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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Update: Dad
I went to the hospice this morning and Chandal and Jim said that dad had a very restful night - better than he's had in the last few days.  I went to his room and he was just finishing his dhall and roti. 

His bottom lip is back to being swollen but not as much as it was late last week.  His breathing was definitely laboured when he was eating but he got through his breakfast.  He went to the bathroom to brush his teeth and after that, I gave him a haircut, shampooed his hair, put a small amount of hair jel and combed it.  I had to cut his hair down to nothing on the right side of his head because it's painful when the nurses dress the tumour and the tape sticks to his skin.  He usually gets the dressing changed every other day (sometimes every day if it's bleeding) and that's a lot of pulling of tape off his skin in the same area.

When I was finished, I asked if he wanted some aftershave and he said "of course" as if he wondered why I would need to ask a question for which I already know the answer.  He was dressed in a nice short sleeved light green shirt and grey pants and I could really see how much muscle mass he has lost in his arm.  His pant is also buckled tighter so that it now looks big on him but he is not in his pyjamas so that's a good sign. 

When I was done all that, I asked if he wanted a cup of tea and he had that - with 3 creams!  He said that he is getting some pain at the back of his neck and I could see why.  The tumour has practically grown almost completely around his neck starting from about 1" from  the spinal column on the right side of his head to about 2" to the spinal column on the left side.  The masses are hard as ever.  I've truly never seen anything like this. Pardon the pun here, but the cancer is so "in your face" that it's hard to ignore.  Most people who usually have cancer simply seem to waste away in front of your eyes but with dad's, the tumours are growing on the outside like some alien cling-on monster from another planet. 

This is a pretty graphic descriptor of what the tumour looks like - so you can choose to read this section or not. Imagine a woman is standing in front of you with no top on.  Imagine that one breast is exposed and imagine that the breast has no skin because it's been burned off with acid.  Now imagine that you are seeing all the raw flesh - with veins showing.  but it's not smooth but knobby and rough.  Now imagine something like that clinging to my dad's neck.  That's about as close a description as I can give without putting a picture here.   Dr Leylek who took over from Dr Sathya in April was even shocked to see the mass and he has a lot of experience in oncology. As for me, I have only known about cancer till now, not having ever had to deal with it personally so each day that I see it, I think I am prepared but it's something else.  Last year when I went with mom and dad on the Panama Canal cruise, mom and I had to clean and dress this mass everyday and I my biggest worry was that it would bleed and then I'd be up the proverbial creek without a paddle.

Okay, now that I have completely shocked those of you who are not medical personnel, I hope you have a better idea of what we are all coping with especially dad who has to look in the mirror every day and see his face being disfigured by this cancer. 

By the time I was done, he was having some pain so I told him to get into bed and I called the nurse to give him some meds.  He said he didn't want it because he was afraid that it would kill him to be taking that much meds.  hahaha.  That was a bit of irony for me.  I told him that he is to ask for the meds when he needs it and the fentanyl can be administered every 15 minutes as needed.  Nurses Kim and Margaret came in and gave him one under the tongue and one in his arm.  The site for the adaptor (I don't know the name) on his left arm where they inject his meds was bruised so Margaret said that they would have to move it to another location.  He also has one attached to his right arm.  This is done so that they don't have to keep poking him every time they have to give him meds. 

I settled him into bed and left about 9:00am.  Sophie and Mom are going over about 10am but I told him that he is to rest rather than trying to stay up to visit because he exhausts himself. 

So how was your day so far?
sandra

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