Friday, December 9, 2011

Normal to Feel Normal?

This evening my mom called me as she was out and about as she often does.  This time, however, was different then her, "How are you doing?  What did you do for dinner?" type of phone calls.  Instead she broke out of our  usual conversation and told me, "Your dad called me from work.  He told me to come and get him - he is sick."

Before I continue, let me explain something.  My dad is a strong man.  Even when feeling ill, he finds some hidden strength and pushes through.  Only once in my life do I recall him calling in sick for work - and that was within the last month or so.  Never has he called my mom to leave work early after driving himself to the location of his job.  While feeling well or ill...he pushes through and holds on to his responsibilities, even if it requires working double shifts.

By sharing that bit of information you now know that my mother calling with that news was unusual.  After talking to me, she went and got my dad taking him directly to the ER.

The hospital actually got him in rather quickly.  If you were going to have an emergency that requires the ER, tonight was the night.  Once I got to the ER there was at least an hour's time of which I was literally the only body in the waiting room.

Turns out dad has another infection.  The first decision was to hospitalize him.  They don't know the type or location of the infection, but they do know it's a serious one.  (Although from what they can tell, not as serious as one he had in March of this year.)  When I left they were talking about releasing him to go home.  (Which they've done that before but made him come right back a few hours later after getting test results.)

I got to the hospital around 9:45 PM and left around 1:30 AM, getting home around 2:00 AM.  When I left mom was still there and dad was still in the back as they still have yet to determine what they want him to do...Go home, or stay.

While being in the waiting room my mom let me play with her iPad.  Doing what a typical young adult does, I got on the free WiFi of the hospital and got on Facebook.  While on Facebook I chatted with 4 or 5 friends to give me something to do as it was too late to text "my usual people".  I can't remember which friend asked me first, but they asked, "How are you doing??"

That's when it hit me.  How am I doing?  That was a good question and one I didn't quite have a quick answer for.  I hadn't yet thought about how I was doing.  Thinking back to March, I could tell you how I was doing then when 911 was called and dad was taken away from the house in an ambulance.  I was a mess.  Thinking back to March I can recall the emotion of fear flowing through my veins.  Once the ambulance left and mom followed in her car, I remember being home alone taking the whole scene in (before leaving myself), soon to be followed by being doubled over in tears in the middle of our hallway.  There were countless tears I shed that night before heading to see my dad.

How am I doing?  This time around it is different.  At this point it seems almost routine and normal.  I've seen about as many movies in the theater as times my dad has been hospitalized this year - if not less than the times he was hospitalized.  If you look at how many times our family has visited the ER (not cancer diagnoses, surgeries, hospitalizations, or the death of my niece), we have been to the ER at least three times the amount of movies we have seen this year.  We've been there enough times in 2011 alone that I've just about decided they should have V.I.P. recliner seats for each member of my family.

This time when mom called to tell me she was taking dad to the ER, I started to shed a tear or two thinking, "Not again...", but stopped myself to ask my mom, "What do you need?  What do I need to bring you?"  (Granted, my reaction this time may of also been different than in March because in March I saw how bad my dad was, which was worse than tonight.  From what we know right now, the situation in March was a lot more severe as we would of lost him that night had we waited just one more hour to call 911.)

To actually answer the question, "How am I doing?"  I still don't know.  This is routine and normal now.  I'm not sure if I've either numbed this part of my brain and heart for it to hurt less, if it's just that I've become stronger through all that I've been through this year, or if I've not completely taken it in that he's back in the ER.  I'm not sure if my mind is waiting to react until we know more details of the infection (severity, type, etc) or if God is just giving me a peace about the whole situation.  Any of those are possibilities.  In fact, it could be a combination of all of the above, or a mixture of certain ones.  

Is this normal for this to feel normal?  For it to feel as though it's part of our life and routine?  Is it natural to numb myself to the situation?  There are other questions that come to mind but those are to just name a few.   I've had a few unique situations in my life where it's hard to find people who have been in similar situations. (Example: The death of my niece.  It's hard to find people who have experienced the lose of a child from an aunt's perspective.  In the past I've even Googled support groups for the aunt/uncle perspective and there are none that I could find.)  However, while I know there have been unique situations in unique combinations, I do know I must know people who have had a sick father or sick mother in their lives.  It's a more common situation for people to experience and yet I have no idea which of my many friends have gone through a similar situation.  (And although common, it doesn't make it any easier.  Having a sick parent is a tough thing, and I imagine that goes for a child of any age.)  It's amazing what you learn about other people when go through different trials and situations.

Although it feels routine and normal I can't help but ask myself, "When did this become our way of life?  When did ER visits and dad's ill health become so normal to me?  Is this really our life now?"  And although it feels normal and routine, I still do have emotions, fears, and dreams attached to the situation that I've had since being 15-years-old when his bad health started.  I dream my dad will still be here to see me graduate college.  I dream he'll be here to meet the man I fall in love with, that he'll be here to walk me down the aisle as I stand next to him dressed in a beautiful white gown.  I dream he will hold my future children, his grandchildren. At the same time I fear my dreams are truly only that - a dream and not reality. 

I'm not much of an emotional person.  Okay - I take that back.  I'm not an openly emotional person.  If I want to cry, I usually wait until I'm in private and am all alone.  I let myself break when no one else can see me or hear my cries of pain - whether it be physical, spiritual, mental, or emotional pain.  Even when my niece died I was like this with family.  My grandfather, of whom I love dearly, asked me, "How are you doing?"  Instead of telling him the true burdens and pain on my heart I hid from him the honest cries of my emotions telling him, "I am fine."

This is something I am really trying to work on as I realize it's unhealthy.  I know of a few reasons in some situations, but I'm not 100% sure why I hide and ignore what I feel, especially around others.  I'm trying to be more open with my feelings and to be honest with family and friends that I know genuinely care.  (Obviously I'm not going to tell a random stranger how I feel, but when friends or even family ask, I want to be more honest and to not feel ashamed or as though I need to hide the feelings I experience and have.)  For me this blog is a start.  While I don't open up about everything on this blog (as that is not what is for as some situations, emotions, or feelings, are meant to be private), I want to open up some.  

How am I doing??  Ask me tomorrow (which I guess is technically now today).  Ask me once I get some sleep and once my dad's third infection of the year sinks in deeper.  Ask me when we know more to the situation.  My answer may be different than my repeated answer of earlier tonight, "I'm okay.  This almost just seems like it's routine and  normal."  Once sleep is in my system and we know more details, it may not feel as routine and normal.

What is your story?  Please share with me via message, comment bellow, on FB, text, or call me (there is a "Contact Me" page above).  I would love to hear your story and your experience.

Tonight was an eye opener.  Even if my family is currently done with cancers, tumors, and most surgeries, my dad's weak health and ER visits are and more than likely will forever be apart of our life and routine.

Oh, and is he hospitalized or coming home?  I've already posted this blog, so this is an update, but as of Monday, December 12 - He was taken to the ER once again.  This time he has been hospitalized with double pneumonia. 

The Travelin' Chick,

PS: Thank you for the prayers for my dad, me, and my family!

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