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Thread: [Long Read]So its been a fun couple of months.

  1. #1
    Second Most EVIL YARDofSTUF's Avatar
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    [Long Read]So its been a fun couple of months.

    And ya, I mean that sarcastically.

    At the end of November/beginning of December, my father came in and said he had a sore back. He was outside chopping up some ice so I was like, well ya that could do it, so we didn't really think anything of it and he took it easy. But the pain got worse the next couple of days, enough that he started using a cane for help getting around and called his doctor. After an exam he got some pain meds and an anti-inflammatory.

    A week later he was worse, needed help moving around if he wanted to take anything with him, and made another appointment with the doctor. The doctor checked him out, gave him a better pain med, more anti-inflammatories, added a lidocaine patch, and prescribed some physical therapy. A couple days into the PT the old man was feeling a bit better and leaning less on his cane. A couple more days and he was feeling worse, walking got harder again and we found that a walker helped him much better than the cane was.

    He made another appointment with the doctor, and the doctor ordered an MRI. By the time of the MRI appointment my father needed help with basically everything. He also didn't want to eat. At first it was skipping a meal here and there and then less portions, then he gave up on all solid foods and we had to fight with him to get him to drink ensures. With the pain still being an issue, even with the meds, we were all eager to find out what it was and get it straightened out.

    The next day his doctor called and told him that the MRI showed an issue with his back, it was raised up, or out towards his backside more than normal(this part is kinda blurry for me as I had been up 24/7 for a few days at that point and it was my father talking to the doctor on the and he may have been confused.), but it wasn't clear so the doctor ordered another scan, a PET scan.

    The PET scan was another week long wait, and a painful thing for someone with back pain to sit through. During that week my mother and I started to notice that my father would mix up words, and towards the end of the week I noticed he was messing up phone numbers, and simply how to use the phone at all. It was very painful for him, and my mother and I were frustrated with it taking so long to get an answer to what his problem was.

    Late the next day his doctor called, he didn't have the full results yet but he had enough to tell us that my fathers pain was caused by metastasized lesions on his spine. Cancer. He put us in touch with an Oncology doctor/group. It was another week long wait for that appointment.

    Unfortunately this time we couldn't wait that long, and a couple days later my father fell as he was leaving his room. I was able to brace his fall but he was too heavy and weak for me to get him back to his feet or even to sit him on the walker, so I told my mother to call 911, and with the EMTs and other first responders evaluation they said he needed to go to the hospital, and we agreed. So he was taken and admitted to Hartford Hospital.

    He barely acted like himself at this point. Angry, combative, even pulled his IV out overnight. But the next day we got to see a doctor from the oncology group we had an appointment with later in the week. She had the full PET report at this time and explained that the cancer was stage 4. The tumors were up his spine, on his shoulder bones, hip and pelvis bones, in his liver, his lungs, and they thought probably his abdomen. It was a pretty big shock having only heard mention of the cancer being in his spine prior to this. It was also oddly comforting to finally have someone in front of us that was able to give us a detailed answer as to why my father was suffering, and what had to happen to help him, along with long term options.

    The main problem was calcium. The tumors on his bones were eating them, releasing calcium into his body/blood. High levels make you not want to eat, feel like you're going to throw up, and can cause confusion, which was now very severe with my father. It also prevents chemo being used as a treatment, as patients aren't able to follow simple instructions that are necessary. So they needed to get that under control. A biopsy was the next step, see what kind of cancer it was, and more specific ways it could be treated.

    It took a while for them to get everything set for the biopsy. His calcium was slow to come down and on the first attempt of a biopsy he was too agitated for them to try it. They also tried to do an MRI of his brain to see if the cancer had gotten there, and that wasn't successful either. The palliative care unit of the hospital introduced themselves to us, and kept us up to date on what was being done with his care.

    A change of meds and some time for them to kick in and a second MRI on his brain was done, and it was good news, no tumors in his brain. And he had the most alert day in a few weeks around this time. He acted like my father, the nurses said he was pleasant, he was happy to see my mother in the morning and talk with her, he ate his meals. Even without the biopsy at this point we already knew he was terminal, so the main goal was to preserve any quality of life that we could and to make sure that he wouldn't have to suffer in pain for the rest of his time. The only other wish I had was selfish, and that was to have him back as himself, mentally, just to tell him that I loved him, because as an adult I had never done that. I know he knew that I loved him from my actions, but I wanted him to hear it from me. And that day around lunchtime I got my chance, we had a conversation. It was a great day for my mother and I, and it was the first day that we were happy, or feeling positive in weeks. It was also the best day other close friends had visiting with him so far.

    After supper his nurse noticed his breathing had gotten worse, called in respiratory and another person that deals with chewing, drinking, talking, I forget their title. They decided he needed to be in a unit with more care, so he was moved to a Stepdown unit. More care than a regular unit, but less than an ICU. So we followed his transfer to the new room and met the new staff that would be taking care of him, and made sure everyone had the latest info.

    The next day dumped a ton of snow on us, over a foot, and with our street being one of the last in town to be plowed out, we didn't get to see him, but the doctors were able to get the biopsy done, and his calcium was finally reaching a good level. But he was confused, agitated, and delusional again. The day after the biopsy we saw him and he greeted us with a story about how he had over 2000 rounds shot at him and that he had saved his nurse's life twice, and that was why he was there, cause he didn't have cancer, not anymore, the bullets took it out when they ripped through him. So he was ready to come home. Obviously he was very wrong. The doctors and nurses adjusted his meds again to try and clear him up.

    A day later we were in early to catch the doctors doing rounds, because the biopsy results would be in. The doctor came in and explained that their are 2 bad ways cancer can behave. The tumors can grow quickly, and they can spread quickly, both of which were happening with my father. He explained that the priority was to make my father comfortable. My mother and I had been going to rehab facilities and nursing homes after visiting with the old man, to see what type of care was offered and what they were like, as far as quality. We had also looked into hospice, so we wanted to know how long he thought my father had left. He told us that my father could go that day or in 2 weeks, and he recommended moving my father to the hospice section of the hospital, when a room was free. My mother called my grandmother, and she called her priest. Last rites were given to my father moments later, the priest showed up incredibly fast.

    They moved my father either the next day or the day after, its hard to separate the days. My mother and I joked about the nurses asking my dad what day it was to see how aware he was, cause most times we couldn't answer it without pulling out a kindle or phone.

    In the new hospice room my father had 2 good mornings in a row, both with blueberry pancakes for breakfast, and on the 2nd day he devoured a thing of orange sherbet that a friend of the family had brought him the night before. He was on an IV to manage the pain, and it seemed to be working because he was the most comfortable he had been in the last 2 months. On the third morning the patient care assistants came in to reposition him in the bed and they couldn't wake him, or get a pulse. The nurse came in and confirmed that he had passed away.

    The hospital staff was amazing. They were great to my father even when he was being difficult and rude. They went out of their way to make sure that my mother and I were fully up to speed with all that was going on, even chasing us down as we were leaving because the nurse knew we wanted to meet all the staff involved in my father's care, and she just saw the dietitian come in. Even the nurses and assistants that weren't assigned to my father were helpful if something was beeping, or a bedpan was needed, or if we were just confused on what was happening.

    The old man was 74, and this was the first time he was ever hospitalized. Its shocked family and his friends with how quickly he went from being strong, mobile, himself, to what he was in his final days. It was great to see so many people come out for his wake and funeral and share good memories. He was a veteran of the Air Force and received military honors at his burial, which was very moving to experience. Family, friends, and neighbors have been very supportive.

  2. #2
    Moderator YeOldeStonecat's Avatar
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    Alan,

    Very...very sorry for your loss. Condolences to you and your family.
    Cancer is a terrible thing to witness someone going through, it took my father back when I was in my early twenties. Not that anything can be said that sounds "good" now...but at least it seems to have been rather quick, versus some battles with the big C that can go on for a year or several years.
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    SG Wizard Ashdaw's Avatar
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    I am so sorry that you lost your Dad and that he was in such pain. RIP to your Father.
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    SG DC Team Member Paft's Avatar
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    I am so sorry. RIP to your father.

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    R.I.P. 2015-05-13 minir's Avatar
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    Damn sorry to hear of your loss YARDofSTUF.

    At least your Dad & Family was spared having to endure this horrendous pain for a very long time. A small blessing but a blessing none the less.

    My condolences to you & yours.

    ---

    Larry

  6. #6
    Second Most EVIL YARDofSTUF's Avatar
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    Thank you guys. Ya, we're glad it was quick as well, and that he had a couple good days to go out on.

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    Resident Atheist Dan's Avatar
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    sorry for your loss,I have lost both parents to cancer,it sucks.

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    Senior Member Easto's Avatar
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    I am so sorry to hear of your loss. I am glad you had a chance to tell him some things you might not of had a chance to under different circumstances.

    Also, knowing your sense of humor here on the boards I'm sure you got a lot of that from him (I know I got mine from my dad) and I'm sure he was a hell of a guy.

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    SG MVP Lefty's Avatar
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    Sorry for your loss Alan.

  10. #10
    Second Most EVIL YARDofSTUF's Avatar
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    Thanks all. My humor is definitely from my dad's side of the family. We had a good party vibe going for the wake, sharing stories and joking around. He was also buried with a bottle of Old Speckled Hen English Ale, his favorite ever since they vacationed in England. The Ale in the coffin made for a good conversation starter.

  11. #11
    resident Humboldt's Avatar
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    Oh man. I'm sorry to hear that. Guess it explains the sleep thing.

    I lost my mother 2 1/2 years ago, but that was the other extreme.
    Instead of being very sudden, her decline lasted years, going from memory issues to mobility issues, and finally to all but catatonic.
    It made a bad situation worse.

    I'm glad to hear that the duration of his suffering was relatively brief.
    You have my most sincere condolences.

  12. #12
    Assistant Admin Ken's Avatar
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    WOW, Yardy, I am sorry to hear this.
    Having lost family to cancer, it is a horrible thing. My mom lasted 2 months after diagnosis.

    Quick is best and having as much quality of life as possible is important.
    No more pain, may he rest in peace...
    Ken

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    Administrator Philip's Avatar
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    I am sorry about your loss Alan
    R.I.P.

  14. #14
    Second Most EVIL YARDofSTUF's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Humboldt View Post
    I lost my mother 2 1/2 years ago, but that was the other extreme.
    Instead of being very sudden, her decline lasted years, going from memory issues to mobility issues, and finally to all but catatonic.
    It made a bad situation worse.
    That must have been incredibly tough for you and your family. Considering how good you are with dogs I'm sure you did your best to help out with her as well.

    I'm very grateful it was quick for him, 2 months from the first symptom, 2 weeks and 2 days from the diagnosis.

  15. #15
    Sorry for your loss.

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    resident plumber Mark's Avatar
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    Losing someone we love is nothing easy, but knowing that we have been able to be a part of the life of that person, we can realize that we are blessed to have been able to share in his life before he went to rest in eternal salvation. My condolences.

    RIP

  17. #17
    resident Humboldt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by YARDofSTUF View Post
    That must have been incredibly tough for you and your family.
    Incredibly tough is an understatement.

    Back to you and yours though, what was hard could've been a lot worse for everyone involved, and that by itself is a small blessing to be thankful of.
    I'm very sorry for your loss, it's a rough transition for sure.

    Feel free to contact me if there's anything you want to talk about.
    If nothing else, maybe this can be a reminder of how dear those around you are.

  18. #18
    Advanced Member Ronny's Avatar
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    so sorry to hear of your loss.may your dad rest in peace.

  19. #19
    Peace Debbie's Avatar
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    Alan, I am so sorry.

  20. #20
    ♫♪ ♫♪ ♫♪ ♫♪ downhill's Avatar
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    It's a horrible thing to be with anyone dying of cancer. My most humble condolences Alan.
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