Twice in the past couple of months, my father has been in the hospital. The first time, he was unable to breathe and was rushed in an ambulance and the second time, my mother drove him. Both times, he was admitted and stayed for several nights. Each time, it seems they find more things wrong with him, yet there has not been an “official diagnosis”. During these two visits, doctors found symptoms indicating that he has congestive heart failure and diabetes, in addition to his breathing problems. My father has not only been an alcoholic for over 20 years, but he has also been a heavy smoker since he was a teenager and this is what is causing the majority of his recent health problems.
My boyfriend said something to me the other day that caught me off guard, but made me think. He said, “you know, your dad is going to be in and out of the hospital from now until he dies.” I know that is most likely true and it is a sad reality. It is obviously difficult to think about losing a parent in any context. It sounds silly to say this, but it just upsets me that my father is most likely going to die due to his bad habits. He is not the victim of a genetic disease or a horrible accident…at one point in his life, he chose to smoke and chose to drink and then they became lifelong habits.
Not so coincidentally, my anxiety has been peaked lately. I talk to my mother every day, sometimes multiple times a day, usually just about everyday life like her gardening club, funny things my students said, our cats, etc. It is so hard to describe, even to people who know her well, how different her voice sounds on the phone when she calls to tell me that she called 911 for my dad. There is such a seriousness, yet I can tell that she is trying to stay calm, for both herself and for me. And now, I worry about her calling me every day and telling me that he is being rushed to the hospital again- or worse.