Friday, February 06, 2009

Visiting My Dad In The Hospital

If you keep up with my blog you know that my last visit with my father was difficult. It turns out that he is ill with a urinary track infection among other things. When his body is sick, his mental problems are exacerbated. Yesterday he was admitted to the hospital. I left work early today in order to go spend some time with him. It was another difficult visit. He is receiving IV fluids and is in no physical pain but mentally he is suffering. I tried my best to comfort him and assure him that he was safe and being well taken care of by the hospital staff. He wasn't buying it. He was yelling out and constantly repeating himself over and over. The more I tried to comfort him, the more hostile he got. We did have a few minutes of peace when the hospital's Catholic chaplain stopped by unexpectedly. The three of us had a prayer service together and the priest gave my father what Catholics call the Sacrament of the Sick. The priest was a true African and very black. My father is old school and I was nervous he would use a racial slur towards the priest. Thankfully that didn't happen. The priest was impressed with the fact that I knew exactly what he was doing so afterwards when we talked I shared with him about my background and that my son is studying to be a priest. He was also impressed that my Dad, who has Alzheimer's, still remembered all the words to the "Our Father" and "Hail Mary", two very standard prayers in the Catholic tradition. After about 90 minutes with Dad, my mother and niece showed up so I made a quiet exit. It is difficult to see my Dad in such shape. His 84 year old body is wearing out and his mind is mostly gone. Through out my visit he keep asking the hospital staff and me to help him. When I asked what he needed he said, "I don't really know". Pictured above is a picture of my Dad during a happier time back in the autumn of 2008. He is surrounded by much of my family. We had all just completed an Alzheimer's Walk to raise money for research.

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