It Takes A Village
“I was THIS close to a panic attack. For a good five minutes I literally felt like I was floating watching myself lose my shit.”
Wednesday was discharge day.
My father entered the hospital three days prior. He was admitted after being evaluated and my thought in that moment, “here we are again.” I’ve written a few blogs about caring for elderly parents, and what that looks like when they’re sick, so I won’t take another deep dive.
Due to COVID, no one was allowed to see my father during this stay. I did have a conversation with the doctor, but nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing could have prepared us for what was to come.
Before I continue, can we quickly talk about the role of that one family member (also caregiver) who is the go-to for EVERYTHING? From the time that I was young I’ve been that person, and let me be abundantly clear, I DID NOT CHOOSE THIS ROLE! If you’re a regular reader of my blog, then you are very familiar with my battle with depression. I’ve been very transparent about my journey.
Let me continue. I recently received a text from a loved one. Part of that text said, “I love my family even if they don’t reciprocate the feelings.” (Takes deep breath). You ever had a moment where you become so mad that you got hot? I mean a physical hot. My face stank right now typing it! The flesh part of me wanted to respond with a “first of all” but I thank God for Jesus, AND for therapy.
Now that we have that out the way, let’s talk about compassion vs responding from a place of hurt and anger. Consider for a moment, what you may see as a failure to reciprocate could actually be that person’s inability to reach out because of an illness. Perhaps a mental illness, something like depression. We (humans) are so quick to assume what a person is going through looking at the surface.
PSA: PEOPLE ARE OUT HERE FIGHTING SILENT BATTLES so before you assume, ask.
Let’s get back to it. Now, when you think of the saying “it takes a village”, you probably think parenting. I’ve heard the saying at every christening I’ve ever attended. While it’s most used in that setting, it applies to several different areas, like the one I found myself in yesterday.
My phone rang and it was my mother. She asked if could we meet her at her house to help get my dad in. I grabbed two of my boys and we headed to their house. We waited about 15 minutes and they drove up.
Me and the boys got out, greeted them. My niece came out the house and we began the process. Remember how I said earlier in the blog that nothing could have prepared us for what was to come? My father looked tired, but not your regular tired, he looked like giving up tired. His frail face showed defeat. I was looking into the empty eyes of a once vibrant, joking, preaching preacher that I no longer recognized.
We got his swollen legs out of the car, and soon noticed that his standing and bearing his own weight was not a possibility. He groaned in pain with every move. After about 45 minutes he was out of the car, one shaky hand holding the fence while the other gripped the walker. This was after about 3 false starts. My son was holding him up from behind while my niece guided the front. After two steps, he was too weak to stand. I ran in the and house grabbed a chair for him to sit. He sat on that chair, tears running down his face, in nothing but a hospital gown, trying to catch his breath while I began to asses the situation.
Remember that role I was given? The one I didn’t choose? Let’s just call me “The Fixer”.
I decided to call the hospital because I had questions!
Why in the entire f”@& was he discharged in this condition?
Why wasn’t he discharged with a wheelchair? (He’s a complete fall risk)
Finally got a hold of someone.
Me: Hi _______ my father was just discharged, we’ve arrived home and he can’t make it up the driveway.
Her: Oh no, I’m so sorry! I can order a wheelchair but it will take up to five hours to get authorizations.
(Me thinking, b$&@! did you just hear me say he was sitting on a chair in a driveway) By this time y’all, we’d been outside almost two hours.
“Think Jazmine think”
Me: I don’t have that kind of time.
Her: You may want to try the fire department while I work on things on my side.
Me: I’ll do that.
While making these calls I’m texting my girlfriend to get on Craigslist to look for a wheelchair.
This is when it happened. “I was THIS close to a panic attack. For a good five minutes I literally felt like I was floating watching myself lose my shit.” I literally walked across the street to my car, with my back turned to my family to just breathe. My jaw was clenched. My stomach was hurting. I was hot. I was dizzy. My heart was racing. My shoulders were up. I had to say out loud to myself, “BREATHE!” Do you know what it’s like to watch a loved one suffer in real time? With no real answers because all of this is uncharted territory? It can be absolutely paralyzing!
In that moment, the ice cream truck came, a much needed interruption! As my sons and my niece purchased ice cream, I continued to make calls. I watched my boys and my niece make a video dancing to the ice cream truck music. In that moment, I saw joy.
As I was making calls and thinking, I thought about my brother. Why, you ask? Because he’s handicapped and he lives in a house with other disabled individuals. For a few weeks the phones at my brother’s house have been broken. I told my family, “I’m just gonna drive over there to see if they have an extra chair.”
At this point, I was completely spent. This is all happening, after a 10 hour work day, no lunch and while depressed. Listen, I hopped in the car, flew over there and the garage was open. You ever drove somewhere but not remember how you got there? I got out and I rang the bell. A young lady answered the door, I stumbled over my words trying to explain to her my ask. She said, we’ve packed up the house (because it’s being sold) so I don’t know but let me check the garage. We walked to the garage and what was in there? A fold up wheelchair. She called the person in charge and she told me to take it! Y’all I could have ran around the block from the joy in that moment! I threw the chair in the trunk and headed back to my parents.
Y’all remember that village right? Earlier that evening my parents’ neighbors were out and we chatted about what was going on. They went their way and I went mine. As I returned with the wheelchair, they pulled up. They jumped out of their car and came to help. My son and my niece got him into the wheelchair and four of us (me, son, niece, neighbor) pushed and pulled that wheelchair up the driveway, then up the stairs and into the house.
Tired, sweating, thirsty, spent but grateful.
He was finally in the house where it was warm!
As I lay in bed at 1:47 AM (on a work night) I reflect. I reflect on the day and I give thanks. Thanks for a mind that’s quick thinking. Thanks for my sons, Jesus! Thanks for my niece. Thanks for the neighbors. Thanks for the free wheelchair. Thanks for faith because today y’all, whew, when I tried to pray all I could say was Jesus, and listen, sometimes that’s the prayer. I believe in times of trouble saying the name Jesus is like a personal S.O.S. Imagine, a God so powerful that just saying his name sends help. Saying his name is enough because he can read your heart. Saying his name activates strength.
Psalms 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
Heavy on the gratitude today, and always.
Sometimes the village looks like immediate family. Sometimes the village looks like extended family. Sometimes neighbors. Sometimes strangers.
Until next time...hug a loved one! 🦋