When I first entered the world of Medium, I wrote about this more often, but I decided to press on from the subject of my father with the belief that the show must go on. I continued going to work, writing about any other thing that I could summon, provided for my beautiful fiancee who volunteered to care for my father, and tried to run Medium publications and an active LinkedIn community all at once. This trait, I got from my mother, and in trying times for my dad I’m trying to exhibit the strength she had before I lost her to ovarian cancer twelve years ago.
However, I’m now at a moment where I must face facts. I think my father’s Parkinson’s Disease may have reached a stage where his quality of life will decline sharply, and the time I have with him may be limited. On top of this, we already had the diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis hanging over him for the last decade or so — and when he had a knee replacement surgery five months ago to reduce pain from arthritis, his convalescence was interrupted by several falls. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, he was just confused and attempted to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. He got a blood infection and he was forced to get two more procedures. The first was to clean the area and treat the infection. With any luck, things could proceed as normal. We got him home for one week, and then another fall and subsequent infection flared up. The third procedure placed a rod with antibiotics in it (not exactly sure the technical way to explain it, sorry) in his knee. This essentially made him walk as if he had a peg leg, which led to a lengthy rehabilitation process.
It’s been five months of spending a few hours every day (and every other day as my fiancee and I started our move to his house to provide care for him) with him, and he recently came home. The progress he made in his physical therapy at the care facility has all but diminished at a rate I find alarming. He’s discouraged. It’s very hard for me to witness that, and I wish he could see what I see. The man is a giant in my mind and in my heart. He’s a caring man of medicine who raised three children and never faltered in his father’s mission to protect his three children. When no one else was there, my father was the one that called every night — especially during the dark days when a failed relationship landed me in a different state with no friends, no prospects, and no family around to offer emotional support. He encouraged me to fight and make a way for myself there, and after I had tried for a year he was the first to tell me that I wasn’t a failure when I asked if he could help me come home. He’s also a true believer in God, and his example taught me that despite my disagreement with organized churches, there has to be a benevolent force out there. Or at the very least he gave me the hope that benevolence brings. He never stops accepting me for who I am and what I am, and I honestly don’t know how I can ever be a man of the same quality, yet his support is unwavering.
This is why this moment is hard for me right now. I haven’t substantiated my concerns but after some research and observation, I don’t think his condition is a matter one can’t shoo away with an explanation of advanced age or medications. I think three surgeries on someone who was starting to exhibit (at worst) stage 2 symptoms of Parkinson’s and (at best) only the intense gait of Multiple Sclerosis was devastating on his body and mind. What’s worse is that we still have one more surgery to attempt another replacement because more than anything he wants to walk without help again, even if it’s on a walker. I’m not sure if my siblings would or will agree with me, as I’m afraid denial has stymied everyone from accepting that we ought to make more time for each other. Due to denial, my family might think I’m becoming an alarmist, but it’s not like Parkinson’s helps people live and depending on its progression, it can be a catalyst to a possibility I’ve been dreading for years.
This might be the end.
I want to cry more, but moments ago while I was wracked with tears and trembling something happened. It felt like a switch had gone off, and now I’m processing my emotions with a logic that for now suppresses the waves of freaking out. I’m wondering how much of that I can thank a stockpile of anti-depressants and anti-anxiety for. I’m thinking I may need it to get me through this. It’s hard to balance my optimism with reality. I’m presented with these troubling facts, and I’m grateful that while I face them I have the love of my life by my side because I’m not sure how well I’d be doing without her love in my life right now.
I don’t know what to do. I pray that I’m completely wrong and there will be a miraculous recovery and then a fully successful surgery that will keep him in the game of life for another 10–15 years, but there’s that part of me, maybe it’s instinct, that knows that some dark days may lie in store for me. I think that recording this now will help me cope, and it can at least be a message to my future self that I’m doing everything that I can. One of my goals in this life was to honor the man who adopted me and gave me the world, and though it may break me some, it may finally be that time where I become the man I was meant to be at the time where it’s the most necessary.
For now, I’m tired. I should probably lay down. I’m needed tomorrow.
Matthew Smith is a writer and publisher for The Bad Influence family of publications. His main goal in life is to entertain, to bewilder, and to make creative environments for all to enjoy. He loves contributing to the small, independent publications, so if you have a publication that needs another writer, please invite him as he loves sticking it to the algorithms.
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