Sunday 15 April 2007

Mercy Room

I arrived in Normal late on Monday, and finally on Saturday I was able to go to Urbana to see Dad. Because several family members had spoken so well of his mobility, I had thought he was farther along in his recovery, but I only saw free movement on his left side; while he does have some movement on the right, it is very little, slow, and heavy in comparison. I helped him drink, and Mom helped feed him, but he doesn't have much appetite. He looks rather thin, except in his right arm and leg, which are swollen.

He is speaking fairly well, but he has difficulty with his short-term memory and is confused about where he is and when various points in his illness occurred. He also can't handle much detail. I began explaining to him when next week I and Mom will visit (coming and going at different times), and soon he began shaking his head a little, clearly overwhelmed, just as he was when I switched the weather channel to a film, wrongly thinking he'd appreciate more stimulation.

My sister Sandra and her husband Charlie drove Mom and I there, and both spoke about how much improved he was. From what I've heard, I realize that's true, and I was pleasantly surprised by how good his color was, but it was still shocking and disturbing to see my ever-active father as an invalid. At one point Dad asked for a banana and some V-8 juice, but as the kitchen was closed, I offered to go to the vending machines to see if they had either. I took the elevator from the fourth floor down to the basement and followed the signs to the cafeteria, passing a door labeled "Mercy Room" along the way. It feels wrong to be leaving here in another ten days, just as it has felt wrong to be away all this time. I'm not sure how to do this.

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