on the couch on the main floor, as she was unable to make her way up the steep stairs to her bedroom. She was sore and was told to limit her activity- as if that would stop her! Her incisions became infected and she needed antibiotics later. Dad had his seizure in the kitchen, falling to the floor on the hard linoleum. Mom phoned 911 and the ambulance attendants had to wend their way into the house through the office, a back door, the only doorway with decent enough access. They would come to use that doorway a lot! I cannot imagine the stress and fear she faced.

Dad went by ambulance to the hospital in Bracebridge. Mom stayed alone at the house. They decide that tests are warranted, including an MRI and a Catscan. She told me, “I know in that instant that our lives will never be the same again.” If only she will come to understand this and make changes. Mom is still recovering from her surgery. She has to ensure that her stitches do not become infected, She has sitz baths, and uses the blow dryer after every visit to the toilet, and must continue this perineal care for months. Even so, she contracts an infection and requires antibiotics. Thankfully the homecare nurse helps her. They only qualify for a few nursing hours a day at home. I did not realize how much they needed help at the time. Neighbours began to pitch in.