In: Website by Edie Sellers28 May 2014
Yes, we know we’ve been skating along by just having our most recent post available on the front page of the website and letting it auto-update. This changes today.
There’s a lot of good reasons for this happening. But the crisis is over, for the most part, and now we are in a time and place to be able to update this GameHounds RSS feed with individual updates.
If you’ve not been listening to the show, I’d like to welcome you back. We didn’t stop recording through the maelstorm that was my life since last August, but I did stop updating this page. There’s a lot of untied ends here (I *was* working on creating a new, improved site with forums and stuff), and those are also going to be picked up, dusted off, and started again.
If you’ve missed what happened in the GameHounds world because you missed our shows, I’ll go into the gruesome details after the jump. But if you’re just happy to have the RSS feed updated, know that this is starting again fresh and shiny.
So, here’s all the details of what happened and why it happened.
My father, who was 91, was in poor health but still mobile and active. That was last August. He and my mom (also still alive and equally old), lived alone in a big house.
They are also hoarders. As in TV-show-level hoarders. So needless to say, their house is a colossal wreck. But they are both in their 90s, and it was decided to let them be; no amount of “help” to “cure” their hoarding was going to improve their lives more than it would distress them for their last few years on the planet. My younger brother and I knew we were just delaying a huge burden on ourselves later, but the alternative would have made us happier and my parents upset. It wasn’t worth making them miserable.
In early August 2013, I convinced my father to let me take on a more active role in his healthcare. We got an advanced-care directive signed and taken care of so I could be more face-to-face with the doctors and start digging in to all his various health issues that he complained about but weren’t being resolved. The hard work on my part would begin at the beginning of September, as soon as I got done working my stint at Burning Man (a commitment I’d made earlier and couldn’t really get out of).
What I didn’t know at the time was that my dad was becoming senile and had the sense to know what was happening. Rather than informing anyone, he just hid it and shouted down anyone who questioned his actions. He became exceptionally secretive. He also decided, equally on his own and in secret, to take the “man’s way out” and starve himself to death because he didn’t want to be put in a hospital and die crazy and away from home.
I was due back September 3. Given my goals and the legal paperwork in place, I would have probably discerned what was going on shortly afterwards.
Unfortunately, on August 28, my father walked out on his cluttered deck (hoarding, remember?) and either tripped or passed out. My mother, who was inside (and, might I add, deaf as a fencepost) didn’t realize he’d fallen. My dad lay in the hot August sun on the deck for an unknown amount of time. It could have been 20 minutes. It could have been an hour or more. We never knew because from that moment on, my dad went into full-blown dementia.
While he was down, he managed to kick and try to get up, doing deep tissue damage to both his heels. He also had a deep gouge in the bridge of his nose. The nose? Ugly, but not a huge issue. The heels? He was now unable to walk.
Off to the ER he went. During his examination at the ER, the doctors found that he had bedsores on his buttocks. Large, large bedsores. As in the kind that kill old people. He was unaware that he had them, he said (though dementia and starving himself, remember? So who’s to say if he really did know?), and my mother was unaware of it either.
He was hospitalized for about two weeks in the hospital and then transferred to a skilled-nursing facility, where he stayed for another month. This required me, as his newly designated advanced-healthcare directive agent, to be personally involved in his care on a daily basis. My mother and I traded off every day sitting with him for at least six hours a day at the facility. We enacted an DNR, at his request both before and after his fall, and then did our best to care for him and get him healthy enough to come home.
Except he couldn’t come home. Hoarding, remember? We needed a new place for both him and my mom. Fortunately, my parents had a rental house on the same property as their house, and it was vacant. My father, the ultimate DIY-guy, had been working on it for the better part of two years to get it ready to rent. We agreed as a family that my brother, a contractor, would focus on getting the new house ready for moving in and I would focus on dad getting better.
Upon my brother trying to fix the house, we realized how bad my dad’s dementia prior to the fall had been. Every time my brother started working on a project, he’d discover something my father had done that was utterly insane and dangerous. Naked electrical wires stuffed into insulation inside walls. Gas lines using the wrong kind of pipes that would likely leak and possibly explode.
In other words, the house was a death trap.
These are things my father NEVER would have normally done; he was Mr. Safety when it came to rentals. This was clearly a case of my father’s judgement having been on a serious downslope that no one detected, or if they had, didn’t mention to his family. While we found them in time to avert a predictable tragedy, it also delayed the renovations. What was a week or so’s work was now like a month.
But we didn’t have a month. We had three weeks.
The day my father was released and we moved him into the house, the renovations were still going on. We had no water. We had no stove. We didn’t have a sink or a refrigerator.
This required combining Burning Man–style camping while trying to care for a bed-ridden dementia patient with life-threatening wounds and multiple infections and tissue trauma who needed 24-hour care for feeding, toileting—EVERYTHING!
We finally did get all these things into the house, but it only made the process easier. Not better. Dad was off his nut, hallucinating, and having terrors. He was trying to go on walkabout in the middle of the night. My mom took to sleeping next to his bed in a La-Z-Boy recliner. She never once lay down to sleep the entire time of my dad’s convalescence.
I took afternoons and evenings. Mom took overnight and mornings.
All this while, I made sure to keep up the GameHounds podcast. This was my salvation. You. All of you. It gave me a short respite of normalcy in a very un-normal time. You guys kept me going. Though, because of my time constraints, I had to forego a few of the things you became accustomed to, like updates to this site. Also set aside was recording the podcast, editing it, and posting it. Instead, we began to use the live-recording service we used for GameHounds Happy Endings, Spreaker. We just switched, without much notice, over to Spreaker and let this RSS feed die.
And this was my life from September until March, when my father passed away. Peacefully. In his sleep. At home. With me holding his hand. The way he wanted it.
It’s been a couple months now, and I’m over the grief and the chaos, though there’s still a lot of legal details that need clearing up; wills, pensions, financial stuff. You know the drill.
But now that things have mostly calmed down (I still have an elderly mom living alone and way too far away from me), the GameHounds will have more of my time to make things normal again. What you’re used to.
So again, than you to all of you who stuck with us as we switched from the RSS feed to Spreaker and back. And if you didn’t make the switch, thank you for being here now, so we can pick up where we left off. Without you, I would have gone crazy, and I will always be humbly in your debt for you being a loving, supportive port in a very nasty storm.