Friday, May 11, 2007

Friday's Update

Dad's Day:

It seemed like such a day of hills and valleys for Dad. He seemed especially lucid and clear-headed at times (especially this morning), but we also had no luck keeping food or liquids down, and his body just isn't working well. Hospice came this morning, and with the three-person tag team of the nurse, me, and Mom, we performed a successful enema (which was much needed, since it had been a week since his last BM). Dad managed a longer errand run to town with me and Mom, but I do think it wiped him out. Dad and I took a nice walk (in his case, scooter ride) down by the river this evening. My day ended with me giving Dad a rectal suppository, a definite first for me. It was such a vulnerable thing, and Dad has been so amenable to do what the nurse or Mom and I ask. Still, I worry both that he has little fight and that his body just isn't cooperating as well as his mind is.

Miscellaneous Thoughts:

It was tempting to feel a bit... I don't know... bummed that the other 8 interns were in Philly today, hanging with Shane Claiborne, while I'm in a one bedroom apartment applying rectal suppositories. But when I thought more about it, there is no place I'd rather be, suppositories, enemas, and all. Make no mistake that - all things being equal - I'd rather steer clear of shit and assholes, but this is one of those times where the good is clear. After all Dad has done for me, this is my time to serve him.


Today got an early start, as Dad was up around 6am and needed a little help in getting the scooter equipped to go outside. I couldn’t drop back to sleep right away, and then Dad came back. He seemed to have an appetite, so I made him some food, although he involuntarily spit it all back up. He also need some help on the toilet. All day today, it felt good to be of real help to Dad.


Sometimes Dad will unintentionally lean on the horn button on the scooter, and with his bad hearing, he often doesn't realize it right away. It's always worth a chuckle.


It was a gorgeous day, and we three had a nice visit to Titusville. I pushed Dad in his wheelchair all throughout WalMart. He actually fell asleep several times, but then I didn't feel guilty stopping to grab the couple things I needed. We checked on fishing licenses, but Dad didn't want to buy one today for some reason. Hopefully he'll feel up to it as time goes on.

On the way home, Dad had us drive through Pleasantville and by our old house, then to Neilltown Cemetery where Grandma and Grandma are buried (and where he will be with Mom). He didn't say much, but I wonder if he was strolling down memory lane and thinking about what he is facing. I picked some violets from the graves of my Grandma and Aunt for Mom to send to her sister. Again, the theme of the scenic route...


I asked Dad if he is okay with us wanting to audio record his memories, and he said he is. I also asked if he'd let me take pictures of him and Mom at Paradise Valley, where they were married. He was cool with that too.


Tonight, at the perfect time of day in early evening, Dad and I took a nice walk down by the river. Mom and I talked over dinner about our doubts with calling in hospice so quickly and not being more aggressive with treatment, but in talking with Dad on our walk, he was very clear that he is against any chemo that won’t cure. He doesn’t want to put Mom through that, he said. He again said that he is resigned since there is nothing he can do, but Mom and I both worry that he has given up.


Oh yes, and the highlight of my life so far – giving my Dad a rectal suppository. It actually wasn't too bad, but no real indication it worked. It was supposed to help him keep liquid down, but when he drank later, it came back up. Our biggest fear is how weak he is getting, and I even worry that starvation or dehydration will get to him before the cancer does. That begs the question that I really fear - how will he ultimately go? Part of me dreads just seeing him waste away or be in pain, but I am nowhere near ready just to let him slip away sooner rather than later. I am not wishing for some drawn out illness, but yet, I want Dad around. Right now, I'd give my right arm for him just to be able to keep food or liquid down. He is so weak. His legs look skeletal. He won't last long without eating. And this isn't what we asked for with hospice - for Dad to literally starve to death because he can't drink a damn Ensure. I'd almost rather the cancer kill him somehow than for some mundane thing to take him. It is so hard to know what is right and what to do and where to push. Can't they do more? Hospice is good, but somehow it seems contradictory when I want my Dad to live - maybe not years more, but at least months - and they prepare him for death. There has been a lack of urgency with Dad's entire illness from start until now. Mom is a bit bothered by the fact that all indications we were initially given were positive, when it seems now that health professionals involved must have known things didn't look good from early on. There are a lot of threads to untangle. Dad has been restless; I hope he sleeps tonight.


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