28 Jul

Wavy Yellow Slide

My 73 year old Dad collapsed at our home today, repeatedly, before paramedics arrived to assess him and truck him to the hospital for evaluation. It’s possible the causes were heat exhaustion, dehydration, and stress from the fight he’d had with my stepmother before coming over-or a condition triggered by those stressors. By the time he left for Good Sam with the paramedics, he was joking with the response team. My stepmother met the ambulance as it was leaving our house–she and my Dad live only two miles away. Our local firehouse is the same distance in the opposite direction–it took them five minutes to arrive.

That’s the stage. This entry is more a note about emotional response. Even though it was my father on the floor, it seemed easy for Debby and I to be calm and methodical in helping him, fetching him a pillow and orienting his body, feeding him aspirin (in case of heart attack), and ignoring his weak shouts not to call 911. (You lose that right the minute you become the focus of a medical response). We were calm while the team was here–perhaps more talkative from stress than necessary. They left 30 minutes ago and now the stress is rolling in–not in breakers but small tidal surges. Life rarely crashes–that happens only in extraordinary circumstances. It presses and pounds, kneading away energy, washing away layers. Or, perhaps a better analogy is that I feel like I’ve been handed a large stone, large enough that I have to curl my body to hold it, and wonder if the burden will become the new normal, or that the stone will be absorbed. Forecasting, I think the reality is more that I’ll drop the stone sometime soon and without knowing it, but will often be looking over my shoulder.

Looking now out our dining room window at the play structure our kids have almost outgrown and its wavy bright yellow slide, I also think I may have other options.

2 thoughts on “Wavy Yellow Slide

  1. This entry on the event and the emotional response has triggered a whole range of responses on this end, and I”m not sure which ones to address.
    1. I assume he’s OK, or it would be a much different entry. Glad to be able to infer that. He was lucky there was a calm head available. Having said that, all the rest deal with the death of parents.
    2. My parents were divorced and living alone when each of them had their final strokes. Not only was I not there, I was a couple of states away. One can worry and recriminate, or one can be calm and say “it is what it is, and I’ll deal with it on arrival”.
    3. These kinds of events help prepare you for the final one, but as they say, even when you expect it, it’s unexpected.
    4. Buffy Season 5 Ep 16
    5. and finally “If you live to be 95 and die at home, you win. If you die at the hospital after fighting the cops with a cane, shoehorn and butcher knife, you get on Fark, which is still kind of a win”

    • He seems to be fine now. He showed up last night (driving) to pick up his sunglasses (left behind after the fall). His color’s good and his mood (for us) was positive. He’s very leery of industrialized medical practice (he knows too much), which makes him instantly combative (his nature). Heatstroke can appear similar to a heart attack when low blood pressure is involved (draining of color, dizziness, etc., as blood no longer makes it to the head), so it seems likely that’s what happened. Because he’s older, he looked worse than I would have or, even less so, one of my kids. For him, it’s a tell that he’s more sensitive to such conditions than before. We were outdoors only for 45 minutes–an amount of time that normally wouldn’t faze him–and the temp was about 10 degrees lower than previous days, although it had gone from overcast to sun, which made the heat feel more intense. I respect his right to manage his own care but called bullshit on him when he reiterated that there was no need for 911 or for him to see a doctor and get an information baseline not based on self-diagnosis. (My brother recommended his own physician, a guy about my dad’s age with a similar outlook.) Again, it’s up to him. The last thing I want as a very senior citizen is to become the child-parent so, if nothing else, trying to walk the talk.

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