On Life and the Vile Beauty of False Hope in the Time of Crisis

My dad won’t be coming home again. 

After traveling around the world working in beautiful and amazing and sometimes frankly dangerous places, my dad will doze the remainder of his life away in a hospice house.

Why?

Because cancer, lung cancer to be exact, robs dreams and lives and hopes and futures.

On March 13th, he was fine.  He ate a nice dinner (Salisbury steak on toast if you’re wondering), took a little nap in honor of his full belly, then later wandered through the house to eat half a fresh green pepper.  Eventually he and his doggie went to bed then a bit later I eventually went to bed, too.

Along about 4am-ish he banged really loudly on my bedroom door to wake me up because he was in physical distress.

He was shaking, clammy, his shirt and t-shirt soaked through with sweat…and he could neither catch nor keep his breath.

I called 911.

One of the last things he did before leaving the house, unknowingly for the last time, was make sure I had the keys to the car. 

The paramedics arrived in good time, quickly surveyed the scene, and within a few minutes they were walking him out of the house to the large “ambulance bed” waiting by the front door.

Dad left the house on his own two feet albeit greatly supported by paramedics.

So, early in the morning of March 14th, dad was admitted to the local hospital, put on a ventilator, and at some point in the mix suffered a mild heart attack likely from the physical stress of struggling so, so, so very hard to breathe.

Remember, this is happening during the major opening salvo of CV-19 – appropriate fears were being shaped, new information about the virus was coming at us right, left, and center.  We were worried that he had what will become known as “the virus”.

He was likely the first in my county, hell, in my part of the state (NC) to be tested and it took almost a week before it came back negative. 

I almost wish it had been positive – that would likely have been easier to cure.

The original diagnosis (while waiting for the results that his then-doctor and I both agreed wasn’t likely to be positive given all the data we had on hand at the time) was bacterial pneumonia.

Yucky, sure, but highly treatable, right, so treatment began.

For some reason, maybe a doctor’s “6th sense”, they sent him for a chest CT scan a few days after treatment began.

Tumor. 

Large tumor snuggling, strangling, around the branch leading into one lung and possibly into said lung as well.  The other lung has some “scar tissue” from a life-time of smoking (and likely inhaled desert sand/silica, who knows) but was nicely functional other than the pneumonia.

Tumor.

Tumors are treatable, right?  Chemo, surgery, radiation, options…lots of options…  Desperate hopes for desperate times, right?

So eventually my dad – still heavily sedated because he was still on the ventilator – was transferred via ambulance to a much larger hospital with many more pulmonologists specializing in…pulmonology things.

This hospital was 1.5 hours away…during the time of a pandemic crisis…may as well have been on a different fucking planet as far as actually being with him is concerned.

I have asthma (CV-19 STRIKE ONE) and am an insulin-dependent diabetic (CV-19 STRIKE TWO) and have COPD (chronic bronchitis if you care) ———– (CV-19 STRIKE THREE). 

No personal visits for this daughter.

I haven’t seen my dad since they took him away on that bed to the ambulance on March 14th.  If I become infected, I will most likely die.  If I remember to do so, at the end of this I’ll link to a couple YT vids by actual doctors that will scare you shitless about the damages this shitty bastard virus inflicts.

Anyway.

So now my dad is in a much better hospital surrounded by lots of super-docs and I’m being told that once he’s off the ventilator (after words like “bronchoscopy” and “biopsy” and “stents” are tossed around like parade candy) and his throat heals from the intubation and he can swallow and eat and drink on his own so he can start regaining his strength, they’ll likely choose radiation to combat the cancer rather than chemo that would be so much worse on him and surgery wasn’t possible given the location/etc of the tumor.

But:  YAY – hope!  A long and bumpy road, especially for him, sure, but hope!!

I’m calling for reports on him two and three times a day, often having the nurse hold the disinfected phone to his ear so I can “cheer at him” – he’d been in “isolation ICU” then when transferred to BiggerBetterHospital just “regular” ICU.

After a while…a very long while…he’s off the ventilator – yay, progress! – and a couple days after that he’s finally able to swallow and drink – granted he’s not back to “Salisbury steak on toast” yet, but still, yay progress!

Surely now that he can actively eat and drink he’ll start recovering his strength from the pneumonia and, dang, but his “heart numbers” had began falling the very night he’d had the problems so his heart’s pretty much ok, too, so there’s hope!!

Right?

Today I’m told he “isn’t a good candidate” for the radiation therapy because he’s so weak and to talk to the hospice coordinator. 

Shock.

Cold, trembly, stunned shock.

But…but wait…

Where did the hope go?

There was hope…and…and now there’s…not?

Why are they giving up on my daddy? 

Why are they shuffling him off to die “in comfort” but without hope?

My head doesn’t doubt their logic – he was on the ventilator for a long time and it did take him a couple days longer to reactivate his swallowing muscles, etc., etc., etc., but my heart is kicking and screaming and bawling her eyes out.

He’s my last parent – mom died in ’11 – and I don’t want to lose my daddy.

But I’m going to unless God drop-kicks a miracle down to his lungs.

Anyway, I feel like I’ve been…lied to?  Like I was given hope only to have it jerked out from under my feet for no good reason.

Hope can be a lifesaver, but, in my experience at least, it can be a cunning, devastating, heart-ripping lie.

So, that’s what’s been up with me.  I’ve been dealing – alone – with the terror of CV-19 while at the same time – and of vastly more specific importance to me – the terror of losing my father.

And because of everything going on and especially given my physical health and vulnerability to CV-19, I can’t find a job.  And because I can’t find a job, there’s no money for gas to visit him in hospice every day assuming I’m even allowed to do so.  There’s no money for a funeral, for a casket, for the burial. 

There’s just me, three cats, and a doggie who misses her daddy horribly.

We originally got Happy for mom – she wanted a little lapdog to enjoy while she became more and more sedentary because of her health problems (the original reason I’d moved back home in the first place – she needed help).  Soon enough that little ‘world’s largest chihuahua’ mutt became the world’s most spoiled UN-lapdog. 

She and daddy were perfect for each other and got along great whenever he’d come home on RnR from Baghdad and, when he retired after mom’s death, Happy became HIS dog.  She took up with him like crazy and they’d prowl around the yard and all on their walks; she’d pile up beside him on the sofa and easily eat half of whatever meat he was eating (“She knows that if she sits next to me she’ll get fed” he’d often say); she slept with him at night. 

They were the best of buddies.

But he’ll never be home again for her to pile up beside of to eat his food, beg for treats (little begging actually involved…) or nag him to take her out for a totally unnecessary walk…or anything.

It breaks my heart on her behalf and on his.

She keeps running through the house looking for him every time I bring her back in from the walks that he should have been taking her on in the first place.

This is killing me and that kick in the gut called “hope” is just making it all the worse.  I feel like the world, God, life, everything is just giving up on my dad and, through him, me.

So…that’s how all this is going for me.  I deeply and sincerely hope you guys are weathering all this shit better than I am.

This pandemic is fucking scary even without suffering through the slow death of a loved one.

I hope you have safe shelter and good food, that you have fun entertainment and protective gear if you have to get out for necessary work or supplies, but most of all…MOST OF ALL…I hope you are not alone.

“Alone” is a terrifying place to be when your world collapses.

After mom died, it was just me and my dad.  He was getting on in years (I was a late baby) and he’d never been one for cleaning house or cooking all that much, that kind of thing, definitely preferred doing the yard-work, tending cars, etc., so it was just simpler for me, already in bad health (whole other story), to stay home, keep him company, and deal with the house and the bills and the cooking, etc.

And so I did.  I quit work in I think it was 2007 to move “back into the family home” to take care of my mom when she needed it, but my health “broke” during that time so that when dad retired a couple months after her death, it truly was simpler to maintain the status quo doing all the things that dad didn’t particularly care to do.  At the time I was still actively writing which took up a LOT of my time as well. 

Life went on. 

And now it doesn’t.

No good deed every goes unpunished, eh.

He has, at best, maybe a month and the doctor wouldn’t even commit to that.

Please forgive any typos…don’t have the heart to read back over this given that I’ve wept the entire time I’ve typed it.  Sadly this wasn’t as cathartic as I’d have liked but I had to try.

What I hope that y’all take from this is:  I don’t know. 

I want you to love your loved ones with all your heart but at the same time I don’t want anyone to ever hurt like I am, so…find a balance? 

I want you to take hope when hope exists but I don’t want you to be kicked in the teeth by that same vile curse.

I want you to hold fiercely to your parents, by whatever definition, as long and as fiercely as you can, but at the same time I don’t want you completely and utterly devastated when they fade from your world.

This is real life and the pain, despair, and terror of this real life is killing me. 

There is no parting salvo to end this on a good note; I just don’t have it in me.

I do care a lot about y’all, so wash your nasty hands and stay home if you can and by all means, stay alive.

Here are some links.  The first one should scare you.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4J0d59dd-qM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDAvxSKu5kc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W5yVGmfivAk

And here’s my paypal if you’re able and inclined to help this constantly weeping daddy’s girl out during a devastating mess.

I’ve cried so much today that my eyes and nose are red and irritated and my head is pounding.  Tomorrow I “get” to park my dad in a hospice home where he will die.

All prayers, vibes, juju, etc., very sincerely appreciated.  Now go wash your hands again and stay home if you possibly can.  Nobody wants to lose you.

~Mer

35 thoughts on “On Life and the Vile Beauty of False Hope in the Time of Crisis

  1. Honey I am so sorry. I’m 32, I was adopted by my maternal grear grandparents, talk about generation gap eh?

    My dad died months after I found out I was adopted and who my parents where (along with the Lifetime Original movie of how I came to existence), I hadn’t turned 10 yet. My dad died on my moms birthday, 2 months after I turned 10.

    It was just my mom and I. It was a very toxic and abusive relationship (I’ve now learned) but for 20 years she was my mom, my world, my only family.

    In 2013 she got seriously sick where I became her caretaker and still worked full time. 2015 I was close to burn out and a niece stepped in to take over, I took the chance to walk away and heal.

    Spring 2017 my mom went from being an independent senior to full blown nursing home. She was loosing basic functions. Nov 13 2017 my niece text me saying call me when you get off, just started a new job. Mom was back in the hospital and they told my niece she has ovarian and colon cancer, because of her heart and general health, too weak to treat. Dec 17 2017 I had to sign papers to put her on hospice. Its a ticking time bomb, you know its near but you don’t know the when. The worse part for my nerves? I work in health insurance doing preauthorzations, like for hospice.

    Dec 17th 2018, a year on hospice, I get the feeling I need to be there. So does my niece. So does my eldest sister. While we’re in the hallway, she passed away.

    Its hard. Its rough. And its not pretty. I’m sending you all my love, strength and support from Oklahoma. I’m here if you ever need to vent or just cry. I know you feel alone, physically alonevsucks horribly, but you’re not totally alone. The fur babies are there, let them comfort you. And if you need a virtual friend, I’m right here too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh hun. You’ve made me laugh so many times and I love your writing. This breaks my heart for you. I’m stuck at home like everyone else but I have friends and family to group video chat with, that saves my sanity. If you just need someone to talk to, send a messenger phone call to me and we can talk face to face. Would love to “meet” you although could have been in better circumstances. Up to you.
    Also that link only takes you to the sign-in page for PayPal. Tried to give you a little help.
    Maggie 🙂🙂😘 hugs

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s alright, I figured out how to do it. It’s not much because I’m unemployed myself but just a little thanks for the laughs that wonderful dry sense of humor has given me. I know it’s a cliche but don’t give up on yourself. Take care of your health, because you may need all your strength soon. Just know that while most of your readers have never met you, we can still care about each other.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t have the words to tell you how sorry I am that you are going through this alone in NC. But you are not alone in the world. You have friends and followers who have been touched by your writing and open heart.

    From my POV, you were lucky to have a loving father. I didn’t, and at 73 I still feel the lack and the betrayal. You will survive. It will be hard, and I won’t offer any trite sayings, but one morning you will wake up and it won’t be so bad.

    I have a friend who is a Chaplin at UNC hospice. She has been my best friend for over 40 years. Her name is Ann Ritter and maybe she can help.

    I have also sent something by Paypal. Keep us updated on how you are going forward.
    Hugs,
    Irene T

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So damn sorry to read your post. The next couple of months are going to be unbearable for you, nothing I can say will provide much relief to what you are enduring. Just remember we are here for you when you need to rail against the unfairness of it all. Thinking of you.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am so sorry to read this. There is nothing to do, say, write to make things better. I can just pray for your sanity and health. Love
    Minica

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh, I am so sorry. So, so very sorry. I’ve thought of you and your dad often these last weeks and goddamn, I am so sorry your update is what it is. (I have spent the last 3 months triaging the diagnosis and now care of my 73 year old mother -rare autoimmune disease that attacks the brain- I live 2 hours away from her. I have an understanding of false hope I did not before this) Knowing you are doing what’s best for yourself and for your dad is not the same thing as feeling good about it. Not at all. It’s so fucking hard. Sending you peace and care, and virtual support during this time.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Sent you some financial support just now. I’m lucky enough to still have a job, so thank you for letting me help out in this way xoxo Teresa

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I feel so much LOVE for you, I understand completly, I lost my mom on the 3rd of Febuary this year. I love that you are sharing, I love that you are feeling and I love that you are asking for what you need. I will tell you what I was told.
    YOU are strong.
    YOU will get this done.
    YOU will live. It will hurt for a while but know that it is with Love that you live, it is with love that you care, and it is with love that you share your time.

    I can not give anymore then the words that I have typed for that I am sorry. I can offer you my ear if you ever need to just vent about anything or nothing, just know that you are Loved. Even if it is just a stranger on the internet.

    Like

  10. I’m so, so, so incredibly sorry. I can’t imagine going through what you are experiencing by yourself, and I will pray for you and your father. I’m sorry I can’t send you financial support, especially since you have given me SO MUCH JOY with your writing. I LOVE all your stories; you have a beautiful and creative soul and I thank you for sharing it with all of us out in the world. We are with you in spirit. I believe that what you give out comes back to you, and I pray for all the joy you’ve given others to return to you. I also pray that your father will not suffer.

    My father-in-law just died yesterday of COVID-19 and dementia, and my own father died just a few short years ago. In both cases, we had a little false hope of our own. Both seemed to be recovering before dying suddenly. So I feel your pain, and I’m sending you love and understanding through the ether. Please hold on to hope.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Selenity Wolf,

    I’m sorry, hon. Life has a way of being so, so very unfair. I hope you’ve found peace since then, though, at any rate. Dad has MAYBE a few days left, maybe. He’s not really very responsive so I’m not even sure how much he knows about his surroundings. I went to visit him again this morning and took his dog so he could see her, and she him, one last time, and I think he knew. It’s just so hard. Thank you. ♥

    Like

  12. ericluver:

    Thank you, gorgeous, and thank you. I think we need to develop our own commune so we’d always have each other around. 💗

    Like

  13. duckbutt60:

    Thank you, love, and thank you. This is such a hard time and the fact that he’s my last parent plus the constant threat of the virus are making it exponentially harder. I don’t guess losing our parents is supposed to be easy, though. 💗

    Like

  14. I am so sorry you are going through this. We recently lost my grandmother and my uncle. It’s a horrible time to be alone. You have been a gift to me while I was dealing with the loss of my son, if you ever need a shoulder feel free to message. You can get through this, it’ll be hard, but you can. Please take care of yourself. 💜

    Like

  15. redrockbluesky:

    Thank you 💗 💗 💗! I’m sorry about your dad. Mine wasn’t especially involved when I was growing up but it wasn’t because he didn’t care…more of a time thing and a not really knowing how thing than anything, but we’d gotten a lot closer after mom died in ’11. The fact he’s my last parent really hurts. Dad is now in hospice locally so I can go see him. Today I took his dog so they could see each other one last time and I’m not even sure he was totally aware of it but I’d like to think that he was on some level. 🥺

    Like

  16. Jules3677:

    It’s pretty unbearable now…really really dread what it’s going to be like then. He’s in a local hospice now so at least I get to see him, only, he’s not very responsive now. 🥺 🥺 😥

    Like

  17. fffbone:

    *forcefully expels a huge breath* Yeah, I think it is. We are in no way prepared for anything of this nature plus we have people blithely ignoring common sense precautions like maintaining a huge physical distance from each other if they MUST leave their house and not being smart enough to just stay home and safe if the possibly can.
    Part of my problem is that this virus was really starting to gear up when my dad first went to the ER so I couldn’t even go with him because of my own vulnerabilities to it and it kills me to think of my dad in a room by himself waiting waiting waiting for me to show and me not being able to. I mean, sure, the nurses probably said something if he asked but who knows? This will linger in my mind forever now. I hate this virus.

    Like

  18. Teresa Rowell:

    Awww, man, I’m sorry to hear about your mom. When it rains it pours, doesn’t it? Nothing we do, say…nothing helps to ease the pain and the emotional burden.
    False hope kills us by the moment. It brings us back…just to kill us all over again.
    It is so fucking hard. 💗 💗 💗

    Like

  19. L_Viviane:

    Oh, hon, I am so sorry to hear about your mom. I’m beginning to think it aught to be illegal for parents to die. It’s just so fucking hard. Peace and love to you, hon. I’d thought by writing this out it would help, but honestly, I’m not sure it did. It was worth the try, though, and I hope it will give you guys an opening to write your own pain out. Pain sucks, death sucks. Missing people sucks. 💗 💗 💗

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Sookiefreak:

    All prayers very gratefully accepted. Thank you very much for your kind words – I love knowing that I’ve brought at least a bit of fun into my reader’s lives. Very sorry to hear about your father and your father-in-law. Death sucks.
    Dad is in hospice now so at least I finally get to see him. He’s not very…aware, though, so I have no idea how much he knows but I did take his dog to see him this morning so they could see each other one last time and I hope he knew what was going on. Thank you so much. 💗

    Like

  21. Bashfyl:

    Oh, hon, I am so sorry to hear about your grandmother and your uncle, but especially about your son. As much as all this hurts, I can’t imagine losing a child, and if I in *any* way helped bring any peace to you, I’m truly glad. We all need a way to disconnect from the pain sometimes. This is so fucking hard.

    Thank you. 💗

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Oh Mer. I am so, so sorry for what you’re going through. Cancer is a cruel bitch. And this is an awful time to have to deal with it. I just lost my Mom (also my last parent) to cancer in January, so if you need someone to talk to, rant at, cry to; someone who has just been there, please reach out. I’ve been there and I’m happy to listen, cry with you, whatever you need.

    Like

  23. Pingback: HE’S GONE. | Addicted to Godric…Eric…Andre…(Sevrin)

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