The Week I thought I'd Lost My Dad

Another week has gone by, and I've been more grateful than ever to have Nel to keep me busy.

This week, we vaguely introduced the idea of a potty to Nel, and oh wow, what a fun experience that has been so far! She probably is far too young to even be thinking about that, as she barely follows instruction in any other aspect of her life.

Her older cousin, Jay, is now successfully potty trained, so we were given the hand-me-down potty. The weather's been great again, so as Nel was running around the garden totally naked anyway, I thought we may as well suggest that, if she "needs to have a bum" then she can do it on the potty. So there we both were in the garden, me sunbathing with a miniature toilet at my feet, and a naked toddler, ready for her to do her thing.

I popped inside quickly to grab a glass of water, and when I reappeared in the garden, Nel was standing naked and proud, pointing at the potty, shouting "BUM BUM BUM".

I walked over to the potty, and sure enough, inside, was the tiniest little shit. I couldn't quite believe it. I thought to myself "she's a bloody genius, that was so easy". I gave her a little bit of chocolate, as an incentive / bribe (totally healthy to bribe my child with chocolate, right?) and gave her lots of praise about what a good job she'd done.

I went inside to wash my hands, after having wiped her down, and upon my return outside, she'd finished the job, all over the garden, and all down her legs. It was everywhere. She proudly looked and me and said "chocolate?". So OK, I realise we haven't cracked the toilet training at this point, but can we just point out how Nel already obtains wonderful negation skills when it comes to getting more chocolate. Unfortunately for her, she didn't get rewarded for the multiple shits that weren't in the potty.

We've still been taking lots of walks. I'd mentioned in my previous post how we had discovered beautiful routes right behind our house. Well we've been busy exploring these every day. Nel hasn't let us go on a walk, without stopping multiple times / generally whinging about walking, for about five months. Basically, as soon as she could walk, she decided that we no longer could. However, this past week she's been great, and has let us carry her on our shoulders, or ran along beside us with her little tiny legs. As long as we bring snacks, so that we can bribe her. Yes, more bribes.

One of these bribes back fired for Sam the other day. He was having one of those mornings where every hing was going wrong for him, and Nel had started the day by relentlessly moaning for about two fucking hours, mainly at Sam. He tried to change her nappy; she had a tantrum. He tried to feed her breakfast; she had a of those where you just want to shout "would you PLEASE shut the fuck up?!".

Anyway, the only way we could get her to come on the walk that day, was by offering her endless snacks. I brought out the house with me one of those squeezy, pureed fruit pouches. She was screaming, demanding it, as she was sat on Sam's shoulders. The moment I handed it to her, she squeezed it so hard, that the sticky strawberry puree went all over Sam's freshly washed hair, leaving a total mess. He was NOT impressed, but I couldn't stop laughing. I just found the whole scenario so stupidly ridiculous, we just looked like the classic "stressed out with a small toddler" stereotype. Maybe I wouldn't be laughing so hard if it had been my hair the fruit puree was squeezed into.

All the other days though, she's genuinely been an absolute delight. She's making us laugh so hard, just being ridiculous. She's started to get more vocal and picky about what she wants to wear, so some of her outfits are insane. See below for a photo of her with a penguin cross the body bag (borrowed from her ever trend setting cousin, Jay).

And it's a good job she is giving me so much joy, because it's been one hell of a tough week. I'd mentioned previously, my dad's quite ill, suffering from a long term illness / general old age (he's 95). I received a phone call on Thursday, telling me he wasn't responding to his live in carer that morning, and had a suspected UTI, something which can effect older patients mentally, as the infection spreads. I'd then got another call in the afternoon, saying he'd come round, and had eaten his lunch and been responsive. This scenario has happened MANY times over the last four or so years, and I don't usually worry, as I'm familiar with the process.

I was taking Nel on our usual walk on Friday, just the two of us, when my brother called. He told me he'd had to drive to my parents' house in Dorset, because the live in carer had not been able to get a response from dad at all that morning, and his breathing was really laboured. He'd been taken away in an ambulance to hospital, and was still unconscious.

That was all anyone knew at that moment. When he got off the phone, I was stood, ass end of nowhere with Nel, and I just started crying. I managed to hold it together enough for Nel, but I did let myself have a little sob. On our walk we must have passed about 6 people, but it wasn't 'til we got home and I looked in the mirror that I noticed my mascara was WILD and had ran all down my face, leaving me looking like a total nutter walking through the fields of Fife, with a toddler on my shoulders, and a face like Gene Simmons'.

I called the hospital, and spoke to a doctor for an update on my dad's condition. The doctor told me that it was pretty bad, and that he was highly unlikely to make a recovery. She said to prepare for the worst. Nel was napping during this conversation, and Sam came home just as I was making the call. I got off the phone, felt nothing for about ten seconds (having said my goodbyes to my dad multiple times over the past couple of years) and then all my emotions just surged at once. I sobbed in Sam's arms. I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. I didn't realise how much I needed it until I was there, letting it all out. I really thought this was the end. I called my brother and my half sister, asking if they thought I should drive down from Scotland. We all agreed that if it was the end, then I wouldn't make it in time, and also with the whole Corona Virus shit-show, it might be best to hang fire until we have some more firm answers.

Sam ran me a bath, and within two minutes of me being submersed, he reappeared asking if I needed anything. "Like maybe a water, a beer, a gin and tonic?". I knew there was a reason I married this man.

I sat in the bath, gin and tonic on the side, and I just let it all come out. I cried the rest of my dodgey mascara off my face, and sobbed like the ugliest person you could imagine. But fuck me, it felt so good.

I got out the bath, and went to the garden, where I enjoyed a few minutes of warmth from the sun, before getting up to prepare the dinner. Sam came up behind me, telling me to stop, and that tonight we were ordering Dominos Pizza (something we NEVER do). I faintly tried to protest but he insisted. It really is the little things when a) you're a parent b) you're going through a global pandemic and c) you just feel so numb and weak.

The next day I woke up early and called the ward to ask for an update on my dad. I was told that he had gained consciousness during the night, but was still weak. Later that day I called again, and was told he was a lot more alert. The next day, I was told he'd be OK. My emotions were in shreds once again. What a rollercoaster in just 4 days. The next day, I called again for an update, where I was told he'd been, and still, was fighting sepsis. Again, my emotions were shifted monumentally, as I began looking at hotel rooms in my hometown, and planning the 9 hour drive down. Later that afternoon, I spoke with another doctor, who told me he felt as though my dad was now successfully fighting the sepsis, and was just delirious still as an after effect. I'm to call again in 2 days for an update on what his vital stats are showing.

How many times is it possible to go through all the emotions of being told you're about to lose a parent, and then be told actually no it's OK, and then that you're going to lose them again? He's now on the geriatric ward, so they're not letting anyone visit due to all the patients being high risk for Corona Virus.

Another painful thing on top of this is that I can't go and visit my mum, who's got advanced Alzheimer's Disease, as she's too high risk of catching Covid. Since my dad's been in hospital, their live in carer says mum doesn't understand what's going on, however, she's been wondering round the house at night, feeling very anxious and sad, yet unsure why. This virus is stopping me from carrying out every natural reaction I've got. To go and hug, love and comfort my parents. It makes me feel like the worst daughter in the world, but I know deep down it's for their own good.

As soon as it feels safe enough I'll be straight down there, but until then, I'll just have to let this one help distract me.