Thanks lady_of_entropy and velcrobandit for the kind words after my last post. I'm not really sharing what's going on with all of my facebook, hockey, and school friends yet, and I probably won't until closer to the end, but I thought I'd go ahead and provide an update in my most anonymous bit of social media.
I'd scheduled a trip home set for this past Sunday (August 5th) a while back, which is partly why I didn't leave to visit earlier in the week, after I heard the news. With school quickly approaching, there's nothing I can't move in my schedule, but I still had a lot to take care of before that Sunday, so I decided to keep my plans.
I honestly don't know what I expected to see when I arrived. I expected an uncomfortable conversation to occur at some point, but that's about as far as I got in my imaginings. I arrived before 7pm, and my mom was in the living room... as always. We'd talked earlier about me doing some errands for her, so we started discussing that, and I expected her to play chauffeur (as she always does), which would have given us some time to talk privately. The writing was on the wall, I suppose, after she said that she didn't feel comfortable leaving my dad alone. She told me (whispered, really), warned me of his appearance, as he'd been unable to eat and keep anything down for awhile. When he came in, he definitely did look older, frailer, thinner, sicker, and more like his father near the end. However I will say that he wasn't as far gone as my imagination had taken him. Still, it was obvious that he was far worse than he had been when I visited for the Fourth.
I went about my trip to Target, and apparently, my sister had texted my iPad while I was out, which was how my mom found out that she was coming in for an equally brief visit. After I returned home, my mom and I socialized a bit (and later were joined by my sister, who was bearing cupcakes). My dad had to take his midnight medicine, so she stayed up. My sister was tired, so she laid down long before then. And I was a chicken, so I went ahead and tried to lay down around the same time.
I can't say that falling asleep was terribly easy. The guest beds aren't the comfiest, but added to that was the mass amount of sugar I'd ingested, and of course, all that was going on. Still, I hooked my earbuds into my iPad and did my best to sleep at a reasonable time. Of course, I couldn't keep my mind focused on sleep, and once I took my earbuds out, I heard my dad coughing, burping, and mostly, retching. Apparently, the last chemo he was on not only was ineffective, but it took out his digestive system. My mom said that his organs were mush, but I don't know if that means perforations or dissolved stomach lining, nor do I think my mom was able to capture many of the details when they received the bad news. The doctor promised that they'd give him plenty of pain meds, so that he wouldn't be feeling that much pain, but it seems that getting anything into him has been a problem. I mean, he retched bile for much of the night, this after taking pain and anti-nausea meds.
Monday morning, I stayed in my room until my hair appointment, but I heard my dad making phone calls in my parents' room. I tried not to eavesdrop too much, but basically, he's tried to get everything in order, and in his own way, he showed concern for my mom, who has had trouble keeping food in her (other end) from the stress. We're a pretty reserved family, my dad even more so, therefore it was about the first time I've heard real concern for my mom in his voice. I mean, this is a man who had an affair (that I'm probably not supposed to know about and that he was apparently not private enough about), and the only reason he told my mom was that he was diagnosed with cancer. And, the only reason my mom stayed with him after finding out, was apparently also the cancer. So, it was a weird dynamic. It still is - this human nature.
When I returned from my appointment, I started to fill out some of the funeral paperwork that my mom had asked for help with, and I was soon joined by my parents, who had apparently stopped by the doctor's office, in an attempt to find a more effective and more easily ingested anti-emetic. My mom had to return to work, so she asked me to stick around and let my dad know when it was time for his next dose of pills. In the half hour proceeding his dose, he catnapped, suddenly woke up, and started coughing and retching again. It was just a little bit of bile at a time, but it basically went on until it was time for his pill. He eventually got the antiemetic (only) down and went to lay down, but seemed to vomit it and the water he'd drunk before it had had any effect.
My sister and I had to leave a little while later, but I would assume that it was much of the same on Tuesday. Hospice nurses came by to set up a bed in our dining room so that he wouldn't have as far to go to lay down. I suppose that at some point my parents also called the doctor again, as they called in a prescription for pain patches and an anti-emetic gel. However, when I talked to my mom (who had just returned from picking up some Depends for obvious reasons), it sounded like the nausea was still about as bad.
I really don't know how long he has left, but obviously, we're looking at a small amount of time. In one of the phone conversations I overheard, he said that he hadn't eaten in two weeks, and he's always been a slender man, so I don't know how much longer he'll be able to go. I suppose it all depends on how accurate his statement was, because it's clear that his malnutrition is the ticking time bomb of the moment. If he can't even swallow pills, I don't believe he'll eat anything from here on out, and even if he does, it sounds like his digestion (and absorption) is shot.
I know that was a rather dour account, and probably nonsensical, as the typos I caught were bizarre, but I just needed to get my account down somewhere. If you avoided reading it, you're probably the happier person for it.