Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Deep Breath

Some good news - Dad W has no metastases. We have only the primary tumor to deal with. The oncologist sounded downright optimistic at the latest visit. Granted, we still have a big honking, fast-growing liver tumor, but we have a plan of action and some hope.

I just realized I was talking about Dad W's cancer the way some husbands talk about pregnancies - as "our" tumor. It's really feeling that way. I track the appointments, take Dad W to them, and provide doctor interface and translation when he gets confused. Though I feel a little guilty because along with everything else I feel, I'm also absolutely fascinated with the actual treatments being planned.

We'll be starting targeted chemo and radiation therapy in January, both supplied through polymer microspheres fed directly into the artery that supplies the tumor. Between now and then our instructions are to feed him up, and chase him out of the house to get some exercise - basically to try to build him up both physically and mentally before treatments actually begin. So for now, it's time to catch our breath, enjoy the holidays and get ready to hit the ground running.

Other news: The Saturn having been successfully turned into a large paperweight (cracked engine block), I now have a 1997 Nissan Maxima to play with. It's a year older, but with 100,000 fewer miles than the Saturn. We now look like a family of government agents, with two black cars with black interiors and tinted windows.

Our church organist is taking a leave of absence for January and February, so I will be sharing duties with one of the other choir members (a composer and phenomenal pianist) to provide coverage. Eeep! That's a lot of playing given the size (miniscule) of my organ repertoire. Also, said composer has written a duet for two sopranos and has asked me if I would debut it, singing with M (a professional singer/voice teacher), which is terribly flattering. I've heard M sing, and she's got a fabulous voice, though very different from mine. To have a professional composer think I'm a good match for a duet with her just made my whole day.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Full speed ahead!

My crystal ball is broken, because treatment for Dad W. will be proceeding under full steam. Apparently we're dealing with a cancer originating in the common bile duct (surprise, surprise, the doctors here are better at identifying odd cancers). This is good, in that it means that this is the primary tumor we're dealing with, bad inasmuch as it's a notably aggressive form of cancer.

Targeted chemotherapy with supplemental radiation will be commencing practically immediately - they literally wouldn't let us out of the exam room until they had lined up Dad W's appointments with the radio-therapy people and the chemo specialist.

All the knitting stuff I got will definitely come in handy. I got 2" done on a leg warmer this afternoon alone, and this was a relatively short appointment.

It feels really weird, though. I'm getting all but blasted with approval from my in-laws (all three), all for doing stuff it would never occur to me not to do. What, am I going to tell Dad to get his own butt to and from appointments? Leave him to flounder through the medical explanations, when I have the training to understand them and he doesn't? Yell at him for being lazy because he's anemic and depressed? This is all stuff I would do for my next-door neighbor, did he need it, doing it for my father-in-law seems like no special merit. I wonder why it seems to look so different to them.

In other news, the car is good - it was just suffering from excessive cold (like my younger son, who had much to say about walking to school in the snow because the car wouldn't start).

I'm cantoring for church this coming Sunday, which will be a new experience. The singing itself is easy-peasy, but leading the congregation through the psalm is new for me. The week after is Mary's Sunday, and I'm doing a solo bit. It was originally supposed to be all the women, but apparently it's too high for even the other sopranos to sing. So, naturally if you want someone to sing in the stratosphere, I'm your girl.

Robbie has his first band concert this Thursday. He's really happy right now, because the conductor has moved him up from last chair to 4th chair within his section. He's been practicing assiduously, and is amazingly good for having been at it such a short time. Unfortunately his Dad will still be in Brazil, but Grandpa and I will be there to cheer him on.

Last but not least, Sensei's knee surgery appears to have gone well. He should start PT sometime this week, though I haven't heard exactly when. He's bored with sitting around, though - I should make him learn to knit!

ps - happy 50th Robert! I hope your party was a blast!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Where we stand

'Cause God knows we're not driving - the car broke down this morning.

Tomorrow is a day for finding out things. In the morning our neighbor will take a look at the car and see if it's worth fixing (at 223,000 miles, it may just be a lost cause). In the afternoon, we have Dad W's first appointment with an oncologist, assuming I can fill in the somewhat sketchy information I have about who he's supposed to be seeing, where and when. Somewhere in the middle, Rob should get some information as to whether they're still looking for someone to fill an open technical position at the Louisville plant. Because today they asked him to stay in Brazil through Christmas - he's said no so far, but if his bosses insist it may become a case of stay or quit.

We finally got Dad W a local PCP this last week. He's a quiet sort, doesn't give you a lot of idea about what's going on in his head, but I think I like him. He seems to ask the right sort of questions, and he certainly moved fast enough on the oncology referral. His nurse was calling the clinic before we got out of the office, and they called us back to give us an appointment before dinnertime. Unfortunately it was Dad W who took the call, and he got a time and some confusing directions about getting paperwork from the PCP without getting a doctor's name, the address, or even the name of the place we were to go. All I got was "The Cancer Clinic, 1:45 Monday - oh and we should stop by the PCP half an hour earlier to fill out paperwork." So the first thing tomorrow is to get on the phone and get things straight.

The pathology report from Tennessee says metastasis, but just to be extra confusing it appears to be gall bladder or pancreas, not prostate. Nobody's seen any sign of a tumor on the pancreas, and Dad W hasn't had a gall bladder in about 12 years. My crystal ball says we're in for some more tests before the oncologist settles on a course of treatment.

Rascal the dachshund is pretty much as he was, except for the addition of dragging, licking and nibbling sores all over his rear. These have started to improve though, since we realized that it wasn't Rascal that was the problem, but rather that the other dachshund was gnawing on him when nobody was looking. Once we started keeping them separated the sore started to heal up. Poor dog, he's 14 - mostly deaf, mostly blind, arthritic and paralyzed with a heart murmur. He's not having a fun time of it. My choice would be euthanasia, but he's not my dog, so it's not my call to make. Though it is apparently my pee and poop to clean up, and for one little dog he can sure produce amazing quantities.

In some happier thoughts, I took some time Saturday to set myself up for the waiting room time I see in my future. I hit my favorite yarn store and bought yarn for five different projects: Some gorgeous stuff called Mesmerize for a Christmas top; lilac cotton for a summer T, cotton/linen for a knitted oxford shirt, black/gray merino for a hat for Robbie, and some really lovely garnet laceweight lambswool that I don't have a plan for yet - but I'll think of something. *rubs hands* Oh yes, my precious I'll think of something.