Friday, March 18, 2011

Update: Dad; mom; admonishment
I called the hospice this morning and Janine said that dad had a good night (relatively speaking).  He was up about 1am and had some more meds because his head, neck and chest were hurting but went to bed till 5am when he awoke on his own.  I called the room a few minutes ago and mom answered.  She said that he had some pain earlier but they gave him some fentanyl. Tom went to visit this morning and told him that Channel 42 has some old movies so dad can look at them.  Annette and her husband are also visiting so he'll likely be tired by the time the afternoon is over.   

Mom went this morning to the hospice and she'll probably stay till 2pm or so. I don't think she is happy about having to leave her home and move in with us so she looks a little sulky. Nothing seems to be making her happy these days.  She is sighing and moaning a lot but at least there is no apparent medical reason for her to be doing this. I ask her what she wants for dinner or breakfast and she just says "whatever."  I thought going to the theatre and out for dinner tomorrow night might cheer her up but I got the same response when I said that she can decide what kind of restaurant she would like to go to.

She went to the doctor yesterday and he said that her iron levels are low so she has to increase her intake of iron supplements. It's a chronic family condition for the women in our family so we've all faced the same thing over periods of our life. She's been taking iron pills but she takes them with calcium which slows/blocks the absorption of iron.  I told her almost a year ago to take the iron supplements with Vitamin C and not at the same time as calcium but she probably forgot so of course the pills did nothing for her. 

I was admonished by email from Auntie Bauline about wanting to cut off my foot at the ankle a few years ago from the pain of plantar fasciitis, so I am humbled Auntie Bauline. I was only speaking figuratively and I do know that many other people are dealing with things much worse.  It was not an attempt to compare degrees of pain, only to say that in spite of other people's pain, mine is no less painful when I am the one going through it.

This weekend will be spent on things academic.  I have a series of three focus groups scheduled for next week for my doctoral dissertation.  I had planned to do them myself but the ethics review board at the college was concerned about the anonymity of the participants given that I am teaching some of them or managing projects for some of their bosses, so I hired someone to facilitate the sessions. I had to rework my questions to make them easier/clearer for her to ask since she does not have the same degree of knowledge about the subject matter for which I am conducting my research.  I will be glad to get these done so that I can starting writing my Chapter 5 and then only one more will be left.  Can I get this done by the end of the summer? It's worth a try - if I am not doing anything else with my time in the next few months. 

have a great weekend...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Update: Dad; plantar fasciitis
I called the hospice at 7:30 this morning but Margaret was just starting her shift so she could not give me an update.  I had an 8-10 workshop and then a 10-12 meeting.  I called when I returned to my desk and Janine said that dad had some trouble breathing this morning so they gave him some meds which seemed to settle him. 

Last night we went over to mom's house to do some final staging before agents start showing the house today.  It's up on MLS so it should have some action pretty soon.  The house is well taken care of so I don't see that it's going to take long to sell.  

Before we got there, dad called and left a message about 7pm that he was still having trouble breathing and it did not seem to subside after we left the hospice yesterday.  When we left he was settled but I think the reason he was feeling worse than usual yesterday was that I visited from 7:30-9am; mom, Sophie and Darwin arrived at 10 and mom stayed till I got there at 4pm; a friend Tom visited after lunch and by the time I got back there at 4pm, he had completely exhausted himself with visitors as well as phone calls.  On top of all that activity, he now has thrush again and that's causing him to have difficulty swallowing to the point that he cannot even swallow rice without choking on it.  Tracy the chef blended up his food, added more gravy and mashed potatoes and he was able to eat.

Dr Hartley prescribed some meds for the thrush so hopefully that will work soon.  I think it's all the way in his throat already and because it's difficult to see in his mouth with all the swelling, it would have been hard to detect.   Mom said that he kept repeating over and over yesterday that he wishes God would take him now and not let him suffer.  To use the hindu phrase he likes to use, this is his "bardan".  Roughly translated, it's your karma or destiny. 

I had a lengthy conversation with Pandit Chowbay before he passed away a few years ago.  I asked him about bardan and karma. Two of my questions were "Is there really anything that I can do to change my destiny if it was already predetermined - meaning that wasn't it already predetermined that I would do good/bad things?   Am I not simply living the life that was decided for me by a greater being and therefore living my karma?" 

We talked at great length about this - at the beginning of which he said "You ask too many questions" but he also said that the questions meant that I was thinking about these questions and was not simply taking belief as dogma without question.  He also said that it's important to ask questions and pandits are obliged to answer the questions, rather than telling us just to do what they say without benefit of an explanation.  They should know and be able to explain the scriptures if they are doing the work of a pandit.   That goes for any religious leader I think.  Anyway, he was able to explain my "why is the sky blue" questions enough so that I could feel somewhat comfortable with the answer - although I came to the conclusion that there is no one clear answer.   I had a similar discussion with dad on Sunday after I dropped Auntie Bauline off at the airport.  I'll write about this at a later time.

Plantar fasciitis

Take care.  I have to go to my chiropractor today or tomorrow.  I have a bad case of plantar fasciitis for about two months and of course I have not found the time to look after it so after a visit to the chiropractor two days ago because I could hardly walk without hobbling, I now have tendinitis because I have been compensating for the intense pain.  Here is a pic.  If you ever have this kind of pain, you should get it taken care of.  I had it a few years ago and after wanting to cut off my right foot at the ankle, my chiropractor suggested orthotics and some exercises which eventually helped.  The pain that time was at mid foot.  Now it's directly as this picture shows it.

I know if this was happening to one of my parents or family members, I would insist that they go to the dr and get it resolved but you'd think I could follow my own advice.  Noooo. That would be too simple.  I have to get to the point of not being able to walk before I'll do something.  If anyone leaves a comment, please don't say "so what else is new?" or overdo the Guyanese expression "you proper hard ears". 

later ....

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?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Update:  Mom; Dad; Rainbows

 I called the hospice this morning and the nurse Jim said that he had a relatively good night.  Good in this case is relative to how he was doing yesterday.  I called last night about 9pm and nurse Winona said that he was settled in bed for the night.  He had a rough day and he was very tired.  She said that he didn't want to tell his visitors that he was tired so he tried to stay up.  I asked who the visitors were and she said it was my mom and my sister.  Winona told him that it is quite alright to tell them that he is going to rest for a few minutes and they can keep on talking but he doesn't want to miss any of the conversation so he stays awake and consequently, he exhausts himself. 

He is struggling more to breathe so they are increasing the meds.  The oxygen that was working two weeks ago is not working now and the dosages of meds that were working last week will likely have to be increased.   Dr Hartley came in to see him yesterday and he has requested an x-ray for dad, although he checked dad's lungs and they seem to be clear.  Dad asked him what was happening and Dr Hartley told him that he is going down.  Mom was there when Dr Hartley said that so she is upset.  We all know where this is going but it's still hard to hear but I am glad that the dr. is being upfront.  It's really the only way to be - at least from my perspective.

Mom is now staying with me as of last night so if you would like to talk to her, you can call my number. Most of you have it but if not, send me an email and I'll send it to you. I will also be forwarding her calls from her number to mine so she won't miss anyone.

I try to look for a silver lining in every cloud that passes over me and there is ALWAYS one even if it's sometimes hard to see.  The silver lining from dad's illness is that I am now finding out how many family I have who care and will take the time to write or call.  That's a precious gift that should not ever be taken for granted. 

Mom received a package in the mail yesterday and it was a gift from Geeta and her family in Florida.  Thank you Geeta and family for the Bhagvad Gita and the Hannoman Chalisa and of course the two lovely cards from you and the kids.  Dad will be very happy to have them.

Joannie, dad missed your call on Sunday when he was having dinner and he was quite upset so if you get a chance, please call him again, even if it's for a minute or you can call me and give me your phone number and your availability and I will call from the hospice the next time I am there.  He also wants to talk to Uncle Sidney so please pass along the message.

Auntie Bauline came to visit for a few days and that cheered dad up tremendously.  Indi called last night to say that she is coming either this weekend or sometime next week.

Oscar and Yvonne have been friends with my parents for decades.  In fact, dad told me that Oscar was a young lad in the 1950's when he started working at the milk plant. When dad emigrated to Canada, he lost touch with Oscar.  One day, dad was coming home from work in a bus in Winnipeg.  He thought he saw someone that looked like Oscar but by the time he could do anything, the bus left the stop so he went home and told mom.  Later that year, mom had to go for surgery and the nurse that was taking care of her asked her where she was from.  Mom said Guyana and so was the nurse whose name was Yvonne.  That's how dad and Oscar re-connected after many years.  Throughout those years, Yvonne taught Sophie and my kids to play the piano.  The kids are all very good piano players even though it's been years since I heard some music from them.  Oscar and Yvonne call from Guyana to keep in touch and both parents are grateful. 

The same goes for Auntie Lovin.  She is also very strong especially since she recently lost Uncle Fred to a lengthy illness.  Dad and mom used to spend some winter months with them in Florida so they are also very close. 

Uncle Deo is on vacation but manages to call from every port to check to see how his brother is doing.   Dad tells stories of how close they were when they were growing up. 

Auntie Maggie calls or emails almost every day and so do my friends - some of which I have had since I was 5-10 years old going to Belair School and Cumming's Lodge Secondary. Those truly are gifts that have intrinsic value. .

I have not mentioned everyone that keeps in touch but that only means that I am writing what comes into my head at this moment. 

Take care everyone, and we do appreciate all the support that you are offering.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Update: Dragon sighting

I spoke to Sunita and Ronin this morning and he told me that he went to a birthday party at Geneva's house and they had a petting zoo.  He said that he had a real snake around his neck and his mother said he had a lizard on his head but he said it was a real dragon on his head.  Well, here is the evidence of the dragon!! 

Ronin' real snake necklace
Ronin and his dragon

Love you cutie boy...
Now if I could only get a picture of Izzy without her two front teeth...
Updates: Dad; grandbabies; moving


This weekend was very busy. Sharm invited me to a jewellery party on Friday night but it was the end of the week and I was wiped or more to the point, I took the time to re-energize because it was going to be a busy weekend, so I didn’t go. I think I was in bed by 9:00pm. That’s very early for me but I think I still needed to get over the remnants of the flu.

Saturday morning was off to my treadmill and universal gym for a good workout which I really needed. Sahana and Sabreena came over at about 2:30pm and they spent the night. I think Sabreena was in this world before because there is no way that a child of 3 could know that much! Of course they wanted dhall and roti for dinner so that’s what they had.

Karran went to the hospice and took some milk cream and bread for dad. Mom and Auntie Bauline went to the hospice on Saturday morning and they said that dad was doing okay and his lips were a bit less swollen. They had lunch with him and came over to my place for dinner. He didn’t want them to leave when they were ready to go so he decided to call Sister Leila to see if she had returned from her vacation in Florida. Their house is now listed for sale and I don’t think mom wants to move but like I said previously, I talked to them over two years ago about downsizing and again early last year but they did not want to do anything about it so now it seems like a lot of stuff is happening at the same time – as it is. The house is in pretty good shape and mom takes pride in her home so there is not a lot of stuff to get ready for selling. That’s a good thing.

I made shrimp and fish etouffee with rice and some boiled & fried plantains. The etouffee was sooooo good. You can search the internet for a good recipe or you can do what I did which is to use a mix that Sunita got me when she was in New Orleans in October. There is a company called Louisiana Fish Fry that sells all kinds of spice mixes. I’ve used their gumbo, etouffee, creole, and jambalaya mixes as well as some of the seasonings. The website is: Louisiana Fish Fry

Yesterday I took Auntie Bauline to the airport and went to the hospice to visit dad.  She said that she was asking mom how I find the time to do all that I do.  I should familiarize her with Brent's theory about me.  He thinks that there are really two of me because I cloned myself and when one of me is sleeping, the other is awake but I make sure never to show both of us at the same time.  If I didn't know better, I'd think the same thing!  Thanks Brent for presenting that theory.  Makes a lot of sense to me. 

I made some chicken and vegetable soup and some chicken fiesta and rice yesterday morning so I took some of that for him. He was sleeping when I arrived but woke up soon after. His lips were definitely less swollen than they were last week. The doctor increased the dosage of steroids and it seems to be helping but now that his face is less swollen, I can see the hardness of the tumours more clearly.

I asked how he was feeling and he said that he was having difficulty breathing. I asked if his chest was hurting when he breathed, but he said that his head feels heavy as if he is not getting enough oxygen in his nose. I told him to flush his nose with his syringe. He had already done that 3 times already but he did it again while I went to make 2 cups of tea for him and me. When I brought it back, I told him to sit and have his tea and he quietly asked, “what do you want to talk to me about now?” I had to chuckle while I said that I simply wanted to visit and I had nothing in particular to talk about this day. I would prefer just to come and visit but between he and mom not always cooperating, I am the one left to deal with whatever is going on.

Just as I was leaving, Sophie and Darwin arrived and they stayed with him till he ate dinner. He wanted milk cream and bread for dinner. That’s more like dessert, not really dinner but we are obviously indulging him these days. What the heck. Life is uncertain so eat dessert first! Dad tried eating the milk cream but I think Karran forgot to scald the whipping cream and skim off the cream so it didn’t taste the way he wanted it.

For some of you, this may sound like eating pure fat but when we were kids, this was a treat which I dare not eat these days if I think about the number of calories and saturated fat, but he wants it so we give it to him. He was bigger things to worry about than saturated fats once in a while, so if he wants to eat cream and bread, then cream and bread it is. I called mom when I went home. Karran left the balance of the whipping cream at her house so she said that she would prepare it the way dad likes it and take it over for him this morning.


Sharm brought over a carrot cake when she dropped off the kids so we had that for dessert. Sabreena was telling me “Nani, Katie Perry is coming to town and I want to get some tickets to see her. I only got tickets to Yo Gaba Gaba but soon I’ll get tickets to Katie Perry.” The kid is 3. I don’t even know if I ever went to a concert at 3, let alone wanting concert tickets.

The babes had a feast of dhall and roti for dinner and Sabreena wanted barley soup for breakfast. I was almost tempted to make some for breakfast but by the time they had breakfast, they wanted sweet roti and eggs (Sabreena wanted a “mini amount”). They told their mom that they had fun in the space bedroom. The room has glow-in-the-dark stars and planets on the ceiling and walls and the kids love them. Those were left over from when Sub was into her astronomy phase so after the room was repainted when she moved out, I put back the stars and planets because I thought the grandchildren would like them when they slept over.

Sunita called on Saturday night to say that Izzy lost another tooth.  She's now up to two.  She didin't want her mom to tell me because she wanted to surprise me in August when I see her. Her mom told her that her new tooth would have grown in by then.  She'll be 8 in May and she lost her first tooth about a month ago in school. She was so excited to bring it home but dropped it somewhere and lost it. She was crushed because the tooth fairy would not know that she lost her tooth.  Sunita called Mike and by some miracle - because the tooth fairy knows everything - he got a letter from the tooth fairy at his work and he brought it home for Izzy.  The tooth fairy told her that she is everywhere and knows that Izzy lost her tooth and that everything will be alright.  How about that?  The tooth fairy brought her $5 and another $10 from her Lola and Lolo.  I just have this question: How come the tooth fairy doesn't give you money when you lose your teeth and have to get dentures?  She'd better be prepared for me if I ever have to get dentures.  For now, she can keep me in toothbrushes and floss.


I mentioned in a previous post that mom was supposed to move in to my home on Sunday but when I asked her yesterday if she was ready, she said that she still needed to do a few more things so she is moving this afternoon. Not sure if she’ll have another excuse this afternoon. We’ll see. Her room is ready. Karran brought over a full bed, complete with linens on Saturday so that’s all set up and ready for her. I ordered some room darkening shades because she complains about not being able to sleep. The room already has dark shades but hopefully these will be close to hotel-type shades that will block out all the light at night.

That was my weekend. How was yours?