If you have been following my blog since it was named “Living On Limited Income”, you know that I struggle with the joy (insert sarcasm) of Multiple Sclerosis. You also know that I recently had to travel out of state to move my sick father from his home into my home. For a healthy person, this is a stressful situation. For someone with a chronic illness such as myself, this is a stressful situation times 1000. Despite the extreme stress, I learned something from this experience. Bare with me as I tell the story.
The week of Thanksgiving, I was informed by several family members that my father “was not doing well”. Dad has a host of chronic health problems and he had two major surgeries over the summer (and I know that recovery from these surgeries was slow and difficult). Anyway, my family members’ meaning behind “not doing well” was that my Dad was not eating properly, not cleaning his home due to lack of energy, not going to scheduled doctor appointments, not maintaining his hygiene, not taking his medications properly, and had an overall sickly appearance. My first thought was, “why hasn’t my dad reached out for help”? Oh yeah, he’s stubborn, real stubborn. My second thought was, I have to do something. I had to weigh the pros and cons between flying and driving from Virginia to Florida. Neither mode of travel is particularly easy on an MS’er but I opted for driving. I figured that by having the car, it would give me the space I needed to bring my father’s belongings with me since I was dead-set on getting him out of his situation.
Without telling my father that I was coming to Florida, I packed my car up Monday morning and headed out for the lonnngggg drive to Florida (around 12 hours to be exact). I stayed the night in a hotel and felt like my body was on fire (the long drive tortured me). After a restless night, I went over to my father’s house and I was shocked by what I saw. I can’t even put it into words. I told my father that I was there to take him back to VA for his own well-being. Surprisingly, he gave me little resistance. I think my Dad knew that he needed help.
The first order of business was getting all of his prescriptions filled and picked up. Next, I cleaned, cooked, physically aided my father with his needs, and boxed up belongings. This went on for 3 days in the Florida heat and humidity (my father’s A/C was not working). I was close to physically collapsing; however, something in me wouldn’t allow it. My Dad, the one who has always been there for me, needed ME. Collapsing was not an option. On Friday morning, I loaded boxes into the car. Heavy boxes. The kind of heavy boxes that made my weak limbs feel even weaker. After travelling in the car for about 6 hours (we took food and restroom breaks), we both decided it was time to stop and stay the night at a hotel. I unloaded the necessary items from the car—including a heavy piece of equipment that helps my father breathe. I then helped him with a bath, got us dinner, took care of my personal needs, and then passed out in the bed. The next morning, I got my father breakfast, helped him with his medications, loaded the car, and got him into the car. At this point, I want to cry. I am physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted. I mean truly exhausted. I also am in pain, all over. I don’t cry and somehow I find the energy to drive us another 6 hours to Virginia, and home.
Since we have settled into my house, it has been a period of adjustment for everyone. My Dad is used to living alone and has a bit of a stubborn streak in him (I wonder where I get my stubborn streak from…hmmm). I am orderly and like things a certain way. We have both had to compromise. The good news is that I have help from my husband. He has been amazing at helping me with my father.
So why am I writing this post for Thankful Thursday? Because…..I am thankful that I got my Dad out of the bad situation he was in. I am thankful that I somehow made it through the ordeal, and I am thankful that I have family members to help both my father and I. I can’t believe I pulled it all off. I never knew I had it in me….