Portrait of an Illness

Lately, I’ve been surrounding myself with sickness.  Like, some sort of twisted, bubble-boy maneuver except I’m his arch enemy, bubble-girl, queen of diseases.

It’s a wonder I haven’t developed an adult case of the chicken pox (I know, I know you can’t get that more than once), or started compulsively washing my hands.  I’m literally exhausted by sickness.  I’ve been reading the book, The Emporer of All Maladies, not that I particularly like science, I’m just totally interested in the illness that we can’t stop.  It’s like endlessly watching the preview for that new Matt Damon and Gwenyth Paltrow movie (I think she dies before we even get a good look at her though, it ain’t a Glee episode).

I know that God doesn’t make mistakes and so I just have a really hard time understanding the unleash of deadly diseases on the world.  Why, why is their AIDS?  (The crazy people would have you think it’s because of the gays, and I would like each and every one of them to receive the ultimate wedgie and toilet twirl from a gay man for thinking that), but why, really? Honestly…how do these diseases come about, so that’s why I’ve been forcing my way through the goops of science into the more interesting, history of Cancer.  Sometimes, I wish I knew more about science, or just understood the division of all those cells in my body, every minute of everyday.  Then again, I can’t even really understand the small neuron section of my Human Development textbook – so it’s probably best I stick to what I know, the written word.

My faj all hooked up.

Then, my father is ill.

He’s just a big brown stain on some underwear lately.  First, he couldn’t stop going.  (I warn you full well that diarrhea may come up in conversation by the title of this blog, if you are not prone to poop conversations at your dinner table, then you can see your way right onto a different website – just click the links to the side).  Then, he’s in the hospital being pumped full of fluids to save his failing and flailing kidneys and all of a sudden his feet are the size of my wardrobe, his veins are getting thinner and thinner like small little blanket threads on the hills of his feet and we’re watching him slowly bloat.  That is, my mother who has been his right-hand woman since the day he entered the hospital.  Her hair a frizz, his uncombed and unruly, both watching college football in bed or reading Women in the Home magazines. (That’s more my mother…).

They release him.

He has too much water, can’t breathe and it takes our family friend, Mrs. Crocco to call his doctor to tell him that my dad has “congestive heart failure” because he’s basically drowning inside.  I don’t even want to think about drowning on the outside, series of lifeguard classes have made me blackout in that area, but drowning on the inside – among all those organs and tissue, has to be worse right?  Or do people not label their “ways to die” on a scale of one to ten, which would suck more?

I think honestly this is a sign I’ve watched way too many episodes of “1000 Ways to Die.”  The one where the person gets eaten by their cat after death definitely freaks me out the most.  I think that’s animal hoarders though – I’m getting my pet/animal/discovery planet shows mixed up.  It’s cat week all the time in my head.

I think having water around your heart, like it’s one wooden board, of a broken down, nailed together canoe, could be quite exhausting, and make anyone need to be rushed to the emergency room.

I think it’s also a really good line for a teenage love poem – “drowning of my heart.”  So, if you’re thirteen and in love with someone who doesn’t love you, or who has already moved on to Marcy down the locker row – go ahead, it’s yours. (I’ve always hated the name Marcy…I hate it more with an “i” though).

Faj is fine, everybody breathe a sigh of relief. Cassie isn’t taking a straddle jump into the deep end ( I never did like pencil dives).

Other than his self-esteem drop when my nephew refused to share his comb with his Pa, I think my Faj will recover.  It’s scary though seeing your loved one in the hospital, all cooped up under those white blankets, stained with their various body fluids.  And all the bracelets they put on them, with letters that don’t mean shit to you because you didn’t major in medicine (or anything dealing in either math or science, in fact you failed calculus your first semester) and yet somehow these three letters mean “Do Not Resuscitate” to everyone else, terrifying.  My father even told my mother today that if she sees him going, she’s to rip that band off his arm and make sure he’s resuscitated.

Earlier this week, he had ravaged the nurses with “I need to go home!” and “I’d rather die at home if I’m going to die somewhere.”  And all of a sudden, the man wants to be resuscitated (he better be resuscitated…).

Otherwise, the hospital is pretty nice livin’.  He has every ESPN channel except for one, he has a bed that moves up and down, sideways, around, it may even teleport – I haven’t figured that one out yet – I’m only allowed to press three buttons everytime I visit.  He calls the nurse accidently when his 6’1 frame gets up to use the bathroom and she answers to his ear in bed.  His remote control talks to him, and everyone in the room can hear the television through it.  Not to mention the catering in that place.  They have every type of pork-chop a man of seventy-five could want.  Why he’d want to come home to my shoes laying around the house, and my mother scattering her junk mail through the miscellaneous kitchen drawers – I’m not so sure, but he should be home soon, bracelets, IV bruise, and all.

During all of this, I’ve been trying to figure out what God is trying to tell me?  (If you don’t believe in God, or you are of another faith-based community, please don’t be offended by my insertion of God into my blog.  And if you have any comments, especially about the questions you ask yourself in these sorts of situations, I’d love to hear them).

I think this most often happens when loved ones are seriously ill, or you go to an acquaintances funeral and you ask yourself certain questions: who is going to get my child if I pass away (I should get Jack…I’m clearing my throat right now in a way to pinpoint this sentence to my brother), where is my money going?  What am I doing with my life? Am I making so-and-so proud?

So, of course, this being my father who I plan to dedicate my books too and buy a too-expensive Lexus for on the commission from my book sales, and who has encouraged me from day 1 to write the next Harry Potter saga – I’m asking myself these very questions.  But, the question I’m most often asking is why?  Why is my dad in the hospital?

Obviously, part of the answer is that he’s seventy-five and chose to have me at fifty-two and let everyone ask me at the age of five how I liked spending the day with my grandpa when he would take me out somewhere…  I liked spending the day with my faj just fine, thank you, he’s particularly wrapped around my wee-little finger.

But, lately…I haven’t prayed.  I haven’t gone to Church in probably more than a month, and when I do, I most look forward to the free breakfast afterward than the actual sermon or words of the Lord.  So, point blank, staring up at my popcorn ceiling at night and asking “wtf were you thinking trying to take my dad away?” isn’t exactly the way to get any answers.

I told my mother this was my warning to get myself prepared for his “imminent death.”  She wasn’t too happy with my choice of language.  I just have this fantasy, that every five-year-old girl has probably (I’m definitely not original here), that her daddy is a superhero and that he would save my entire house if there was a flood, or a burglar, and he would do it with my cat clutching at his shoulders and both my mother and I crying creating our own Mother-Daughter Titanic End Scene.

My dad just is that man for me, no matter how old he gets, and how much he complains about not being able to breathe when he walks.  I still see the city lights shining from the back of his eyes because he’s as tall as the skyscrapers.

Maybe it’s just time for me to realize that he’s not going to be around forever and ever, at least not in the physical form (always in my heart).  I was sitting here earlier today trying to think of questions I didn’t have the answers too, or stories I didn’t have right chronologically, or what war I thought he fought in, but then turns out because he was an only son they didn’t send him with his platoon.  There’s so many things I want to know and I yearn to know about this all-of-a-sudden elusive father of mine.

Yet, at the same time, how can I ever believe he’s not going to live forever with the light shining from his fingertips like the end of Beauty and the Beast?  I don’t have that capacity.  My dad is going to be rare, and one-hundred and twenty.  He’s going to fight the monsters under my bed with a broom stick and night light.  He just better be there to see me get married because I’m not sure I could take anything less.

And how can I complain at all since I’ve had the blessing of twenty-three years when some people only get three, or none?


That all being said, the other night in Home, School and Community Relations class my teacher quoted a psalm: “If you can do nothing else, just stand.”  Although I was unable to find this Psalm in The Bible or through endless googling, I found some that were similar – but I still like the idea that this is a hidden Psalm, that I  just haven’t been able to uncover yet.   It made me feel immediately better about the state of illness in our world, and the state of illness in my own home.  I really wanted to get it tattooed on me, but then I remembered my dad hates my other tattoo(s) and probably wouldn’t approve, no matter the circumstances.

Here are a few other things that made me feel better in this situation and just in general (in case anyone else needs it right now).  Side note: This is a lot of country music, country music is what people listen to when they’re drowning in any sort of alcohol beverage or just water:

1. “Grandpa, Tell me ’bout the Good Old Days” – The Judds

2. “House that Built Me” – Miranda Lambert

3. “Don’t Forget to Remember Me” – Carrie Underwood

4. Dancing in my car to Jamiroquai “Canned Heat” and making people laugh who pass me, or just stare…if they really have no soul.

I also just like reading a good, childhood book: The BFG or reading the notes in my wallet from my mom and dad when I turned eighteen.

Hug your families tonight, folks.

8 thoughts on “Portrait of an Illness

  1. Seth says:

    Jamiroquai…..i’ll take it! and yes, i really am partying enough for the both of us. will it be out of my system in a year….it will have to be, my body might shut down. ps. im re-learning Russian. I met some Ukrainian dancers that work at an amusement park. Life is a book. I’ll right one when i get home.

  2. Seth says:

    please delete that last post. im disgusted with myself i dont even want my name on it. I didnt even realize what your blog was about. Something as important as your dad being sick. I totally just skipped to the good parts. If life is a book and I always skip to the good parts I’ll miss alot of shit and die early. Im mad at myself now for being so insensitive. If you need to talk, you know what time it is here. Love.

    • Cassie says:

      You’re not insensitive. You’re excited about newness and all I’m discussing is oldness. I’m getting happy just thinking about all your adventures. Stay classy,Sandeigo. Well yall about everything when you call next. <3

  3. bea mannes says:

    Great blog, and truthfully, I loved Seth’s response. It brightened the entire mood, and of course, we love him. We are happy to hear Korea is such a great adventure for him. Seth, send pictures!!
    I loved that quote from the hidden Psalm, “If you can do nothing else, just stand.” That will be in my mind for some time, and believe me, I will use it when times are tough.

  4. Kara Ottervanger says:

    That was a really touching post, Cass. :) I hope your dad is doing well, and that you are, too <3
    PS- i dont want a BMW or anything, but maybe if you have some cash left from the first big book sale we can have a girls weekend in NZ! :)


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