Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Update on my dad and a visit to Yakima

It has been just under 2 months since my dad was diagnosed with cancer. I really can't believe that it has only been that seems like several months have passed. I think that is just because so much drama has happened here. Anyway, I decided that since things have calmed down just a bit at home, I decided to make a quick trip over to Yakima to see my dad and take him to his treatment.

He is doing radiation five days a week and then chemo on Wednesdays, so I came for a chemo day. I came over last night since he needed to be at the center at 8:30 am. The ride was beautiful, I forgot how beautiful Yakima can be. I think that part of it is that I have such negative emotions attached to this place. But if I look at it more objectively, it can actually be a rather beautiful place...the city itself not so much, but the drive up here is pretty amazing.

Last night I had dinner with an old friend, and had a really nice time. I miss chatting with her. It was so nice to see her, looking happy and healthy. She was given a "terminal" cancer diagnosis in 1997. So glad that they were wrong!!

I didn't sleep well, maybe it was because of worrying about being in Yakima, or maybe just my insomnia hanging this morning came a bit too early. Thankfully I did have time to find a Starbucks (and the very handy new Starbucks iPhone app that located the nearest stores for me).

I picked my dad up and wasn't quite sure what to expect. He is now on full-time O2 (2 liters). I think that the biggest difference was the weight he has lost...29 pounds since I last saw in him September, 29 pounds that he didn't have to lose to begin with. Other than that, he looks pretty good. I think that he is losing some of his hair, but he is 69 years old, so it doesn't look necessarily odd or out of place.

First stop was blood work, then in to see the oncologist. My dad was his normal joking self when the nurse came in. She was a new nurse to him, so he started out with his joke routine. I nearly fell out of my chair when I heard the word "penis" come out of his mouth...but fortunately the nurse didn't seem to mind or be offended :)

The oncologist told dad that he needed to gain some weight (told him that he looked like he could be in a holocaust movie). I didn't particularly like this doctor. He didn't introduce himself to me or ask who I was. He gave us very little information and I really didn't get to ask any questions. He even prescribed a new medication but didn't tell us. He just handed it to the nurse for her to get it. I don't know if this is normal protocol for this doctor or what, but I know that if I were there regularly I would either get a new doctor or have some words :)

Anyway...after that unhelpful exercise we went into the infusion room. This was the first time that I have actually been in one of those rooms. I have caught a glimpse of the infusion room at the Polyclinic several times as went to my allergist, but have never been in one. So, that was an experience. I also realized when I got inside that it was likely the room where my aunt died a couple of years ago. She was diagnosed with cancer and went in for her first chemo treatment and then died during that first treatment. I am not sure why it never occurred to me before I went there.

Dad handled the chemo procedure well. This was his 5th chemo treatment, so he has been down the road before. It was just obvious from some of the other patients that they didn't tolerate it as well. Dad's sister came for a bit and we chatted a bit, and then she went to help Dad's wife set up a new bed for Dad (he can't sleep in his regular bed because of his "wound" from the radiation). Dad slept a bit during, and I did a little knitting. The treatment last about 4 hours total I think. After his infusion was completed, the nurse came by and changed his PICC dressing.

Then over to the radiation suite. Luckily this center has everything in the same building...the doctor's offices, the infusion suites, the radiation area, etc. It is decorated like a lodge with "log-esque" furniture and fake creek outside. A bit cheesy to me, but nice that they really tried to make it a comfortable place for the patients. It was busy and there were many "sick" people there, but it definitely didn't have that sterile "sick" feel. It was quiet and a bit peaceful. Which I think is really great. I wish more medical facilities paid attention to aesthetics. I know that medicine is the primary purpose, but other things are important for healing too.

Anyway...we had quite awhile to wait before the radiation treatment, so my dad told me a bunch of stories. We had been estranged for quite a long time (he was an alcoholic and left my mom when I was 7 and then he basically disappeared until I was 17. I tried to let him in, but couldn't deal with it, so haven't had much contact with him. Some letters, a couple of visits, but not much. But I think that I have finally let go of a lot of that stuff). So, he was telling me a lot of stories that I have never heard. Fortunately this time the stories were not the hard to hear type.

Finally he went to radiation and I picked up his prescription at the pharmacy. The radiation is really quick and so we were able to go home. He was tired, but I think that he didn't want to lay down because I was there. I talked for a bit, but then told him that I needed to go so that he can get some rest. I will go back by in the morning before I head out of town.

All-in-all that was a pretty good visit. But I am definitely looking forward to going back to Seattle tomorrow! Had a good visit with my grandmother too (but that is probably for another blog...I need to get to sleep!).


jordysmom said...

I'm glad your visit with your Dad was easier this time. I'm sure being in that town makes you feel out of sorts. I hope it gets easier with time, and that you can sort through your memories so to speak. Keep the happier ones without the sad ones weighing them down.

I'm looking forward to hearing about your visit with your grandma. :)


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