May 6, 2001

The Last Twelve Days


For those who haven't checked my log page lately: the reason for the lack of updates is that my father is back in hospital and I haven't had the energy to write here.

He was admitted on Wednesday April 25. Well sort of.. they didn't commit to that until the next morning, and it took them a week to get him a hospital room. That week was spent in various holding areas and even, for a day, a solarium.

We (Dad, Stepmom and I) spent all of that Wednesday in the emergency area. Since Dad was being treated for a blood clot in a leg vein, the primary concern was pulmonary embolus (blood clot travelling to the lungs) because he was extremely fatigued and somewhat short of breath.

After days of xrays, CT scans, and two biopsies, the focus has shifted to some sort of tumour in the lower abdomen; lymphoma of some sort, they say.

That would explain the swelling (obstructed circulation) and his progressive weakness over the past months.

There's also something in the lungs which may or may not be related.

They (the doctors) tell us that lymphoma isn't so bad since it can be treated. Perhaps, but if it's the third cancer diagnosed in the past two years in an 85 year old man, it's not good news.
Treatment should begin soon (tomorrow?) when the biopsy results are complete.

For the first ten days of this hospitalization, a rotating contingent of grandchildren slept over at Stepmom's apartment (under protest since she didn't accept that she needed anyone there). I would pick her up in the morning and we would spend the day at the hospital.

(For those not familiar with my family, Stepmom has memory problems which are due to mini-strokes, early Alzheimer's, or both. She's significantly worse than last year, when she needed some help but could find her way by herself to Dad's hospital room from the front door. That's completely out of the question now; she doesn't know what hospital he's in or what street it's on, even though she lived in the area most of her life.)

Two days ago the first (of three) daughters arrived in town, to find her mother had largely fallen apart. She was crying intermittently and expressing depressed and even suicidal thoughts. I asked the hospital social worker assigned to Dad's case to intervene on Friday; he spoke with her and recommended she see her doctor. That'll be tomorrow as well. I don't know what the doctor can do besides adjust her medication but perhaps even that might help.

Clearly, this can't be allowed to go on; it's not fair for the grandchildren to be obligated to stay somewhere they're not welcome, or for me to have to devote all my days to watching Stepmom, particularly when my own father is so ill. For now her daughters are all arranging to come to town to be with her but beyond that we'll have to find somewhere for them to live that offers more care. To that end we have a meeting with another social worker tomorrow morning.

Stepmom says she doesn't care where she lives as long as it's with Dad; Dad isn't being so flexible, unfortunately, but he'll be outvoted this time. There really is no other choice.

So exactly one year after the last nightmare ended, a new one has begun.

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