Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Image by Christopher Chan via Flickr
I was so angry that he became a quad. I have never really got over that, even though I have done my best. The incident that caused my father to become a quad was something I put on my shoulders and even to this day it is tough not to imagine a different outcome had I not provided the means for his transformation. If I am not careful I still become angry when reliving the cause of those 10 years.
After the initial hurt and shock, the pain came flowing. Distressful thoughts of how my father was going to live overtook me most days, but that pain quickly turned to anger, some days raging and others a dull ache letting me know it was still there resting, waiting to surface. Depression all the while wandered its way throughout the various phases, hitting me hard when it found me.
That initial call, the rush to the hospital, sitting by his side, remains still like a dream. Shock had its grips on me and I kept thinking this wasn’t my life, this is what happens to other people you see on the news, not us, not my dad, not me. Then right in front of my eyes, like watching a caterpillar inch its way out of a his cocoon, my father began his transformation; wriggling, agonizing, and breaking right in front of me. First it was his feet, then it was his legs, then it was his abdomen, then it was his arms, then it was his lungs and that was it, he would later wake up as a quad, attached to a breathing machine and all sorts of electronics keeping him alive almost a month later.
The shock was rough; it took almost a month of going to ICU at Mission Hospital before that initial shock left, turning quickly into hurt. It was scary every day I was at the hospital. I didn’t know what was going to become of my father, our family, or my future. All of this was intensified by the fact that my father was asleep, kept in a coma by the hospital in hopes he would heal as his spinal column was not fractured, but rather bruised. He had received direct impact, blunt and hard, to his neck, causing the bruising, which in-turn caused the swelling, hence the slow transformation from my superman to a vegetable.
When he woke and the hurt and the fear came pouring out of us as we watched my father in disbelief, trying to figure out his new body we realized then how many emotions we were all going to have to battle.
I had tried with all my being, night and day to fix him, starting at Casa Colina up to the release from the VA Hospital. In Casa Colina I worked with him on his breathing, his rotations, his walking and finger exercises, time and time again. I carried this habit all the way with us to the VA hospital and up to when he left to live with Roselle. Every day as soon as the PT’s, OT’s, and RT’s finished their work, I would do the same exercise with him over and over again. The toughest was staying the night with him working to get him off the vent machine as those on a trachea tube have much reduced life expectancies.
The only success we had together was the complete break from the ventilator and the removal of the trachea tube. All other wins were minor, but we took them. They would come in waves, some days we would feel things were going to get better, hoping he may actually become an upside down quad, but then the setbacks would hit. This game continued for what seemed to be an eternity. Finally the hospital called it off, he wasn’t gaining any mobility, it was time for him to leave. Enter Roselle and a new stage of anger.
Once situated with Roselle I had the time now to reflect on that work I did at Casa Colina and the VA, the work that did nothing for his improvement. That is when I started noticing my new anger. I was so mad at myself that I couldn’t help him, that I couldn’t fix him and that all I did was for nothing. I had saved lives as a Life Guard, but I could do nothing for my father. The anger overpowered me and I lost sight of what did happen, my father and I grew closer, I grew stronger as a man, and life meant more to me on a daily basis.
And since anger feeds anger, I slowly began to get angry at all the other things that were in my head. He ruined my life, I couldn’t make him happy any more, and we weren’t going to be able to do the father son, father and grandfather things that I had planned my whole life. No way were we going to ride motorcycles together, no more archery, no more father son golf matches, none of it. I was going to be unable to make him happy, he was going to live a depressed life and there was nothing I was going to be able to do to change that.
This anger fueled on and on. I wasn’t a maniac, but I wasn’t necessarily controlled and I tried to live my life as a normal 20 somethiner’ like the best of them, but it all affected me deeply. I began to care less about my health, my looks, which is when I met alcohol, allowing me to feel numb it became a good friend. I did try to keep my faith and maintain going to church. I believed in God, but preferred being numb. It hurt more knowing I did not have a release, sure there was my pastor, but that was it, and I was too ashamed much of the time to speak with him as I was getting in to brutal fights a lot and drinking to mask the rest. There wasn’t anyone I could really communicate with. Even the best of my friends could only listen, not relate. Who was there for me? Who was concerned with what emotions were killing me?
My mother was there, but her personal anger in the situation kept it difficult for her to relate. This was not her fault so I kept my distance. I had my family, but they were all so hurt by my father, their anger was too strong to help me. So, I kept my faith, kept my fellowships with my father constant and God began to work his love. My father began to teach me forgiveness, grace, and gratitude all packaged in love.
After about 5 years of my father being transformed, I began to notice I was not so angry. God’s love was entering me, forgiveness was becoming a way of life and I began to release that which I could not control to God. I was not the one that was going to make my father happy, depressed, sad, angry or left hurting, I never was. I might have provided the source to this life we all lived now, but my father provided the actions. It was now a contract between my father and God. I needed God to be free to do what he had intended all along. My father became saved, in the process he truly sent me to my salvation and I know my father worked His love on many others so they may find their way to salvation.
I am not angry these days. There are days I am sad, confused and hurt, but turning to God helps all of those emotions. Above all that my father had taught me, this lesson on God’s love, His will and my ability to turn it over to Him was his greatest.