Saturday, December 22, 2012

My Daddy

Daddy and I.
Back in 2008, my father had a hernia repair surgery for the third time. When the doctors performed an Abdominal CT scan they also figured out he had a kidney stone in his left kidney. He went to a urologist who informed him not to worry until it bothers him.

In September of 2008, during the month of Ramadan, he started to experience severe pain. When they performed a second CT scan to relocate the stone, they discovered that he had a tumor on his kidney as well. Since he was already an asthma and heart patient, the surgeon decided to remove the stone with a catheter. Even though the surgery was successful, we were all worried about the tumor.

My Dad continued to seek advice from doctors, friends, and family members. Finally, on December 29th, 2008, he had a Partial Nephrectomy at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. My family was worried and we nervously waited for the biopsy results. Several days later, the doctor informed my dad that the tumor was indeed cancerous. The doctors told us that he needed to stay home in bed rest for at least three months before heading back to work.

As soon as he went back to work, he was laid off. The only reason we bought our new house was because he had this job (Multi-Unit Operational Manager for Dunkin' Donuts). We were disappointed but hoped for better luck, and two weeks later my Dad found another job as the same position but for a different franchise. We began to think our bad luck was over, but six and a half months later, on October 9th, 2009, he was laid off once again.

Just a couple of days later, my sister was coming home from college on the train with her friend. My Dad was on his way to pick her up from the station where he had a severe car accident. His car's brakes had failed, resulting in a collision with two cars and a tree that stopped the SUV. My mom suffered chest contusion and my dad injured his shoulder. His Honda Pilot was totaled.

After that day, he had to drive my mom's Toyota Camry. He would drop my mom off to work as a babysitter at 7am and then look for jobs all day. He had been in the restaurant management industry for 25 years. He would have so many interviews, but after two or three interviews with the same company, they would never contact him back. We couldn't understand.

We were living on my Dad's unemployment compensation, but his time period eventually came to an end. We were then stuck trying to afford our bills and mortgage. My two sisters who were attending college were having trouble getting loans and would cry and stress almost every day.

I remember being afraid that if we stayed on this path, we would lose our home.

He had steeped down to a level he never wanted to be in, borrowing money from friends and family to manage our financial problems. He bought a new car, another Camry from a local seller, and two weeks later the car skid in the rain and crashed into oncoming traffic. The car was totaled.

The cost for his health insurance was higher than ever and he owed a lump sum of money to friends and family - money which was being used to pay mortgage expenses, health/car/home insurance, my sister's college fees (as loans were being denied), and water/electric bills.

On top of that, his sister came from Pakistan on a visa that was applied for 12 years ago. She was supposed to stay at our house until she could live on her own in America, but sadly we had to send her back because we simply could not afford it.

My Dad coming home from his first day at his new job at Burger King.
He finally landed a job as a General Manager at Burger King in September of 2011. But this year, his back pain started to grow more severe, and doctors had found that his nerves were being damaged and choked in the lumbar area of his spinal cord.

A couple months ago he had a laminectomy, a surgical procedure that removed a portion of his vertebral bone called the lamina.
FaceTime with my Dad (in the hospital) a day after his laminectomy.
The surgery was successful, but less than a week later, his nerves were beginning to fail and appear as absent. His right leg began to grow weak. He was forced to file for short term disability, and his work hours were reduced to only four hours a day.

This month, however, his doctor had declared him to be disabled and advised him to file for long-term disability. He was forced to retire from his job.

All my Dad wants is to create a stable ground for his generations to come. He wants to help fulfill our dreams of becoming what we want to in life. He tells us, "Dream big, I will never tell you that you can not do it".

I never thought moving to another city would have caused this much change in the way I live. But quite honestly, I would not like to have it any other way.

I have learned more about my father than I knew about him when I lived in Philly. My Dad is a hard-working and competent man. He has never given up and to this day, he leads us by example - by being fortunate and humbled towards the struggles we have overcome together, and by being hopeful and brave towards the obstacles that continue to arise.

His endurance is second to none and our family finds ourselves more grateful today than ever before for what we have. My gratitude for him and my mother cannot be expressed adequately in words.

He is someone I hope my children will be able to look up to as I have.

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