Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Despite All My Snarking...
... I really do like and care for my father-in-law. Push comes to shove, I even care about my mother-in-law, though I won't insult anyone by lying and pretending that I like her. But they're the family of my husband, and HE cares, so I care. Simple.

And I do like my father-in-law. He has a tendency toward outrageousness and a total lack of social propriety, but he's so in-your-face and yet out-there that I have to respect his outlandishness. He's one of those people where, you know every emotion he is having while he is having it, and even if he hates you one minute he might love you the next - and either way, he lets you know right where you stand. He's a conflicted guy, lots going on internally. I don't want to be like him, but I appreciate who he is.

So, I'm worried and sad and scared for him right now. His health has not been good since I've known him. Apparently - who knew? - drinking a 6-pack or more a day and smoking at least two packs of cigarettes is bad for your health. I mean, he's only been doig it for 40 years, but you really can't expect him to know better... he's only a medical doctor... whoops.

So he should have known better. And he did. And yet he did the bad stuff anyway. I'll always wonder whether he was intentionally hurting himself without actively hurting himself.

Anyway. He has just very recently gone from being in-poor-health-but-that's-just-him to being in crisis. We're literally sleeping with the phone next to the bed now. Apparently, about a week ago, my brother-in-law stopped by to check in, as he is wont to do, and discovered my father-in-law still in bed at 11:00 a.m. Which is completely unheard of - the man typically goes to bed around 6:00 in the evening and is awake at hours which I only ever saw from staying out too late partying in college. And the news didn't get better. Adam did his best to keep it all secret, per father-in-law's request, but after a week and a half the strain was just getting too much, and he told my mother-in-law. Who badgered and bossed and got him in to see a doctor.

Turns out, my father-in-law has apparently had a "minor" heart attack, one or more TIA's (like a small stroke, only not cuter), progressive oxygen deprivation and lung shut-down, and a thyroid disorder. In theory, his digestive system is still working okay, but he's not eating so we can't even be sure about that. He's already lived at least 10 days like this, so we're hoping that he can hang in there util next weekend, when the kids and I were planning on driving out that way anyway - a single trip in a single vehicle would just be a better idea all around - but we're making contingency plans, and worrying.

It's just sad in a lot of ways. Sad that he created a life for himself in which he is secretive even about life-and-death issues. Sad that my mother-in-law is in such a complicated situation, with a man she is in the process of divorcing who is allowing her to step in and make serious health care decisions for him. Sad that she brought her situation upon herself and can't own that. Sad that my brother-in-law has fluctuated between being such a troubled, black-sheep, demonized member of the family to being the sole keeper of my father-in-law's health secrets, which would be a heavy burden for anyone but especially hard for someone not used to that level of responsibility. Sad that my husband is way out here 500 miles away, trying to decide how he feels and what he should do and what he will do.

And sad that we have to figure out a way to tell our kids that Opa is very sick and might not get better.