The journey of nearly 8 years.
I am just a 25 year old young lady who is barely finding grasp on what it means to be an adult. Then it hits: Here’s what it means.
Being an adult means that when you are awoke one Saturday night after a 16 hour day at work to the sound of your Grandmother’s car horn blasting up your driveway, to shortly find out that your Father has been in a tragic accident (caused by reckless behavior, don’t discredit that), you instantly prepare the next phase of your life to be to shift focus from your own hopes and dreams to care for and rehabilitate your God Given, Father.
Yes, this is what happened nearly 8 years ago on June 28th, 2008. I tell this story with a lot of pieces missing because the reason behind this outflow is to get to one point, care to read on?
When this happened to me and my family a very long time ago, I never questioned the outcome of my Dad’s behavior and poor choices. I embraced my call to action, put blinders on and trudged forward. This was not easy, nor would I EVER do it again … but I knew that this was what I was supposed to do from within hours of learning of the accident.
My Dad, Louis Byington was involved in a tragic vehicle accident where he was the passenger of a joy ride gone horribly wrong. While the driver made out with a broken leg, my Dad’s life was changed for the worse permanently. Suffering two broken legs, a Traumatic Brain Injury and more than 16 weeks in a hospital, my Dad would undoubtedly never be the same. Even though I could go on and on with details, yet again this is not the reason for the story, carry on!
By God’s Grace, my Dad was able to be rehabilitated to become very high functioning for all of the sufferings he incurred. Rehabilitation was short lived in the way of professional services as he qualified for merely two weeks of in home care after being released to go home in October of 2008. This meant that a choice had to be made to take on the responsibility of handling rehabilitation myself or to entrust the Medical Industry to do this for me, the choice was clear. I took it on. Sorry Big Pharma, but no Thanks.
Over the course of the next 6 years, my Dad first lived with me in my home. I attribute this beginning to the newborn phase. We worked to walk, talk & potty during this phase. Whoah, to think back to all of that is surreal. Somewhere a year or so down the road, we made it to a good place and we were trying to work on living on our own. I needed space, no doubt and he was incredibly in good shape, so “Let’s Do This”. After about 4 months living on his own (with daily in home care and nightly check ins by me), we went back to work! Dad spent time at the Sheltered Workshop in Sullivan, MO and started earning his keep, (insert humor). This was a struggle for me to have to get up and get myself ready, drive to Bourbon (from hwy FF), pick up my Dad, then drive to Sullivan, take him to work, then all the way to Bourbon to get to work myself. After work, my Dad would be shuttled to my Grandmother’s house in Sullivan. My Grandmother, his former mother-in-law, mind you who deserves to be knighted as a Saint, if that’s how that happens, has saved my life on more than one occasion but this is a whole other story….moving forward.
We’ll call this past paragraph, the teenage years. Well, Driver’s Permit years at best. I still had a lot of involvement in his every day. It became clear to me that I could not live separately from my Dad yet my house was far too small to move him back in so I made the regretful choice to sell my first home; a tiny cabin in the middle of the woods and literally my haven. I’ve not found that place since, and am in the seeking phase at the time of this outreach. But this story is not about me, I’m still not to my point, have I peaked your interest?
I sell my house and my Dad and I move into a house in town that we rent from two dear friends of mine. This house provides separate bathrooms, a Must for this venture to even remotely work. We start off each living upstairs and things are going well. Okay, now I recall, THESE are the Teenage Years. My Dad’s recovery is stellar at this point which makes it very difficult for him to take instruction from ‘his daughter’. Yet as a Teenager, I know that ‘he’ is nowhere near ready to make all of his choices alone. I coach him through decisions and begin to allow him to make his own choices in the way of his food and decision to not work at the Sheltered Workshop. The reasons for his decision on this are valid and somewhat humorous because he knows that he’s worth more than 78 cents per hour, he’s an engineer in his mind’s eye. This was hard to work through because ‘thankfully’ his mind remembered his past, all of his children and their birthdays, Tara’s is September 15th so I know that he’s alright up there! But he can’t easily recall that he’s injured. That part was hard to learn how to handle, and actually still is today.
The next step involves moving my Dad into the Autumn Age Homes in Bourbon. There’s a brief stint in between where I have help in our home, a very dear loved one and her two girls move in to help me take care of my Dad. I move into the basement and try to pretend I’m in another land. It worked some of the time! But back to the Autumn Age Homes. My Dad can live on his own; I need space; and so he is within walking distance to the grocery store and has access to his money so that he can shop when he needs to. So the story goes, his needs were basically wants and he literally eats himself into near oblivion. This was such an inner struggle for me because my rehabilitation of him was only made possible with proper nutrition and focus on food healing him from the inside out. I had a very hard time with this but knew that with so little freedoms and liberties he deserved the ones he had. He’ll never drive again and cannot really work so what is there?
In December of 2013, my Dad had set himself into what the doctors would call a diabetic crash. Yes, this is partially true but more so this is a case of aspartame poisoning and malnutrition. The details do not apply. I find him unconscious in his apartment lying there barely breathing and suffering. At this very moment I knew that I was no longer qualified to care for him. We went to the hospital, he was asleep for a couple of days and then onward to a nursing home. We spent 30 days in a nursing home of which I KNEW that this could not be where he remained. I had always, always struggled with giving up responsibility for his care because I knew him, my heart and my intentions. No one else could care for him as well as I. But I succumbed to the realization that I could give it my all, all day, every day and that it would no longer be what was best for him. So the decision comes to seek an assisted living facility. My prayers were answered when I found Victorian Place of Sullivan. I will say that there are a handful of very special people that made me know that this was the right step at the time, so there I stepped; still not to the point.
Moving in in January of 2014, my Dad now had 24 hour care and I had a bit of reprieve. This felt good… and bad … and everything in between. My only real issue with assisted living was that there was no nutritional planning. So the cycle that my Dad had begun by putting himself into a diabetic state through poor food choices, continued. He has the same freedoms within assisted living that I had given him to make his choices and this was not good. His blood sugars were consistently in the high 300’s and at one point had reached 500, sending him to the hospital … will this cycle ever end? I tried to find ways to influence the corporation into their nutrition planning but was unsuccessful. I’m not a conglomerate for corporate style and the only reason I made the choice for VP of Sullivan was because of the community manager and nurse at the time. Things change, corporations suck and that’s all I will say. The peacefulness that I felt for a short term quickly converted to unsettlement with the ill founded departure of the community manager at VP of Sullivan. Did I mention that Corporations Suck?
In January of 2016, after a MAJOR life change for myself, I had begun the prayerful search for a solution to the problem of my Dad’s environment. It has become caustic at no fault of the current staff, I look up the channels for blame here. His sugars were not getting better and his environment was not conducive for a healthy state of mind for someone like him either. I had no way of knowing where or when the answer to my prayer would come but I knew it was beyond my power…. We are getting closer to the Main Idea of this Story!! Keep Reading.
In February of 2016 I joined a business networking group in Rolla, MO to launch my new life and move forward in the area of small business management and consulting. This story is not about my professional choices, so I digress. Joining this group would unknowingly change my life for the better in so many ways, but here’s the main one.
I met a man named Tyler Kierz who is a member of the Networking Group that I joined. His story is spectacular to say the least. Tyler purchased an existing Residential Care Facility in Cuba, MO. It is called Rock Springs Residential. In the beginning I didn’t quite grasp the concept of what this would mean for me. I idly set/sat (I did both of these) through each meeting thinking that I was focused on myself and my growth, foregoing thought for my Dad at this point. However there was one gentleman also within the group who opened my eyes to what Tyler was doing and then I saw it; The answer to my silent, thoughtful prayers. I knew at that instant that this was the answer to what I was searching for. The rest is in the details. I moved my Dad out of VP of Sullivan and into Tyler’s Community in Cuba. Tyler’s Community cannot be properly illustrated with words, you really need to see it for yourself but I will say that I finally have a place that my Dad will call ‘home’ for a very long time.
To start, he has horses and cows, and a pup named Lily. He has his own room that feels like a mansion and a setting that provides peace all the way around. He’s getting chickens and is working in a garden. There are creeks nearby, someday he can fish if he wants. He can walk outside and enjoy the country calm. He has a home environment rather than a corporate hallway to walk down before entering into personal space. Let me state; I do not want to discredit his former residence but it was not the end game and I knew that when he entered into it several years ago. The end game is and will forever be, for me to make a living that supports my having him back in my home again, like with an East and West Wing so we never have to see each other ..ha! Totally Kidding!! While I’ve ventured out to make that a possibility for me and in the meantime, he will be living with Tyler and his crew at Rock Springs Residential. We’ve finally made it to the point of this story.
Tyler and his staff have been able to stabilize my Dad’s blood sugars to remain the the low 100’s throughout the day. This has improved my Dad’s mood and behavior. It is making him as healthy as he can be. What are they doing differently? No need to itemize but it begins with the heart that is behind the organization. Tyler’s passion for his profession is from a service based standpoint. He cares about his residents and staff. He is providing an environment for his residents that their former caregivers will not find anywhere else. HE is providing ME with peace of mind. A sense of calm within myself that allows me to ‘check out’ on the responsibility of being a caregiver and finally go back to being a daughter. It only took 8 years and a lot of tears, but here goes folks; I’ve set out to make my mark on the world and it is Tyler’s ability to release me from this aforementioned burden (a welcome one, if I still ‘had’ to do it) that is making this possible. I’ve officially ‘checked out’, resigned my caregiver’s role and gone back to the ripe old age of 25 to Start Over. I have a lot catching up to do, but I’m determined. I literally just turned 33 yesterday, April 29th, 2016 yet that is not what it feels like. I have always maintained a youthful appearance, thank the Lord and my Dad’s baby face for that so I should have no trouble fooling myself nor anyone else as to my youthful, ambitious mental age of 25… smile emoticon. So, let the games begin. Another story tells the tale of my past life and how it has propelled me to this very point, but I end by saying; Thank You Tyler, from the bottom of my heart for your part in releasing me from my caregiver role. The next time my Dad and I live together it is because he is an old man and I am a fully grown, Adult who welcomes her Father into her home during his ‘retirement years’. You should all know that my Dad is the young, young age of 53 .. or 54, he can’t remember so I just go with it! I will let him live his life independently from me and that is okay, and possible because of Rock Springs Residential. Of course I will visit, catch up, check in, take him out for dates and do the normal things that a Daughter does, but that’s where it ends. Thank you for letting my Father and I reach Adulthood, for the second time; at the same time.
From a Daughter that couldn’t do it without you!