For a long time I stared at this blank page and wondered where to begin, at what point of our new beginning I should start from, and I came up as blank as this page was.
But then I realized that I needed to start where one story left off. Because really, it’s why this new chapter had to begin.
He suffered, recovered and then dealt with all that Esophageal Cancer can give. He had chemo, radiation, and multiple surgeries. He had double pneumonia. He had Liver dysfunction. He had many infections. And through it all he was his positive best.
And I was a mess. Sitting in India, waiting for a sluggish US Immigration system to finally accept that my marriage was real and give my husband his green card so that we could join my family in the US.
Finally, our struggle was over and we began packing our lives up in to 10 suitcases, purchasing plane tickets and preparing for our long journey to our new home.
We arrived at Dulles International Airport on December 19th, 2012. My younger brother came in our step-brother’s large truck to help us cart our entire luggage home. It took two hours to clear Immigration. It felt like a longer wait than the Green Card was. But finally we were cleared and with the help of a very nice attendant, got everything loaded up and was ready for our final two-hour trip home.
When we arrived, my father was in the hospital. He had edema and severe liver dysfunction. He was hospitalized for four days. He finally came home two days after our arrival. Frail and thin and with very little energy, I found that the ashy face of my father no longer the positive one I had known.
He suffered from extreme anxiety and depression. We couldn’t leave him alone in the house for longer than 5 minutes without his having an attack and calling us from his cell phone. He couldn’t get out of bed on his own and fell several times in the night. Bear and I set up a schedule where we all took turns, my Mother, Bear and I, to get up with him in the night to help him to go to the bathroom.
He began to lose weight rapidly. From the time he was released from the hospital to January, he weighed 140-145. By mid to late February he weighed in around 135 and we began new doctor’s appointments to find out the cause. He was getting B-12 shots every 2 weeks. Getting blood work. Having tests run to find the reason his Liver was leaking proteins. He had no energy and began sitting in a chair all day long, snoozing during his favorite TV shows.
By March first he weighed in at 128 and we were terrified. Finally, one of his doctors ran a fecal test and found that Dad had C-Diff. It’s an extremely contagious infection of the lower bowels that does not allow nutrients to be absorbed by the body and causes severe diarrhea. Dad, already taking 15 medications daily and complaining bitterly about each little pill, was put on yet another medication to help clear up the C-Diff.
After two rounds on of the medication for C-Diff, he was finally deemed recovered. His weight was up to 133. After another week, they felt he was strong enough to have a biopsy done on his Liver.
Back to the hospital he went. I stayed with him for 9 hours. Through the biopsy. Through admission. Feeding him when he was hungry because the meds they gave him made him weak and groggy. Then I went home to rest. We learned from the biopsy that his Liver dysfunction is normal and due to long-term diabetes. It’s stabilized and they have changed some of his medications around to help delay any further damage.
Now he’s recovering, if but slowly. He’s going to physical therapy to help gain back muscle that he lost and to a psychologist to help gain back his mental strength as well.
He’s driving himself again, if only for small trips. We no longer have to have someone stay at the house with him. He’s fine being left alone again. He’s able to get up in the middle of the night on his own. This last one is in no small part due to Bear.
Bear spent every moment with my Dad, watching him and analyzing. He came up with ideas to help Dad eat differently (and not get so tired or choke while doing so). He found a way for Dad to lay on the bed that would enable him to get out by himself. He encouraged Dad to use his arms for support when walking, touching the walls or furniture. He reminded Dad about his medicines or to drink more liquid.
Bear also had to care for me. I ran myself ragged during those first couple of months back home. We lived with my parents for some time to help them get strong again and to give my Mom a break from caring for my Dad 24/7. I ran up and down steps 6-8 times a day. I made three meals a day. I cleaned and then cleaned again. I did laundry, washed dishes, vacuumed, changed bed linen, washed the tub, picked Dad up off the floor and then got up to do it all over again the next day. I began seeing ways that my Dad was taking advantage of this. If I was there to ask, then he would…knowing I would do it. But then it robbed him doing it for himself and showing that he COULD to something to himself. We began to argue. Me begging him to do things I KNEW he could do and him crying that I just didn’t understand what he was going through. Guilt.
And so I landed in the hospital myself. I was in the ER for 8 hours while they checked to be sure that I wasn’t having a heart attack. No, it was a severe panic attack. And so it was that I too was put on anti-anxiety medication.
But Bear. My loving, considerate, intelligent, patient, wonderful Bear. He was all our rock. He was stalwart against any storm we brewed. He took care of us all. Even while he spent hours a day applying for a job, he would drop that to go when Dad or I called.
My husband is perfect. Have I ever mentioned that? Yes? Well…it never hurts to remind someone.
So now, Bear has a wonderful job that he is very happy with and only 30 minutes away from my parent’s home. We moved into our own home the first week of April. We’ve moved to a lovely and very small town 5 minutes away from Bear’s work.
We can hear the birds singing, church bells chiming and the water in a small brook behind our home.
It’s clean and peaceful and the air smells like fresh-cut grass or newly bloomed flowers.
Everywhere you look here, it’s a painting. A picture of perfection and beauty waiting for you to behold. We never get tired of looking about us and thinking how good life is. How peaceful. How serene.
So that’s it.
That’s my story up to date. It may be a little thin on the details. Never fear, I’ll get around to telling those soon enough. The joys of packing a life into 10 pieces of luggage with weight restrictions and nothing but a body scale, for one.
But I wanted to take a moment to check in with you all and let you know that I haven’t forgotten about this blog or any of you, faithful readers.
I just need some time to settle in and calm down.
But rest assured the time is coming soon that I’m going to have some tales to tell.
©2013 Gori Rajkumari