Thursday, April 06, 2006

Tick, Tick, Tick

My dad has been released from the hospital. After a heart catheterization and an exploration of his carotid arteries, the doctors found that both his carotid arteries, which carry blood to the brain, are approximately 98% blocked. So what are they going to do? Nothing. Basically, my father is too far gone. There is a fairly routine RotoRooter procedure that usually deals with this (and which my father could have undergone several years ago, but he checked himself out of the hospital against doctor's orders), but because the blockage is so extensive, and extends up close to his brain, the risk of surgery was deemed to be greater than the risk of doing nothing at all.

And what is the risk of doing nothing at all? An almost certain heart attack, or, even more likely, a stroke. It's just a matter of time, and probably not all that much time. Tick, tick, tick. What's that sound? Is it a heart or a timebomb? The answer, of course, is Yes.

I won't go into them here, but there are other issues. If you know me and you see me, ask me about them. But here's a teaser. 1) After returning from his heart catheterization, my father requested a cheeseburger and fries. Upon being told that he couldn't have them, he went off on the nurses, calling them every lewd, demeaning term you can imagine. Such a joy. 2) My father has no money. If he has a stroke (which he almost certainly will) and if he survives it (questionable), he will need long-term medical care. I know that it is the "Christian" thing to do to care for one's parents in their old age. Sorry. It ain't gonna happen at the Whitman household. I don't want my father near my family. I'm not going to subject them to that. If you think that #1 is an indication of his basic personality, and might be related to #2, you're probably right.


Anonymous said...

As Kate probably knows, Medicaid will pay for long term care for those who can't manage it. Usually, it means liquidating the person's assets (although I believe homes don't have to be sold, if he owns his residence). It would be his assets, not yours.

I'm sorry to hear that you're having to go through this. I know this is hard on you. I think you know that I agree and support you on this as well. You're in our prayers.

e said...

Ugh. Can't says that I blames you for feeling this way. It would be nice if there was some way to experience growth and healing through the pain of caring for a dying person (assuming that's the way it all plays out)--a la Henri Nouwen. But I know that only happens in books and movies and that the real life part of caring for the dying is much more difficult. Especially when they are.

Either way, I'll pray for you guys.

Karen said...

andy, i'm sorry to hear that your dad is so sick and on top of it being so difficult.

i don't know that it *is* the christian thing to do, i think it's simply A thing to do that is USUALLY better. in this case, knowing a little of the history of your dad and you and your family, i think it's wise and prudent to NOT bring him into your house for care. my 2 cents.

Anonymous said...


One of the things I learned from dealing with a friend or family member with a substance abuse addition is that you have to detach, with love. You can love the person, but detach from their addition and the addition's problems. It's better for you, and it's better for them, because they won't rely on you to always fix their problems. That's not always easy, and it sounds like you've already done it. So, congratulations for being such a healthy minded person.

Martin said...

Andy, sometimes having a stroke can completely change one's personality. For whatever THAT's worth.

Jeff Cannell said...

Andy- perhaps the "Christian" thing to do is what you are doing- protecting your wife and daughter from the pain that you had to endure your whole life. Compassion does not necessarily mean subjecting your family to this.

Just a thought- I'm not an expert