Thursday, January 14, 2010

Crash Story...The End

We were able to bring Dad home just under a week after his accident. He was sore and slow but recovering really well considering what he had been through. Mom and I took turns staying with him the first few days but then had to leave him on his own at home while we returned to work. Dad was scared. He was afraid that the police were going to show up at his door to arrest him. His blood alcohol level made it back to us and it was high. It wasn't 'one or two beers' high...he had been on a binge. His internist had come to see him at the hospital and really ripped Dad a new one. With his liver function as poor as it was he had made a promise to his doctor that he wouldn't drink. His doctor, who has been working to save his life for over a decade now, was reasonably pissed. After looking at Dad's current state, his doctor decided that it was time to get him ready to go on the list for liver transplant, but Dad's little stunt set him back a year because they require a minimum of six months alcohol-free, with a preference for one year before they'll consider you.

We all continued to wait for the other shoe to drop. When I looked in Dad's wallet for his license so that I could pick up some medication for him, it was gone. So we knew that the police had taken it. But for what purpose? About a week later we got a letter in the mail from the City of Marfa, the town near where Dad had crashed. Inside was a blank piece of paper with his license taped to it. No information...just that. We became hopeful. With this being Dad's third offense he was a candidate for prison time, which would be a death sentence...not that he didn't deserve it for driving drunk. But we tend to want different things for our families than for all those other evil beings who commit thoughtless crimes.

After a couple weeks of Dad cringing and practically running to hide any time the mailman or a neighbor came to the door we finally got word. A ticket for an open container came in the mail. That was it. He had gotten lucky beyond measure, and he knew it. A call to the judge, a $200 fine, and it was all done. He got not a second, but a third chance at life all in a matter of weeks.

Our life has gone on the way it always was. We only occasionally mention the unpleasantness of the accident, like when Mom went to buy a new car and got a cheap Hyundai SUV instead of her beloved Lexus. She was furious, but at the time didn't know what kind of legal fees Dad would be incurring, what the cost of the debacle would be, and she wanted to play it safe. Every time we see a Lexus SUV you can hear Mom groan. She loved that car. But amazingly, like the strong woman that she is, she has gone on to care for Dad the same as before. She still cooks him every meal, washes his clothes, escorts him to countless doctor's appointments, cleans his home and does his dishes. She asks for little in return. And she goes on loving him, no matter how much pain he has caused her and how broken he is in body and soul.

They had planned to move to Nashville in the coming months, but have changed their minds in the last couple of days. Dad is fearful of changing doctors during this time. He will find out on the 25th if he is even a candidate for liver transplant. There is a difficult treatment that he has to take in order to qualify, but his seizures may increase due to that medication. His neurologist is measuring the cost vs benefit. They have put it to him that he can decide against it and live a better quality of life for the time he has left, which is the option he is leaning towards. Last night when he and Mom sat down to weigh the pros and cons of moving he told her of his fears, of finding new doctors at the end that don't know him and aren't concerned with this new patient. But the saddest thing of all is that he told Mom that he wished he would just die. He feels like a weight, like he is stopping our plans and our progress as a family, like he is a lodestone. That breaks my heart to hear, but I understand it all too well. There are countless times when I have thought that my whole family would be better off to just plan a funeral, bury me and be done. I have blogged about that thought coming up when Cade was young. As depression and exasperation at the inability to change have come over me in waves, the thought comes like a gasp for breath before the next wave pulls me under. It gives my breaking mind a place to hide, an escape from reality. But to hear my father say that, when he is already so close to going, breaks my heart. I want him to be the man that vows to live life to the fullest in the time he has left, not the guy who gives up and melts away.

Dad told me a few days ago that he relives the nightmare of the accident any time he starts to think of taking a drink. He said that it was as scared as he remembers being in his life. He goes round and round in his head thinking of the confusion and the blood and the feeling of being trapped with a long drop off the side of the car. I guess he needed the experience so as not to drink himself dead now that he sees that the end is nearing. I hope that he will choose to be with us and not take matters into his own hands. I imagine, at this point in his life, the end seems like quite a comfort.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


It's a Tuesday night and though the week has just begun for me, I am exhausted! Patrick is gone for the week for business so I'm going it alone again for a while. The single mothers out there will know (and probably want to punch me for whining about one week) how hard this is. The whole way through the holidays Patrick was working nonstop, so I was pretty much doing it all by myself then as well, but he was home at night and I could snuggle someone. There is a lot to be said for snuggling.

My new schedule includes at least 45 minutes of working out at night so I wake up bright and early, get myself and Cade ready, take him to school then myself to work. I'm working with numbers all day long (mentally exhausting) then pick Cade up, come home and play and cook and clean a little, do homework with him, tuck him into bed, come out to the living room and work out...and then a moment of rest. Really, I don't know how people live like this. My guess is that they have much higher energy reserves. I'm used to naps at least every other day. I can't imagine being a single mother who has to live like this.

With Patrick and I having put so much thought into divorce, it's times like this that I wonder how on earth I could function without him here. With lupus, I have to be very careful not to over-stress my body. Too much stress, too much pressure, and my body turns on itself and starts to break down in one organ or another. I have to wonder, could I actually handle something like divorce or separation?

While I would hate to be dependent on a relationship for the sake of my health, I'm grateful for times like this week to get things in perspective.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Crash Story (Part Two)

(Not Dad's car, but the general idea is the same)

I waited alone for Dad to get out of surgery, occasionally fielding calls from my mother in Dallas and my brother in Nashville. Both were working out plans to get here as soon as possible. About three hours after Dad went in, the doctor came out to let me know that he was all done. The damage had been extensive and he had repaired Dad's spleen and taken out a section of his bowels that had been mangled by the seat belt. Dad had lost a lot of blood and they were transfusing him still, but he would be moved to ICU after recovery where I could be with him for a time. Again, the doctor made no promises about a recovery. He reminded me that Dad was still very unstable and while they had repaired the damage, at a ripe old 62 years old, they couldn't be sure how his body would take the trauma.

I was eventually led to ICU where my daddy lay in the bed, still asleep, intubated...the machine doing all of his breathing. As he began waking up he was confused and couldn't talk because of the tube down his throat but he tried to relay to me what he could with his eyes and squeezes of my hand. The fear in his eyes broke me down. To this point, I had stayed very strong and in charge of my emotions, but seeing him so scared and in pain absolutely broke my heart. I kept begging the nurses for morphine or something to sedate him until he could get the tube out, but they were still scrambling to maintain his blood pressure which was fluctuating dangerously. They finally told me that I had to leave and when I told Dad his eyes went wide and he began shaking his head violently back and forth. I prayed with him for peace, the only thing I knew to do. Then I walked away, leaving him alone and scared.

When I came back for the next round of visiting hours I had my mom in tow, a rather angry Mom that I kept begging for patience and kindness with Dad. At this point, we still didn't know if alcohol was involved in the accident so we were hoping for the best, but experience taught us to expect the worst. My brother was driving all the way here from Nashville, a nice 14 hour drive, because he hadn't wanted to wait until morning to catch a flight. He and Mom were going to head to the mountains to retrieve what was left of her car and the things inside. While on the road my brother was doing all the helpful stuff like contacting the insurance company and the Department of Public Safety for accident records. Because it was such a small town where Dad had his wreck my brother actually got in contact with one of the officers that worked the scene. The version of events were quite different from what my father remembered.

He had actually had his wreck at around 5pm that afternoon. He had most likely had a seizure (which he suffers from but is medicated for...when he drinks he forgets his medication) and drove off the side of the mountain. Fortunately, the car hit some boulders and then plowed straight into a tree. There were three DPS vehicles and two firetrucks working the extraction, since he was in a culvert of sorts and had to be brought up. They took him to the nearest hospital where they took his blood alcohol level because they had found one opened beer and the remainder of a six-pack. At that hospital, after a couple of hours of trying to stabilize him, they realized that he was too critical (rarely gaining consciousness) so they decided to call Careflight. Due to low clouds they had to use the plane instead of the helicopter, and it was only then that they contacted us. The parts that Dad remembered were the only times that he was awake for the whole ordeal. It's amazing how his mind worked it all out.

Over the course of the next couple days Dad was released from ICU and transferred to a room for recovery. Once Mom learned that Dad was drinking she completely checked out from taking care of him. Dad would beg me not to leave the room when she was there. He was scared to be alone with her. By this time I had slept so little that I was delirious, but my brother was simply in town to take care of business and my mother, so I was left to care for Dad. I did my best and we bonded in a way that we never have. We both realized that it may just come down to the two of us. If Mom left him, which she had every right to do, then I would be left to care for this helpless man.

The doctors came for the follow-up and had contacted all of his regular doctors from which he received medication in order to let them know that he was under their care. My dad has many's a miracle he's made it this far. He had a blood transfusion in a Louisiana hospital in the 80's that left him with hepatitis C, from which he now has cirrhosis. He has seizures for some unknown reason. He has type 2 diabetes and heart disease. We were aware of all of this, but his internist saw something on the x-rays of Dad's liver that he didn't like. He started looking further and realized that Dad had moved into early stage liver failure since his last check. As Dad was healing from the accident, a whole other issue was thrown on our plate.

Wow. I can see that this story is a little longer than I had intended. I'm afraid that it's not the slightest bit interesting to most of you, but it always seems to help me to get these stories down. I should probably find another venue, but if you will bear with me, I'll be on to more interesting matters in a couple days, I'm sure. As for the rest of this...I'll finish tomorrow. And then once it's out I will work on writing shorter narratives to catch you all up on where I've been! Deal?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Crash Into Me

I mentioned in an earlier post that I grew up in a home with an alcoholic father. I am sure there are many of those, and I bet a lot of those homes are filled with turmoil. As I remember it, my childhood was pretty close to ideal. My father was a kind, smart, loving man. He wasn't consistent in his drinking. He was one of those alcoholics that would go years without drinking and then something would hit and he would go all out until he had created as much chaos as possible, then spend the next few days hungover and castigating himself while we as a family worked to create a sense of normalcy so that when he walked into the family room with his head hung low, ready to apologize, we could all act as though nothing had happened and no harm was done. We then spent the next years living the life of the perfect American family.

So much credit goes to my mother who went above and beyond to shield my brother and I from the intermittent craziness. Despite the misery of her situation she always put on a smiling face and took us out on adventures while Dad recovered so we wouldn't have to hear his dry heaves in the bathroom. My brother is two years older than I and he must have seen and known more than me because, to this day, his relationship with my father is very strained, to the point of being inexistent. I remember one afternoon when we came home from school and "good times Dad" was there. He was cheery and chatty and told us that he was taking us all to the circus that night. My brother and I cheered, basking in his great mood and stories of lions and trapeze artists. But then there was a muted argument between my mother and him and she took his keys. Dad got belligerent, stormed off to their bedroom and slammed the door. Mom had to follow up on his drunken promise that got us kids all excited. Like a trooper she took us to the circus that night. When we came home there was a pool of vomit in the hallway and Dad was passed out on the bathroom floor. My brother made a game out of it for me where we hopped over the puke pile until Mom could get it cleaned up. I thought my brother was as clueless as I to the turmoil but years later he told me that it was all he could think to do to make the situation less stressful for me. He was in agony for my mother and knew all along what was really happening to our family. He became the little man of the family. I was eight then and I don't remember Dad drinking again until my senior year, when I was 18.

Dad is a high-functioning alcoholic. He has lived a long life filled with success, provided a comfortable life for all of us. He was very involved in church because that was the addiction he turned to when he needed to get away from the alcohol. But around ten years ago when work was stressful he got his first DUI. When I got married, something Dad was not a big fan of, he drank again. The instances started getting closer together. The night before I started my new job at a prestigious accounting firm Mom got a call from a nurse in a tiny town two hours away. She and her husband had found Dad on the side of the road on his hands and knees confused and scraped up. We drove until 3am to get him and bring him home. Then almost three years ago he got his second DUI on his way back from a little road trip with an old drinking buddy and they both spent a night in jail. He was ordered to go to an alcohol awareness class that seemed to really make a difference. This last summer he was laid off after more than 30 years with the same company. Usually something like that would set him into a tailspin accompanied by a liter of Jack Daniels and a case of Coors Light. He started in that direction, Mom came home to find him drinking out of a hidden case of beer in his bedroom. I went over spent that afternoon pleading with him to stop the cycle, to walk away from the alcohol before he did damage that he couldn't undo. Mom was breaking down in her bedroom and I shifted between the two of them trying to comfort each in whatever way they needed. After telling my father that he had a chance at that point to make up to Mom for what he had put her through for decades he allowed me to take the beer and search his room for any remaining alcohol. He spent the next month and a half on his best behavior and we all thought that we had narrowly escaped what could have been the end of our happy family, since Mom was poised to leave him.

Then, the first week of October, Mom had a business trip. Leaving Dad alone is never good but we really thought that he had worked out his demons and would behave. During the course of her second day away we tried to contact Dad. I called, she called. It got to be late and we both knew what it meant. She asked me to drive by the house, then took it back because neither of us really wanted to know if he wasn't home. I told her that I would check in the morning, hoping that he would be home by then and even if he had been drunk he wouldn't be a jerk by that time. I would see "morning after Dad". He was a lot more tolerable.

But at 10:19 p.m. my phone rang, which I knew was a bad sign. It was Mom, telling me that she had found Dad. The inflight paramedics had called and he was on a Careflight on his way to the trauma ER here in town. There had been an accident on a steep mountainside a couple of hours south of here, in my Dad's old stomping ground of Ft. Davis. It's where he always heads when he drinks. He went to college around there and apparently it reminds him of better days. Mom had given them my number and they were to call me when they arrived in town. I got dressed, let my husband know, and headed to the hospital to wait. There was no information on how Dad was because Mom didn't ask. The only question she had for the paramedics was, "how is my car?". Dad was driving her new Lexus RX 330 and she was more worried about losing that than Dad, understandably so. Over the last several years he had been more hindrance than helper or mate and she had been tested to her limit.

After a long wait I finally was called back to the ER when Dad arrived but there was a flurry of activity around his room and I wasn't allowed in. Eventually the swarm of doctors and nurses called me back and let me speak with Dad, who was conscious and speaking clearly. He looked terrible. His nose was noticeably broken and there was dried blood all over his face as well as a pretty nice head injury on his forehead. He looked...broken. He was my daddy, my big invincible hero and he was laying on this gurney with tears in his eyes, scared and confused. I tried to smell for alcohol, holding out hope that he had just gone for a short day trip, no alcohol involved. I didn't smell any and he was pretty lucid. We were constantly interrupted by the beeping of machines, by the nurses trying to stabilize him. I rubbed his soft hair, trying to make him feel some sense of calm and love. We talked football, because that's what we do. My love of football came from him and we have a strong connection because of it. He kept cringing in pain and then the trauma surgeon finally came to talk to us. He had severe internal injuries and bleeding and they needed to stabilize him as soon as possible so they could get him into surgery. His blood pressure was extremely low but they continued to work to prep him for surgery. I kept asking Dad about what happened and he wasn't quite sure. As he remembered it he had been driving down the mountain when he reached down to grab something in the passenger seat. Then he woke up and saw that he was bleeding all over Mom's light leather seats and knew he was in big trouble. He said that he tried to open his door but saw that he was hanging off the side of the mountain and couldn't climb out. He kept crawling back and forth across the front seat, blood pouring down his face, trying to find a way out. Then, an off-duty firefighter just magically appeared and helped him out of the car. Dad sat on the side of the road crying and shivering in the cold until a plane pulled up on the road and flew him to me in the ER two hours away. He said that he had never seen a police officer. I asked him if he had been drinking and he said that he had hardly drank at all. Since he was pretty sober at that point I figured we were good. No one had accompanied him from Careflight and there was no information or anyone to tell us the circumstances of his accident. I kept waiting to see a police officer, someone to come and say that this was his third strike, that when he was better they were taking him to jail for good.

Dad started to go downhill, the pain was worsening and radiating through his stomach. They rushed him, with me by his side, upstairs to the OR. As they prepared him further I stood talking to the surgeon about the plan. The surgeon said that he had seen a mess inside my father on the x-rays and couldn't make any promises. They would go in and try to fix what seemed to be a ruptured spleen, among other things. He asked me where the rest of our family was and I let him know that they were all out of town, I was it. He asked if I had anyone to be there with me and I let him know that I did not. So he walked me to the waiting room, showed me around, told me to get comfortable and that he would be out to see me as soon as he was done, though he had no idea how long that would be. I gave my Dad one last hug and kiss then watched them wheel him off to surgery.

I'll tell the rest of the story, and what came today that spurred me to relay it to you all tomorrow.

Friday, January 8, 2010


I went back and read my posts on this blog from the beginning and realized that the most important thing I have been missing since I stopped blogging was the chance to study myself and my motives and actions. Things have been difficult over the last six months or so, greatly in part to Illness '09. I left out a lot of that too, but what turned out to be a flare of my lupus really took me down a notch or two. It managed to put a huge strain on my marriage which was really doing well for the first time since we said "I do". Up until Patrick and I had our talk on Monday we were really back to that place where divorce was inevitable and I was just riding it out until Cade and I moved to Nashville. In my head, which I wasn't getting out of with my writing, I had villianized Patrick again. I wasn't looking internally and holding myself accountable for our problems.

Patrick and I have definitely taken some steps back since our brief encounter with a great marriage. He is working a lot, which is great because that means his photography is really flourishing, but it also means that Cade and I are left alone. When that happens we tend to turn to each other and become a against Daddy. It gets to where Patrick is an intruder into our happy lives and when he is home he just messes up our rhythm. I begin to think that I could do this better by myself without his interference and when I add to that thought process the fact that there is still no intimacy in our marriage it seems like a good idea to bail on it. There are a lot of reasons why a split between us would be a good idea.

But one thing keeps coming back. I like this guy and I really like our family as a unit...when he is around. I see us travelling the world together, the three of us. Adventurers. A team. We've been playing Wii together each night and having so much fun. Patrick makes me laugh. Patrick loves his son. The misery that would be thrust upon this unit by a divorce seems so tragic when I look at how well we do as a team. This threesome is solid.

As for the two of us...that is the problem. He loves me, I know that. He is not in love with me and there is a huge difference. I love him...I like him, but I'm not in love with him. There are no kisses. There is no passion, and sex hasn't been revisited since that little go of things I made this past summer. Can I give up my sexuality for what's best for our family? Well, I have so far. Who knows?

I do know this...for now, I am leaving well enough alone. I noticed by reading these posts in sequence how obvious my bipolar disorder was. I would go from inspired to depressed over and over again over the course of the few months that I wrote. I am currently in a period of inspiration where I feel like I could take on the world and want nothing more that to make everything around me better. But when that period of depression comes back (tomorrow, next week, next month) the first thing I will want to bail on is my marriage because it is the thing I can consistently pinpoint as a discouragement. How do I protect us all from that roller coaster of emotions that my chemistry won't let me avoid?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Bring it on 2010!

Hello? Hello? Is this thing on??

Kidding. Not sure if anyone looks around here anymore but I am back in the mood to write and what better place to do so than my blog?

Let's talk about 2010. This new year has been something else, and it's only six days old. Towards the end of 2009 I was really looking forward to just getting rid of the crap year that it had turned out to be and looking forward to new goals. Then 2010 came rolling in and I was stuck in a pretty deep depression. I didn't wake up for the first two days of this year. You mothers know how terrible that really is. Patrick was home and spent time with Cade, so I just slept. I didn't want to be awake and face anyone. I was worried that the new year would bring bad things, really just more of the same from '09. So I wallowed in self-pity and fear like any strong woman would. Ha!

Finally, on Monday, I started to come around. Mind you, I still hadn't showered since last year and we were on day 4, but I got outside and saw the sunshine and started to get a little more perky. And what brought this on? An amazing talk with Patrick.

See, for the last couple months it has been pretty much decided that Cade and I were moving to Nashville in June and leaving Patrick here to run his continually growing photography business. That inevitably meant divorce. While it seems like we've been heading that way for the majority of our marriage, I couldn't help but dread it. I really like this guy! And I like our family unit. Patrick is a kind man who cares about us, though he really sucks at showing it, and while I still foster concerns over whether or not we can succeed at life together, my desire is to do so. On Monday, Patrick sat down and talked with me about my plans to move. He made it clear that he truly wants to go to Nashville with us when the time is right, but that the right time is not this June. We need more time to build savings so that when we get there we are self-sufficient and don't need my parents to help us in any way. Patrick wants to show my family that we are not the worthless losers that we have appeared to be over the course of the last seven years. This was all news to me. He has been talking about 10-year plans with his partner in town here and rolling his eyes or grimacing any time I spoke of schools or houses in the Nashville area. He had made it pretty clear in the past that if I wanted to live near my family (which honestly I couldn't manage without) I would have to do it without him. Suddenly, after he had a couple days of deep reflection, he came to me with the news that he wants to move there after all. And he is willing to do what he has to with his business, whether that is leaving it behind or commuting for events. Big. Very big.

So, we sat down on Monday and set up a plan to direct funds into a savings account specifically for Nashville (moving costs, house down payment, etc.) and the plan is to move in June 2011. I certainly hope that this works out for us as I know it is the best thing for our family. While I don't know how I will survive for more than a year without my mom/best friend 1.5 miles away from me (they are putting their house on the market this month and heading that way), I will be interested to see myself grow by relying less on her. That means I have to spread my wings.

And that has been set into motion as well...the wing-spreading. More on that tomorrow. For now, I'll leave you with the knowledge that I am finally excited and looking forward to the future. You may be able to tell by my lack of writing that I have been able to gather nothing more than pure apathy towards life for quite some time, so this is big news. sustain.