Sunday, June 27, 2010

"huwag mo akong pakialaman."

I thought it was a sign he was feeling better. After all, we had a marvelous Friday. We went to San Fernando, had a Kapampangan lunch and merienda at my Ate's house, rested back home for a while and then ended the day with a great acupuncture/general checkup at the Living Life Well Clinic (which he enjoys visiting every week).

He gently told me to leave him be while we were preparing him for bed. I didn't take offense since he had gradually been doing things independently. He got to use a fork by himself, he could get up from the bed on his own, and even get to walk a bit with me and my mom by his side. It did not prepare me for what was to happen from midnight till sunrise.

He complained he could not pee and asked to be brought to the bathroom despite the knowledge that he wore a diaper. We gave in to his request and waited for him to finish. Mom and I even thought that maybe Dad wanted to try to train himself again to use the toilet, and to fulfill the 20-steps-a-day promise he made to his doctor. Unfortunately, he was not aware that he had already done his business in the bathroom and still insisted he didn't feel anything. We brought him back to bed and coaxed him to sleep. I figured maybe he had a urinary infection causing the urge to pee, and that maybe buko juice in the morning could relieve him.

From 2:30am to 7am, Dad was alternately groaning and asking permission to urinate. He was telling us to call my Kuya and get the car to bring him to the hospital since he felt it was not normal to not be able to pee. We gave him his most hated medication that caused him to urinate, and finally, he peed. But still, he felt it was not enough. At 9am, I decided to call my Kuya and Ate to help take him to the hospital.

When they arrived and asked how he felt, he complained of a tummy ache. We gave him an antacid, then waited if he still wanted to leave the house. He chose to sleep. He had breakfast and a late lunch and watched TV with me in the afternoon but was mostly grumpy and still felt he wasn't peeing enough. By 8pm, and an hour of trying in the toilet, Mom and I told Dad he had to go to the hospital.

And so, now, at 3am, I am once again alone at home, while Dad is under observation at the National Kidney Transplant Institute for a suspected enlarged prostate, with Mom watching by his side. It was comforting to see him finally relieved once the catheter was in place (filled to almost half a gallon -- THAT must've really hurt!!!), but was worried about the narrow watcher's bed for Mom; Here's hoping we get discharged by Sunday afternoon so she won't harm her back.

When the sun rises, I shall bring them their personal stuff, a bag of crackers and maybe breakfast composed of yummy palengke finds at the nearby Lung Center (if I get to wake up early enough!).

Please, Lord, please, let there be no other bothersome complications so we could enjoy the rest of our week :)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Friday, I'm in love.

Yesterday, Friday, June 25, was Daddy's Day Out.

I was careful not to spill too much information or get too excited lest I jinx the event. Mom had asked me to drive her to San Fernando, Pampanga, to visit the wake of Dad's elder officemate who, at 89, had still been reporting for work until about 4 months ago, when her sense of direction failed her and left her stranded in Philcoa when she was supposed to be in Malabon (she lived in Paranaque). Mom initially thought that maybe it wasn't a good idea to break the sad news to Dad, whom we were trying to cheer up since he had been mostly quiet and glum here at home. I suggested to Mom to at least tell Dad about it, and maybe with his indifference he would just shrug it off but appreciate the update.

Surprise, surprise! He wanted to join us in Pampanga. I was ecstatic! This guy wouldn't even want to walk to the dining room and seemed to prefer to do everything from his bed, and now he was eager to ride with us on a 2-hour out of town trip! I immediately rang my Ate and asked her to join us so we could also visit her resthouse and maybe have lunch there. She was thrilled as well to hear that he wanted to go out, and worked her schedule to have the four of us spend the morning and lunch in Pampanga.

Dad was easy to wake up that morning, and we were off by 11am. We drove through the new NLEX exit via Mindanao Avenue (it was great!) and were in San Fernando in no time. Ate set the radio to a station that played oldies, and we hoped it would evoke happy memories in Dad's mind. He slept; perhaps it set the perfect background for dreams of when he was young. Definitely, it did just that for me, as I remembered the time when I was a little girl of 8, buckled up in the front seat, with Dad driving to Malabon, and the strains of Julio Iglesias' suave voice played in the car.

We got to the funeral parlor, and I paid close attention for any signs of distress or depression in Dad's eyes. He kept it hidden until when we were about to leave; secretly, I watched him look lovingly at the coffin, with moist eyes.

We had a lovely lunch of corn soup, grilled hito and tilapia, warm rice and a side of steamed vegetables and burong dalag! I think I was the one who ate the most (I even beat the driver since he was interrupted to drive to buy merienda, hehe)! But it was ok for Dad to have a modest fill so he could have space for Razon's halo-halo and palabok a few hours later! It was nice to stay at my Ate's house. It had the same feel as the house in Malabon. I put on a CD of Tony Bennett for Dad. His eyes glistened with tears again and gazed into another world as he sat contemplatively in his wheelchair. I began to worry that this trip may have been too emotionally draining for him, but he did not complain. My fears were put to rest in the evening when we went to Living Life Well, a holistic health center, despite the heavy downpour and the late schedule (9pm).

The moment Dad saw the good doctor, his face brightened up. The hours out in the sun did wonders for his skin, his cheeks blushing. He opened up when the doctor asked about his day, and Dad was talkative! There was not a sad note in his recollection of the day's events, and was even eager to go on a couple more of such memory trips (next stop, Malabon and Canyon Woods!). He felt stronger, and when we lifted him from his seat to transfer him to the car, we felt him carrying his own weight. He was helping himself regardless of whose arm he held onto for support, which was in contrast to his usual "I want Mom" pleas for anything. He was even comfortable with Joe pushing the wheelchair for him :)

The rain persisted until we were home, and Dad was in the mood for a nightcap of mamon and coffee before going to bed. I began to think about the increasing number of kilometers I felt I needed to run after all the food I've been consuming, but it was always a good time to eat when Dad was in the mood, that it's worth all the extra pounds. The early morning nappy changing will probably compensate for it, anyway. This was a golden day! Thank you, Lord :)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

11 minutes past tuesday.

I'm late, as usual.

The idea of this blog came to me when I prepared for bed yesterday. It was a good day, with me and my parents eating more rice than the previous night even if we've been having the same fish sinigang for dinner almost every night. Dad was very cooperative; he ate his meal and had himself cleaned and dressed by Mom and me without complaining, and even seemed to enjoy the attention. It was almost like handling a baby! Best of all, he smiled. That was worth waiting until midnight for my turn to do my evening rituals.

And then, at 2:30AM, with barely a couple of hours of sleep, I was roused by my mother. Dad's nappies were soiled and had to be changed -- and we had to let him finish a few more minutes before we could freshen him up. How apt it was for me to have thought of it like handling a baby. It was going to be a long night. And it was just the beginning of a Tuesday, with the workday looming like a sales deadline.


It was, I think, in 2004 when I lent Dad my copy of Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom. He started reading it on the plane to Narita Airport and finished it on a bus in Tokyo. He wept with sympathy for the old man in the story who eventually could not wipe his own ass and reluctantly had to let go of the independent life he once had. It was also around that time when Dad started contemplating about his age and his aging (see a bit of it in this old blog entry). He was worried about reaching that point in his life when he can no longer fend for himself. Over lunch by the poolside in the sports club where we spent many happy weekends, he admitted that he was terrified of being helplessly old. He was past 76, working as he had always been in government, driving an SUV. riding the MRT when he had the chance, and sending text messages to us at least thrice a day. He was strong for his age, yet he was fully aware that each day was a lucky card, and that luck would soon wear out.

Daddy was talking to me as though I was beyond my 25 years. I could only scratch the surface even if I tried to bury myself in his concerns. Yet I treasured that one hour with him, when I became not only a daughter but a confidant. And I will always remember how he looked that day, that seemed like any other day then but is now only a distant memory of how he used to dress:
his cropped white hair which he still brushed with pomade to keep it from standing up like a fauxhawk, his clean-cut, after-shave scented face, his trusty Timex, the neatly pressed opaque barong with his elegant cufflinks, his trousers that naturally fell below his waist to accommodate his round belly, and his comfy rubber-soled Florsheims. He spoke with such a gentle yet powerful voice, with each word carefully enunciated, wishing to be forever etched in the convolutions of my immature brain:

"Love your mother and all of your siblings. Be honest in your work and in everything you do. Always be humble. Do not stay where you are not happy. Be careful of whom you trust unconditionally. But more importantly, just love. And be prepared to love greatly with a big heart."

He drove me back to the office while I was trying to hide my tear-streaked cheeks with makeup. He was so proud of me earning my own income and recently getting promoted. He was hoping I would still pursue higher education, and that maybe I had found the one whom I would marry.

We held hands before I got out of the CRV. Part of me was worried that he might have a health problem that prompted him to suddenly give me The Talk, but for the most part I was grateful that I was just there to listen to him.


It had been an hour now since Dad's diapers were changed, but the mixed smells of soiled wipes and baby powder kept me from going back to sleep. I felt like a young mom dreading the sleepless nights that came with caring for a human being who didn't know how his bodily functions disrupted my own. I looked over my own mother, who carefully removed her latex gloves to wrap in the used underpad, swiftly going through the motions in such a calm, orderly manner. Her quick yet quiet movements seemed to teach me the most important thing I could ever learn as a woman: grace. That is the one trait that keeps her frustrations at bay, that fills her heart with patience, that keeps her frail and fractured body able enough to still be at her husband's side. And I am determined to be her devoted pupil as we transition into this phase in our lives.

I hope to document in this blog all of our little milestones, to bring you into the world of oldsitting/elderly caregiving, which may not be as cute as a baby's "firsts" book, but is nonetheless such a wonderful world to be in. There will definitely be more difficult Tuesdays than this in the coming weeks, but we shall journey through them with the hope of brighter Tuesdays (and other days) with Daddy.