If you have visited the blog over the past couple of months, or even over the last 2 years, you may have been wondering where in the hell I have been. Well, to be completely honest, the last 2 years have been a bit of a shitshow.
On December 26, 2020 we took my dad to the ER for what we thought was congestive heart failure and instead found out that he had Stage 4 Lung cancer. WTF?! There was a huge mass in one lung and his heart was being smothered to death by fluid caused by the cancer. If we hadn’t taken him to the hospital that day, he would have died of a massive heart attack before the new year.
My dad spent 10 days in the hospital having the fluid from around his heart drained, then fluid from his lung drained when they accidentally collapsed his lung while draining the fluid from around his heart. He almost died when they tried the first round of chemo, but they changed the chemo and he made it safely through attempt number two. We left the hospital with the news that with treatment he could live another 14-16 months. Not great, but definitely better than the alternative.
The next two years, yep two years, was the most intense emotional rollercoaster I have EVER been on. My amazing mother, who was no longer married to my father, offered to be his caretaker and he lived with her for most of the rest of his life. Anything and everything that could have gone wrong over the next two years did. Chemo kicked his ass. Immunotherapy after chemo worked, until it didn’t. The cancer moved to his brain and adrenal glands. He had radiation for the cancer in his brain. He tried an experimental treatment that almost killed him. He was hospitalized multiple times. He got covid. And finally, during this past summer his cancer doc told him that there was nothing else they could do for him. They put us in contact with Hospice and we started to prepare. Let me tell you that you can never TRULY prepare for any of this.
Over the next 6 months we had Hospice there are least once a week. My dad’s meds were updated, changed, and then changed a dozen more times. He went into v-tac at one point and they didn’t expect him to live. He did. Then on Thanksgiving weekend, he had a terrible fall and then pretty much spent the next three days asleep. They didn’t expect him to live, but once again he did. That man was a freaking cat with nine lives! Unfortunately, those eventually run out.
He bounced back pretty well after Thanksgiving. They did another medication change that helped a lot with how he was feeling and acting. We had a wonderful Christmas together as a family. Two weeks later was his 68th birthday and even though he wasn’t feeling great, we still had the day together as a family. Little did we know that less than 2 weeks later he would be gone.
It all started on Monday, January 16th. Two evenings in a row he had very bad nights. Nights where he thought he was going to die. Nights where my mom thought he was going to die. After the second night, we called his Hospice nurse who stopped by. Even though he was bad and would have been told “this was the end,” she said “but it’s John – he keeps bouncing back.” My dad’s sister and I went over and over the next 24 hours things got worse and quick. I will never get into the details of what happened during that time but it was HORRIBLE. I would not wish what we went through on even my worst enemy. It was definitely not how I expected things to go in the end.
We had Hospice nurses there two more times overnight. Finally, the last nurse told us that he HAD to go to a Hospice facility so that they could give him IV drugs. He always said he didn’t want to go there, but it had to happen. We couldn’t help him anymore at home and he was a mess. I rode in the transport vehicle with him to the Hospice center. They were able to give him drugs and get him calmed down enough that he could pass peacefully, as the previous 12 hours had been anything BUT peaceful for him. Within just a few hours he died with my mom, his sister, and I by his side. It was the worst moment of my life. The worst 24 hours of my life. Just. The. Worst.
It has been a little over a month now and I still can’t believe he is gone. It is all just so surreal. I’ve had to call and tell his closest friends he was gone, had to cancel credit cards and services, deal with money stuff, sell his car, deal with his cremation, plan a celebration of life, and prepare to sell his house. All things I knew I would have to deal with but didn’t think I would have to deal with yet. I mean, I’m only 43 and my dad is gone.
This month I’m going to focus on some of the things that have helped me get through all of this. I know I still have hard times ahead (boy do I), but I’ll get there eventually. I hope that things will start to get back to normal (-ish) and bring this blog back to what it was before. I hope to have a life once again. I have a lot of things I’m hoping for right now, so we shall see.
Cancer sucks. That is all.