The Oncologist will see you tomorrow

flu shotWe are obviously rookies at dealing with cancer. My Dad is not going to choke in his sleep and is not aspirating. The Emergency Room doctor understands our angst and helps get us into the oncology practice the next day.

After my Mom was escorted out of the Emergency Room, we had to wait for the test results. However, now my Dad is anxious and starts demanding that we leave.  When I remind him that we are there to help fix his tongue, I can usually buy a few more minutes, but then the demand returns.

I was holding the bathroom break for another stall tactic and finally have to use it. When I return, the nurse has arrived with a flu shot for my Dad. He apparently requested it when I left the room. The sight brings a smile to my face. My Dad has always gotten his flu shot and when we sat down in the room, he noted the sign that advertised “Get your Flu Shot Here!”

We are unsure of the cancer fight we are about to embark upon — but at least we know my Dad won’t have to worry about the flu this winter. I will put that in the Win column. Amused. 


** Full-Disclosure Policy: My posts are a little behind real-time. But I wrote these as I was going through the process, but was unable to complete and post while we were in the midst of caring for my parents. 

Security, will you please escort my Mom to the car?

security guardMy brother has come to town to help manage the coming appointments and support my parents. When he goes out to visit my parents on Sunday, my Mom reports that my Dad seems to be choking in his sleep.

We know he has a tumor in his mouth but are waiting to see an oncologist and don’t really understand how fast the tumor can grow or its exact location. We understand the tumor has tethered his tongue and he can’t move it at all. In mid-August at his physical, I watched as the doctor had him stick out his tongue and put her hands in his mouth to see if she could find any reason he was slurring and found nothing.  A month later, he can’t move his tongue and finds eating painful. Could the tumor be growing that fast and be blocking his airway?

My Dad agrees to go to the Emergency Room — our appointment with the oncologist is several days away and now my Brother and I are worried my Dad might choke to death before we even get to that appointment. I meet my Dad, Mom and Brother at the Emergency Room.

My Dad sits quietly, but my Mom begins to grow anxious and asks why we are here. She tries to talk my Dad into leaving. When we review the reasons we came with my Dad, he agrees to wait a little longer. My Dad is called and I walk with him back to see the Doctor while my Brother stays with my Mom. I tell the Doctor that he seems to be choking, recap the details of the tumor and mention that we haven’t seen our Dad take in more than a few sips of liquid in days. They put him on an IV as we wait to see if he’s aspirated.

The activity and change of scenery is difficult on my Mom and she is agitated. She starts talking loudly and rudely in the waiting room. My Brother brings my Mom to visit my Dad in hopes it will calm her down. Instead, she begins to berate my Dad and now he is agitated too. She demands that we leave and my Dad tries to get up but realizes he has an IV in his arm. My mom moves to pull it out of his arm.  As I’m trying to divert my Mom, my brother goes to get Security.

We recognize that the change of scenery and getting bumped from my being my Dad’s advocate has tipped her scale and she is really off-balance. My Mom orders me to leave the room. Before I go, I make her promise me that she won’t pull the IV out of Dad’s arm. As I walk out, the nursing staff moves in  as my brother arrives with Security. Thankfully one of the nurses is able to soothe my Mom and helps walk her to the car so my Brother can take her home.

I as sit in the hallway, the ridiculousness of the situation hits me and I begin to laugh  I’m still chuckling as I walk back into my Dad’s room to continue the wait. Witnessed.

Using your communities to help you assist your parents.

As you have read over the past few months, my parents need help but haven’t recognized or remembered the countless warning signs that they need more help to maintain their lifestyle. Together, they have propped each other up for several years and now they hit the tipping point – it crept up on them and now they are really unable to cognitively understand how off things have gotten.

When they showed up at the local hospital and couldn’t remember why they registered at the emergency room, the staff took notice. They had them come back the next day and both failed the mini-mental assessment performed by the doctor. Since then, the social worker met with me and now the hospital is working to put together a multi-disciplinary team to help my parents.

While my parents haven’t been heeding our concerns, we are hopeful they will listen to the medical team being assembled to help them.

My father-in-law was recently talking to my husband. He called after a blog post and was concerned for me. My husband chuckled and told me that his response was “How many of her blog posts have happy endings?”

I hope this is a move toward providing all of us with positive steps that can be taken if you ever find yourself in my shoes. Boosted.