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Today’s video:  The First Wives Club

Song running through my head today:  Time Passages (Al Stewart)

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We got back from our Pennsylvania weekend about 10:30 last night, with plenty to think about.

The purpose of the trip was to celebrate Lisa’s nephew’s 21st birthday (16th), Father’s Day (17th), Lisa’s sister’s birthday (18th) and her parents’ anniversary (19th).

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Mark, Lisa’s nephew, turned 21 on Saturday.  He’s a wonderful young man with a sense of responsibility and a strong sense of family.  He does a lot for his grandparents, without being asked.  Unlike many his age, he MAKES time for his family.

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Last Fall, Lisa’s father was diagnosed with prostate cancer — a cancer which grows very, very slowly.  After consulting a doctor, the decision was made that the prostate cancer would be treated after they returned from their winter in Florida.

When they returned, it was found that he had a malignant growth (the size of a lemon) in his kidney.  The doctor told him that the best course of treatment was to remove the kidney.  Lisa’s father sought out a second opinion and found a doctor who felt the tumor could be “frozen” out of the kidney.

That procedure was done on Thursday and it appears that most, if not all of the cancer had been “gotten.”  He had a minor complication Friday morning so they kept him a day longer, and he got back home on Saturday.

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In the meantime, Lisa’s grandmother was back in the hospital again.  She has had several problems which have left her unable to return home because not only can she not care for herself, but her husband cannot care for her, either.  She’s 92 years old and just wants to go to sleep and not wake up.  She’s terribly disappointed each day that she does wake up.  She has gotten to the point where they will no longer discharge her to return home — they’ve discharged her to a nursing home.

Yesterday morning, she was unresponsive.  They were unable to rouse her, or get her to react in any way to prodding, poking, even pinching.  Her hemoglobin was low, but otherwise her vitals were excellent.  Then, suddenly, around 2:30 or so, she woke up and was alert and talking, as if nothing had happened.  She was lucid enough to tell the medical staff and Lisa’s mother that she would not allow any transfusions (to resolve the low hemoglobin issues) or any other medical treatment.  “No more,” was her instructions.

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A couple of months ago, one of Lisa’s aunts was diagnosed with cancer as well.  It seems that it may have started out in her kidney, but had spread so badly throughout her body that, on Thursday, they sent her home for Hospice care.  This aunt is on Lisa’s real father’s side (“the sperm donor,” as she calls him) and so she and her siblings don’t get a lot of opportunity to see that side of the family.  The three siblings (Lisa, Diane and Paul) went over to see their aunt on Saturday evening, and had a thoroughly enjoyable time.  The aunt was thrilled with their visit and her sisters told the siblings that they were pleased to see her laugh so much and so hard.  At one point, someone asked them if they wanted some ice cream — they all looked at each other and said “We’re GOLDENS [their last name], of COURSE we want ice cream!”  That brought about more raucous laughter and, as Lisa said, they all ravenously ate ice cream, including the terminally ill aunt. 

Last night, on our drive home, Lisa’s sister called to tell her that the aunt had passed away at lunchtime.  She woke up yesterday morning and, after reminiscing with her sister about the previous night’s visit, told her sister she was in an enormous amount of pain and that she wanted the morphine drip started.  She was gone by 2:30.

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Lisa’s mother, an insulin-dependent diabetic, has been the primary caregiver for both her parents (Lisa’s 92-year-old grandparents), who live about a quarter mile from her house.  She cooked and took food for them every day.  She helped them get dressed, took them to their doctor’s appointments, and fetched and stepped for them every day.  Last year she had open-heart surgery, but her brother and his wife (who live right next door to the grandparents) couldn’t be bothered to check in on them to see if they needed anything — of course, it wasn’t their responsibility.

In the meantime, Lisa’s mother’s eyes have begun to have problems (from the diabetes) and she’s having some sort of laser treatment on one eye, causing cloudy, blurry vision, and the other one isn’t much better.  She’s been stressed to the max caring for her parents, her cancer-stricken husband, and her own health issues, and still her brother can’t be bothered to do anything but criticize whatever decisions she makes regarding the health and care of their parents.

I think she has enough on her plate.

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