Wednesday, March 21, 2007

More Tumor Stories

When I bailed and posted the last post, I wasn't nearly where I wanted to be in the story. I'm working to get the rest out here, in fits and spurts, as soon as I can. I want to get these stories out of my head before I forget them.

When we last left off, Dad was in the hospital bed at New Hanover Medical in Wilmington, being not the person who I've always known him to be. First, a little about how I came to be there: From the Tuesday fall, to the frantic message at work (Your Mom called, and said your Dad has fallen and she can't get him up. She's waiting for the ambulance now.) I bailed on work (with their support: Go, take care of your family. Things are fine here.) scrounged a car from buddy and coworker Sheri (thanks for the Jeep!) and headed towards Wilmington. After what seemed like an eternity (why is it so difficult to get a doctor by to talk to you in the hospital?) one of the New Hanover neurosurgeons stopped by to talk to us. It might have been my otherwise frantic frame of mind at the moment, but I was completely turned off by his noncommittal attitude about the plan of care for my Dad. I convinced Mom and Wayne that getting Dad to Duke was the way to go, and that I knew who to talk to to keep things moving. Around then, when I was the most like a chicken with his head cut off, I talked to Becky Kitzmiller, one of my best nursing buddies at Duke. It probably would have been Iain, but he was on Spring Break vacation with his family, and was challenging to get in touch with. Becky was my first touch point of sanity. She talked to me about tumors and typical plans of care and what to expect from nursing and MD staff, and how to make sure things went as smoothly and quickly as possible. Mostly it was useful to have a medically smart friend to talk to.

Other folks I'm grateful to:
  • Lovely wife Susie, for supporting me through this and asking really good questions.
  • Brother Wayne for being a killer partner in supporting Mom and making things happen.
  • Iain (again) for giving me the freedom to be gone from work and take care of family.
  • My Dev team for keeping things running smoothly.
  • The nursing team at New Hanover Regional Medical. They rocked.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Not the Same Person

My Dad isn't the same person he was 2 and a half weeks ago. Two and a half weeks ago he was the same person who raised me, albeit older, had just returned from a cruise celebrating (a year late) his 50th wedding anniversary (go Mom & Dad!), putzing around their new house and finishing up all those tiny little projects that never seem to go away. Sometime the weekend of 2/24, he seemed a little confused, and when Mom asked him who his kids were, he said Wayne (ding! one point for Dad!) and Ray (bzzzt! try again!). Off to the doctors, where x-rays and various other forms of electromagnetic radiation were beamed through his body, left us with the diagnosis that he'd had a stroke. A stroke doesn't seem *so* bad, right? It happens, it's over, and you recover from where the stroke left you. Well, it didn't stop. He kept declining, getting more and more confused, and started showing physical impariments (foot dragging, eye drooping, etc.) and the diagnosis was official changed from stroke to brain tumor last Friday. At first I thought this was a good thing - I mean they can cure brain tumors... right? Now I'm not nearly so sure. On the ct/mri's it's progressed from 2 to about 4cm in two weeks. His decline has continued until he couldn't stand up anymore, and was admitted to New Hanover Hospital yesterday.