That’s the who, what, and when. But there’s always more to the story.
Last Monday night my dad couldn’t sleep because of pain in his abdomen. On Tuesday morning he asked to be taken to the hospital. He also asked that my son Steven, who is a doctor, take care of him. Steven left work and we all met at the emergency room at the UCLA Medical Center in the early afternoon.
The problem was an inflamed gall bladder. The best solution was to drain the excess fluid. I won’t go into details. There’s a reason I refused to become a doctor despite my parents’ strong suggestion that I should. I was squeamish. To some extent I still am.
On Thursday, after the medical procedure, when my dad was asked to describe his level of pain he said, “ten-plus.”
Even in the best hospitals you need an advocate, someone who will stay with you to check on everything and ask for help – loudly, if necessary. At one point the doctors ordered Tylenol and additional medication for pain but the nurse told us the chart reflected an order for “Aspirin,” and to discontinue all pain medication. Someone entered the information incorrectly. There is many a slip twixt cup and lip.
My dad’s attitude toward death is impressive. “Every day is a bonus,” he has told me many times. In the hospital he said, “I don’t know if living past one hundred is a reward or a punishment.” His sense of humor is always welcome.
For many years I’ve lived with the possibility of my dad’s death. But the intellectual possibility and the immediate possibility, or probability, are like the difference between fearing you will lose your job, and being summoned to your supervisor’s office at 5pm on a Friday.
Dad was supposed to go home today but the doctors said, “tomorrow.” Dad is fully aware of his situation and is upset about having to stay another day.
I’m sure you know the moral to this story even before I get to it.
Love your parents, your children, and your friends every day, and let them know it by both your words and actions. Tomorrow is always tomorrow, never today.
Will Dad be home tomorrow? Certainly. But just in case, Dad, always eat your dessert first.
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