So, the fasting test did not end well for Dad. I received a phone call from Mum on Tuesday morning, the day after the test. It's not good, she said. He's unconscious and a doctor has told me he's not going to wake up. We got on a plane, fast. My sister and I arrived by lunchtime, just in time to see him unresponsive and being wheeled to ICU.
It was awful. The one ray of hope was that the doctor who'd spoken to Mum initially had been wrong; he wasn't bleeding from the tumour in his brain. They worked out over the course of the day that he was in a sodium level crash of some kind. We went to bed that night in a weird repetition of the night at the end of January when we didn't know if he'd still be alive in the morning. This time, I refused to think about it. We spent the evening looking at pictures of our family trip to Stewart Island for Christmas in 2013. Dad was alive, vibrant, happy. I used audio aids to get to sleep and to stay asleep, refusing to lie awake leaking tears as I'd done in January, when we didn't know what the next day would bring.
When we arrived at the ICU the next day, he was awake. The euphoria was massive. He was tired, he was groggy, he was a bit emotional (waking up to find you've been out for over 24 hours is a trifle disconcerting, I imagine) but he was alive. We flew through the Wednesday in the thrill of improvement and the move back to the wards. It seemed there'd been a problem with the thirst centre in his brain which had overridden the usual signals and caused him to drink so much his sodium had bottomed out. He seemed slow on Thursday which was completely understandable. He came home on Friday, weak, but home. We were so lucky, again, that he hadn't died.
On Saturday, the crash started and it bottomed on Sunday. We realised that there was something missing. I don't know if we'll ever get it back. He's himself, no doubt, but he's dulled the whole time. He admits to 'going into space' a lot - like a catatonic state, where his brain doesn't have to do anything. He's not participating in conversation even to the limited degree he was previously able to do so. Dad's emotional responses seem to have gone. He was perplexed as to why we were upset; he couldn't see a problem, he felt physically better than before the sodium episode. But before he'd wanted more than to sit on the couch, staring into space. Lie on his bed, staring into space.
Christ, I hope he comes back. I miss him so very much.
I keep thinking about the last time I saw him in hospital the Sunday previous. We were watching the cricket final, moaning about the dismal Black Cap performance. He was laughing, initiating conversation and jokes. I thought then that the whole situation was grim. But at least then his vitality, his Dad-ness, was there. I keep replaying my departure - what did we say? Did I tell him I loved him as I left?
My heart is breaking, particularly for Mum. It's one thing to know your husband is going to die. It turns out it is entirely another to watch it happen and to feel like you're losing him or have lost him before it even happens. Her world has narrowed to day to day with Dad, largely inside the house or hospital. I am going to leave work soon, I think, because he needs two people to care for him without the central caretaker going stir crazy from cycling through grief, boredom, terror.
I want him back.