Holly Days: Thirty Days of Me Photo Challenge: Day Seventeen

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thirty Days of Me Photo Challenge: Day Seventeen

My Daddy's hip. Once it was pieced together after a car accident.

Day Seventeen
Post a photo of something that has made an impact on your life recently. Why did this impact you? Was it negatively or positively? What did it make you change in yourself?

I don't know what recently is supposed to mean in this prompt. Recently can be five years or five days. To me, this was recent. It is still in my head, dwelling like it was yesterday.

My Daddy (yes, I still call my father Daddy) has been a diabetic his entire life. He was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes when he was....six, I think? And as a result of having diabetes for all of these years, he has also developed hypoglycemic unawareness (this basically means, he has no symptoms when his blood sugar is low). Growing up, I knew my Daddy needed shots & I knew he was a diabetic. I knew he needed to watch his sugar intake & I knew we needed to keep glucose tablets around, "just in case." But I didn't know what this all meant. What diabetes meant for his body. For his life. I didn't know that those shots he was giving himself everyday were keeping him alive. I always knew what diabetes was & I walk in the JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes every year, in my Daddy's honor. But I'm ashamed to say that I never took the time to get to know his disease until the accident.

I will never forget the afternoon I got the call from him. "Holly, don't freak out. I was in a car accident & I broke my hip. I'm in the hospital & I need surgery to repair it. I'm fine. I'm okay. I don't want you to worry."

Pssssssshhhhh! Me?!?! Holly!? The infamous worry wart in the family?!?! You want me not to worry?!?!?! Yeah. Right.

Long story short, my Dad's blood sugar got low. He didn't notice...because he doesn't get symptoms...& he crashed his car into a tree.

I promised him I wouldn't fly out there & then promptly got on the phone with my friend, Maria, who worked at an airline. We booked a ticket for the next day.

Daddy was pissed when  showed up. He now, admittedly, is grateful I came, but that first day he was not a happy camper. I think he was really just mad that I was crashing his flirt fest with all of the nurses. Little does he know, the real reason I came was in hopes I'd have my very own McDreamy or McSteamy to stare at. Duuuuuh!

I helped care for my father for the following two weeks. In those two weeks, I became intimate with his disease. I learned everything I possibly could. This damned disease that nearly killed my father was not going to dupe me any longer. I researched, asked my Dad numerous questions (poor guy was probably so irritated with me) & even joined an online support group. I learned so much about diabetes & it angered me. I was angry with myself for not learning more about it sooner. I couldn't believe...& still can't believe all that my Dad goes through on a daily basis. Diabetes is a dangerous balancing act. It's like playing Russian Roulette. Every. Single. Day.

Not only did I learn a lot about diabetes, but I learned a lot about myself.

When you care for a parent, you're not prepared for the role reversal. Especially when it's not something you've expected you'll have to do for several years. I knew one day I'd be caring for my Dad, but I didn't think it would happen like this. Our first night was hell. Between trying to keep his pain under control & worrying about his sugar levels, I was a wreck....& so was he. He couldn't get comfortable anywhere. I couldn't help him. That feeling of helplessness is unbearable. It made me feel the same way I felt when I was holding Liam in my arms unable to do anything. My Dad was writhing in pain...even hallucinating & I could do nothing. "A pillow here...no there....no. Let me help you up. Let me help you down. Let me turn you over. How about another pain pill?" It was horrible not being able to help someone who has been there for you your entire life. Who has changed your diapers, held you as you cried, cared for you when you were sick....& made everything better with a kiss. I couldn't even help with a stupid pillow placement. Helplessness & I. We are not friends.

During the rest of my stay, both my father & I had to learn to cope with our helplessness. I had to accept that I couldn't help his pain go away. He had to accept that his daughter was caring for him in ways he probably was not ready for. Bandage changings (yes, on his butt...he broke his hip, you know), buying laxatives, helping him get dressed, cooking his meals (though my Aunt Sue & Aunt Barb both brought over some yummy food), getting the mail. The good. The bad. The ugly. We had to accept it.

I left after my two weeks hoping he would be okay without me. I think much the same way he feels everyday as his daughter embarks into this world. "Will he be okay without me? What if he needs help turning over? What happens if he needs a pain pill in the middle of the night? Who will help him get dressed after his shower? What will he eat? Who will make sure he eats?" It was especially hard to leave after learning so much about his diabetes & keeping a daily log of his sugar levels & insulin intake. "Who will monitor his insulin intake? Who will keep an eye on his sugars?"

Then I remembered. He's been doing this his whole life.

...& I sobbed for him.

I can't begin to tell you the impact this had on me. I see my Dad in a new light. I have a new found respect for him & all he deals with every day. I admire the strength he has. I cherish every single second I can get with my Daddy....& even more so every single second Collin gets with his Grandpappy. Diabetes is ugly. There is more than one way it can steal someone from your life. I never took the time to realize it. How incredibly sad that it took a broken hip for me to realize that.

1 comment:

  1. excellent post!

    I used to do essays on Diabetes in school and college. But, I still didn't fully understand it (and I'm sure there's even more to learn, still) until my mom wrote about it on Facebook.

    I always assumed that if they'd just eat at the right times and what not, then they wouldn't have these random episodes.

    Diabetes blows.