“To care for those who once cared for us is the highest honor.” – Tia Walker
Our Memorial Weekend turned out very different from the weekend we’d planned. We got a call over the weekend that my husband’s father had been in the emergency room several times in excruciating back pain caused by a herniated disc in his back, a pinched sciatic nerve, and several other things that had him in pain to the point he couldn’t bear it. He is 86 years old. They live in a small town in Idaho where they have to drive over an hour away to get medical care. They’d repeatedly called their doctors office for help but were told it would be several weeks before they could be seen…in the meantime he was in unbearable pain, couldn’t sleep, dropped more than 15 pounds and began dehydrating. Finally over the weekend his blood pressure dropped so low an ambulance had to be called and he was rushed to the hospital. After spending the night on IV’s the hospital sent him home still in extreme pain.
When my husband and I got their call they were at their wits end. They didn’t know where to turn. They didn’t understand the medical terms being thrown at them, they weren’t getting return calls from their physician, they didn’t understand the medications they were being given or how to dose them properly, and my father-in-law, who is one of the toughest farmers you will ever meet, was telling me he would rather be dead then continue on in the pain he was in.
I don’t know if I can adequately describe how much it hurts to hear your parents are hurting like that. It was also incredibly frustrating to know that the caregivers they’d tried to seek help from didn’t even take the time to look in their faces and see how badly they needed their attention. We couldn’t allow that to continue so we immediately booked a flight for them, a wheelchair was arranged to transport my father-in-law, and we brought them here to Utah so we can try and coordinate proper medical help for them here.
When I got to the airport to pick them up and saw my always so strong father-in-law in the wheelchair looking like he’d aged ten years in less than a month, it broke my heart. It was all I could do not to fall apart crying. But when I saw my mother-in-law fighting back her own tears I knew I needed to stay strong for her. I hugged them both, grabbed their luggage, and we brought them home with us. Driving home we passed the cemetery full of people visiting graves and adorning them with flowers and my heart silently gave thanks our parents were still with us…
As we tucked his parents into bed for the night I couldn’t help but flashback to tucking my own children bed when they were little and I was struck by the circle of live we go through…here my husband and I are still feeling like two little kids who just want our strong parents who can take care of us, yet realizing that it’s our turn to be the strong ones who need to take care of them.
Tomorrow morning we begin the hunt to find a physician who can help treat my father-in-law. I pray we will find a caregiver who will show them the love and attention they deserve…
What an honor it is to care for our parents. Show them how much you love them while they are still here to see it.
~Amy Rees Anderson (author of the newly released book “What Awesome Looks Like: How To Excel in Business & Life” )