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 ~
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?
“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.”