Friday, January 09, 2009
Oxygen And My Pop
My father won’t die and I mean that in a good way. Long-time smoker, frequent asbestos handler – that’s my Pop. He had to give up smoking years ago when his oxygen wrangler, Bobby, shortened the plastic tubing that lead from Pop’s air tank to the front porch (where hidden cigarettes could be enjoyed). That’s the kind of man Pop is – ever hopeful to rig the system until he is thwarted by common sense. Is your father like that?
Pop is currently enjoying his first Intensive Care visit of the year. We do this every few months. Sometimes he gets pneumonia, or his “sugar” is bothering him (i.e. diabetes). One time he broke a rib going pee. This week my Pop can’t breathe effectively, in that he receives oxygen but not much happens after that. This has happened before. I don’t care what we have read about not being able to breathe and how it might turn out. According to me, some people keeping living. I will invite you, just this once, to compete against my Pop in a “Who Can Hold Their Breath The Longest?” contest. He will beat your ass.
An acquaintance heard that my Pop was sick again, and he said, “Oh no! He’s got to hang in there. Dubya is almost gone!” Yes, that is exactly what a man who is old and can’t breathe is thinking about. “I gotta hang on for Obama’s inauguration!” It is a special wonder that I have not ever been to jail, if only for the things I think about doing to people.
When Pop is laid up, my mother reminds me to count three days before I pack a bag. I call his hospital room instead. Pop can’t really talk, so it’s just me spouting off from the top of my blowhole to pass time. I talk about my day or update him on politics, and then I get an irritating urge to ask him something meaningful. Nope, no, not – zip it! Zip! Shh! Pop cannot manage more than “yes” or “no”, and so meaningful is out – too wordy. I do the conversational math in my head, readjust and talk about the weather. It is a favor I do for us both. "He was very, very happy you called," the nurse said.
I have not flown back home yet. We have noticed that my trips home on the spur of the moment make Pop wonder if he is truly dying. If he doesn't have to believe that he is very sick, Pop checks himself out of the hospital and has a nurse call my brother to come fetch him. My Mom said that Pop is planning to rally on Friday and be home by the weekend. It has happened before, and it could happen again.
The weather in Chicago is 17 degrees with snow on the way. Olcott Beach is expecting snow and the temperature is 27.5. I have a suitcase open only because I am superstitious and I rarely it need it in these situations.