Very Sad News

Just over a year ago, I posted on the PPSP blog that I would be taking a pause in my Poky Pedaling Stevens Point activities due to a number of personal issues. Topmost was my frequent travel to Los Angeles to visit my Dad, who had a variety of health issues including dementia.

A few weeks ago on December 12, as I was by his side, my Dad passed away.

Visiting my Dad on his 90th birthday last year

In the past three years, I made 16 trips to visit him. During this time, his health varied considerably. Although there was no consistent pattern overall, over the past 9 months I felt that his brain function was steadily diminishing. During my trip this past September, he didn’t seem able to remember anything about anything.

Despite this, he seemed generally comfortable, he continued to eat very well, and his health was relatively stable although he had symptoms indicating very poor blood circulation. I had concerns about his quality of life, but I did feel it was still on the positive side.

I arrived once again in Los Angeles on Monday December 4, expecting my visit to last four days. There was no indication upon arrival that anything was notably amiss with him, even though he slept through my visit that day.

The next morning, Dad showed symptoms meriting a trip to the emergency room. There were a number of issues he was dealing with, including fluid in his lungs. After becoming more stable, he was moved to a hospital room that evening.

On Thursday, he was moved to intensive care. He was being given oxygen through a mask that pushed air into his lungs. He was also very weak and unable to swallow. Tests showed that his system was functioning very poorly.

On Sunday, they did a dialysis treatment to cleanse his blood because his kidney function was extremely poor. He had a slight uptick after that, and for a short time I felt optimistic he might gradually improve.

Unfortunately, his condition turned worse on Monday. He was unable to clear the fluids out of his lungs, and his level of lung, heart, and brain function seemed inadequate to keep up with all the issues he was dealing with. He was generally unresponsive to any external stimulus, including gentle sustained shaking of his face.

On Tuesday December 12, his vitals started slowly declining over the day, and at about 3PM, the decline accelerated – his blood oxygen levels and blood pressure plummeted. Non-invasive measures were taken over the next 20 minutes, but they were unsuccessful. As I stood near my Dad hoping my touch would communicate my love for him, he calmly passed away. He showed no sign of any pain or suffering throughout this ordeal, so that is a blessing.

My Dad’s funeral was on Monday the 18th. He was buried in the same plot as my Mom, who passed away about four and a half years ago.

Two days later, I boarded the train out of Los Angeles and arrived back home on Friday.

To state the obvious, this been a stressful and emotional few weeks for me. I am sad, but otherwise I am doing fine.

It is far too early for me to consider the future for Poky Pedaling Stevens Point. I occasionally pondered the possibilities over the past year, yet I was too overwhelmed to consider taking any action.

Moving forward, I am likely to be far less overwhelmed since I won’t be taking trips to Los Angeles every two or three months. Nevertheless, deciding which activities I focus on over the next few years will require far more reflection than I have had opportunity to contemplate.

I am posting this message simply to let Poky Pedalers know what is going on with me. I realize this is not a typical blog post, yet my recent experiences merit something out of the ordinary.

Just as winter will persist for a while before gradually giving way to spring and summer, I expect to navigate through my grief over the next few weeks, slowly reestablishing my routine and eventually moving on to new endeavors. I’m pretty sure some of these endeavors will involve bicycling.

A meaningful life requires us to embrace both the sadness of loss as well as the joy of Bike Fun. I hope all Poky Pedalers are fully embracing whatever festivities you participate in during this time of year.

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