Tuesday, August 21, 2012

6 months...

So, I did get all As.   I got an A in my summer school class, and now I have a pretty decent GPA of 3.84.    And my dad is dying of cancer.

My dad is dying of cancer.


Even typing it out, it doesn't fully click- well it did months ago when he started getting sick and we found out he had lesions in his lungs,  back in June when he went to the ER with chest pain.  They did some scans, which showed tumors on his lungs and liver.   Once he found out he has lesions on his liver as well, I did some googling and looking at my old medical textbooks and deduced he had stage 4 cancer... and no insurance.  I tried to talk to him, begged him to see a doctor, that he needed treatment ASAP.    He said he was fine.      It was beyond frustrating, without treatment he was as good as dead, and there was nothing I could do about it.    So I cried, I bawled as I tried to fall asleep at night, my performance at work because a struggle, as its hard to smile and give a damn about giving awesome customer service to a bunch of rich, snotty orange county people when in the back of my mind is a constant   " Dad is going to die....he is going to die....he is going to die."       Old men who came to buy plants and chat about their grandkids were the worse, their sweetness and pride in their kids would send me running to the bathroom as soon as I had rung them up to cry into an extra shirt and try to get my wits about me.   I started calling in sick some days, I couldnt get out of bed because I had been up half the night crying, grieving for the dreams of things I would never get to do with my dad, or he with his grandkids.    My mother has been sick for years, and is now in a wheelchair, I knew for years she was on borrowed time.    But my dad was strong, patient, and healthy as a horse- until now.   My dad, who is an awesome grandpa to my two little ones- would not get to see them grow up.   In all likelyhood he wouldnt even see me graduate from college now.    It was a very bitter pill to swallow.     What kinda of a sick joke was the universe playing-  to leave me as the caregiver to my disabled mother who keeps limping along,  when my dad has to lose such a sad battle?     Instead of writing my college application essays like I had planned his summer, I planned a funeral.      I made a draft of a eulogy, made a list of pallbearers,  saved the phone numbers of mortuaries and the cemetary his family is buried in.     The only thing worse then planning a funeral for a parent,   is when no one else knows or believes its necessary but you.   I planned my fall schedule to bookend classes on 3 days a week, so if/when things go downhill I was available.    I quit my job, because as the only child it would all come down to me to settle things and be the support for mom and for dad.    (My last day of work was August 10. )   It still angers me, feeling like I had no choice but to walk away from my dream job, a job that took years of school and experience to get, and I had to leave it because I had to go be the hero and save the day.   Mom and dad were still in denial that dad had cancer, they kept insisting it was just maybe an infection that could be treated with drugs and maybe surgery.

Dad finally got into a program at the hospital for uninsured people, but its taken months to get the appointments and tests...I dont know how things were moving so slowly when they knew it was cancer they were dealing with.      Finally on the day we were supposed to find out his prognosis  (August 15)  they said they couldnt tell him because he hadnt had a biopsy yet, they had dropped the ball and no one had remembered to schedule it.     But dad was in a ton of pain, his stomach hard and bloated, his skin and eyes a sick shade of yellow from his liver failing.     Finally the doc said they were sending him to the ER for more scans since he looked and felt so sick.

ER was a nightmare, long story short he finally got a bed in a hallway 12 hours later.   They kept wanting ot send him home with painkillers to follow up with another doctor who wasnt available till next month.  I yelled at the doctor, the nurses, and the surgeon: I would not take my father home to die, they needed to *do something* and I wasnt leaving until they did.   I threatened to sue, to complain, to call the director of the hospital, but I wouldnt not take no for an answer.   It took another 24 hours to get a bed up in the medical unit, along with more scans and tests.  They found a mass in his colon.    For 5 days I waited with dad, slept in the big pink chair that pulls out to a bed.    To kill time I googled videos of colon cancer and tried to explain it in simple terms but have him understand how serious it was.   I couldnt sugar coat it and say everything was going to be fine, but I couldnt just bluntly say he didnt have much time left.   We took walks around the floor, dad in his gown and yellow hospital issue booties, using the IV pole for support.   My cousin is awesome enough to stay with my mom and keep her calm until he gets home, hopefully by next week.

Yesterday (August 20) after me running out of patience with the various doctors who had no answers and repeated excuses for pushing off a surgery he needs for his colon being obstructed, we got the truth from them:   stage 4 colon cancer.   Its metastasized to his liver, lungs,  and some bone in his ribs and pelvis.    He has a large mass thats almost totally blocking up his colon, and another large mass on his liver thats messing with its functioning.        The prognosis:    up to 6 months,   maybe, just maybe, a year if he responds to chemo and they can remove some of the tumors.   But theres no cure for him.   By the time he felt sick and found out it was in his lungs, it was already too late.

Now I've drawn a blank on what to do.  They are going to insert a stent to keep his colon open and avoid surgery, to try and do some chemo and buy him time.     Everyone keeps telling me how strong I am...but I'm not.   I've just already mourned.   a few night ago I held my dad in my arms while he cried, the first time I've ever seen my dad cry, he said he was sorry for not being a better dad, etc.   I told him what I've wanted to tell him for months:  I love you, I'll miss you, and I unconditionally forgive you.

Now I wait.  I've cried, I've given up all that I could to be there, tried to fight for him to get what help there was, said my goodbyes.   Now I guess I just wait.   Next week the fall semester starts and I still have classes to go to, a little boy who starts kindergarden, a girl starting 3rd grade.   I have college transfer applications to work on.  In between my own family and school I will spend as much time with him as I can and try to help as best as I can.  

That is all I can do at this point.