Monday, January 28, 2013

The Big D Strikes Too Often

Since my last post on the ninth, almost twenty days have passed, and during that time, our family has been busy. On the 15th, I had my second hearing with Medicaid. Today I got the response, and the words that struck me were something along the lines of the decisions made by the Medicaid case managers were incorrect.  Basically, some errors were made resulting in a delayed qualification for Billy to receive Medicaid. Their decision was not reversed by the hearing officer, but they are to reconsider the medical expenses I had for Billy up until he was qualified.  I'll keep you updated as I learn more.  The wheels turn slowly.

On the 16th, I drove my parents to Methodist Hospital in Dallas at 5 a.m.  Mom went into surgery to remove a cancerous tumor at 7:30, and the surgeons told us to expect that it would take 4 1/2 to 5 hours to complete the surgery. We heard from the nurse in the surgery at 9a.m., 11:30a.m., and again at 2:00. The main surgeon came to see us in the waiting room at 5:30p.m., and he looked tired. As he sat down, he said they had known this would be a complicated surgery, but until they got into Mom's belly, they really didn't know how complicated.  He described the tumor as about the size of an orange, superglued around her right ureter. They were determined to get it out in one piece, and they did. In doing so, they destroyed some blood vessels and veins and a  large portion of the ureter, but that's where the vascular surgeon and urologist came in and tidied up the veins and rebuilt the ureter. Neither were simple, and she remains in the hospital tonight and hopes to move to a rehab center on Wednesday. However difficult this has been, Mom is cancer-free! Praise be to God and His guidance of surgeon's hands.

The surgeons had been planning this surgery for a few months, and had practiced different scenarios. What a tremendous team!

During Mom's surgery and stay in the hospital, we (my sister, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, nephews, daughter, son-in-law, and I) have cared for my dad. Dad has Lewybody Disease that comes with dementia, and he should not be alone for long periods of time. Mom hired a caregiver to stay with him during the day, but we have taken turns driving Dad to and from the hospital and spending the night with him. My dad has always been a talker, and he has a vast vocabulary. He's well read, loved to do crossword puzzles, and holds a Master's Degree, so it really causes him disdain when he cannot locate a word he is searching for.  The drive to Dallas is an average of 45 minutes give or take a quarter of an hour. That's a long time for Dad to talk, and as dementia does, he sometimes makes little sense, but he certainly gets his point across in some areas. He is incredibly proud of his children and his grandchildren. He adores his wife, and he feels strongly that he is still a good driver!  None of us are willing to allow him to prove the driving part.

I have to share with you just how special my dad is to me, and I know that he is no less special to my sister or to my brother who passed almost 5 years ago.  We just came to be Dad's kids in different ways. Mom and Dad dated when my mom was a student at Polytechnic High School in Fort Worth and Dad was a student at TCU. Mom's aunt set them up on a blind date, and they hit it off nicely. Mom was in a hurry to grow up and get married, and Dad was not. They went their separate ways, and Mom met a charming scoundrel and married him. He was my biological father, and I have no recollection of him. I don't know many details because Mom does not like talking about it, but when I was about 7 months old, Mom left with me and we went into hiding - living with different relatives for short times. We couldn't stay very long with immediate family because he kept finding us and causing problems for Mom. We moved to Midland for a while and lived with one of Mom's cousins. Eventually, we moved to Abilene to live with Mom's aunt and uncle, and after a time Mom got a secretarial job and a small apartment within walking distance of a bus stop and the Highland Church of Christ. That's when she and Dad got back together. Dad's brother, my Uncle Alvin, rented a small apartment from Mom's aunt in Fort Worth, and he had helped move Mom to Abilene. He contacted Dad and mentioned that Alyce was divorced with a baby and just happened to live in Abilene. The rest is a sweet love story with the usual bumps in the road.

Mom and Dad married on December 18th just before I turned two years old on January 23rd.  Their honeymoon was certainly less than glamorous, but they did have a sitter for that. I stayed with my Aunt Tricia and Uncle Bob, and they still talk about how much I cried while I was away from my mom and dad. My earliest memories begin when I was about three, and I never remember a time that Dad wasn't my dad. He has never mentioned to me that I am not his biological kid, and with his dementia, he probably doesn't remember it.

The word thankful doesn't begin to describe how I feel about Dad. He has been a huge influence on who I am today, and I can't imagine a dad who could love me more. He taught me to ride a bike, to believe in myself, to drive a car and change a tire, and he modeled a healthy marriage with my mom. He was also pretty strict, did not give me my way always, and he remains a very stubborn man. In a time when I was growing up in a very conservative legalistic church, he taught me not to believe something just because a preacher said it. Study the Bible myself, and see if I agree.  My heart breaks that he now has dementia, but I am honored to be able to care for him like he always cared for me.

Dad watched Billy decline over several years. He cried when we talked about Billy's diagnosis, and little did we know that he would face the same ugly dementia. Several times over the last few weeks, Dad has asked me if I plan to finish my degree. I always say, "Well, I've gone as far as I plan to with my degree, Dad.  I have my master's degree, and I don't feel like I have the energy to work on my doctorate." 

His reply is always surprise and pride. "Well, I didn't know that. I'm so proud of you."  What a privilege to be chosen by such a man.


  1. What a beautiful tribute to your dad.....he sounds like the perfect dad. I grew up without a dad, and I always appreciate hearing of good dads.
    I'm so sorry he's going through the same things as Billy.

    I'm so glad your mom is doing better!!!
    Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers...

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