Along with the depression stuff, infertility stuff and aging stuff, I’m also encountering the aging parent stuff.
I am the only child of divorced parents. Nothing new or exciting, that seems to be the average family unit now a days except there is usually more than one child. Both of my parents found other people with whom they are more compatible so I guess it wasn’t all bad.
The problem is, my father suffers from a rare degenerative disease call Polymyositis. This disease essentially is the body attacking itself. The immune system treats the muscles as foreign objects and attacks accordingly. The only way to stop this is to take an immune suppressant. The problem with that is with the immune system held back, it struggles to fight things it’s supposed to like the common cold, or a scratch.
My fathers mobility is dwindling and he struggles to walk even with a walker. He’s fallen several times and it’s been sheer luck he hasn’t broken anything. I’ve begged him to get a motorized unit but he refuses. The problem with my father is that he is a strong-willed, intelligent, independent person. He has a sharp mind trapped inside a body that is becoming so frail he is as vulnerable as a newborn. It is horrible and I know he is miserable.
Fortunately, I live about 15-20 min from his home. Unfortunately, I’ve received too many calls from him asking for help because he has fallen but doesn’t feel it’s an emergency. He refuses to call 911 and wants my boyfriend to come and help him up. Even though he lives with his girlfriend she can’t be there 24/7, she cannot lift him, and she is also aging. I’ve told him he needs an emergency system in place like Life Alert, and he needs an in home care provider that can check on him at least once a week if not every other day. But he doesn’t feel he is “that bad” yet! It is maddening, it is heart breaking and drastic measures may need to be taken soon.
As a result of either the disease or the medication, he is also in the early stages of kidney failure. Though he has not started dialysis yet, his nephrologist has told him he may clear him for a kidney transplant. My father and I are not donor compatible, however, his doctor told him that if I am willing to donate a kidney on his behalf it could speed up the process of him attaining one. My father didn’t even think twice about asking me and initially I said absolutely. But, as I thought about it more and more I realized he hadn’t asked anyone else. I asked him about this and he said to me, “I don’t feel comfortable asking anyone else and well you don’t have kids.” WHAT?! Is that how I will now be of some use in this world? Can’t have kids but I can donate a kidney so my dad can get one.
I mentioned to him that I was seeing a fertility doctor and his reaction consisted of shock and despair. He responded, “that means you can’t donate a kidney.” Instead of recognizing the struggles of his daughter, he sees a possible kidney that may not be available to him. I love my father. I know he is afraid of what the future holds for him and perhaps his only shred of hope was this transplant. Honestly, I can’t see how he can be cleared for transplant due to his numerous health issues, but hope is hope nonetheless.
Now all that crap was the rational, adult side of me. The child in me is angry, hurt and feels used. Really dad? Am I disposable because I don’t have children?
My depression feeds on this. The inner dialogue that plagues me now: “how can you not help your father”, “you should want to do anything to help your dad if you love him,” and “you can’t have kids anyway so this will be some difference you can make to someone.” Oh, it goes on and on.