This will be a short post to update on Dad and to highlight a new book featured by the Guardian that looks brilliant!
Dad finished his antibiotics yesterday, having finished chemotherapy last week. He has a handful of pills to still take each morning, and for the time being still has his PICC line that needs flushing each week. He also needs to be closely monitored with fortnightly blood tests and he’ll continue to take his own obs, temperature/weight/O2 sats each day. I’m also sure the unofficial but ever-effective Sylv-monitoring will continue. The only additional treatment available to him now is to continue blood transfusions, when and if he needs them (although the chemo does appear to have slowed the bleeding tumour down) and to treat any infections or illnesses that crop up, as you would with anyone else.
So to all intents and purposes Dad is free, certainly from the jaws of chemo, if not from the cancer itself. Dad’s condition is still very much terminal, he could decline rapidly (or catastrophically deterioriate, as we were once told) at any moment. He could also of course continue his fight and face an inevitable gradual decline, after all he’s 64 and old age will get all of us eventually, sometimes I think Dad can convince himself that it’s not the cancer that is the problem, just old age creeping up on him.
His oncologist wont see him again now until mid September. When I was watching 24 Hours in A&E at the weekend a lady referenced the fact that her next appointment wasn’t for 6 weeks so at least her consultant believed she’d live that long. It made me chuckle, the subtle ever-present signs and symbols that people can find when they look for them…we had all commented on the fact that Dad’s appointment was a whole eight weeks away, and taken comfort in that inherent optimism. While I at least am not completely confident he will make it that far, but we have to hope and continue hoping he will.
My Dad is a phenomenal example of how setting short term goals and striving for them can keep you going. The immediate goal is to live to see his second granddaughter, due in two weeks time. If he manages that, the almost unthinkable landmark is his 65th birthday in September, which would also coincide with his initial diagnosis five years ago. I really hope for my Dad that he lives that long, in the immediate term I think becoming a Grandad again will be a boost for his soul, aiming towards being able to claim his pension at least once is critically important, as is (in some small way) not breaking the appointment he has made with his oncologist for later in September – my Dad is a man of his word and once an appointment is made, he’ll damn well make it, unless of course the grim reaper gets him first.
So what has this got to do with a book I hear you ask? The illustration above comes from a feature in the Guardian of a new book by Nick Wadley, Man + Doctor, that charts his experience of the medical profession and hospitalisation. I’ve already ordered myself a copy and look forward to flicking through and nodding (I know I will) with the familiar resonance of life drawn.
The final drawing featured in the Guardian was the one above, marking his liberation from hospital. Dad certainly isn’t skipping and dancing his way to a new healthy start in life, but I hope he feels something similar, a liberation as he is released from treatment, in time to enjoy our fleeting English summer.