Just my thoughts...

Just my thoughts...
The randomness that is I

Monday, February 20, 2012

Eternally Grateful

This really started out as a post to my blog on the Weight Watchers site, but I guess I was ready to talk about this.

The last time I posted, I'd just found out that my father had pancreatic cancer just 7 days before. He went into the hospital on January 14th.

He died on January 24th. I think I stuck to my plan up until about the 18th. I'm not sure what I weigh. I haven't paid attention when I go to treatment, but I know I need to get back on again.

I am an emotional eater and during the days following the funeral, I ate, ate, ate. There were so many things to choose from, it was pointless to try.

I was very close to him and though it was very hard for me to go through those last days with him, I wouldn't trade them for the world.

In September my parents remarried after two decades of being apart and I joked that I'd been his daughter longer than my mother had been his wife. That was in the beginning, when I thought he'd just have a couple of surgeries, get chemo/radiation and go home.

Never in a million years would I think that I'd go into February without my Daddy.

He'd started complaining about his stomach hurting back in September. He was going through some things and we all thought it was stress. His appetite wasn't great. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't good. He went into November eating ok. Well I think he did. I was at work during most of the times he would have eaten. He ate a decent plate for Thanksgiving. By this time, he'd lost 25 pounds and I told him that he really needed to go to counseling or something because I didn't like what the stress was doing to him. Still all the while, he complained of his stomach hurting.

He'd been to the doctor a couple of times, but each time the doctor said there was nothing wrong. From September to January, the same...In January, his appetite declined rapidly. He'd started drinking Boost just so he could get some nutrition.

Then he decided one day that he was going to go to the ER and he wasn't going to leave until they found what was wrong. When they did a CT Scan, they found a mass in his pancreas. A few days later, it was determined to be cancerous.

They gave him 6 months to a year. Well, we thought that a lot can be accomplished in 6 months to a year, namely treatment and cure.

Unfortunately, he spent most of the next week in bed. They'd given him a prescription for the pain and it made him sleep almost around the clock. By the following Friday, he was unable to walk without help. By Saturday morning, he was unable to walk at all. The pain was too much and because he'd been in bed, his legs too weak. We found out later that he'd been dehydrated for some time and his liver had shut down as had his kidneys.

He went to the hospital that day, never to return to his earthly home.

The first week he was joking and talking to everyone who came to visit. I didn't keep tabs, but I'd bet there were at least 50 people who came to see him from the time visiting hours started to the time they ended. There were only supposed to be 2 visitors at a time, but at any given time there were 4-6.

I remember when he had a couple of strokes in 2004, we kept a notebook for people to sign because a lot of times he was asleep and people just wanted him to know they'd come by. When he went home, there were over 200 names in it. That didn't count the few days before we started it!

The following week he began to slow down. I was still hoping for a miracle. He stopped talking so much, but he never stopped listening. People would come in and whisper questions to us and without even opening his eyes, he'd answer.

The first team of doctors assigned to him were awful. They came in talking at him, full of doom and gloom and telling him well he could try this treatment, but it probably wouldn't work and things like that. One doctor was talking and asked a question and when one of us answered instead of my Dad, he physically waved his hand, brushing off the responder. The same fool went so far as to tell him, well if you choose no treatment and you begin to die, this, this and this will happen and you will close your eyes and it will be very peaceful. WHAT?!?!? Really!?!?! Uh, hell no. The prognosis may not be good, but dammit, we're going to be positive to the end!

I got rid of those doctors and got a new team in. They didn't say anything any different, but they sure said it a different way and were willing to try treatment if he wanted to.

He was willing to try dialysis to possibly get his kidneys working so that he could withstand radiation to shrink the tumor and possibly have it removed, but the dialysis was too much. It left him very weak and his will to stay alive was just gone. He was ready to go be with Jesus.

That Sunday he said he didn't want to do any more treatment. So they just gave him medicine to make him as comfortable as possible.

Monday they moved him up to the hospice floor. Tuesday as he began to decline, the nurse told me to call in the family. I never let go of his hand as I called my sister and put the phone to his ear so she could say goodbye. We called brothers to come. He took his last breath around 3:13, but to the amazement of the nurses, he kept a pulse until my brothers got there and his heart didn't stop beating until each of us were there.

The following week was a whirlwind. Making arrangements, notifying people, etc. What I found out, that I didn't know, was that my father was a mentor to sooooo many young men throughout their lives. He ws only 65, but there were young men in their 50's down to their teens who said that at any given time they could and had come to him for advice or whatever and he'd impacted their lives in some manner.

My father was no celebrity, but his funeral could easily have been mistaken for that of one. The church held 700+ and it was standing room only. They had to finally close the doors to the visitation because it had gone 30 minutes past the allotted time and there was still a line around the block.

It was a joyful homegoing service and he'd been very specific about what he wanted. We stuck to that to the letter.

There was a beautiful graveside ceremony at the National Cemetery where he was laid to rest.

It's easy to see now that despite everything that happened, God had His hand in it the whole time.

My father was able to see or speak to every single person he wanted to speak to before he left this earth and I have two very special people who walked with me every step of the way.

This is a time when you really find who is and who isn't there for you and that was made extremely evident.

To those who were there, including my Urbansoulz Family, who had a radio show every single night that I was able to listen to and never feel alone, I'm eternally grateful...


Misfit said...

I soo understand the suddenness of pancreatic cancer.. the same thing happened to my great aunt.. its very difficult to diagnose and she had the very same symptoms.. rapid weight loss, no appetite, etc.. the doctor told her to go out and find a man.. by time they finally diagnosed it, it was waaay to late. I believe it was less than three months. And it was terrible to see as it spread thru her body so quickly. I am glad your father didn't suffer long and that he was able to go in peace. You seem to be holding up pretty good. you seem to be at peace and that is so important! *big hugs to you*

Afrodeezha said...

I don't know how at peace I am...I mean I cried when he passed and at the funeral and burial.

Every day the sting of tears, burn my nose and eyes, but they never fall.

That scares me.