Monday, March 24, 2014

Something Approaching Normalcy

With my father home from the hospital as of yesterday, my hope is that events will approximate what we normally go through, albeit with many concessions to his health problems. Due to the financial drain of the past week, we won’t be doing much unrelated to medical treatments. Scrounging up money for more wood pellets is something I’m attempting, but it will be ten days before more money comes my way.

Financial problems are far from uncommon when cancer strikes and I’ve always been very aware of the fund raisers done for people in the neighboring small towns. Often it is for people struck during the prime of their lives with families to provide for. So it could be far worse. I just hope that more people are aware of this being par for the course than not when they deal with cancer victims.

Sadly, awareness is not a trait associated with modern Westerners, though I often find myself suspecting it is simply human nature to be oblivious to what’s happening to others. Well, aside from salacious items that make fodder for gossip.

Since activity will be down, that means a chance to get this blog back to normal. One movie review needs to be finished, another has complete notes taken, and a third is partially noted. A small amount of referral spam has been recorded with an intent to investigate as well. Updates on my father’s battle with cancer will continue, hopefully with less drama.

The outer world is definitely seeing an increase in international drama with the return of the Cold War, airplane crashes, jet fighter shoot downs, and continuing economic woes. Therefore, I may end up posting on what’s going on if something really big happens…

…but I’d rather ignore the world for a week. Less stress equals better health, so a plan to bombard Dad with mass distraction is in the works. Time for nostalgia like the Emma Peel years of The Avengers plus family favorite movies of the past.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Hurry Up… and Wait

Probably the most aggravating thing about serious illness is the uncertainty involved. One finds themselves waiting for test results, the doctor to explain things, the medication to arrive, and a many other aspects of medical care. Making it worse is the tantalizing prospect of a solution, progress, or even hope of going home from the hospital.

The latter is the current situation. Step by step Dad has been slowly moved up to a liquids only diet with talk of being release this afternoon. However, low hemoglobin counts are making this iffier. Once again we have hurried up only to wait.

Yesterday was a day of cleaning here at the Boonedocks. The kitchen was focused on to sterilize anything that could contaminate food. Thanks to the help of the Koch family, this became possible without completely destroying my health in the process. That refrigerator alone was a thing of nightmares that I dare not recount in detail for fear of upsetting those of a sensitive temperament.

I still need to clean the microwave, I just realized. Ah well.

Last night was when I started to hit the wall and so careful attention to efforts exerted is in order. Getting an infection going would not be good for being around my father during this stage of the game. Between traveling to Gunderson, sporadic cleaning, and running errands there isn’t much left of me.

With luck, Dad will be brought home later today by my sister, which will save a lot of my meager funds for gasoline that have to somehow stretch to April 3rd when my next Social Security deposit arrives. Also of concern is keeping the house heated. Wood pellets aren’t cheap or plentiful while the LP tank is getting low. Meanwhile winter weather has returned and will be around through most of the coming week.

So please keep those prayers and wishes coming, we need them. Thank you to all who have been doing that and especially those who’ve helped out in person. It is all greatly appreciated.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Spinning Wheels

The results of the PET scan revealed my father’s lymphoma no longer can be found, which means the tumor is gone and cannot be blocking his stomach. So that’s great news. However, they doctors still don’t know why his digestive system isn’t moving things along.

Once again, it is a waiting game. I headed home to prepare the house in case he’s coming back today or tomorrow, but haven’t managed to get much done. Energy levels start out low for me and they are even lower now making everything difficult to do.

Heading home last night was a bad experience despite getting good news on the cancer part of my father’s woes. Out on Houston County 4, I noticed large amounts of deer in the fields due to the snow cover melting away. At night, I rarely exceed 45 mph because the large vermin are very active thanks to a huge population. It still didn’t keep me from hitting one.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Draining Times

As I start typing this post, my father is being bombarded by energy particles in a metal shell. The PET scan is to determine whether the tumor in his stomach has changed size one way or another. The hopes were that it would be mostly gone after the second round of chemotherapy.

Since nothing has been exiting his stomach in a downward direction, there are a lot of concerns at the moment. Doctors have been puzzling over the case and many a theory broached, yet this is the test that will shed the most light on just what is happening. Surgery may be required if the RCHOP regimen has failed.

Meanwhile, Dad is not looking good today. He's as gray as his hair due to a lack of sleep and dramatic loss of weight. Fortunately, my sister is here to assist in looking after him. My immune system has shown signs of wanting to go on strike, so I spent yesterday at home resting.

It has been especially difficult for my father the last 48 hours thanks to having a tube down his nose going to his stomach. Since nothing is making its way through his GI system, constant pumping of his stomach is required. This has been a miserable experience resulting in his not sleeping.

Hopefully they will give him something to knock him out tonight.

Back to the home front, the house needs cleaning and sterilizing -- no exaggeration. This morning the long process began and I hope to get more done so Dad can come home to a less infection causing environment. Cat litter boxes have been cleaned, initial stabs at saving vomit stained clothing and rugs tried, and most organic refuse disposed of. Next is cleaning out the refrigerator including a too old duck. The latter will have to be buried somewhere where the soil is sufficiently thawed.

All of this is presuming father will be coming home. The possibility he won't make it increases the longer things stretch on. That might upset some reading this, but being a true adult means facing reality head on preferably without flinching.

All will be dealt with as it comes, no matter how messy.

Dad has a large number of people praying for him and a top notch hospital taking care of him. That's something to be grateful for.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Emergency Room Blues

As I sit in the ER for the second time in two days, things are miserable for my father. Last night he ended up with 1.5 liters of fluids, an x-ray, and a new drug for the hiccups. It worked, but the vomiting continued and then things escalated by ten this morning.

While talking with my sister on the telephone, his speech began slurring and his words didn't make sense.

Another long drive to Gunderson with Dad reporting weird mental imagery and thoughts. Questioning revealed he'd taken the generic thorazine earlier on top of the baclofen he'd been given less than twelve hours before.

So while a stroke has to be ruled out, I can't help wondering if the menagery of drugs in his system are interacting in a negative way.

Right now, Dad is back from a CT scan and the investigation continues. EKG time. More to come later.

Tests show no signs of a stroke with the thorazin being the likely culprit for the disorientation, confusion, shortness of breath, and pounding heart episodes.

However, my father is still spitting up black material in his mucous. Yes, this is the messy side of reporting medical travails. Illness is an organic thing -- sometimes too organic. That mystery needs solving so that he can take in nourishment of some kind.

He'll be held overnight for observation.

I'd be ungrateful if I didn't mention the aid rendered by hospital workers of all stripes and by a friend who came over to give him a blessing. The help has been well appreciated.

Much later:
There are still no rooms available at the hospital and we are still in an ER exam room. Dad is doing better, but he's had no food or drink so we'll see what happens when that is allowed. At least he's catching up on missed sleep.

I wish I could say the same.

Time to recharge the Nook HD.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Hard Part Has Arrived

Up until Thursday things had been going fairly well, if plagued by exhaustion after a wretched Tuesday where my father bit off more than he could chew on a service call. Moving to the full dosage for the second cycle of chemo meant it was time to start seeing side effects. Out of control acid reflux and hiccups arrived by the end of the week, making it nearly impossible for him to sleep. Yesterday it got worse, a lot worse.

One of the most common side effects of chemotherapy is nausea and vomiting. The latter hit my dad in escalating waves throughout the day with nothing staying down. Not familiar with being ill or with side effects, he’s flailed around blaming other things. Making things worse is that he never associated anti-nausea medication prescribed with the vomiting.

As in since he wasn’t feeling nauseous, he didn’t take the medicine.

Sigh. Between dealing with cluelessness and misery while unable to do anything about it, I’ve been extremely frustrated. At least the hiccups are now under control thanks to an emergency run to pick up a prescription of thorazine yesterday. Apparently it is used for that too, little did I know.

So I’m home, skipping church in order to keep an eye on him. He’s finally found some slumber which makes me hopeful he’ll get over this. Now to wait to see what happens.

One thing that worries me about my father is that he’s not gotten it into his head that he has to fight to win this battle. Instead, he’s been passive. That’s the wrong attitude for surviving any threat. Since I’ve had to fight to function to any degree my entire adult life, I lack empathy when it comes to dealing with non-warrior attitudes. This is something I need to work on.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Endurance Run

Time to report about how my father is doing and just a few minutes before this post was started I had to perform the Heimlich maneuver on him when a cyclovir pill tried to kill him. No, this isn’t an attempt to be humorous.

Fortunately for him, I was in the bathroom next to the kitchen when I heard him choking and found him doubled over. Concerned that his stomach might have perforated, I quickly ascertained that it was simple choking and asked him if he needed me to Heimlich him. A nod was all I needed and I very carefully made an escalating trio of attempts very conscious of the dangers of rupturing the cancer stricken stomach. The third time the pill popped out and he was able to breathe again.

After that, I made sure he was okay and that there was no pain in the abdomen. I’ll be checking periodically, but the force used was carefully measured so I don’t expect complications. Heck of a way to end the day, yet it is consistent with how difficult the entire week has been.