Someone said that dad is a tough cookie and one of the little ones said “He is not a cookie”. 🙂 Dad is indeed a tough cookie. He never complains. He is very stoic. He takes everything in his stride. Maybe it is due to his job as a detective sargeant in CID secret society branch previously. Or it could be because , while handling  his tough job, at the same time, he was a single dad to 5 kids after mum died almost 35 years ago from now. Dad was 44 then, my age now. Then, he instantly became a single dad to 5 of us from ages 10 to 18 but he never complained. I think if I were to instantly become a single parent to 5 kids at my age, I would have been overcome with stress.

He is still not complaining. Even though he is bed ridden, half paralysed, unable to swallow foods and relies on a feeding tube for sustenance. He was also in great pain because he had impacted stools due to constipation from lack of movement and an overload of medications perhaps. He had to be back in ICU and had to undergo a procedure to remove the stools manually under general anaesthesia. There was a 30% chance he could die from the procedure but if he did not go through it, he would die. Not much of a choice is there. The anaesthetician said it was his 3rd time in 20 years to do this for this procedure and worse, for an old man just recovering from stroke was very rare indeed. Possible complications are he could have another stroke or a heart attack during the procedure.

Tough cookie that he is, he is back in the normal ward now. The nurses like him. He is a model patient doing everything that he is told without a whine or complaint. When they came to pour milk into the tubes for him, he told them he wanted teh tarik. Poor dad. He wants so much to taste normal food again. He talks about nescafe panas, karipap, ham chin peng, durian, mango, sugar cane juice but we are thankful that he is now only able to sip water mixed with edible starch and a little bit of porridge under close supervision. Before that even water was denied him and he complaint of great thirst. Milk is poured into tubes that goes into his nostrils right to his stomach. He does not get to taste it. Imagine wanting to eat but being unable to, wanting to get up but being unable to. What must he be thinking… feeling. Sometimes we don’t know because dad has dementia to add to his woes.

What worries us the most is his sleep wake pattern. He would sleep for 2 minutes, wake up for 3 minutes and repeat this pattern for 24 hours a day. Even the doctor is perplexed. He has not seen such a short cycle before. Sometimes during his 3 minutes of wakefullness, he would mumble to himself. One night that frightened the nurse in the night shift because she thought he was talking to someone behind her but there was no one there. But that is only because of his dementia.

He still does have his moments of sharp alertness at times. Like the time the nurse kept on asking him for her name. “What is my name? Don’t you remember? I just told you this morning? What is my name? What is my name?” and then he looked at her and said “What your name is, is not important to me.” At our prompting the nurse asked him, “So what is important to you?” and he said “Recover faster.” How very like our old dad that is. Sometimes a bit sarcastic and very straight to the point without giving face. But we are delighted to catch a glimpse of that.

And so we go on with our ups and downs. Can we all be tough cookies like dad and not be crumbly cookies because the situation calls for us all to be tough. There is much to do and no time to crumble.

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