I saw my Dad yesterday and WOW has he improved in his walking while heís been in the rehab. With the walker to hang onto and to act as a kind of shield in front of him (heís almost completely blind) he stands up straight and takes a real step, no shuffling. As a matter of fact he walked normally and kept up with me at a normal pace, and I walk fast. His leg muscles must have responded to the new, normal posture and strengthened up. Even when he lifted the walker he was still upright and not stooped and shuffling. I gotta say I was really pleased at his progress.

I guess no matter what you decide for your parents, unless they move in with you and you dedicate yourself to their care, youíll end up second guessing yourself. You can either let them be independent or you can protect them by putting them in the hands of an overseer. What Iím attempting to do is a middle of the road choice that my brothers donít entirely agree with and Iím a little nervous about too but I really donít think he needs an overseer yet. Iím trusting him to keep himself safe, for now, with certain safeguards.

I met with the stairlift representative yesterday and he may not be able to put the lift in before Dad gets out on Friday because his stairs are too tall and he needs an extra section of track. I find out today if it can be shipped overnight. If it canít be then we are faced with two scenarios:

1. We get him out Friday and send him to the trailer on the Cape with my brother for the weekend and then a hotel for a couple days until itís completed (and my father is DYING to get out after THREE weeks in there)

2. We ask the doctor to hold him in rehab until the lift is ready. This is easier for everyone since heís not easy to care for and fights you and demands things.

Iím leaving this one to my brother since heíd be the one spending the time caring for him. As for a housekeeper there is a perfect solution to his stubbornness at not letting anyone he doesnít know into his apartment. Itís his secretary Pat. When I met the stairlift rep she was already there and had done SIXTY POUNDS of laundry, everything he has is clean, and was cleaning his studio (which even smelled better with her work). I think heíd agree to her coming in once every two weeks and doing his laundry and cleaning instead of going to the shop that day.

The catch is that I, my mother and my sis-in-law all dislike her. We all think sheís trying to ingratiate herself into being Dadís caretaker and remember heís worth a pretty penny and you have to wonder what heíd sign if she put it in front of him. She controls his company bank book now and writes herself checks. So far it all looks honest but thereís no real oversight except that there is a second secretary. The thing is heís such a hard case that I think unless she does something illegal she can knock herself out trying to become a favorite anything to him and it probably wonít gain her a thing, so why not use her since sheís offering?

That leaves me with just one more thing. Iím calling life line today. With the button in the bathroom, two phones by his bed and people around him every week day at work Iím satisfied that weíve taken reasonable steps to protect him without making him feel like he no longer controls his own destiny.

Now could he refuse to take the lift and still fall down the stairs while we arenít looking? Yes, he could. Can he eat like crap if he wants to? Yes. Could he leave the life line button somewhere or refuse to use it even when heís bleeding? Yes. Can he miss and crap on the toilet seat and sit on it for two weeks until the cleaner gets there? Yes he can, but Iím hoping with more people involved he will finally listen and admit to some of what is happening to him and that heís aging and will accept a little help although God knows he wonít appreciate it.

I accomplished one more thing too. I went through his shirts that had been cleaned and took out a dozen or more that had big permanent stains on them and two pairs of pants with cuffs or pockets so frayed that they canít even be given to Goodwill, none of it can, itís that bad. His secretary said they donít care at the shop what he looks like but I said that I did and that I was tired of taking him out to lunch or anywhere and looking like Iím treating a street bum. He has dozens of shirts left but I mostly took what looks like his favorite beige shirts so Iíll buy him a couple replacements.

So yeah we leave my dad mostly independent and if an accident happens, well we tried our best to honor his wishes while itís still an option. These decisions really suck because you are taking control of someone elseís life, someone who at one time protected you. I have left a hole big enough for him to have the opportunity to hurt himself but removing that window of opportunity takes away too much of his independence and pride. I think heíd die a slow death if we took him out of his environment and his last days would be unhappy, or as many days as he has left that he can manage his own affairs. Because I see a day in the future where we may have to do that and it will be just like putting a gun to his head.

Did I mention that the wires came out of my broken finger a week ago? Hopefully I have one more week in this sweaty cast and Iím free at last!

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