This past weekend did not go as I had planned. Not hardly! Although, that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Mom had planned a weekend away with both of my kids. She wanted to take them to Disney for a weekend and have me stay with my dad. Short history – Dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at age 40 back in 1988. His first symptoms actually showed up when he was just 32 years old, only they had no clue what was wrong, and it took nearly a decade to get him properly diagnosed. He turns 68 next week, so this has been a very, very, very long road. Parkinson’s is a terrible disease. His symptoms started with tremors of his hand (which meant he had to sell his dental practice in 1989) and then progressed to excruciatingly painful muscle stiffness called dystonia, involuntary muscle movements called dyskinesia, complete freezing up of the body and much, much more. Dad had Deep Brain Stimulation surgery back in 2000 and 2001 to implant stimulators in the brain to deliver electrical stimulation to specific areas in the brain that control movement. This involved two separate surgeries — one for each side of his brain — that each lasted 8 hours, and he had to be AWAKE the entire time. You know, so they could make sure they were probing into the correct areas of the brain and not messing up any parts they didn’t intend to. Yeah, Dad’s been through some stuff.
Dad’s always been better off than the doctors all thought he should be. He could move around better than he should have, he was a lot more active than many thought he would have been. He’s done amazingly well with his disease for so very long. But Parkinson’s is a debilitating, progressive disease, and it has most definitely taken it’s toll. On Dad, and on the rest of us.
Unfortunately, often people with Parkinson’s Disease also develop dementia, and over the past few years, we’ve watched it take hold of Dad. In all honesty, I could probably write a novel about Dad and his Parkinson’s Disease. How it’s affected him, how it’s affected Mom, his full-time caregiver, and how it’s affected my kids and me, living with them for the past ten years. But that would be a pretty bleak book.
Today I want to write about something happy.
This weekend, we got Dad a best friend!
Dad has been wanting a dog for a little while, ever since my husband, kids and I moved out a few weeks ago and took our dog, Star, with us. Mom and Dad knew it would be lonely and quiet over there (although we only moved one street over, and they get the kids after school every day), but still… it’s different.
They had looked into a Parkinson’s service dog (side note: can you believe all of the different service dogs that are available these days?! Wow! You can even get a peanut-sniffing dog for food allergies!), but it takes several years to train one, and quite frankly, he doesn’t have the time to wait.
So they opted for just getting him a buddy, a best friend to snuggle with and watch TV. Dad’s nurse (and close family friend) knows all about rescue dogs and definitely has the hook-up when it comes to finding the right dog for the right person. She made a few calls and found a possible playmate for Dad.
We weren’t supposed to get a dog this weekend. That wasn’t the plan. But then, who’s life ever goes according to plan? Um, not mine! I could write an entire book on that, too… Maybe one day.
So the plan was this: Mom takes my kids for the weekend to Orlando and does happy, Disney things for two whole days. I stay with Dad and we do the normal weekend stuff… maybe hit a couple garage sales, watch some TV, I dunno… do the dishes?? Our big outing would be on Saturday to go and SEE the dog they had picked out. That’s it, just see her. Meet her, and see if she was a good fit.
Well, she was such a good fit that they actually let us bring her on home right then!
Dad was instantly smitten, and the pup was obviously perfect. Her favorite thing to do is snuggle up and watch TV. Um, hello?!?! So is Dad’s!!! She is a true lap dog, and a complete sweetheart to boot.
I didn’t exactly plan on bringing home a dog while Mom was gone, but I did call her and get the go-ahead before I made such a huge decision.
She’s done really well, so far, too. She was, of course, freaked totally out that first day, but she has adjusted amazingly well. Dad absolutely adores her, and so do the rest of us. Her new name is Susie, a name Dad picked out a few months ago.
He’s been waiting for his Susie, and he finally found her.