13 April 2016

Hospice, Cancer, and the Whole Ball of Wax

The last month has been a blur. My father has been diagnosed with inoperable esophageal cancer, along with his earlier Alzheimer's diagnosis. He was admitted to the hospital the day before Easter because he kept falling and could no longer sit up, let alone stand and walk. In the hospital, a series of tests found that he had a heart arrhythmia and was malnourished. Then because of the falling, they did a series of brain scans and found that he had had strokes on both sides of his and that he also had a lot of tiny blood clots in his brain.

As the doctors performed many tests over that first couple of days, they found that there was a mass in his esophagus that was causing internal bleeding. When they performed scope procedure, a very large tumor was discovered. Because he was so under weight and because of how large and where the the tumor is, the doctors couldn't operate and really couldn't do much to shrink it. After a two-week stay in the hospital, the poking and prodding has now stopped. We decided to send him home. He is now resting as comfortably as he can in his own home with Hospice equipment and 24-hour caregivers.

While I am preparing for my dad's slow decline, I am now also having to battle my mother's inability to process the situation. That has been an even bigger challenge to me than accepting my dad's inevitable death. My mother just doesn't understand what is going on and that dad is very, very sick. She doesn't like the invasion of the caregivers (who are an amazing group of women, by the way). And she doesn't like it when she's not in charge. So there are fits of rage, explosive tantrums, and sessions of what seems like unending cursing. She has called the police on the caregivers and me, she has threatened lawsuits, and suggested that she'll walk back to Ohio if she needs to.  And while I'd like to just turn off the phone and forget about, I can't because one day there really will be an emergency and I will need to answer.

All that being said, everything I have learned through Al-Anon has really kicked in. I do not take anything personally. I always try to remember that I cannot control the words and actions of another person. And the idea of One Day at a Time is a reality. A good night's sleep makes all the difference in the world and that single day, a good day, can be perk me up for at least a week. :)

Spread Your Wings!