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Sunday, September 18, 2005

A Very Long Post About Some Stuff


Okay, just kidding. No word yet on how the German government will look. The Purples refuse to have anything to do with the Reds, and nobody else wants anything to do with them, with the possible exception of the Greens. The Blacks are thinking about convincing the Greens to join them and the Yellows. Yeah, that'll happen (sarcasm). There was talk of a Red-Yellow-Green coalition, but the Yellows are saying no way will they hook up with the Reds, which is a bit of a surprise, as they have been the most scum-sucking, bottom-feeding political opportunists for the last 50 years. Guess they grew some principles, who'da thunk? Wrong ones, but oh well, at least they're sticking to something for once.

Not that I let Robert's opinion influence me, or anything.

A-ha. I think I may be figuring out why people keep more than one blog. There is no way I could maintain two, hell I can barely keep up with just the one. But things are happening, and they may turn out to be fairly major, and the blog is not just to keep the world posted but also to provide a sort of document of these times, because I forget everything as soon as it's over. Another function is to enable me to vent in a somewhat socially-acceptable way, since when I kept a pblog I did a lot of pointless, boring, maudlin navel-gazing, and the thought that someone might read this makes me want to keep it interesting.

The point? Oh! Right! The point is that my mother reads my regular blog, and a lot of What's Going On centers around her, and maybe she shouldn't be reading my take on the whole thing. She probably shouldn't know how worried and frustrated I am, because it can only upset her. And in fact, I have not written much at all about her progress because I wanted to keep her somewhat in the dark about my concern (you heard it here, folks - yes, this is why families lie to eachother), but it's starting to entangle my life, and things are looking like kind of a mess, and I really really have to put it somewhere. So this is going to stay hidden until it's safe to uncomment the text, though that may not be possible - I don't know how long blogspot leaves your posts available to edit.

Yes, this will be a long entry. Glad you asked. Um, we left off in May, more or less, with her cancer responding so well to the chemotherapy that the docs decided she didn't need the last session, yay! Not too long after that, she had a fall, and perhaps foggy on pain meds, failed to get her hands up on time, so she landed on her nose and broke it. Well, fractured, she said, and it was just before my brother's family was going to be in Port Townsend for a visit, so she was chagrined at them seeing her with her face all banged up, but didn't go to a doctor or anything. Not until it didn't seem to be healing for too long, anyway. Early July, I suppose, she went to get it checked out, and they scheduled her surgery for a month later. A month.

Jerry says it was after the nose surgery that everything started to go wrong. I know I talked to her shortly afterward and she was crying and convinced that she was going to die really soon. So I hemmed and hawed and got in touch with Nate, figuring he needs to be kept apprised of all this. I didn't really believe she was dying, but I thought she believed it, so I was worried about her emotional state. Something else also happened that perhaps needs its own paragraph.

Now, I have the highest respect for medical personnel. They do a damn hard job, as well as they can, and I know I couldn't do it. However, this particular situation might could have been handled a tad differently. She had an MRI the week before her surgery, and someone called her at 6pm Friday to tell her they found two more "somethings" on her spine (remember, in addition to the lung tumor she had something in her spine that they couldn't chemo, so they radiated it and she had those burns in her throat, back in April or so?). It was too late to cancel her Monday morning nose surgery, so she went under the knife thinking about two new tumors, woke up with that on her mind, and the limited oxygen you can get through a damaged nose, plus the pain and the meds, was probably affecting her thought processes as well. I think anybody'd be freaked out, under the circumstances. So okay, she saw a doctor ten days after that dreadful phone call, and it turned out the shadows in the MRI were just arthritis, and while I am relieved, I have a small procedural quibble: we were scared as hell for ten days - couldn't they have phoned her as soon as they knew it was nothing to panic about? Why make her wait until the doctor appointment?

So I told Nate that Mom was kinda freakin', and how do we un-freak her, and he called her to tell her that he has a conference in Honolulu next July, and he's taking the family, including Mom, and the tickets were already booked, and rather implied that it would be a much better idea to get well so she could go to Hawaii! Seemed to work, and she cheered up some.

So that was August. Have we already established that The Master Plan was to move Mom down to Denver to live with or near the Nates once she got too old to take care of herself? Well, they are accelerating preparations for that, and that is more or less how things stand. Except that she has been talking of pain recently, in her right lower thorax where they cut her open in December to find that lung tumor. A lot of pain, and a lot of different meds, which have her feeling foggy and strange. When we found out the new things in her spine were only arthritis she started back to work again, but the pain was unbearable and the meds weren't controlling it, so she's given up her job. When she told her doctors this, they admitted that they were surprised she'd held on for so long. Yike. Well, once that was established she perked up a bit - she's never liked her job much, and I think she was somewhat relieved that the pressure to go back to work was gone.

Hmm, hmm, hmm. What to tell next? Her voice is increasingly weak in the phone calls, and each time I call she gets too tired to talk a little earlier than last time. I think we're down to about 7 minutes. She'll be 60 this November, so Robert suggested I should visit her then anyway, and her medical situation makes that an even better idea, so we've been looking at airfares. But I called her last night and she sounded really down, and said I might should come sooner. She's on new meds, and they seem to help, but not really enough...the doc's theory is that the nerve blocker they put in after her chest surgery has somehow failed, so the new medicine is supposed to calm those nerves down so they don't hurt so much while they're healing. Oh, and in this case the doc is (I think) Dr. Reimer, the oncologist (cancer-doctor) in Bremerton. She has no local GP anymore, because her local GP is on some kind of leave. Don't know what that's about, but it leaves Mom in a sticky place. She's also given up the Darvocet for pain, and switched to Vicodin. She has no appetite, is down to about 105 pounds, can't get up by herself, and hasn't been outside for ten days. So basically, the tumors are not growing anymore, so she technically doesn't have anything fatal, but she's so weak that if she gets pneumonia now she won't be able to fight it, and she'll die.

So I talked to Robert about it, and then I called Jerry. He agreed that it would be better to come sooner. I asked about getting her a local doc and he said he has a call in to Dr. Rotchford, a pain specialist in Port Townsend, but hasn't heard back yet. He'll go to Dr. Rotchford's office in person on Monday and find out if he can get her an appointment, and if not he'll ask around for another doctor. He confirmed most of what Mom said, and added that he has a lot of people coming to visit her to sort of force her to stay alert and sit up occasionally. I've also set something up with a friend there to either get her to the library once a week or at least bring her books and take them back when they're due. Also, Jerry never leaves my mom for more than two hours, because she can't get up by herself, and they both mentioned that she'd woken him up in the middle of the night, screaming because she needed her pain meds and couldn't move. No mention of whether this has happened several times or only once, but I gather that it happened relatively recently.

By then Robert had found a flight from October 6th to the 20th, so I called Mom to ask if that was earlier enough. In this second call she sounded more alert, and said it would be better if I came in late November so we could both fly down to Denver and visit Nate for Thanksgiving. Um, huh? Now I'm confused, because in the first phone call she said she had an appointment with Dr. Reimer in early October, but she wasn't sure she could get to Bremerton because she'd have to sit upright in the car for a whole hour, plus she gets really carsick. So how is she going to make the three hours to the airport and then however long you spend on a plane?

Mom has a history of um, somewhat overambitious travel plans. Like our trip to Paris a few years ago, when she didn't want to join a tour group, she wanted us to plan it all ourselves, but then it turned out she couldn't really handle going down stairs, which there are a lot of in Paris, particularly down to the Métro stations, and she couldn't really walk long distances, which, if you can't take the Métro, you sort of have to do. So that was quite a stressful trip, but she seemed to forget the stress as soon as it was over. So I'm inclined to think the trip to Denver won't happen, but how to put that diplomatically to her?

I phoned Nate, got the answering machine, left a message and sent him a terse email that I need to call him. I got a reply from his wife, saying he's with FEMA training to go help out with the recovery work in the Gulf of Mexico - he'll finish the crash course in a few days and then go south somewhere, and should be gone a month. So I will talk to Shel about Thanksgiving plans, but I probably more or less have to figure this out myself.

So that is more or less where things stand. I'm sorry this entry has been so long, but this is three and a half months of things I haven't been able to put in the blog.

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