Monday, March 2, 2009

My parents.

Twelve years ago, my dad broke his neck. It was an unexpected accident, shocking and overwhelming, but his recovery was nothing short of amazing. He had a tremendous amount of damage to his vertebrae, but none to his spinal cord. After 12 hours of surgery, months in a halo and vest, he was able to go back to work. A portion of his hip bone replaced some of the damaged bone in his neck, and until recently he had no complications from the injury other than slightly decreased range of motion.

Recently, however, we've had some serious scares and it's not over. He'd apparently been having some symptoms for a few months that were put off, until one day he tried to stand and collapsed. It seems there's a problem with one of the discs. I don't understand it fully, but his situation involves a disc out of place, a bruised spinal cord and pinched nerves. If he's to retain his ability to walk, surgery will need to be done. Monday.

Meanwhile, mom is trying to care for him while not well herself. She's fighting the effects of multiple myeloma, a cancer that is currently in remission for her. Her own back is weakened, and while bringing in groceries a couple of weeks ago she fell -breaking her breastplate just above her sternum. A CT scan has shown that there is a fragment behind her sternum and surgery will be needed to remove that fragment before it causes significant problems.

My parents are overwhelmed, scared and struggling to hold it together. There are so many hopes pinned on my dad's surgery. They are fortunate to have good health insurance, but he's been unable to work for several weeks already and in March they will have to pay the premiums themselves. I wish I was in a position to help them financially, but all I can do is lend moral support.

Today my dad called me, seeking a promise that we'll make sure someone stays with mom if the surgery goes south. He's not so much scared for himself, as worried she'll stop taking care of herself. Apparently when he was in the hospital in February, she spent four days not eating ...just laying in bed, crying, drinking soda on occasion.

I worry about them both. I wish life had taken some different turns for them, so that if this was to be the end of my dad's working career he could just retire and they could still make it - but the end of him working would be financially devastating to them, especially because of their health needs and insurance issues.

I keep praying this will all be ok, that they'll both get through this and things will start looking up for them. They had started thinking things were getting a little better for them financially right before this all happened. As long as they have each other, I know they'll find a way to be okay....

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