What It Feels Like To Help Someone In Need

By Tiffany Green // As Told to Nico Chiappetta

What It Feels Like To Help Someone In Need

Tiffany Green

When I first heard that my dad had a stroke, a rush of emotions instantly hit me. It was heartbreaking to think that your dad is okay living on his own, but in reality he is not. He was struggling to take care of himself and he was keeping secrets from me. Once I arrived at the hospital, I ran into his room that he was staying overnight in. When I first saw him, I broke down into tears. He kept telling me not to worry and that this was only a small hiccup. When the doctor came back to the room, he told me my dad had a stroke and that he also had Dysphagia, which makes it difficult to swallow food. He couldn’t even swallow his own spit. I found out that he was not eating, he was not drinking and he only weighed 98 pounds. He looked super skinny and very unhealthy. I didn’t realize it at first because I didn’t see him that often, but he just kept losing more and more weight.

A couple days after he was released from the hospital, my family and I went out to eat. When we were at the restaurant, I noticed he still was not drinking or eating because he kept choking on his food. As I came up to ask him if he was okay, he collapsed in my arms; he had another stroke. He kept saying “I will go back to the doctors tomorrow.” He kept pushing it off, but finally I took him because I didn’t want him to possibly risk having another stroke. They kept him on a feeding tube because he could not eat or drink. Although he was living on a machine, I at least knew he was being cared for and watched. Or at least that is what I thought.

Every day when I would come to say hi to him, I would ask the nurses if he ate yet, and they would always seem to forget. Once they started to feed him, I would show up at random times to see if they were actually feeding him or feeding him only because I would check up on him. I found out they were doing it only if I came. It drove me absolutely insane that they were treating him like this. I took him out the next day and brought him home with me. I thought that it was better for him, and for me, to take care of him because I am his daughter. He was probably uncomfortable with strangers taking care of him anyways.

It was tough to take care of him as well as balancing out two jobs at the same time. Soon two jobs turned into one. Then one job turned into a part-time job. After I realized that my dad would need my full attention, I quit my job. We moved from the colder weather in Antioch to Arkansas so we were somewhere warmer. I was leaving behind my jobs, friends, family and even a boyfriend, but it was all worth it to make sure my dad was going to be okay.

Helping my dad with basic everyday things was a lot of work, but I didn’t mind it at all. In the morning, I would have to help him get out of bed. Then we’d go to the bathroom. I would have to help him bathe. That was one of the more uncomfortable things I would have to do, but he needed my help. I would then have to help him get ready: picking out his clothes and put them on, or even something as simple as tying his shoes. After that I would help him eat his food. In the afternoon we would walk around outside because he loved the outdoors. We loved looking at the beautiful mountains and greenery.

After a while, I started to believe that he was starting to get better after a long time of being in pain. I thought that having the company of me rather than strangers at a nursing home made him feel better. He would often get fluids stuck in his throat, which led to him getting pneumonia. Every time he had to go to the doctors, I would stay with him. I never left his side because I didn’t want him to be alone with nurses who will occasionally check on him every couple of hours because I knew he needed more attention than that. After leaving the hospital, we would sometimes have to go to rehab centers so he could learn how to walk, and I was always there for him, helping him every step of the way.

Soon it became tough to do things. He was having such a tough time walking that he just couldn’t do it anymore. He was uncomfortable with many people around him so we could never go out to eat. I didn’t mind it at all though; I never wanted to put him in an uncomfortable situation. Slowly, his health started to decline. He was losing energy and was still having a really difficult time eating and drinking. Soon, at 82 years old, he passed away. I miss him more and more each day. I wish I could spend another whole ten years with him. I didn’t even mind having to help him. I loved that I got to spend every day with him. It’s tough not seeing him every day like I used to. It was funny to think that once I was a little kid getting help from my dad with all these things, but I ended up being the one helping him.