I met up with my brother at the airport, and we landed in San Diego, trying to find a rental car on a weekend when all the rental car agencies were booked solid. After a two-hour wait at Avis, we blew towards the hospital to find Dad on artificial respirator in the ICU. The doctors gave him almost no chance of waking up, saying the damage to his brain was too great and that even if he did he would be severely impaired. My parents had given me the Power of Attorney to make medical decisions if both of them were incapacitated or dead, but I never thought I'd ever have to make terrible decisions like this.
A few days later, after we were already planning for the worst-case scenario of having to pull the plug, he started improving and actually opened his eyes, but he couldn't talk to us with the respirator. But after a day or two he contracted pneumonia, possibly from being intubated in the ICU, and he's been unconscious ever since with a raging fever and a whole host of health problems. For 11 days now we've come in every day to endure the hospital drama and try to keep him alive, but I know that he would not want me to prolong his suffering if it gets bad enough. It's just that making that call is really, really hard.
So the last week and a half I have had to spend all day talking to doctors, lawyers, funeral directors, coroners, contractors, and everyone else necessary to take care of my parents' affairs since I am the eldest son and was appointed executor of their estate. I brought in eight relatives to help out, and have been going nuts trying to coordinate flights, get them hotel rooms and meals, and drive them around to see Dad. I've pulled off some pretty big projects before, but never anything this complicated.
And with all this tragedy and drama, my 40th birthday is coming up Friday. Talk about a goddam mid-life crisis exploding all over the place. I am so not ready for this.
All I can do now for my mother is to give her the best funeral and burial that I can, and honor her memory. I still fight for my Dad, and will do everything I reasonably can to hang onto him, but he's been diagnosed with ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome) with pneumonia in both lungs and they've had to crank him up to 100% oxygen last night. Folks, it ain't looking good.
A few weeks ago, my Dad asked me what I wanted for my birthday present. I wasn't sure. Maybe a hard drive, or a set of PC speakers, I wasn't sure. I told him I'd let him know later.
Yesterday, I asked him, even though he was unconscious, to hang on and get better for me, for my birthday present.
I don't want anything else. Really.
If you can, think of my Dad and of me for him. The ICU doctors are doing all they can, and I feel so helpless camping in the waiting room and watching him worsen. My Mom was always able to take care of him in all the times he ended up in the hospital, but she can't help him now. It's been the hardest thing to deal with all this terrible news and tragedy, but if I can help my Dad and get him to stay around, I will at least have gotten to keep my family together. I hang onto hope despite the odds.