“We Are Declaring Him” – Part I

Monday November 24, 2014.

It was 4 days after dad got discharged from the hospital. His fever was under control. His vitals were normal. But his counts weren’t increasing. The doctor gave him a few months. I knew that. Mom suspected it, didn’t accept it and was hoping for a miracle. The rest of the family either didn’t know or did not want to believe. Elderly AML is a deadly disease. At 74, he had slim chances to begin with. But lack of any co-morbid conditions raised our hopes. But a very early relapse three weeks after the first chemo killed those chances.

I was nervous that morning. I was supposed to fly back to the US that night. I wanted to stay back but my work situation was getting tenuous. I had spent several days in India this year. I was working on and off while there. If I had to work any more from there, I would’ve had to declare myself to Oracle India HR and report my income during that time to the Indian Revenue authorities. Things would’ve gotten complicated. I had to make a tough decision and I chose to play safe and leave – hoping that I can be back late December or early January.

When he woke up that Monday morning, he was visibly weaker than the previous day. When I helped him sit up on the bed he wasn’t able to support himself, unlike Sunday. When he tried to get off the bed he said he couldn’t move his right leg – he had lost control over it. We attributed it to extreme weakness.

Still we got him to sit on his chair. I fed him a quarter of an omelette. He hadn’t been eating well so I was force-feeding him.

“ఇంకొక్క చిన్న (one small) piece daddy”.

“ఒద్దు నాన్న(No dear)”

Still I fed him two more before I let go. He washed his mouth, drank some water and said he wanted to sleep. Chacha and I helped him on to the bed. He seemed to slip in to sleep very quickly.

Around 12:45 dad wanted to go to the loo. Chacha was in the chair next to me so he stood up too, to help move dad on to the wheelchair. It took a lot of effort to make him get him off the bed and on to the wheelchair. He was limp, absolutely no effort from him, no energy. I was concerned a bit. It took an even larger effort to make him sit on the loo. His position was awkward – not upright, slouched and without energy, staring at the wall in front. He was breathing heavily and his speech wasn’t clear. He was trying to tell us something but we couldn’t figure out what it was. After about 25-30 minutes in there he signaled he was done and wanted to go back into the bedroom.

In hindsight, this was the moment we lost him.

To be continued…

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