Sunday, December 14, 2008

Today's Update

Thanks to everyone for the comments and e-mails about yesterday's post (and Mary Ann, thanks for that moving story about your own experience!). Today I asked Mom if she could tell me the story, and she said she could, but then she really couldn't find the words for it. I suspect, although of course I don't know, that this is a matter of dream logic and deep symbolism, which rarely translate well to the everyday world. Some of our internal stories are felt, not narrated.

I also asked Mom if she thought she was dying, and she said, "I don't know. I thought so before, but now I'm not sure." She didn't sound upset about the prospect, though, and again, that's the main thing.

We've talked before about her eventual death: she's always told me that although she doesn't want to die, she doesn't fear it, either. She's had a good life and her kids are doing well, so she feels like she can leave when she needs to.

My sister talked to Mom's doctor today. The lung fluid didn't show any sign of infection, which is good; we won't know if there's a cancer recurrence for another few days. In the meantime, Mom had some physical therapy today. The hospital's trying to decide if she should go home or to a nursing home (temporarily, for rehab). My sister knows Mom won't want to go to a nursing home -- she flat-out refused last time -- but doesn't feel able to care for Mom adequately at home, and Mom doesn't want to spend the money for a full-time caretaker.

Stay tuned.

Dad, meanwhile, is in fine spirits. Yesterday he kept calling to get advice from Gary about how to work the radio Gary lent him; with the help of a nurse, Dad finally managed to get an NPR station, so he was happy. (Yesterday he called us to ask what had happened with the auto bailout, since he hadn't been able to get news for two days.) He had PT today too, and walked a bit.

Long-time readers will recall that before Dad and Fran moved here, I got a cellphone for each of them and put the three of us on a family plan, so we can always talk to each other without charge. This is, in principle, a great idea, and obviously ideal for the current situation. The problem is that neither Dad nor Fran can hear their phones ringing, even with really loud ringtones (my sister found one for Dad that would raise the dead). Fran can hear the landline in their apartment, but not her cell.

Dad has to use his cell for long-distance calls from the hospital, and he likes Fran to use her cell phone to call his cell phone, but since she can't hear her cell and he doesn't want to call the landline -- he's been scrupulous about not using our shared minutes -- he's taken to calling me on my cell and saying, "Please call Fran and ask her to call me." Yesterday I pointed out that this arrangement was unnecessarily complicated, and suggested that he call the landline, just for a minute, and ask Fran to call him back using the cell. We'll see how that works out!

Gary and I are still in Reno; the mountains are snowy, and expected to remain so through Tuesday. Tomorrow, Dad will have the test that determines if he's even a candidate for the clinical trial. If he isn't, I guess he'll be on his way back home before we can even get over there. But for obvious reasons, I hope he gets to stay in Palo Alto longer.

I slept too late to go to church this morning, although I'd been looking forward to it. Luckily, we had a late-afternoon Advent Lessons & Carols service today, so I went to that. I got lots of hugs from friends, which was lovely. I've never liked Advent much, but this year, it fits my mood perfectly: all that stuff about waiting in darkness, and staying awake because you never know when the big things will happen. Advent has always felt like a weird, tense limbo season to me, but this year I'm in weird, tense limbo, so it works.

I'm supposed to preach on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. I have no idea if I'll be here or in California then, although I should know in a few days. One of our priests told me that he'll step in for me if I need him to.

Oh, and I swam today, even though I had to use cruddy goggles because my wonderful (and expensive) vision-correcting Barracuda goggles have gone missing. I suspect I left them at the health club and someone there took them or tossed them; they weren't in the lost and found. I've also lost my gym comb and my favorite pen. Although I routinely misplace things, I'm doing so far more often than usual, and it's unsettling. In the grand scheme of things, though, all of this is minor. I'll happily forgo goggles and combs and pens if I can keep my parents a bit longer. (Is this bargaining, Dr. Kubler-Ross?)

Today's other activities included knitting and cuddling cats. Yay, cats!


  1. Susan, this sounds like another fairly restful day. Good for you! I'm glad you are finding a little time for yourself.

    Prayers ascending for good news on your father's test and results. Also your Mom's health and improvement.


  2. Hi Susan, gosh, don't you hate the whole misplacing-things-due-to-stress compounded by stress-because-things-have-gone-missing? It's oh so normal but oh so much of a pain. I really wish there was an alternative between SNF and going home where one is unsafe. SNFs may not be adequately staffed to keep patients safe or comfortable, and often patients who are together and can advocate for themselves are the ones who do best in SNFs, or those who have a friend or family member who can be there lots of the time, but who has that?? Very few, I think. Your sister has to work! Boy, I'm no help. But here's one I can help with--does Fran's cell phone have a "vibrate" setting? If so, maybe you or Gary could set it to awful-noise-plus-vibrate and she could keep it in a pocket or even on a lanyard round her neck (mine has that capability) and she'd "feel" it ringing?


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