17 Oct Patient Experience: Irony Is the Game Of Life, Days 21 & 22
It is the evening of October 15th, day 21, and I sit in my office looking at the pictures on the wall, looking out my office window into the dark sky. My thoughts are clouded by the events of today. My father only has 6 to maybe 8 months left.
I don’t want to focus on the numbers, but it is all my mind keeps playing around in my mind. I continue to think if there were any signs I missed. Have I done enough? Am I being logical and directing in the appropriate manner or am I allowing my emotions to drive my thought process.
My mind swirls around the ticking of the clock, the stillness of the evening, the countdown playing in my mind.
I start to think of the irony that occurs in the game of life. The one thing that I have dedicated the vast majority of my life to make an impact is the one thing that I can’t impact enough to save my father. Cancer.
I have always believed that if I can dream it, I can make it a reality. Am I dreaming? Will I be able to make this go away? Will I wake up and find it is all a nightmare?
The silence is pierced by the annoyance of my phone ringing. It is my father. His voice is soft, quiet, and he asks if I had made the calls as he requested. I tell him I was just about to do it. He says okay, thanks me, and hangs up.
This is my reality. Deep breath in, let it out. Inhale, hold it, exhale.
I dial the numbers to my fathers niece. My mind hopes no one answers. She picks up. Hello? I introduce myself to let her know it is me. She indicates that it is a coincidence because she was just thinking of my father, his birthday in a few days, and the need to send him a card. She asks how I am. I tell her I am hanging in there. I feel my heart rate increase. My hands shake. My legs feel weak. It feels as if my stomach has dropped to the floor and my heart is in my throat. I can hear my own voice quivering.
Deep breath……..I tell her the news. Father went to see the doctor, he has Stage IV pancreatic cancer. He has 3 options. We discussed as a family. He chose the moderate but manageable option. He has 7-8 months. Exhale out.
Of course there is silence, shock, questions. I bob and weave through the conversation to share as much information as I can, move as quickly through the conversation as possible, and get to the end.
Done. Inhale. Exhale. I celebrate that I made it through the entire conversation without choking up, breaking up, or beginning to cry. Whew.
I repeat in my mind to find the calm. It is there someplace. Find it.
One down. Six more calls to go.
I awake to Day 22, October 16th. For me it is my regional day. I begin at 5:00 am In India, move to Dubai, Africa, Europe, Brazil, Argentina, US, Japan, Indonesia, and finish with China in the evening.
I call my father to check in on him. He answers. His voice is at a whisper. He asks about my day. I tell him it went well. I ask him how he is feeling. He asks if the chemo if going to make him sick. I tell him everyone reacts differently, but he should be able to get through it relatively easy. I cross my fingers.
I tell him about a call I had earlier in the day with my friend who is an oncologist. We faxed my fathers information to him for review. He thought our decisions made sense. He agreed that my father should tolerate it well. He hoped that my father would respond. If he does, he said then it may be a new conversation.
My father says, “Thanks for talking to him. That’s good. I hope he is right and I don’t get sick.”
My father wishes me a good night, blesses me, safe travels for the next day. We end with the usual I love you. Hangs up.
I turn off the lights. As I am in bed all I can do is think about not having my father available to call. No more Sunday evening conversations. No more checking in on me to make sure I am safe, how may day is, and what is new. No more advice. No more jokes. No more stories. No new memories.
There is so much I want to say to my father. How do I get it all out in a single conversation, without getting interrupted or side tracked, or not being able to get through it all? How do I tell my father that the story he helped me author over he last 38 years just won’t have the same flair?
I cry myself to sleep.
Tomorrow is Day 23, and my father will hopefully write about how he kicked chemotherapy’s ass.
As always, you can feel free to contact me at: CANCERGEEK@GMAIL.COM
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