One Problem Makes a Difference

November 14, 2017
By , North Collins, NY

There are so many words to explain a thought. One thought leads to another without even trying. I would’ve never thought that this would actually happen. There were no signs from god. Why do bad things always happen to people that don’t deserve such treatment. Ten months ago I would’ve never know. Disabilities can happen to anyone. No one would have known that a back problem could have been something super severe. Living a normal life at fifty nine years old, writing stories and teaching kids how to escape a fire. I guess it’s just part of life. People come and go out and in of our lives like the snap of a finger.


Small things can evolve into a bigger problem. When my dad developed his back problem we just thought he was growing older and living a normal life as you grow older. My dad is one of those people who didn’t necessarily keep an eye on himself. He cared more than anything about anyone else. I believe that’s why he became a volunteer firefighter. He didn’t believe in going to get checkups and having doctor appointments. He claimed the back pain was most likely caused when he tried to fix the water pipes in his office. My mom tried to help him and tried to convince him to see the doctor but he resisted. Months went on until his back problem got worse and sitting in a chair, lying down in bed, and walking were troublesome. He finally decided to go to the hospital with my mom. He came home and news was brought to our attention…

Cancer?

Yep. That dreaded word I have to hear constantly. In science class, or raising awareness for bald for bucks, or even just hearing other stories about it. My dad explained that there was a tumor that was going to be removed as Roswell Cancer Institute. The tumor was the size of an orange and was growing bigger. My heart completely sunk. I honestly couldn’t even pay attention in class and it was approaching the end of the year which meant that there were upcoming exams. Exams that I didn’t know how to cram study time in for since I had to visit my dad almost everyday in the hospital.


The days in the hospital were dreadful. My dad had to stay for one week in Roswell before his surgery. We went in everyday after school. We walked into Roswell, which felt very welcoming. We walked over to the elevators and went to the 5th floor where my dad was staying. When you walked in, my dad was laying on a bed with needles sticking in his skin and he was wearing a robe. There was a big glass window where I spent most of my time taking pictures of the city and writing about what was going on at the time. We ordered the nasty kitchen food everyday and they delivered it to our room and that’s how we spent some of our last dinners together. Sitting in old, dusty, plastic chairs, or even on the floor, eating a dish pizza or some kind of spaghetti. I would constantly try to get myself out of that room as much as possible. I always thought my dad was going to get better. I believed everyone when they tried to comfort me. I needed air constantly because the scent of old people and the sound of ear piercing, beeping noises from machinery gave me a headache. In the waiting room, there was this huge glass window, bigger than the one in my dad’s room, which revealed the whole city. It was breathtaking. I would spend a lot of my time there, talking to my friends about anything other than hospitals.


The time came when my dad was having surgery. We took the elevator to the second floor which was where my dad was having his surgery. We spent five hours in the waiting room and I skipped a whole school day. I was with my sister Sabrina the whole day and my aunts and my mom. It was boring but there was a small time schedule on the side of a door which had everyone’s name on it that was going into surgery. I recognized my dad’s name and it said “In Procedure”. During the terrible, long, awful wait, Sabrina and I tried to pass time by playing in the elevator and we also got nasty food. We tried to think positive and we tried to do activities that got our mind off of our dad. After, only two people were allowed to see him so my mom and I went to see him. I was so scared I didn’t even know what to do. My dad was laying in a bed with iodine all over his body. He was breathing in heavy, deep breaths. He could barely talk. I was so scared, I had never seen him like this before. A doctor came over and explained that the procedure turned out great and he got a bloody nose during the surgery so that’s why there was blood everywhere. For two more hours, My family and I all went up to the floor that he was on and we had to wait in a waiting room for two hours until the nurse cleaned him up. I felt claustrophobic and I couldn’t breathe. He was super tired from the surgery so we decided to let him get rest and we went home.


My dad stayed in the hospital for a couple more weeks, ordered by the nurses, so he would recover. He had a really hard time trying to walk. Amelia and I, one day, came to see him and we helped him walk around the 5th floor in the area he was being taken care of. He came home for a couple days because everyone thought that he was okay. He had trouble walking up the stairs so my mom’s friend installed a railing for him to hold on to while he walked up the stairs.


I thought that was that and everything was okay.
No big deal.
So many times I tricked myself.
GOTCHA.
Just like that.


I thought surgery was just surgery and that people can recover from that. Nope, not this one. He was having more problems with his body so he went back to Roswell. Everyday that I visited him got more and more painful for me. He started having breathing problems and had to use a breathing device every couple of minutes. My mom suggested that he is to take another x-ray, and so he went and took an x-ray.


The next day, we got some pretty interesting news back.
More cancer?
How can it be?
It’s like a never ending process. The cancer cells just keep multiplying and dividing. It seemed that the cancer from my dad’s back had spread and there was now a tumor in his lungs.


I couldn’t take it anymore. I went to the cafeteria and just sat there, listening to the old guy playing piano while eating my soup. I wanted to just punch a bunch of walls. Or honestly anything. So many mixed emotions were circling through my head. I felt almost dizzy or lightheaded. Memories with my dad started to go through my brain as I broke down crying. I tried to make it seem like I was crying tears of joy but let’s be honest, You’re in a hospital.


Doctors and nurses constantly came in and out of my dad’s room. The beeping noises from the machines felt louder in my head almost like it was a sign of pain. One of my mom’s good friends came most of the time that we were there and he talked on and on of how nutrition is important and smoking is bad. Like dude, we get it. My dad smoked ever since he was probably twenty. You simply cannot change the past. My mom and my sisters and I all tried to get him to stop smoking. Sometimes the house would fill up with smoke if the door to his office was open. My mom would start to scream at him and he would tell her to go out of the office. I wish there was something we could’ve done about his habits before this happened.


One of the last days that my dad spent in Roswell was pretty terrible. A lot of people came that day and we were about to leave and we asked if we could have some time with my dad. The door shut and Amelia, Sabrina, my mom , and I all stared at my dad. He was sleeping peacefully but was still half awake. His breathing started to get all out of order. My mom asked us.


“Do you guys have anything to say or ask Tata before it’s too late?” Amelia started balling her eyes out.
That’s when I realized,
It was the end.
Nothing good was going to happen next, It was all downhill from there. We all stood there for a good amount of time and we finally got out of the room and we hugged our relatives and we left in peace.


My dad got moved to Hospice in late May. The nurses believed that it had a more calmer environment for Tata to spend his last days. The whole faculty was super nice. When you first walk in, there is this baby grand piano that sits there. Waiting for someone to carefully caress their fingers across the black and white keys. It’s so significant, a sign of loneliness. When we went to Hospice, my dad couldn’t even talk at all. I wanted to have a full conversation with him but no. He layed in bed and just breathed. Each breath was violent and it felt as if he was suffocating. It really shows how much damage cancer can do to one’s body. Their whole system crashes on them and they have no energy to stay awake or talk.
June 4th, 2016 12 pm
I was at Brianna’s house with a couple of our friends having a party of some sort. I wanted to stay late and watch movies. Bri’s dad came into the sunroom where we all were and said that I had to go now. All I thought in my head was “Wow that’s so disrespectful but I guess maybe he just needs some sleep”. Mrs. Krawczyk drove me home and we talked about how many deer run across her road at night. We had a laugh or two and we finally reached my house. Mrs. Krawczyk parked at our house and walked me to my house and I was really suspicious. I thought “What the hell is going on?” I walk in and my sisters are crying and a guy friend of my mom was there also. Mrs. Krawczyk said something to my mom and then she left. I asked my mom what the heck was going on. She explained to me,

“Tata passed away a couple minutes ago”.

That one sentence came so abrupt I couldn’t believe it. My mom explained that we were going to go to Hospice to see him. It was about a 45 minute drive from my house and it was terrible. My mom’s two polish friends drove me and my mom while Amelia and Sabrina went with Will and Mary, a couple of Amelia’s friends. The whole ride consisted of the girls talking in polish and I was just sitting there crying. We got there at one in the morning and it was completely dark. We walked silently down the deep, dark, lonely hallway. There were a couple of nurses in their facility but not many. We finally reached Tata’s room and I really didn’t want to go in. My mom pushed me in and it was completely silent. My dad is laying down in his bed with no movement. There is a small name tag above his head that reads “Larry.” My dad’s friend was next to him holding his hands and in his hands was a rosary. Amelia fell down right by the bed and put her head on the bed where he laid. Sabrina was hugging my mom and they were both crying. The whole atmosphere detrimentally hurt me in an emotional way. I knelt on the other side of the bed across from Amelia and it finally hit me.


There is never going to be a time when my dad watches me walk across the stage when I graduate high school or college. There’s never going to be that day where my dad escorts me up to the front of the altar when I’m getting married. There is never going to be another day with him. He will never yell at me for eating ice cream before I eat dinner. I will never be able to disrupt him ever again while he’s cutting the grass. He will never tell me that I look like I’m going to the beach when I’m actually going to school. That’s one of that last conversations I had with my dad. It was a fight. I came downstairs with a cut off shirt that was beachy with jeans and he yelled at me to go back upstairs and change. I, of course, listened to him but that was that. The last conversation I remember at our house.


Now I have to go through terrible days at home and at school. At home, we pretend that nothing ever happened. We pretend that everything is okay and there’s just an empty seat at the dinner table now. It’s like everyone just forgot about him, like he wasn’t there from the start. At school, some people, I feel, will only be nice to me because of what happened with my dad. I feel like people only acknowledge me because of him. I just want to be treated like others and I don’t want any sympathy.


It’s still a super hard time to cope with what all happened with my dad. He was the strongest man I ever knew and I watched him from day one in the hospital to the day he died. He went through so much pain.


It changed me as a person, I’ve learned to accept more people and be nicer to people because you never know what kind of situation they may be going through. I’m not happy that the outcome had to be so grieving but also a growing experience. My dad was a great person, always helping out others, always thinking of others before himself, that’s the sort of role model I would like to resemble in my future.






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