Can’t Kill Him Even With The Euthanasia Cocktail

Maybe a year or so ago, my mother told my dad, “I was just in the hospital for a few days.”

This was around the time that my mother’s health, never great, really started to go downhill. She’d just learned that she had atrial fibrillation on top of the COPD, high blood pressure, super-high cholesterol, and fairly extreme artery blockage. My mom had spent years taking care of my dad, which couldn’t have done her health any favors. By the time of this particular hospital stay, he was already in a nursing home and so knew nothing about where my mother had been.

“I was really sick,” she went on to tell him. “I could have died.” She was hoping, I’m sure, for some care. Compassion. Concern. Something.

Here is what she got instead: my dad looked at her, shrugged, and said, “Really? Huh. I was all right.”

And we laughed and laughed, because this is how it had always been. Mom struggling through, lucky to come out alive some days, while through it all Dad remains “all right.” Even as his mind has failed him, he continued until very recently to insist to anyone who would listen, “I’m in good shape.”

Well, you can’t kill Daddy. This was my mother’s and my joke. Because you couldn’t. He seemed to walk through life in an invisible bubble, not catching colds, not breaking his arm, not even getting sunburn. I am pretty sure the guy never took so much as a Tylenol, except for the occasional hangover.

I am also pretty sure that despite it all, you still can’t kill Daddy.

As I’ve mentioned before, he stopped eating around the time my mother died, and lost over twenty pounds in a few weeks. It was upsetting and highly unusual, and I couldn’t believe I might lose both parents in such a short amount of time.

He got better. He’s gained the weight back. He eats fairly normally now.

His right leg became swollen, and they were concerned it could be a blood clot. All that sitting, I thought. I wouldn’t be surprised. 

It was apparently not a blood clot. A few days of antibiotics and the leg was fine.

Then he got pneumonia. Well, this might be it, I told myself sadly. He’s old, he’s weak. Maybe this is just his time. While he had pneumonia, he fell and hurt his hip. You could see he was in pain. They were worried the hip might be fractured; we’ve all heard of elderly people who break a hip or an ankle and it’s all downhill from there.

They did an x-ray. He had not broken his hip. It doesn’t seem to hurt him anymore. He’s also over the pneumonia.

You cannot kill Daddy.

Captain Immortal, enjoying a little light reading.

Then, one day, I got a call from his hospice nurse, saying he was in bad shape. Apparently, the night before, some severely misguided nurse had given him both Ativan and morphine for “restlessness.” A sedative and a narcotic, for someone whose restlessness never extends past a tapping foot or jiggling arm. He was practically comatose for the entire next day and into the night.

Needless to say, I was quite alarmed.

“Has something changed?” I asked the director of nursing, when I finally got in touch with her. “Is there something I need to know about his behavior at nighttime?”

Eventually, after much prompting on my part, she told me that no, nothing had changed. “There was no reason for him to be given those drugs. We’re educating our nursing staff.”

“Better educate them quick,” I told her. “Because when I Googled ‘Ativan and morphine combination,’ I immediately came across the phrase ‘euthanasia cocktail.'”

Both the director of nursing and the director of the entire facility looked mildly panicked at this. Which was more than a little satisfying and hardly surprising. “Oh God, no,” one of them told me. “No one was trying to kill your dad.”

“I know that,” I said. “But, they might have killed him all the same.”

I have no intention of suing them. I never did. But I left the vague threat hanging in the air anyway. What the heck.

What I didn’t tell them, but what they’d have known if only they were paying attention, is the one, most obvious fact.

Fact: you can try; you can do your damnedest. You could probably detonate a nuclear weapon right under his nose. You can take away everything he loves in life, his grass-cutting and his bird-feeding and his two pieces of toast in the morning. Go ahead, give it your best shot. Because no matter what you do, the simple truth remains. As my mother and I knew all along: you just can’t kill Daddy.

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Do You Sometimes Wonder If You’re The Stupid One, Or If It Really Is Everyone Else?

“Mom. Can you drop me and my friend off at Wal-Mart Friday night? We want to stay there overnight and make toilet paper forts.”

This is a question that was posed to me by one of my children. Obviously. It would be pretty weird if anyone other than my kids had asked me that. Both of them, as of this writing, are in elementary school. I am not sure what leads either of them to think I might leave them overnight at a Wal-Mart.

Target, maybe. But that is not the point. The point is that thinking about this question led me to recall several other things I’ve heard recently that were pretty downright stupid. You know what I mean – things that make you go, wait. Is it possible that no one in the whole world understands anything anymoreI mean, given the state of humanity in general, I think this is entirely likely, but then again maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m the idiot. Or, I guess it could it be that I’m getting smarter. I don’t know. Either way, here are some of the things I’m talking about. Read them and you can be the judge.

  • “Yeah, dude, I just ordered it. It’s an authentic replica!” Quite frankly I don’t even want to talk about this one, because it gives me a headache. But headache or not, I need to know: isn’t a replica automatically not authentic? BECAUSE IT IS A REPLICA???
  • “I like egg rolls, and yet I hate lettuce. Figure that one out.” You’re right, buddy. It’s a head-scratcher.
  • “Could you get him to sign something saying he’s incompetent?” Yes! Yes, I bet I could. And then on the back of that thing I will write out the definition of ‘incompetent’ for you, because oh my God in heaven there is no hope for any of us.
  • “Well, she was alive when she took all those ambulance rides.” This was from an ambulance company who’d just been told that my mother cannot pay her outstanding balance because she is deceased. I said, well, I really fucking hope she was alive when you took her on eleven separate ambulance rides. They said, “Oh, she undoubtedly was.” I felt faint and told them I had to hang up right away before my brain fell out.
  • “That’s a great shade, if you’re black.” So…right. I am really unclear what you mean by this. Are you thinking that maybe I switch back and forth, and tomorrow might be my black day? On the other hand, maybe you’re advising me against it because I’m white? Either way it’s very weird. Are you sure you work here? Do you have any previous experience with, I don’t know, humans?

Okay, fine. To be perfectly fair, that last one was my mistake. She was actually telling me it’s a great shade if you’re wearing black. I know this because I could not let my curiosity go unsatisfied. “What does that mean?” I said to her, when I was still stuck on the original thing-she-didn’t-say-but-I-thought-she-did. “Why would you…what does it mean?” And she said, quite slowly and clearly – “It means that it’s a good shade to wear when your clothing is black in color.”

I am guessing she probably walked away thinking, how could she not know what that means? What an asshole. PEOPLE ARE SO STUPID.

And if I had heard her thinking that – or, I guess, if she had said it out loud as she walked away and I happened to follow her for some weird reason and overheard it – then I would have said to her, girl, preach! I know EXACTLY what you’re talking about.


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