Thursday, August 09, 2007

Coming to Terms

Dr. Glass, the second neurologist to focus on Dad's case, called me just a little after 6:30 this morning, just as he said he would. He had already reviewed Dad's chart in detail, and was quite concerned about Dad's condition; he questioned me in detail for thirty minutes to gather more information than the chart notes held, then told me he felt that a second MRI was essential, and he wanted to do it today. Kim went to the hospital to sign consent papers, and the tests were underway shortly after lunch.

At about 7:30, Dr. Glass called. He had spent quite some time reviewing the results, and the news was as bad as I had feared. Dad's stroke had continued to involve more of his brain than was shown on the last MRI; whether this was another stroke or the effusive devastation of the last one, he didn't say. Based on the stroke, Dad's condition, and the areas of the brain involved, Dr. Glass said that he saw little hope of any meaningful recovery beyond where Dad was right now. Too much of the brain is too damaged, and what is left is simply unable to compensate.

Shortly after that, I called Kim to share what Dr. Glass had said; I wish now that I had waited. Kim was having dinner with Phil, and my call so took her by surprise that she was devastated. I would give anything if I could have undone that call; Kim was enjoying one of the week's few pleasant moments away from oppressive sorrow and responsibility, and my call ruined that for her.

Less than ten minutes after my call to Kim, Dr. Naguszewski called. He, too, had reviewed the results of the second MRI; he confirmed that the involved area of the brain was much more widespread than was shown in the first MRI, and he said that, based on this test, he was far more pessimistic. He told me that, barring a miracle, there was virtually no chance at all of any recovery beyond the level we saw right now.

This was what I had suspected, but what I had also dreaded. Even when I had doubted the positive picture that Dr. Naguszewski had painted on Friday, I guess that some part of me had clung to the idea that maybe, just maybe he'd be proven right and everyone else would be proven wrong. Now I am forced to accept that Dad is gone to us now, and Kim and I must determine what happens next.

I miss Dad more than ever. It has been ten days since we had a meaningful conversation; I have never in my life gone ten days without talking to Dad about one topic or another. I can still talk to him, but I can no longer hear his advice, share his joys, address his concerns...

People go through moments like this every day, but I find no consolation in that. I am already mourning Dad's passing; that caring, generous, wise, and compassionate soul has already departed from our ranks, and my world seems bleak and joyless because of that. I will lament and cry again when Dad's body also fails him, but the part that defined him left us days ago, and we are only now fully realizing that.


Kelly said...

I'm really sorry to hear about what's going on with your dad. I never met your dad, but if he's anything like you he must be a pretty great person. I just want you to know that you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.


cliff said...

Thanks for the kind thoughts. Like many kids, I took for granted that everyone's dad was like my dad; it wasn't until I reached me teenage years that I began to appreciate what a remarkable person he was.