Dont worry Daddy, I'll be fine

I keep repeating the words, over and over again, "Don't worry Daddy, I'll be fine", to myself and to my dad, at some point it will be true.

It was Friday night 5 days ago, that my dad came to the decision that he would not suffer with chemo, he wanted palliative care and hospice set up, and pain management, so he could go pain free and peacefully. Saturday morning I went over and spent time with him, he was calm, clear and level headed. He would look over and say, "Don't worry younin', I'll be fine" I left him Saturday peacefully sleeping in his recliner. Sunday I went over and he had aged another 100 years, over night, he wasn't the peaceful man I left less than 24 hours prior, he was in a lot of pain, and just wanted us to go, so he could rest, I wasn't sure he'd make it through the night. By Monday I had arranged for Hospice to come and meet me at the house on Tuesday at 9AM. I had answered all the necessary questions, taken all the info down that she gave me, in my handy little binder that now contained every aspect of my daddy's medical history over the past 5 weeks, as I am the adult in charge. 37 minutes passed when I got the call that my daddy was back on his way to the hospital in an ambulance, off I rushed out the door to meet him there.

Mama Pepper, my rock , rode over with me,  I am fortune that they didn't have a nasty divorce, people may not understand the dynamics that the 3 of us have together, if they did, more divorced couples, would choose to be this way, especially when children are involved. Even now as the adult in charge, I need them both, in a way most don't understand.

When we arrived to the ER, it was then at that very moment that I became the real adult in charge, I couldn't wait for the real one to show up, they were late and I was it. I spoke to the first ER doc, who wanted to know his medical history, he asked hard questions, and told the truth that he only had a few hours or maybe a day or two to live. He helped me fill out a DNR, which I had to do 3 times, since I couldn't seem to get the names in the right location, because my eyes were leaky and I couldn't read the damn thing to fill it out. Finally he filled it out, held his finger where to sign and he signed below my name to make it official. When I heard my daddy screaming in pain, as several nurses gathered around trying to get a line in, to give medication, as he now has pneumonia, I went in and screamed for everyone to stop, and not touch my dad. Everything halted, and all stood there staring at me the little loud redhead, the adult in charge, standing there in the ER with all eyes on me. All 3 nurses fled the room while I ran to the glass window, tapping rapidly on it to get the other ER docs attention, I wanted him, the truth teller to come help me. He said another doctor was assigned to the case, that doctor, spoke to me like my daddy would be leaving the hospital to return home...... so clearly he was freaken crazy, no I needed the truth teller, and not the other guy he's an idiot. I refused and said that doesn't work for me, I need you to tell to these people to get him sedated and out of pain, before they do anything else. The idiot doctor resigned himself from being my dads doctor, as he doesn't do "comfort care", he's there to "cure people" ~~~~News flash ass-hat he's terminal, the cancer is eating him from the inside out, there is no curing him. He transferred his chart to another on the hospice wing. And for the record, not a fan of the next new guy, who also made mention that we could send my dad home when he felt better, clearly they are not looking at the same man I am laying in that bed, so I am only dealing with the hospice nurse, to handle his care, they understand. 

I had the hospice care transferred to the palliative care hospice wing at the hospital. Getting him settled as much as we could and letting him know, its okay you won't have to move from here, he seemed to relax some, they installed a morphine pump, and gave some other heavy duty drugs and he drifted off to sleep. By Tuesday everyone in the wing knew who I was, the little red head, the adult in charge, who has frequent melt downs, the moment I heard a moan come from my Dad, and that no crying rule that Mama Pepper has, has been suspended. I have the bed next to his so that I can sleep, I can cry, I can just lay there and watch him breathe, in and out, stop....I think finally he's at peace .......and then he starts all over again.

Tuesday was spent playing some of his favorite songs, and some of mine, that we'd sing together "Devil went down to Georgia" and "Another One Bites The Dust" we laughed hysterically at my suggestions, but we played them anyways, why wouldn't we, hell we even played them at my wedding! Mama Pepper and I cried,  she sat there telling stories, all while he rested peacefully and we prayed with the chaplain (amazingly none of us ...well me or my dad caught on fire.....we all know Mama Pepper has her golden ticket). They would come in and reassure us that it will be soon.I had fallen sound asleep on Tuesday, he hadn't made a sound in hours, I drifted off, for the first time in days about 5PM, when I heard a scream I will never forget, I open my eyes, jump out of the bed, and lunged at the aid, who was checking on my dad. She had bumped him, which woke/ startled him, the morphine pump had run dry, the alarm sounded and I was screaming at her to not touch him, all the nurses charged in the room, trying to handle the chaos. The screams and the face my daddy made as I tried to comfort him, while they sedated him quickly, will haunt me for the rest of my life. This lasted maybe a minute or less, but felt like a lifetime. He is now sedated and will not wake, even if they did bump him, which I can assure you, they won't. I made my daddy a promise, he would go in peace, he would be pain free, and the whole wing (and possibly the whole ER) knows that the little red head, the adult in charge, the one with frequent melt downs is not kidding when she tells them that he will not be in pain and he will go peacefully.

After 15 hours I had to come home, I thought maybe he was holding on for me, since I was there, maybe he will pass when we leave, after all he didn't want to be rude and leave the party early right?  I repeated to him all day and night "Don't worry Daddy, I'll be fine", after all I am the adult in charge, I even chuckled at the thought that I am the adult in charge, who's idea was that again? We prayed he would go, I need them to call me and say he passed in his sleep, Mama Pepper drove me home, because apparently contacts and leaky eyes, don't mix, so I couldn't see by the end of the day. I waited for that call all night long, then this morning at 4AM, I called and he is still resting peacefully......I think my heart stopped, how can he still be holding on? Is he waiting for me to come back? Mama Pepper and I waited for the break in the storm and headed back to the hospital at 6AM.

 In typical my daddy, stubborn as a bull fashion, he's doing what he wants, he will leave when he is ready, and not any sooner. You can tell him that lunch is at 12PM he will arrive at 9:30AM, every single time. Obviously he plans on riding out this storm, he loved a good hurricane or any storm for that matter, he'd sit in the lawn chair outside with his Michelob he'd call me and say "Youngin' you should see this wind whipping around" and then tell me all the things flying around, as I would gasp and tell him to get back inside before he blows away and as always he ended the call with "Don't worry youngin' I'll be fine".

Its now Wednesday evening,I am home for now, he is still resting peacefully, riding this one last storm out. I hope when this storm passes so does he, before I left today I repeated over and over "Don't worry Daddy, I'll be fine, we will be fine, I got this, you need to get on your way, you have a party to attend" And I reminded him that he was worried about me, he could always send the winning lotto tickets, think of all the glitter and vinyl and crafting I could do with that. I wish someone would tell me what time this party was going to start, so I can get him on his way, I know he wouldn't want to be late! Its true, I will be fine, I have a huge, amazing support system, and between Mama Pepper and Daddy they taught me to be strong, to be brave, to keep my sense of humor, because if you can cry about it, you can also laugh about it and that will get me through these next few hurdles, I have to go. I might trip, I might stumble, but I will always get back up, it just might take a minute or so.

At the moment, my heart hurts, with every minute that passes, every second I know he is with us, my heart is heavy and I think it might break in a million pieces, it takes my breathe away, but I will be fine. I will be at peace when he goes, I will heal when he goes............."Don't worry Daddy, I will be fine".

"Don't worry youngin', I'll be fine"

Exactly one month ago today, I received a call that my dad was in the hospital. Mama Pepper and my dad have been divorced as long as I can remember (and if I had any clue how old I am, then it would be close to that age I think), I am so unbelievably lucky that they always remembered they still had "something" or "someone"  in common ......little ol' me..... the little princess, the one and only, the apple of their eye, and if they had an ugly divorce, I was not aware, I was not touched by any ugly rumors, or hatred that is so common in those situations. Mama Pepper hopped in the car and off we went to the hospital, over in Lakeland to go check on my dad. 

Once we arrived, I whipped the door to the hospital room open, and it literally knocked the wind out of my sail, I closed it again, looked at Mama Pepper and said "This cant be right, that's not him". There was my dad, sleeping, looking like a frail old man. In the 3 months since my last visit, he aged 100 years. When we opened the door back up, and I took my hand and touched his bony shoulder to wake him, his eyes popped open, he looked confused and then sat up in the bed and said "I have cancer". I just looked at him for a moment and then he continued, "its in my spine, its in my lungs, its in my kidneys, and in my bones". I went to speak and when no words came out, my daddy, the frail old man looking back at me, said "Its okay youngin', I'll beat this. I don't want you to worry".  

These last 4 weeks, have been a series of test, biopsies, a collapsed lung and 8 rounds radiation to his spine, which is crumbling from the bone cancer. After 3 1/2 weeks in the hospital, they sent my dad home. He was happy to be home but the pain is constant, there is no relief, and yet he still says to me "I don't want you to worry". I am now the adult in charge, I keep looking around, waiting for the real adult to show up and take over, but they haven't, so I guess I can fake it til I make it. 

After collecting his medical records, I poured over there searching for my questions to be answered, questions I asked my daddy and he would say " I don't know, they haven't told me, don't worry youngin' I'll be fine".  I found a few words I understand, like stage 4, googled the rest - which I do not recommend googling big medical words, they just seem scarier. I called in a favor at work, gave the medical records to one of the top surgeons, I need the "Dummies Version" of these!  I just need to know what are we facing, I need to know how bad is this, and what do I do. He was so kind, and sat and read all the reports, asked me questions and in the end told me that I should take measures to make my dad comfortable, his cancer has spread so rapidly, that there is no cure, chemo will not help, it will only prolong the pain, he has maybe a few months at best. I think my heart stopped, I was very brave as Mama Pepper has that no crying rule, which I normally suck at, but I put my brave face on and thanked him for reviewing everything. I did sob like a baby when he left, but I already knew it wasn't good, but my daddy keeps saying "Don't worry youngin', I'll be fine". 

I went to my dad's 1st follow up appointment this week since he was released from the hospital, I had the medical binder I put together, it contains all my dad's info, all my notes, all my legal paperwork as I am officially the adult in charge, I did look around, to see if the real adult would show up, but they did not. The doctor wants to start chemo next week, I gasped when he suggested that and questioned him on everything, asked to explain the benefits, the side effects, the survival rate, he is stage 4 through out his entire body, his bones are crumbling and at a moments notice he could turn the wrong way and end up snapping his spine and end up paralyzed. My dad agreed he would try it and then if he felt it made things worse he wanted to do palliative care and hospice. He looked over at me, the adult in charge, and said "Don't worry youngin' I'll be fine. I am ready to go home now". 

At first I thought maybe my dad doesn't realize or understand, how bad it is. Maybe its the pain meds? How can he think its going to be ok? How can he think there is anyway out of this? And then I think what is wrong with me? Why am I not more positive he will find his way and "everything will be fine"? I can see that with every breathe he takes in and out, he is in pain, every move or shift he is in pain. I feel guilt, because I haven't been there like I should, Life is busy, with work, and life, I feel guilt that he doesn't really know the Prince like I knew my grand-daddy, because he doesn't understand the issues he has,  I should have tried harder when he would decline coming down for holidays, I should have fought harder to make time to get over there to check on him. I should have done more. 

Tonight I called to check on my dad and he wanted to tell me he talked to the doctor and they told him that there is no cure for what he has, and he does not want to do chemo, he has made the decision to have me, the adult in charge, set him up for hospice, he wants to go pain free, he wants everyone to know this was his decision, and this is what he wants to do, and in typical my daddy  fashion he ended the conversation with "Don't worry youngin', I'll be fine". And for the first time, in 4 weeks, I felt a relief, I felt like he really knew what he was saying, he understood his diagnoses and he was at peace with it. I felt sadness, knowing that he doesn't have much time left, I am hopeful that he will pass peacefully in his sleep with no regrets and no pain. 

I have watched friends and family lose their parents and my heart breaks for them. I know its never easy to lose a loved one, I have lost many, as I've watched others do the same. I never realized it would be a different heartache, one that takes a part of your breathe with the thought that the end is near. My daddy is ready, he is calm, his mind is sharp, he is certain, this is his decision and once he makes his mind up, there is no changing it. which tells me that this tremendous pain he is suffering with, has gone on much longer than he admits. 

I know that he will be fine, because he has told me so..........At some point, I hope the adult in charge shows up and takes over, until then I will try to be strong and brave, and remember Mama Pepper's rule of no crying ~