Eight little bottles sitting on the shelf.

Dad became more and more frustrated with each extra day he had to stay in the hospital because of the second surgery. He was still in so much pain, couldn’t eat anything, and was extremely lonely. Depression had set in and it was not going to go away easily. Having my brother come to visit during Easter was a great blessing, as there were three days where Dad could focus on something other than his pain and misery.

He was able to go home after having spent a total of 19 days in the hospital. This day was a very happy one; he was practically vibrating with excitement and sat down in his chair in the living room as soon as we opened the front door. Turned on the hockey game, I believe! His discharge planning was simple enough – a home care aide would come every second day to start, to do his dressing changes and help him with anything else he needed help with. At this time, he was eating soft foods and drinking fluids well. He did not use his feeding tube, preferring to take in his nutrients the old-fashioned way – through the mouth.

It’s interesting how you don’t really know your true strength until it is tested. And then tested again. And again.

Dad’s esophagus closed up two weeks after returning home. He was unable to take in solid food, and then soft food, and finally fluids would not even find their way into his stomach. He refused to use his feeding tube and therefore was taking in nothing. Absolutely nothing. Every time he tried, he would throw it up as it would lodge in his esophagus. Picture not even being able to swallow your own saliva.

He wasted away for another two weeks, losing over ten pounds in the process. Finally, he was convinced to head back to the hospital, where they performed a ‘dilation’ and opened up his esophagus, as well as pushing fluids into his body over a period of eight hours. When he returned home, he felt great again. He was happy, hopeful, and ready to eat.

The next day his esophagus closed up again.

When I arrived that afternoon, he was as pale as a white sheet of paper. He was throwing up and was too weak to walk for longer than seconds at a time.

I urged him back to the hospital, where we waited over eight hours to have him admitted. Another push of fluids occurred; x-rays were taken; they deduced that the esophagus had been irritated in some way and was swollen. They released him after a breakfast of jello, coffee, and apple juice. He was hopeful that it was only swollen and that any swelling would go away eventually. He tried to be in good spirits but I could tell he was beginning to feel defeated, was frustrated with the health care system, and was very ready to give up and accept death.

You can only say so much to someone who has given up. I literally begged him to start using his feeding tube again. I asked him to think of a goal he could work towards. I asked him to think about how good he feels now so it would motivate him to make the effort to take care of himself on the days where he isn’t feeling good. What he didn’t perceive as nagging, he did retain.

I counted the bottles of Ensure Plus before I left. Eight. I took a step down on the ladder of self-respect. If he wasn’t going to make the effort, I would know about it. I would make the effort for him.

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If I had Just One Wish

Once upon a time, I posted a quote to Facebook:

Perhaps watching someone you love suffer can teach you even more than suffering yourself can.” – Dodie Smith.

My point was that I figured I’d learn something from the experience of having to watch my father suffer through cancer, even if the only lesson was that sometimes bad things happen to good people. Guess what? Bad things happen to good people.

I didn’t know what to do with the phone that was cradled in my hands when I received the phone call from my Dad that night. I couldn’t do anything but sit silently, saying nothing, while he gathered his courage, swallowed hard and told me the frightening truth. My mind went numb; I remember saying “Oh My God“. I think I may have even said “that sucks“. I was suddenly unable to say anything appropriate to the situation. I didn’t know how to process the information, how to work my way through it, how to come out on the other end at a better place than where I’d started. The “oh…“s and “yes…“s and “right…“s flew out of my mouth simply to fill the void where a more normal, intelligent person might be saying “do you need anything?” or “I am so sorry” or “you’re going to get through this”.

A comment on the posted quote came from a friend a short time later…

“Yes, but it would be easier to suffer yourself.”

Is that true? It’s absolutely heartbreaking to watch someone you love and care about suffer with a disease, any illness, any pain. Would it be easier if I were the one to suffer? Would I take it on in his place if I could?

They’re easy questions to answer on the surface. Yes, I would sacrifice myself in order to spare him. But it’s only too easy to say it without actually being held accountable, since it isn’t something that can be accomplished. I would banish the shadows from under his eyes, if I could. I would wave my magic wand and all the documents and forms required by this organization and that company would be filled out and sent in in a matter of minutes, if only to spare him from weeks of labour and frustration.

I felt so… betrayed, when I found out Dad had cancer. Not by him, but by those higher powers, the ones that should know there is no possible way I could continue to exist in the world without my father. The ones who keep heaping things on me, with the constant expectation that I’ll be able to handle it, I’ll be able to cope. I was finished with it. Done trying. Done making excuses for all the bad karma, and I pushed the blame button.

There had to be a reason for this, a purpose. And of course it had to have something to do with me. I did this. I did this to him, somehow. It was my fault. I began to back out of social engagements, preferring to sit alone at home. I outright disregarded my closest friends who only wanted to offer support. I argued with my Mom, I spoke to my brother only through e-mail. I grilled my Dad about the disease: What would happen now? What kind of treatment will they give you? How will you feel through it all? When what he needed was some time to work through those questions for himself first.

Looking back, I realize how badly I handled the news. I’m not sure, if given another chance, anything would change. It’s devastating news, to the person with the illness, to the family and friends. I don’t think anyone faults me for reacting the way I did, but I can’t help but think of a saying I wrote down a few years ago and kept reminding myself of: You can’t control what happens to you, but you can control how you react to it.

I wish I could have controlled my reaction more, but I hardly took the time to decipher what that reaction was, nevermind attempt to control it. You can always look back at a situation and think of ways you could have handled it better. I have to stop analyzing my actions; it doesn’t matter what I did, it matters only what I do.

Memories of 2011

So.

My brother sent me this spreadsheet in an e-mail back towards the end of 2009. The title of the Word document is “Memories of…“. It contains a few questions to help you determine the best and worst times of the last year and maybe, possibly even help you discover what you’re doing right. Or, conversely, wrong.

For example, in 2009 to the question “What was your favorite song for the year?” I answered “Don’t have one. Come up with a better question“. I am such a lovely person to be around. In 2010 I actually had an answer for this question, however this year it was back to “Don’t have one, ladidadida“. Seems to me I was trying over in 2010, and abruptly stopped said trying sometime in 2011.

Another awesome question “What were some of the most significant events in your life?“, and my 2009 answer “Grandpa passing away, causing me to take another look at my life“. In 2010, my answer was something about the G20 Summit. 2011? “The threat of death challenging me to seek out the good things in life“. Man, I really crash hard when it comes to dying, huh?

The main thing I noticed, as I was reading through my answers from the last three years, was that I (or perhaps my writing) had become… calmer. More relaxed. I was beginning to relish things that I had never relished before. Warmth. Comfort. Friends. Hot food. Believe me, I used to eat anything, and to me it usually tasted better cold. But this year, 2011, even though I’ve only just said I’m so glad it’s over, has made me into someone different. Someone that, dare I say, I might like to get to know better.

It is definitely interesting to note that this year I cared more about the basics, like wearing sleepwear as much as possible, travelling to spend time with family, reading lots and lots and millions of books. In years past, my priorities seemed to be geared toward money, cars, my passport (?) and a myriad number of other material things that barely skim the surface of a full, happy life. As well as wanting, needing, having to be the most sarcastic asswipe on the face of the earth.

Well, there is still that. Can’t really change who you are at the very deepest levels of consciousness, can you?

But, faze it, I iz all grewed up. Or cloze to ‘t.

“We grow neither better nor worse as we get old, but more like ourselves.” May Lamberton Becker

Oh Boy! I forgot to say Rabbit Rabbit!

6 days ago, that is.

I’m a little superstitious. Not a lot, just a little. So as soon as I knew about the whole Hare Hare, Rabbit Rabbit thing, I started trying to remember to do it. If I forget, it really bugs me! Are you superstitious with certain things? People have favorite hats and outfits, but I’m not materialistic that way 😉

I started a walking challenge with my cousin yesterday. Once a week, we will check in with each other and keep tabs on how much we’re walking. We started on Tuesday. So far, I have done zero miles of walking. Oh my God, am I lazy. I guess I figure I’ll walk about 20 miles on Sunday. No problem, easy peasy.

In order to be able to run the Resolution 5k on January 1st, I’ll need to start getting my butt into gear pdq. Walking is the perfect way to start and besides, even if I start running I’ll still add those distances to the challenge. It would be cray cray to assume that I could walk, run, and zumba and still beat my cousin at the challenge. I must give myself at least a hope in hell.

My first plan is to walk as much as possible in the next three weeks or so, then start gradually adding minutes or metres of running into the walks. I hope this works better than the Couch to 5k program. When I was on that, it just went too quickly for me and I started getting shin splints all the time and it was not a happy time for me.

My Dog is still around, still eating, still walking. Maybe I should have counted her steps for the last two days and added that into my challenge.

I rue the day when I have to work up the courage to speak with a family member about some hard issues. It won’t be this week, but I think it might be next week. Blurgh. I don’t wanna! Can’t make me!

Also, this stupid dog park. Honestly, It’s taking forever to put up a fence. One fence. One little, itsy-bitsy fence. Ok, the dog park is not stupid. Ommmm. The circumstances around it are. I hope it gets done soon because frankly I am tired of thinking about it so much.

I’m fresh out of ideas…

about how to get back into running.

Oh, eh, yeah i’m still being relatively healthy and going to Zumba and taking Dog for walks and watching what i’m eating. Mostly. But this running thing, it’s driving me mad.

This month has been so hectic and unbalanced. In the last two years since my last major Life Upheaval, i’ve been able to keep things pretty balanced, pretty sane. This month, September, is my nemesis.

It’s been a wicked month dealing with Dog being diagnosed with lymphoma, my family going feets-up craziieee and bringing up things that have been buried over thirty years, getting a toothache, getting my tooth pulled, getting a gum infection, someone trying to use my credit fraudulently, not being social. at. all., plans being cancelled for the silliest of reason and feeling like a dummy. But that’s no different than usual I suppose.

I tell you, this has been one hell of a month.

But it’s not going to get me down. Too much. I will be signing up for the Resolution Run 5k on Jan 1st. Suck on that, Life.

Fall is Coming? Bring it On.

I’ve been daydreaming, I admit…

Cupcakes. These ones are red velvet with cream cheese frosting.

I can’t seem to help myself. Maybe it’s because i’ve been eating a lot of baked chicken and salad greens lately. I’m almost all salad-greened out. The great thing about complaining about being all salad-greened out is this:

oh haha, looks like i ate it before i could take a picture.

 Namely, complaining about it so much that your co-worker brings you the coffee break item of the day from the cafeteria… poppyseed cake with cream cheese icing. I’ll take it, co-worker. Any day at all.

Thank goodness I hit up a Zumba class last night and burned around 1,000 calories (shut up, that’s what i’m telling myself). And if that isn’t enough, i’ll also be attending a Zumba class tonight and burning another 1,000 calories. You betcha. Boogy. Or salsa. Whatever.

My afternoon snack yesterday was much healthier, and it even tasted good.

Skinny B cereal, yogurt, homemade granola bar. It’s so healthy I can’t even stand it.
So, while I will more than likely be walking at my next 5k event, you can bet i’ll be walking with a purpose. A couple, actually. The first to raise money towards cancer research. The second to start off a fall regiment (sans bootcamp… i’ve officially resigned from bootcamp) to pick-up my forsaken cardiovascular system, brush it off, and get it moving again.
 
Are you getting into fall routines in regards to exercise and/or eating?
 

5k Race Report

On Friday night I gorged on sushi. I wanted to be ready. I was all packed and out the door by 7:30am.

My breakfast was two slices of rye toast with almond butter and raspberry jam. Breakfast Of Champions.

I had a strong beginning to the run, and the first mile went swimmingly well (pun intended). During this time, we were hit with rain, and it soaked us through, but we finished the first mile in 12:02 which was awesome. Then… disaster.

I decided I needed a walk break. As soon as I stopped running and began to walk, my calves tightened right up and my left shin started to huuurrrrrt real bad. So much so, that I told Running Buddy there was no way I was going to be able to walk a good pace. It really screwed up my time, and left me looking a little haggard:

We reached the second mile marker at a 13:39. At this point I told RB that if I didn’t jog for the rest of the run, i’d be a goner. We parted ways so that I could continue running while RB took her second walk break. Then I had to stop and try fixing my stop watch because the rain made it go PSYCHO. I didn’t manage to fix it until after the run, and had to rely on my phenomenal (not) math skills to help me figure out how I was doing. RB caught up to me when we saw the 4k marker and we burnt rubber (not really) in the last kilometre of the run.

And then, sweet goodness thank-you-ever-so-much, we saw the finish line. It was cloudy, rainy and dreary, but the big red balloon signalled the end of the run and I was so so incredibly happy to see it.

After clocking a 12:33 for the third and final mile, we ran across the line finishing in 38:15.

Among the swag received were Yop drinks, an egg baker, flaxseed, a running shirt, and golfing stuff. Woot!

We also munched on stunning fruit platters and I grabbed a muffin and an apple for the road home. And then we went for lunch, LOL, with another friend and my parents where I had an enormous cheeseburger with fries and three pints of ice water.

My goodness, i’m so tired I could vomit.