Wednesday, October 27, 2010

October 27, 2010 - "Into Words"

I told myself my writing had to relax for a moment, that being intense for so many days is not healthy. So I skipped writing anything yesterday (not that I wasn't feeling intense), but when I woke up this morning I had an email from my Mother. It was in regard to my blog post "My Last Nerve" and when I read her email everything became INTENSE again. I have received some feedback emails and many tweets asking how my Dad and Mother are doing, so this email arrived at just the right time.  

My Dad had his first chemotherapy treatment last Thursday (that's not something you ever expect to write, or say). It went as the doctor expected; no pain, no problem. He mentioned that Dad might lose his appetite for a couple days (didn't happen), and he mention that Dad would probably not get really sick at his stomach, or feel flush (he did not get sick). Dad commented yesterday that he felt a little warm, but that subsided. He has another chemo treatment tomorrow; Mother said she would mention it to the doctor.

My Mother is handling this about as well she can for this type of situation. She is doing what a good spouse would do (wife or husband). She accompanies Dad to every doctor's appointment, and now treatments. Helps him organize his meds and ensure every pill is taken while helping with other things like meals and clothes. By the end of the day she is exhausted and It makes me feel tired to just think about it (and that's not counting the mental drain on her psyche).  
With all that said, I will share her email with you (note the time it was received). She has a vision problem but still puts in the effort and time to watch college football, read email, scan the web for different information and read blog posts. She may have reached her senior years but she's still got it.   

To: Bryant, Andy 

Sent: Tue Oct 26 00:26:52 2010
Subject: My Last Nerve
Your words echo my feelings and thoughts tonight.  I thank you for putting them into words. I just ask God to spare Daddy if it is his plan.  I ask Him to help him.  Daddy still looks for hope,  and I do too.   You and I both know God is always near.  I love you.  m.   

Enough said  

Andy is not "A-OK".

Monday, October 25, 2010

October 25, 2010 - "My Last Nerve"

In a Southern Drawl the dentist said, “OK. I’m just going to look at it; I’m not going to touch it, or do anything.”

The little boy cringed and wrapped his fingers around the end of the chair’s arm. All he could remember was his cousin telling him how much it hurt to when the dentist pulled out a tooth when he was 9-years-old. The boy remembered the cousin describing how the tooth had ached for days before it got pulled. He had also described the excruciating pain he felt every time he chewed a piece of food. The boy also remembered his cousin telling him that each bite had an aluminum foil taste, but he was not sure how the cousin knew what foil tasted like. With the dentist reaching for his face the little boy thought, ‘Maybe Cousin Joe bit some foil his Mother used to baked a potato, or foil that was used to wrap a sandwich in for his lunch.’

The young boy thought, “This is going to hurt.”

Unaware of the boy’s concern the dentist said, “Open wide”, and pushed his hand into the boy’s mouth. He moved a sterile device over the tooth, the kind that is shiny and clean. In just a moment the boy raised his head and screamed, “MOMMY!”

His Mother who was sitting across the room quickly ran across to her son and wrapped an arm around his sweet, innocent face and comforted him as only a Mother can do (Dad’s can do it too, but kids love their Mother). 

The dentist looked at the Mother and said, “He does have a cavity and it is obvious that the nerve is exposed. I can numb it up, go in to clean it out and then put a filling in it. This will fix the problem and remove the pain.”

The young boy’s Mother nodded in the positive and said, “Go ahead doctor. We need to help him.”

The face of the boy expressed nothing but panic as he pulled even closer to his Mother.

Have you ever had a situation like this?  Have you ever had a bad day, was surrounded by a coworker, child or maybe a spouse and said, or thought, “You are working on my last nerve?” Ever faced a pain that just wouldn’t go away?

Ever felt that you only had one last nerve available to deal with the world and it was exposed for the entire world to twist and pull, never releasing you from the hell of its existence?

I have an exposed nerve reaching straight out of my chest, like a third arm or a plant extending out of my chest. This nerve is being abused and raped to no-end, the result of the demon cancer. This exposed, raw nerve leads directly from my heart and is connected to my brain, sort of like a mental ball-and-chain. It’s a chain that is being tugged and pulled by emotion and a sense of helplessness.

When I left my parent’s home this past Thursday I packed the trunk of my vehicle, said good-bye to my Dad and Mother (hugging each with the pain of knowing what has happened and what will happen) and walked out to the vehicle. Of course, standing next to the vehicle was the stranger that accompanied me on my drive up (if you’ve not read my previous post please do that before continuing).

The stranger, who looked like me said, “Oh, this is going to be a lot of fun. You’re already upset before you even get in the vehicle. How are you going to do this?”  So I bravely entered the auto, rolled down the window, waved to my parents (‘with a strong upper-lip’ as the saying goes) and drove away.

I only drove around the corner and parked outside a building, the upper-lip was only a fa├žade. Andy was not A-OK, the moment of release had been on-hold and the stranger was with me again.

Believe it or not my first thought was “This can’t be happening.” But my strange traveling companion reached into my stomach, twisted it just a little and said, “Oh yea. No doubt this is happening. You were at the oncology appointment with your brother, sister-in-law and parents. You heard the doctor say that the chemotherapy would shrink the cancer, that it could not be surgically removed due to complications and that the chemo would be administered in weekly doses, 3 weeks in a row, skip a week and then started again.”

I thought to myself, “Yep, I heard that.”

The stranger twisted the inner layers of my stomach again, then reached up and ripped the nerve from my chest as he said, “Its cancer!” It felt as if there was nothing connected to my heart, just an exposed opening with very little air in my chest – my single, raw nerve was possessed by a demon.

The cancer demon! There was no reason to breathe deep, my chest seemed opened yet empty and the nerve was being massaged by cancer emotions.

I turned the radio on in an attempt to sooth my thoughts. I thought, “If I can calm down maybe the nerve can be shoved back into my chest.” It seemed as if the stranger who taunted me had done enough, until I was reminded that the 6-9 month prognosis had been extended, possibly to a year or more. The doctor said, “I can give you estimates and averages. Only God knows the answer has he has not talked with me about it.”

In the doctor’s office that day I mentally snatched this statement and pulled it close. The comment echoed my religious upbringing and faith. It’s that kind of statement that is perfect and should snatch me back from my emotional situation.

But the agony of the moment, while sitting in my car, was overwhelming and there was no repelling of my emotions.

All of this occurred before I could get out of town. I stopped for fuel and went inside to wash my hands. The girl working the register was an innocent bystander to my emotions. She did not know me or what was taking place. I considered telling her about my Dad, probably because I was alone, but she seemed more interested in texting someone on her cell phone. So I exited the building and walked back out to my vehicle. There were a couple guys that had been sitting in their car and I wondered if they had noticed a blank-stare on my face, but they were talking; what was going on in my life was of no interest to them either.

At that moment I felt alone. But then I remembered all of my friends who have offered their support, all of the emails I’ve received, along with all the comments on my 2 blogs and tweets I’ve received from friends around the globe.

I started the vehicle’s engine and although I did feel a little better realized that an emotional thought was only a moment away and I was only a twist of the strangers hand away from being pulled back to reality.  

Much like my drive to visit my family, the drive home was lonely. There were moments of sadness whenever I was reminded of what was going on with my Dad and the nerve was yanked from my chest when I considered what would happen between 6 months and whenever.


Things had not changed. During the rest of my trip home the stranger stayed with me, talking about the cancer.

He sat next to me holding the nerve; ever so slightly rubbing, pulling, and rolling the nerve between his two hands so as to never relieve me of the pain, not allowing the pain to be removed and subside. Occasion he would jerk my one last exposed nerve from my chest and remind me of the prognosis and how I could not change it.

So, while you tweet or email me keep in mind that I have an exposed, raw nerve protruding from my chest, waiting for something to twist and yank on it.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

October 17, 2010 - "The Demon"

I’ve been traveling this week to visit with my Dad and Mom and as you can imagine after receiving the cancer diagnosis they have been busy going to various doctor appointments. Late Wednesday evening last week Mother sent me an email asking if Dad had mentioned there was a family reunion coming up (it was yesterday). Of course my answer was, “No, no one mentioned that.” But I quickly spoke with my boss at work and he said, “Go” so I took off Friday morning. It would take about 10 hours to drive back home and late Friday evening I made it to my parents’ house.

But as is the case with driving 700 miles there will always be complications; this trip was no different. I tried to pack Thursday evening, but everything did not get in my bags until Friday morning around 9.30. This was already a negative for my traveling plans, and as it’s been said, “The best laid plans of man…” are not always implemented as planned (that last part is my own change to the quote). Typically I am not a good packer, but I am a good planner. So my plan was to leave between 7-8am, but 10.30 ended-up being my final departure time.

As I tweeted Friday morning a stop at Starbucks did not produce my sugar-free vanilla latte, but rather a cup of steamed milk (I did not realize this until I was on the road). So, if you frequent Starbucks take heed of the sign and taste your handcrafted drink before leaving. Fortunately for me I had chocolate mint protein bars in the car so my warm milk became warm mint milk; yum, yum, yum.

I drove for about 10 minutes and stopped for fuel, all pretty standard stuff. After filling the tank I picked-up a diet Pepsi, stretched my legs and arms then headed back out to the car. I checked the air in the tires, opened the door and got in, then headed down the highway. Little did I know things were about to get weird.

While driving I turned on the radio (if you’ve read other post you know I love my car time and music); and ‘bum-bump, bum-bump’ went the music. Just as I got off the main thorough-fare and out into the country I started to think about my Dad. I had thought about this part of the trip and already anticipated that the day would be full of sadness, worry and concern. Just as I started to think about how I would handle seeing my Dad for the first time I mumbled, “How will this go?” No sooner had the words left my lips than a man stuck his head up from the backseat and said, “What does it matter to you?” 

This was quiet surprising since he looked sort of like me. He repeated, “What does it matter to you? Don’t you think it’s your Dad’s problem and you’re making a big deal out of nothing?” As I looked in the rearview mirror and pursed my lips to answer his question I thought, “This guy looks a lot like me. He probably already knows the answer”.

But I went ahead and said it, “He’s my Dad. I’ve loved him all my life. Don’t you try and make this a “him against me” situation? “He’s been alive since I’ve been alive. He’s part of my life, and I’m apart of his life.  It matters a bunch to me.” He shrugged his shoulder and settle back into the rear seat.

He was so close to me I could hear him breathing and I smelled some type of cologne. The scent was familiar but I could not put a name to it. He cracked his knuckles, or something that sound like joints popping and cleared his throat.

I thought ‘This is a little uncomfortable” and I pushed a CD into the radio dashboard. My thought was that the music would cover up the thoughts in my head so I turned on some of my favorite music. I like to sing at church and the CD that was playing had several songs I’ve sung or would like to perform at church. You see, I could not forget the doubt and questions that were running through my head. Now the self-doubt and concerns were interfering with my concern for my Dad, I tried to keep my mind occupied by turning up the volume and singing along.

The guy that looked like me said, “Maybe the doctor is wrong…, maybe its not cancer.” What could I say to that, maybe the doctor was wrong, or maybe it could be treated” Then he said, “Yea, but what if it is cancer? What if it’s worse?”

Doubt, maybe it is cancer; maybe its not pulled on my emotions like a yo-yo, my heart couldn’t take a lot more of this. Then I remembered it was a long trip - this guy had to go. The more I thought about my Dad’s situation the worse I felt and then I thought, “I should not be alone”, but I was.

His last question caused me to consider that my Dad is no spring-chicken; that he has seen many people with cancer and that with the 6-9 months prognosis Dad has to be aware of what is coming his way. He’s seen many people with a similar timeline set. My eyes began to moisten, pool up and then small tears began to run down my cheeks. I wiped my eyes but the tears continued. My look-alike self said, “Hey, don’t think about it. Turn up the music, ignore it.”

But I couldn’t, thoughts continued to run through my mind; “What would it be like afterwards? What could we do now to make things better? When would things change for the worse?” I turned up the sound and started to sing even louder than the music and I thought, ‘Don’t think about it. Sing the song, sing the song. Imagine singing a song at church.’

So I did, ‘sing-sing-sing; sing-sing-sing’, but it didn’t work. The tears continued to pool-up in the corner of my eyes and then stream down my face. Breaths were starting to become a limited commodity and I thought, ‘This is different. I don’t cry, actually I am not crying – but I guess this is pretty close for me.”

I was traveling at a speed of 75mph and I considered that ‘driving under the influence of emotion’ is probably not a safe thing to do so I pulled over on the side of the road and waited for the tears to stop. While sitting there the fears swelled up into emotions that were unbearable, seemingly the emotion was inflicting pain and damage that would be irreparable. How could my heart take this, face my Dad later in the day and subsequently the ultimate, losing him to the demon cancer?

After 5 or 10 minutes (I wasn’t keeping track) the tears stopped and I wiped away the result of my pain, but the pain remained. The stranger said, “They always say a good cry is what you need. Let it out, let it out! Don’t you feel better?” I just shook my head ‘No’ and took a couple deeps breaths. Inside the quivering stopped and things seemed to be returning to normal.

I turned up the radio, put the car in Drive and continued my travels. In short order I spotted an exit and immediately thought, ‘Food’, but as I drove down the exit the realization was that my stomach was not ready to accept food. This was not a good idea, but I stopped for some more coffee and bottled soda for later. It was during this stop that the stranger stuck his head out again. This time he asked, “What are you going to do when you arrive? Are you ashamed you can not do anything to stop this?”

This was a concern I had the answer for, only God has this kind of control. But how can I be sure that everything that is possible will be done for Dad?  I could talk with the doctor, but would not be local once I returned home. But I have a brother and a sweet sister-in-law that live local to my parents and who are always available to help; they visit often too. So, looking at my interrogator like I was looking at myself I said, “Leave me alone, this is taken care of.”

As I drove on I attempted to bury myself in the music, singing always soothes the savage beast, right? Well, it sort of worked. I moved on 100 miles, 200 miles but doubt and my visitor continued to visit me with emotions as the words of religious satisfaction in the music led me back to my concerns, doubts, and sadness.

I asked myself, ‘This happens to a lot of people, why my Dad? No immediate family; including cousins, uncles, and aunts have dueled with the cancer demon, why now?” My immediate option was to swallow the concern and drive on. It didn’t allow me to swallow the pain and my look-alike stranger remained with me to interject thoughts, doubts, concerns and agony along the way.

After approximately 12 painful hours I arrived at my parents’ home. Mother greeted me at the door. This time the greeting hug was longer, more laborious and it seemed as if we tried to send a more painful love message without saying anything. A moment later I was inside greeting my Dad too. We did not immediately go into a discussion of the situation, in fact we have not gone into deep discussion yet, but there is “the first” oncology appointment tomorrow, meaning there will be many more appointments of pain. All of which will allow my stranger to visit again (Yes he is sitting here with me while I type; ensuring that each description I’ve shared with you has at least a tinge of the emotion from Friday).

Please consider and pray for not only my family, but all other families that are facing the cancer demon, or other diseases that are challenging them. The stranger visits often; when people are alone and when they are not. Often we find solace in groups, but sometimes the power of the stranger can impact entire groups and families. Be caring and compassionate for others around you, for you have no idea when the stranger visits them, or which demon they face.

Interim 10/17/10 - "Father's Day"

Hello!  If you have been following my tweets over the past couple days you know I had the chance to visit my parents and attend a family reunion over the weekend. During the weekend someone reminded me that I wrote a blog postin June about my Dad for Father's Day in 2010. So, while I'm settling down and finishing my next entry for this blog I want to direct you to my previous post. It gives a fair description of my Dad and the kind of man he as become. Enjoy this post, I am working on a new post for this blog and working to have it ready some time today.

Here's the link to "Father's Day 2010"  --->


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

October 13, 2010 - Hate and Other Hate Words

For the first time since Saturday evening I really slept last night. My eyes ache while typing this, sort of blurry even. I have to go to work in a little while so I’m hoping my vision gets better. I’m sure some coffee will open them wide!   ;-)

Over the past couple days I wondered if anything could be more despised or hated than cancer. I learned yesterday evening that things can be hated as much, maybe even more (but probably not for as long a period of time).  What do you think could measure up to that level; war, crime, civil unrest?

Traffic!!!  While driving home yesterday there was an 18-wheeler that crashed, spilled fuel and the interstate turned into a crawl (HAZMAT was even called out for this accident). Traffic became a new demon, something I wish could have been avoided. I tried some low-level, backstreet maneuvers but all this did was leave me with two demons - traffic and my thoughts on cancer.

Times like that are when words roll around in my mind and I often pull stories, poems, and things like religious devotions together (or at least an outline or portions of a writing).

I know, I know; while you’re driving? But hey, alone time is alone time.

It’s alone time which offers me the chance to explore words like hate, contempt, despise, detest, repudiate, and scorn.

Other words came to mind during the drive home including kill, eradicate, nullify, liquidate, erase, suppress, extinguish, and expunge.

I also considered the word Remove, but it does not seem to carry the same weight and feel of the words despicable and hate which I am experiencing this week.

A couple other words I considered but do not fit my situation are mutilate, annihilate, nuclear explosion, assault, beat, and my all-time favorite attack word - lambaste. 
This is how I entertained myself during bumper-to-bumper traffic yesterday and the noted words, along with the accompaniment emotions were my companions. Stay tuned, some of these words are rising to the surface and will become verbal hate projectiles that I will hurl toward cancer during my next post.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

October 12, 2010 - Shields-Up!

I talked with my Dad late last night, maybe because I wasn’t ready for it but he had also put out the word he needed a little time.  I will use that as my excuse. Anyway, I prepared myself not to cry or seem as if I was not crying - then I prepared myself for him to cry.

The conversation started off with my regular, “What are you doing?”  (I described this in another post as my standard opening with my parents.)

My Dad responded, “Watching TV.” Then we did our regular; talking about what he was watching,  had done during the day, how long it took to get it done, and what he had to eat for dinner. He always asks about the family and my work.

Andy was A-OK (if you’ve been reading my posts you know I brought that back from a previous post.)

He told me some of what Mother had done during the day (she is a busy woman helping him and then herself last). If there was ever a saint that walked on Earth (and there have been), she is one of them. To raise me and my brother, and be married to my Dad that in itself is probably enough to be raised to Sainthood, but now in her elder years to be there for my Dad qualifies her for a gold star on top of her Saint crown.

During our discussion he mentioned going to the ‘lung doctor’ in the afternoon. This was just a follow-up and things were reported as ‘looking good’.  Being new to all of this I’m not sure how things can be looking good when you’ve got a terminal prognosis but I guess we’re all used to receiving good news and being told that things look good (in this type of situation) and that is about all you can expect. 

He told me about an appointment next week with his ‘cancer doctor’ (often elderly people see a lot of doctors, and I figure that as we get older specific physician titles like endocrinologist, cardiovascular surgeon, oncologist, & orthopedic re-constructive surgeon) are hard to pronounce and remember; it’s just easier to call them by the body part each treat, I guess.  :-)

Then he asked, “Did your Mother tell you about the doctor and what he said?”

A strobe went off in my head, and the words “Danger-Danger” sounded. We had approached dangerous ground.  

“Shields-up!” I screamed inside my head.

“You mean about the cancer?” I asked. He said, “Yes”, and I commented “Yes, she told me. I am really sorry this is happening.”

(An aside from the story)
To my readers: Did you experience pain when you read that? In your eyes, your back, your neck? Did it cause a shiver over your body when you read it, like I felt when I just wrote it?

My Dad responded, “Yea, but this is not that time yet, is it?” and he continued on, talking about something else.  I thought, “Wait, nothing more?” then I stopped myself and let it go. He wasn’t ready and I wasn’t ready so why make it into something?

We ended our conversation and I sat back in my chair thinking about it, then I wrote this post.

Andy is still not “A-OK”,

...and I'm starting to believe he'll never be “A-OK” again.

Monday, October 11, 2010

October 11, 2010 - Reminiscing

This morning I went to the funeral for a friend from work. We were not close friends but we had worked indirectly together. Over the years we had talked many times and if fate put us together to complete a project, discussions ensued. I’ve heard that he had a massive heart attack and died alone; he leaves behind 3 children and a wife.

Now, how could I have anticipated that this situation would cause me any problem or discomfort?

Well, I should have seen it coming. My group at work helped with some of the funeral service plans and I thought my mind had passed beyond the emotional piece of this day. I arrived at the ceremony about 20 minutes early and sat with a couple friends.

Things were A-OK.

The service started, A-OK.

A couple religious songs were performed and a few close friends spoke. 


They showed a montage of photos from different points of his life, things were still sort of A-OK. I had no idea who the people in the photos were; maybe his kids, maybe his family. In hindsight not knowing probably distanced me from my emotions.

All was A-OK.

And then his grown son stepped up to the podium; Things “NOT A-OK”.

If I had not been in the middle of a pew, surrounded by people I probably would have run for it. During the son's portion of the ceremony I had a constant tear-drop sitting in the corner of my eyes and as this very mature son reflected on a life together with his Dad, a ‘mentor among mentors’ it only got worse for me.

Andy was “NOT A-OK”.

I was pleased for the young man. He told everyone that the time with his Dad was great and that it made ‘him-him’. He was proud to be a “mini-me” of his Dad, and like he mentioned the time and life he had with his Dad was a great experience – something to be proud of for the remainder of his life. His description was one of a man, a Dad who was more than I had ever known and I was glad to have had the chance to learn more about the man I had known.

But then I started to consider what-all my Dad means to me and my THOUGHTS developed into my own form of a mentor; a TOR-MENTOR.

“My Dad and I joked with each other, in a manner of outdoing each other” he said, and smiled. This went along with the personality I had known, a guy that was known to joke and was full of quick comebacks.

Whomp!  I received a SLAP across my brain as my tor-mentor reminded me of how I joke back-and-forth with my Dad, in a manner that many would consider ‘quick-wit’. But we’ve always seemed to enjoy ‘picking at each other” with a fun relationship.

Held down by social expectations and norms I sat quietly while enduring my monster of memories.

“He was always there for me” the young man said.

PUNCH in the stomach as my thoughts reminded me that I only have 6-9 months of my Dad being here, and that life will change. I held my breath as he continued his proud description of his Dad; but internally it was like my stomach had literally been punched and there was a shortage of oxygen.

During his sharing I actually caught a thought passing my active mind that screamed out, “GO”.

But of course I could not scream and could not get out of the pew without causing a major disruption. I asked myself, “What are you doing here?” Of course the answer was “to be supportive for my friend’s family”.

As the ceremony participants shared memories of our friend and what he meant to them it became apparent that I could not take any more reminiscing.

Not the service participants' comments, but my TOR-MENTOR’s.

As the services ended I took a deep breath, stood up and slowly walked out with everyone else. Calmly I processed and suppressed my emotions, restraining the thoughts and excitement that had been surging inside me - almost tears, and laughter with the crowd; almost tears, and smiles with the crowd.

I talked to only a couple people and went straight to my car, wrote this blog post, cranked the ignition and drove away.

Andy was "Not A-OK."

Sunday, October 10, 2010

October 9, 2010

October 9, 2010 started off just like any other day. I got up, had some coffee, ate a protein bar (I eat low-carb bars since I deal with Diabetes and use an insulin pump), took a shower and prepared for the day. Things were going really well and I headed out to a campout the church was conducting for kids from the church. As the day progressed everyone seemed to be having a good time, except for some bug bites and maybe a little too much sun.

At 6.33pm my cell phone rang – this is the moment that the world changed for me.

I get calls from my parents and speak to them often, but at more normal times; during football games, and while I’m driving home from work; but at 6.33pm on a Saturday evening? This is not a normal time for a parent call.

But at the same time I was ready for any call. You see my Dad has been under the scrutiny of several doctors for a couple weeks – they found a spot on an xray type image a couple weeks ago and have conducted several test and for lack of needing to record the specifics here let’s call them a bone test, a brain test and a biopsy. The biopsy was not conclusive and there was mention of needing to go deeper for a true result with a needle biopsy, which was done this past Wednesday.

All of the results have sort of been collecting, pooling up in a fast collection of results that the family has been dreading, but at the same time somewhat waiting for. Personally my thoughts are that if/when doctors start circling like vultures with tests that God did not include in the Bible, the kind that peer into your body without an incision there is reason for concern.

And for a doctor to return a result that says, INCONCLUSIVE there is a reason to be concerned. I understand that there are false-positives (a positive result that is really negative) and of course there are test results that are negative which “missed the malignant tumor” as its reported to us poor regular folk. For these different reason I’m afraid for anyone that get’s a INCONCLUSIVE result.

How do people live with this result, do another test and WAIT for a doctor to schedule them in, maybe in two or three weeks – maybe next month? The anguish that I feel when hearing about the wait, even if its only 3-5 days has to titillate a person’s expectations to the point I think, "How can they go back to work, or even sleep? After all, there is something growing in them!!!!!

Anyway, on top of this concern and testing my Dad was taken to the hospital Friday, 10/8 when he starting coughing-up “a little blood”. I live 10 hours or so from my parents and receiving a call that includes “a little blood” is a hard thing to conceive, fathom, understand (you pick). When I received the call about this I immediately thought the needle biopsy had irritated something, and my discussion Friday confirmed this and the fact he had a infection that was being treated with antibiotics. Being a son who lives far away from his parents and has received a call about an ailing parent, but has received explanations for all that is going on I felt pretty good when I went to sleep Friday evening.

~ Anyway ~

Saturday 10/9/10
My cell phone rang, my Mother was on the phone. She is a lady that is not only educated, but loving and has cared for a family of men. Our family consist of her, my Dad, one brother and myself; a small nucleus of a family.

The call went something like this

“Hello, what are you doing?” This is my standard way to start most all of my phone calls with my parents; I really never know what they will be doing.

“Hi, I’m fine. What are you doing?”

“Do you remember when I mentioned the campout with the church?”

“Yes. can you talk a minute, or are you busy?”

At this time I’m thinking, ‘Nothing but questions so far, hmmm.’

“Yes, of course. The kids are in line getting ready to eat dinner. Go ahead.”

“Well, the doctor came by and gave us some more information. Daddy has an infection that is being treated with antibiotics and the blood he coughed-up was from needle biopsy.”

“Yes, I know. Remember we talked about this yesterday?”

“Yes I do, but there is something else. The doctor came by and gave us more information that I guess he would have given us Monday.”

At this point my heart sank, I don’t know how low I could have been and I sat back on a wooden fence close by. Now I wasn’t tearful at the time (I am now while typing this though) and I waited.

She mentioned something about remembering the spot and then said it,


What could I do?

I was surrounded by kids.

That sunk feeling turned into a detached feeling of distance between the kids and parents around me. I wasn’t spinning downward in some spiral abyss, but it would have been OK if I had done that.

…and then a moment of ‘grown-up’ hit me and I started to walk while listening to her talk.

Mother described how brave my Dad was to talk with the doctor. He asked what kind of cancer?

“Stage 3”

“What does that mean? he asked.

How could he muster the words to ask???  I could barely accept the thought that my Dad was in the position of having to ask the question. I guess it’s the programmed thinking we are engrained with; “man-up”, “be a man”, “you’re a grown-up”, “take it like a man”. I guess in this instance I was still the little boy and for that reason I could still feel this way and care about the parent I love; he had to be the grown-up this time, and live with it.

The answer: “6-9 months.”

Then she told me the doctor explained that due to the fact Dad has developed respiratory issues over the last few years surgery is not an option, but the doctor promised he would strive to provide the best possible care and be treating with 'quality of life' as his goal..

What am I suppose to say to my Mother after she finishes a statement with “6-9 months”?

In fact I don’t remember what I said after that, other than trying to be a comfort to her.

She apologized for having to tell me this over the phone, saying that she always had believed she would deliver information like this in person, if she ever had to deliver someone bad news; but since I live so far away she had to do it this way.

Well, that’s my first post and “The Day Things Changed.”