A Journey’s End – Day One

Posted by: on Apr 12, 2020 | No Comments

A Journey’s End – Day One

Bar Mitzvah Day!

One year ago today, April 12, 2019. Before we begin, maybe I should recap things. Starting in January 2019, my dad’s health started failing. In addition to his lack of mobility (some of it age related and some of it probably self-inflicted), he had pneumonia; had fallen down in the house, which was either caused by a cracked vertebrae or caused the crack vertebrae…and does it really matter?; spent close to 2 weeks in the hospital at the end of March/beginning of April after his fall and developed fluid in one of his lungs; and other stuff you get when you are 94+ years old. At the end of his last hospital stay in early April, he was transferred to NuVista rehab in Wellington. I had been in Florida as recently as the end of March, spending most of my days pacing the halls of Bethesda East Hospital in Boynton Beach. I paced so much my pedometer would easily top 10,000 steps and  I actually taught one of the Jamaican nurses her first Yiddish word – shpilkes. During that last trip to Florida, my father developed fluid in his lungs. It was up to me to sign the paperwork authorizing the procedure allowing the doctors to stick a needle into my and drain the fluid. To find out more about that decision, you will just to have the day 5 post.

Moving on, prior to my return to Florida on April 12th, my sister Carol and niece Amanda had been his last visitors, having left Florida a few days before this trip. I’m sure there is more but hard to remember all the details. So let’s move forward.

On the morning of Friday the 12th, I boarded the plane for yet another flight to Palm Beach International. This is now my 4th or 5th trip to Florida since the beginning of the year. The plane lands around noon and I’m picked up by my dad’s caretaker and constant companion, Blanca. She is an angel among us. As I get into the car, she looks at me and says “He’s been waiting for you.” I have come to think those words are an omen (almost prophetic) and not a good one.

I arrive at NuVista and find my father sitting in the dining area, eating his lunch. As much as he can, he looks very happy to see me. He introduces me to a few of the other patients. His speech is slurry but we manage to talk. I also meet the primary nurse in charge of his care, who Carol had told me that daddy had proposed to. This would not be the last be the last time this happens. What my sister failed to mention was this woman was black, which was OK with me, considering the circumstances.

The conversation with my father centers around his 2 main wishes. He really disliked sitting in his wheel chair and wanted to lie in bed, which he is told repeatedly would not be good for him. Mostly he just wanted to go home and asked me when that could happen. I explain to him that he needs to get better first, so that Blanca can take care of him without additional help.

At around 3:30 the dominoes start to fall. The nurse informs that my father’s hemoglobin count had dropped, indicating some sort of internal bleeding which they hoped was a minor issue. In order to have this checked, they needed to transfer him to Wellington Medical Center for further testing but this should only be for a few hours. A couple of hours later, he leaves NuVista Rehab…he never will return.

At the medical center, my father is given a bed in the ER and checked out by a very nice doctor, who just so happens to be from NJ, where he also attended medical school. After his examination, it is determined that further testing is needed and dad will be spending the night. At this point, Blanca and I leave. Time to head to my folks house at Hunter’s Run. It is not the first time I’m alone in this house but tonight is about to become a very lonely one.

Around 10 PM, my phone rings. It is the physician at the hospital who is monitoring my father. He is an intern. He tells me my father has internal bleeding in his abdomen, there is fluid in both lungs and as he continues to talk, my mind goes blank. He probably spoke for another minute but I hear nothing. I begin to realize that I have come to Florida to watch my father’s life slip away. He tells me that the attending physician will be at the hospital first thing in the morning. I ask him to call Carol because I’m processing what he just told me, what is about to happen but I can’t recall the details. I guess I was in some state of emotional shock.

I call Linda to tell her the news. It is the first of many difficult conversations I will be having with family over the next several days.  Carol and I speak about we have just been told. Another conversation which is essentially a blank. I tell her I will call her in the morning when I speak to the doctor in charge but I’m sure we both know what is about to come.

How I got any sleep that night, I will never know.