On Sunday, June 11, 2017, I took my dad to the hospital for what would be the last time. Let’s back up for a minute – The night before, I came home from hanging with my cousin about 1am. My dad was still up, and he told me he was not feeling well. I could tell he was really struggling, so I asked him if he wanted to go to the hospital. He said no and wanted to be left alone. I told him all I could do to help him would be to go get him water, but that would only make him throw up even more, so I offered to take him to the hospital, again. He was adamant with a resounding no. I even looked up how long the wait was at the ER. It was less than 10 minutes. He was still not having it, so we finally went to sleep.
Fast forward to the next morning… I heard a BOOM! I tried to find my glasses. I couldn’t find my damn glasses, because I didn’t have them on my fat face. Finally, I found them under my bed. I ran into his room. He was on the floor. I was not sure he even really knew he fell on the floor. I tried to pick him up. I quickly realized that was not gonna happen unless I took a deep breath and pulled him up under his arms with all my “might.” He was not able to use the little strength he had from being so weak all these years on Dialysis. I finally picked him up and put him back on his bed. I told him I was going to take a quick shower, then we were going to the ER. He said, “Okay!” As I was getting ready, I was thinking he could have already been admitted and gotten the care he needed without having that gash on his forehead from the fall, if we had gone in the middle of the night.
Since starting Dialysis in July of 2010, it seemed we would visit Eastside Medical Center at least once a year for about a week. My dad kept his Dialysis port near his chest, instead of having a fistula, as was always recommended to him – He was so damn stubborn (might be where I got it from). He would annually get an infection from the port. This time was no different. Once he was admitted, it seemed like he was slowly getting better, but then after about a week in the hospital, I could tell he was starting to decline. It was a Sunday, and I was about to go check on him. They called to tell me he was moving to the ICU. Then, I found out that he had Sepsis and became delirious. It was very scary. That went on for about a week and a half. Then, on July 4th, I walked into his ICU room, and he looked at me and said, “What’s up, kid?” I was dumbfounded that he seemed “normal!”
By now, he had been in the hospital for over a month. He was looking to leave there and get into Eastside Medical Center’s Rehab Facility down the street for Physical Therapy to get stronger. Now, he had no strength from being bedridden while he was delirious. He tried hard, but he was not getting any stronger. Then, he had to go back in the hospital. He ended up being there for another two weeks. After that, he tried a different rehab center, but they could not help him, either. He found out if he had ever gotten out of these facilities again that he would have needed surgery on both rotator cuffs, as he could not lift either arm even halfway.
He started asking me what I knew about hospice. At that point, the only way he could get into hospice was by stopping Dialysis. So, he went to his normal Dialysis center for one last Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. On that Friday, I gathered his items from his last rehab center and met him over at the hospice facility. I could not believe I was about to walk into my dad’s room, and see him on his literal deathbed. He got there on a Friday night and peacefully passed away the following Thursday evening. They called me about 30 minutes before he ended up passing away to tell me to get up there, because he was about to “transition.” I walked in the door, and I asked if he was still alive. They said he had passed away a few minutes earlier. I walked into his room, and saw him lying there dead. It is something I will NEVER forget. I was numb, and I still am. I don’t think that will ever go away. I called my sister. I could not believe we were parentless.
I learned so many life lessons throughout those two months. Things matter in this world, but it is all about putting them into perspective. I still have a lot of growing up to do, but I feel I grew up so much in those two months. I am glad I was able to be there for him. He was definitely there for me. I am forever grateful that we got as close as we did toward the end.
Life is too damn short. Make that call. Give that extra hug. If something is on your mind, then tell that person. Unfortunately, at some point, you won’t be able to do that anymore. It is not fair. Life is not fair. Just do the best you can each and every day, so that you will have no regrets when it is all said and done.
I miss you, and love you very much, my boi!
Gordon Greenhut (April 3, 1955 – August 10, 2017)