Saturday, February 03, 2007

As of tomorrow morning, Dad will have been in the hospital for two weeks. This, in and of itself, is an accomplishment--just try to get a fortnight stay in an American hospital in 2007 and you'll see what a challenge it is. This is not a criticism, mind you, but simply a comment on the actual state of things. People go to the hospital, they're treated, and they're sent home or to some ancillary facility.

In case you would like to follow in his footsteps, here is the winning formula. Start with a serious underlying condition such as prostate cancer metastasized into the bone. Then add a triggering event that puts you into the hospital, such as nasty ass bedsores. I don't mean, mind you, nasty-ass bedsores. Oh no. Next, for some reason, make sure that you can't get the surgery to deal with the infected bedsores for a couple of days. Then, once you've had the surgery, you should develop some sort of additional complication--a blood clot would be an excellent choice. This will mean that you need to go on blood thinners, in addition to the 180 mg of morphine per day, and will make you all the more fragile since bleeding is now a really bad idea. It couldn't hurt if you require an additional clean-up procedure on the surgery (while needing not to bleed). Finally, once all of this is done and you're actually getting through all of it ok, you should live in a rural area where it's hard to find a facility that can take care of all your various needs at the same time, because the few such facilities are completely full.

Things are looking up, a little. Dad himself told me that a week ago he didn't think he was going to be around much longer, but now he thinks he'll be around a while. Mom was on the verge of calling everyone home on Monday, but now that moment has passed. The primary doctor on the case (the oncologist, I think) is now saying "a matter of months"; I find this a little bit amusing, because all of us having been independently thinking "a matter of months" for about a year and a half now, so the phrase is empty of all meaning.

Here's the thing. I love my Dad so much; I mean everyone loves their dad, but everyone loves my dad, he's just one of those people. I want him around, but I don't want him to be in a tremendous amount of pain. Thanks to the morphine, though, he's not. I've decided that I'm happy for him as long as he's still lucid and getting some enjoyment out of life, even if it's interspersed with a lot of inconvenience, embarrassment, and pain. And fortunately, right now he is still getting that. But the really horrible part is, I don't know how long I can take having him that sick. It means constantly living on the edge, never being able to make any plans that you can't cancel suddenly, never being able to fully concentrate on anything else. And of course, it means feeling horrible that you're even thinking these thoughts because the implication is that you just want to get on with it. And of course you really don't. But if you're really honest, a very little bit of you actually does. And that really is the worst of it.

1 comment:

MIke B. said...

My mother just finished an 18-day stint, albeit at two hospitals.