Monday, June 11, 2012

On Don's 87th

The signature opening event of summer is Dad's birthday, June 10th. Usually everyone's still in town and summer has a bit of fresh green from whatever spring rains we've gotten.

After the events of last summer, they start seeming a little more special.

So the Dallas contingent gathered last night for another great evening around a dining room table. Will posted some great pics on Facebook, for those so inclined!

Mom insisted on parking on the street and walking UP the driveway and she made it! Only a brief stop to catch her breath and the top. She did really well. Halfway through dinner she discovered that she had never even turned on her oxygen tank, so yeah she did REALLY well.

I'm surprised at how long it's been since I posted. Probably should have put up some status reports, so I'll recap.

Dad has recovered from his heart issues really well. Most of the symptoms that were bothering him have eased. He's walking well without a cane, he's ushering at church and driving himself to his various activities that keep him busy. He's on medications to keep the heart stable and to control the tremors of the Parkinson's. As long as he stays on familiar paths doing familiar activities he does really well. He gets flustered very quickly in unfamiliar situations. I went with them to a new restaurant and he seemed to have difficulty picking up the new menu and the slightly different ordering method in the new surroundings.

Mom's cancer treatments went better than anyone expected. But things seem to be getting progressively more difficult for her. Several issues.

One is that she has a difficult time catching her breath. Her oxygenation is good, but she's always out of breath. She saw Dr. Russo and told me that there was something funny about her heart rate. (Which would explain the out of breath thing.) They've performed several tests and have yet to uncover a specific problem. Or she won't tell me if they have.

The long term issue (since the cancer treatments) has been abdominal pain, which has caused her to lose appetite and reduce her already minimal appetite. It seems like it took months, but she finally got a diagnosis of neuroma, which is caused by thickening or mass in the nerve tissue in the abdominal wall. The pain is usually not constant, but comes and goes and varies in intensity. The preferred treatment is with painkillers, primarily a a big lidocaine patch applied externally. It gives mixed results. Better results have been obtained by canned dietary supplements, so now she's getting sufficient nutrition. The combination is a slight improvement, which should help her eat better. (Hopefully improvements will spiral out of control, but probably not.) It is NOT related to digestive issues, although pain can cause nausea.

Between the pains and the shortness of breath, it's been a tough few weeks for her. She has not been going to church on Sundays and sending Dad out by himself on the grocery runs. So, yeah. She's not feeling good.

I am constantly aware of the fragility of their world.

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