04 Nov Patient Experience Day 39 & 40: Dreams, Depends, & Drama
This past weekend I spent parts of Saturday and Sunday with my mother and father. My mother had specifically asked me to come over on Saturday due to a few of my fathers relatives coming to visit. She just needed the additional emotional support.
During the visit, my mothers sister, husband, and her four children and their significant others all stopped over as well. As soon as my Godmother (mom’s sister) entered the house she was in tears. My mother began to cry as well. they hugged, embraced, wiped their tears. From the peanut gallery of the kitchen table my cousins from my fathers side of the family blurted, “It’s Sandy Duncan. How have you been? It’s been a long time.”
It was the comic relief that was needed.
One of my cousins at the table then began to share with me a dream she had had a week prior to my call informing her of my fathers diagnosis.
She said, “I had a dream. I was in a castle. It was beautiful, brilliant, peaceful. There was white billowy curtains flowing in the wind. I walk in and say my father. I told him that I had to go find our mother. I walked for a period and saw her on this big magnificent bed. As she lay on the bed, I spoke to my mother and told her that her baby was dead. My mother curled up in a ball and began to sob. I then awoke.”
My two cousins continued, “At first we thought it was our baby sister. Then you called a week later and told us what was going on with your father. We then knew that it was about your dad. Her baby brother. You know that is how she always referred to him.”
I said yes. I remember her red hair, the smile, her left hand being in a fist, shaking it in the air, and the cadence of her speech calling my father her baby brother a stinker and always joking with one another. I remember the rhythm of the spanish flying around as I tried to figure out who was saying what, to whom, and when.
Throughout the course of everyone’s visit they made their way into the living room where my father was lying in his hospital bed. His eyes closed, his brow beaded with sweat, the deep short breathing. Seeing his abdomen distended, rising up and down based on his breathing. The humming of the air mattress making sure it is continuing to stay inflated.
They all came to say their peace. To pay their respects. To say their goodbyes. I did not go in to witness or listen.
I remained in the corner. I was surrounded by all of this family. They were all there to ask the cordial questions of how can we help? How are you? Are you taking care of yourself? We are worried about you guys and what can we do to help?
I left to go run and errand for my mother and grab a small package of “depends” for my father to make it through the weekend until the Hospice aides arrive on Monday with a supply.
As I walked to the checkout to purchase the package of depends it made me think back to the week prior. It was my fathers birthday. We had just celebrated as a family. We had a few laughs. We shared some conversations. We made sure we said our peace and addressed those things we wanted to make sure we said to one another. How quickly time passes. To think 7 days prior my father could get up and down, use the restroom on his own accord, and now he has to have depends.
I am glad my father is asleep for the majority of the day. He would not be happy to see that his physical body is failing him and he has to use depends. He made the right choice.
As I returned everyone was in the kitchen again talking.
I placed the bag in the bedroom so no one would see what was in the bag. To provide some dignity. Some respect. Some privacy.
I found my spot in the corner once again. I was in a house full of people, full of family, full of multiple conversations, yet I was all alone. There was all of this banter and noise enveloping me, but somehow I was able to find the silence. I was able to find my own silent whisper deep inside of me and was able to listen to it.
I was able to picture my father 4 days go, on Wednesday, and the weight that was lifted from his shoulders. I realized that the weight that was lifted from my father wasn’t about Treatment & Hospice. It was about my fathers acceptance of dying.
At that point the mental and spiritual “beings” of my father had been lifted. They didn’t have to fight and struggle with his physical being anymore. They were free to go about their own way and move on in the process of what we call life, death, and the ever-after.
What remains lying in the living room, in a hospital bed, is the physical remnants of my father. It’s the vessel that I always associated as my father. However, I now know that the essence of my father is more than any physical form can ever contain.
My father was a set of ideals told through the story of his life. He had chapters on grief, love, truth, honesty, being street smart, privacy, friendship, pride, and many more. My father was one of the last natural oral storytellers. He conveyed lessons through his actions and fables that people could relate and draw their own conclusions.
My father taught me how to be a great listener. How to put myself in the shoes of another, to see the world through many view points, and then to connect dots in ways that impact the most people. My father taught me to have a broad view. He taught me to seek out information from various sources. To spend the majority of the time in defining the problem. The world has billions of answers, but to know the right one all stems from a deep understanding of the problem, the root.
My father taught me a lot in 30+ years. My father gave me the greatest gift in love, being a storyteller. My success is to impact patients, providers, healthcare organizations, and payers.
I simply write stories.
As always, you can feel free to contact me at: CANCERGEEK@GMAIL.COM