This post has been rolling around in my mind for a full 24 hours now. I have yet to write it and I am still finding it difficult. I’m not sure if I just don’t feel like sharing the information or if I am not ready to share it yet, but I’m going to anyways. In the wake of all the other hurricanes that have hit shore, it’s like waiting for the flood waters to recede. And then it starts to rain. “Once you know certain things, you can’t unknow them. It’s a burden that can’t be given away.” Even by sharing this with my mom, brother, boyfriend, best friend, and you, the burden is still there.
My father went to the optometrist Friday morning. He has been having blurred vision and “floaters”, as he describes them, for several weeks now. He didn’t go sooner because he was waiting for the insurance from Medicaid (Medicare? See, I told you I still can’t remember which) to kick in before he went because paying for everything else without it has left our budget less than thin. He didn’t have an appointment, he just went. We know this office because he has been there before.
About a year or two before we found out about his kidneys, my father was what could be considered legally blind. He had cataracts developing on both of his lenses. We (my mom and I) didn’t realize how bad it was until he sat down and told us one day. He was riding his motorcycle to work, and couldn’t even tell what color the redlights were. He just followed traffic. This terrified me. He was at risk for losing his job because he couldn’t see to read the print outs or screen. He was severely depressed. He couldn’t really do anything he loved anymore, including reading.
We didn’t have insurance and, as now, we had very little money. We didn’t know what to do. He went to the health center, who said they couldn’t help him. He went to DFACS to try and see if they could help. They told him that there was nothing he could do. He could apply for disability but wouldn’t get it unless he quit his job, and he really didn’t want to quit. My mom did research online and scheduled an appointment and made him go. This appointment was with the Georgia Lions Lighthouse Foundation. They are a team of doctors, nurses, and volunteers who specialize in hearing and vision. They are spectacular.
They set my father up with a doctor at Professional Eye Associates, and took care of the cost of his cataract surgeries. There are still no words that I can write that truly convey what a miracle this was for my father and for my family. My parents pride themselves on not having to have help, so it was embarrassing and difficult for them to have to ask for help. However, I don’t know how we would have made it without them. Much like their name, the Lighthouse was a beacon of light and hope for us in a dark and weary world.
I promise there is a reason for me telling you this. I felt this back story necessary.
Back to Friday at the optometrist. He was told that he has blood behind both of his eyes, and they referred him to the doctor (in their other office) who preformed his cataract surgeries. His appointment was scheduled for Monday morning. He had to go to the Dialysis center later that day as well. He found out that his red blood cells are extremely low, which his nephrologist cites as the reason for low energy and difficulty breathing. Basically, low red blood cells equals not enough oxygen anywhere. He also found out that is iron is still low, his protein is still low, his phosphorus is fine, and his potassium is slightly high. They gave him a TB test and scheduled him to return Monday.
Yesterday morning, he went to the optometrist. The diagnosis was not good. The retina in his right eye is completely detached. It requires surgery asap in the effort to restore any amount of vision in this eye. They are not sure if he will ever regain vision in it, and fairly certain he will not regain full vision in it even with surgery. The left one has blood behind it and will require surgery as well. They are (understandably) not nearly as concerned with the left as they are with the right. My mom says they seem certain that these problems stem from years of uncontrolled (or, not controlled as much as it should be) diabetes and blood pressure. His surgery has been scheduled for the 19th in Chattanooga. On the plus side, the cataract surgery has healed well and still looks good, per the surgeon.
The news from the Dialysis center was much better by comparison. They gave him several shots to up his blood cells and iron, and said that in a few days he should start to feel better. They also upped the amount of fluid and cycle time per night on his machine in the hopes of pulling out the excess fluid that has started to return. All we can do is hope.
My mother, bless her heart, is in the midst of a downward spiral of depression and denial. This is bad, in more ways than one. I fear that if something happens to Dad, she will completely shut down and give up on living. Right now, it’s bad because I really need her help. I cannot run this household alone. I literally get up, go to work, come home, get in the car, go with Honey to his house (so he can shower and such, which takes at least an hour or two), go to the grocery store, go home, cook, sit for an hour or two trying to relax, tell Honey goodnight, go to bed, repeat. It is super exhausting.
I am a naturally introverted person. It takes a lot out of me being the singular support for multiple people. I am holding everyone else’s world together, and trying to keep mine from falling apart. I have no time to recharge my batteries. Even on the weekends, Honey wants to go out and do things. And that’s fine, but as I said, I’m an introvert and it takes a lot out of me to be around people all the fucking time like that. My vacation from work is split between Fridays going to motorcycle rallies instead of having an actual fucking vacation. I am trying so hard not to crack.
I apologize. But I have to let it out in little bits of steam before it destroys me. I have tried my best to remind myself that I do all of this because there is no other choice. Making dinner and trying to keep the house clean is all I know to do to try and help my Dad, so that’s what I do.
“Life is a grindstone, and whether it grinds a man down or polishes him up depends on the stuff he’s made of.” – J. Billings.