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Posts Tagged ‘radon’

Blame it on the Radon

I wanted to start by saying Thank You to everyone who has expressed care, concern, support…it means a lot to know that folks are thinking about and praying for my mom, and for me and my dad.  Some of you reading this have gone through similar situations, and while it doesn’t make it any easier, it’s nice to know that you’re there.

I arrived home today to an empty house.  After I scared the pee out of the dog (she’s apparently only aggressive when mom and dad are home; she ran away from me, cowered in a corner, and then wet the carpet before trying to bite my hand!), I called to find out where my parents were.  Dad said their 15-minute appointment had turned into 4 hours.  Turns out they found a number of blood clots in mom’s right lung, and that’s certainly not helping her to breathe any.

Mom said they wanted to hospitalize her for the night, but she talked them into letting her leave, though she still has to have a bunch of blood-thinner shots.  No one has talked about the seriousness of blood clots, but I have seen enough birth-control-pill warnings to know that a blood clot that forms elsewhere can become loose and travel to the brain, and then it’s pretty much Game Over.  I hope these folks at Duke know what they’re doing.

So I traveled through the cloud of spring pollen that is hovering over this city to put myself to work.  My first task was to try to find out what was really going on.  There’s a thin layer of optimism floating about in the air, and while I fully understand while it’s there, I know there’s something hiding beneath.  I need to hear some kind of truth and not just the positive visualization that will help mom through this (though, again, I understand why it is there).  I began by reading the stack of material in the Duke Hospital folders piled on top of mom’s desk, and that gave me a better understanding of what they’ve been told about the disease and the treatments.  And of the side effects of all the treatment options.  I found it interesting that there was a section in a booklet about how to tell your children about the diagnosis; it said that you should be as straightforward as possible…please.

I talked to dad for a while and then asked what I could do, and he sent me off to the grocery store, mostly to get graham crackers for his nauseated patient.  I spent a bit too much money in getting food for all of us for the week, but I wanted to grab some things I could show dad how to make so he’d be able to make some batch food just to have for himself for a while.  It’s a lot easier to eat well when you can just grab and go.  (It’s the only way I survive!)

Mom was beat when she got home from her appointments.  The radiation knocks her out, especially with nausea.  They gave her some nausea meds, and she took more of that and then took a nap.  She woke up when I was unpacking groceries, and it was awesome to see her back at close to 100%.  Between the nausea meds and the blood thinner, she went from not being able to talk without becoming short of breath to not being able to shut up!  The color was back in her face, she wasn’t coughing, and she looked 10 years younger.  It was amazing.  She said she was hoping tomorrow was a new day.

My talks with dad have been interesting.  I’m impressed with the way he is able to talk about the situation from a removed position when I ask questions, but then he says little things that just break my heart.  After we’d had a couple of glasses of wine, I asked him if anyone had said “6 months” or “2 years” or anything like that.  He said that no one would say anything like that because they just didn’t know, but based on what he’d read, he’d be very happy to have 2 years.  The Duke booklets said something about how the lung-cancer survival statistics were horrible, but how folks shouldn’t dwell on them because every person is unique and because the treatments are continually evolving.  Not that comforting.

Dad’s biggest problem, I think, is not being able to pinpoint the cause of the disease.  Mom said the doctors already dispelled this idea, but dad thinks it might be related to the radon present in our first house.  I hate that it seems like he is just trying to blame this on himself, like if he had just protected us from radon and second-hand smoke, we’d all live forever.  Or if he had just thought to have mom go through a CAT scan two years ago, maybe we could have caught this earlier.  But that’s just my dad…I think if I went outside and tripped and broke my ankle, he’d blame himself for not sanding the driveway or for not moving the branch that tripped me out of the way.  It just happens, though.  We all have to trip sometime.

The friend who recommended I start this blog also recommended that I have two hearts: “one made of wood.  this way you can be the strength your family needs.  i suspect you’ll be the find a need to fill this position.  have a 2nd mushy / squishy heart that you share with someone privately.  its important to have both.”  I like that he said “wood” and not iron or stone.  Wood is still alive, still malleable, still able to be touched.  But hard enough to withstand the wind and the rain and the snow.

And that’s important, because the storm has arrived, and I think it caught us all off guard.

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