I had to make a break from routine this weekend and make a drive up north to visit with family there again. My wife and the children stayed home for this trip, so I left last night after work and returned today. This has the benefit of affording me some extra time with my sisters (In other words, I was up way later than usual last night) and a lot of uninterrupted time to talk with Dad through the day today.
Fact is, since my March 18 visit, nearly a month ago, his condition has worsened considerably. At this point, the cancer has spread about both sides of his leg and is bleeding, occasionally in significant quantities. Infection risk is clearly a concern and pain is also becoming a factor. Whereas he previously abstained from medications to deal with it, he has little choice some days but to resort to painkillers to have any chance of functioning normally. Sitting, standing, and lying down are all uncomfortable, and his energy level seems to depleted pretty much continually.
Adding to the matter is the chemo treatments, which have changed in the last couple weeks as the clinical trial dropped him due to the rapid spread of his cancer. He is currently on a more traditional treatment which helps relatively few people with his particular cancer, and is seen by many as a “last ditch effort.” In other words, all options have been exhausted, and following these treatments the focus will move from attempts to control the cancer to symptom management (making him more comfortable) only.
His mental faculties, however, remain quite firm and his attitude seems positive. He’s being damned stubborn (and I mean that in the most positive way), and has not given up any more of his daily routine than absolutely necessary. He even continues to enjoy a steady stream of science-fiction television programming thanks to Netflix.
He did surprise me a bit as I prepared to leave this evening when he offered me a wood carved Budai, or “Laughing Buddha,” that he has had in his possession for decades. This is the sort of thing I remember from my childhood but never really knew much about it. He figured that I’d appreciate it, being my adoption of Buddhism, and I decided that it could live in my book-binding area.
Sure, Budai has seen better days and has numerous dings and scuffs, the result of numerous moves and rough handling over the years, but I’ve always thought it was a really neat carving. It is deceptively heavy, too. In case your interested in reading a little bit about Budai / “Laughing Buddha,” there is a Wikipedia article with a little historical background.
Today’s visit was good, and I am hopeful to make another trip very soon. It is unfortunate, but I know fully well that there is no way for me to be there as much as I probably ought to be. I guess I have to make peace with that.
Thanks for reading. I hope your are well today, friends, and I will post again soon.