Still rumbling along so far

First off I’d like to say thanks to all you lovely lovely people who left me a comment. I’ll reply to you all when I get a chance but thanks for the support, it was really lovely.

Due to the instability of the pelvis, two moves was deemed impossible and even one was thought risky so he’s opted tostay in Christies till the end. We’ve been moved into a private room which they said we could personalise so we’ve stuck up his get well cards, a load of photos from various times and a big poster of bury FC.

He’s weakening gradually. He took the news that he only had days from the doctor this morning quite hard. His speech is deteriorating as he gets more tired and he is struggling to follow conversations with several people  going at once. The chest sounds pretty bad and he’s stopped using the computer to communicate with his messageboard friends. He falls asleep in the middle of conversations and gets confused easily. How much of that is disease and how much is drugs it’s impossible to say. He’s sat reading the paper at the moment and looks pretty chirpy but he’ll drop off in a minute.

We’re staying with him all the time now, so he’s never alone because we don’t know when the end will be but we’ve been told when it comes, there’s a possibility it will be fast. This means trying to kip in armchairs which is never an easy task. It also  means, since I wasn’t expecting to stay, that I have the most mingingly dirty hair ever, I’ll be putting tomorrow’s makeup on top of today’s and I’m going to have to trundle off soon to see I can beg, steal or borrow (and I’m joking with the last one) a toothbrusg from somewhere. Otherwise it’s brush teeth withtoothpaste on corner of slightly grubby shirt. Which is really not classy at all. Or, since I’ve been sat round a hospital all day, hygenic. Ah well, needs must. I shall report back soon, from wherever they put me to recover from the muscular damage cuased by kipping on a hard hospital chair.

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The end is nigh.

Professor Gumby

 7 weeks since diagnosis. 7 little weeks that have felt like 7 years. Every time we have made plans, something else has malfunctioned and we’ve had to change them. Now is no exception. The plan was to get him moving again after the pelvic fracture and although he’d still be paralysed from the waist downwards, an extra little treat courtesy of the spinal tumour compressing the spinal column, we could get him home, set him up in the living room and carry on our chaotic existence with him in the middle of it, issuing orders and chatting to the dog. Then, at the very end, he wants to go to the hospice and die there.

Except that once again it’s all gone tits up.

Mum just rang from the hospital, his breathing has deteriorated and they’ve had to tranquilise him. The ward says they’re going everything they can, which means they have no idea whether it is the end but they suspect it might be. She’s going to ring me from the ward before 11 to let me know how he’s doing and during the night if I need to come in. Tactful code for ‘if he’s going to die soon’. He didn’t want to die in hospital, he wanted to die in the hospice and if this bastarding disease denies even that tiny kindness I will be utterly fucking furious.

The doctor is coming to see us at ten am tomorrow, assuming he isn’t dead by then. Quite what they’re going to say is a mystery because I fail to see how they can enlighten us beyond ‘he’s got raging lung cancer and everything is shutting down’. We need to find out whether we can get him transferred to the hospice for treatment.

I’ve never seen anyone die before. He’s my dad and I feel like I should be more hysterical, he’s 58 for fuck’s sake and this whole thing has been utterly gruesome but I’m not, I’m calmer than when his legs stopped working and certainly calmer than when we first got the diagnosis and d’you know why? Because he’s gone already, there’s flashes of him, the way he’s trying to take care of us all, a flash of humour that breaks through the drugs and the pain but the everyday dad we had is disappearing day by day and I’ve already started mourning him. That first bit of grief, the one where it’s all so new and freshly painful, I’ve done that bit and moved onto the steady ache. I don’t doubt that it’s going to get so so much worse when he does die but I can see now that wanting him to stay longer is selfish, it’s for my benefit and not for his. Every day something new fails and hurts, I can’t ask him to stay longer if he’s ready to go now because I don’t want him to be in pain and I wouldn’t want to live that way. I wouldn’t expect my dog to live on in this condition, I can’t expect my father to do so jsut because I don’t want to let go.

In our family we don’t talk much about emotions. Ever. Not big ones, the ones that matter. The other day Mr V advised me that if I can’t say the things that matter to him I should write them down and so, fortified with wine-based courage on Saturday I did just that. I wrote down all the things I was thinking, what he meant to me and how much I thought of him. I put the letter in an early father’s day card and nearly didn’t give it to him but in the end I handed it over and told him to read it when I left. I’m so glad now that I did, that he won’t go with no idea that I thought he was a great father and without knowing that I’ll do my best for Mike and Mum when he’s gone. It was a hard letter to write because how do you write goodbye to someone you thought you’d have another 25 years with? Someone who shouldn’t be going when you’re 31? You shouldn’t have to because cancer shouldn’t take down good people but yet somehow it always seems to. Clarey’s mum, chaz’s mum, Katie’s mum, Andy’s dad, my dad, all wonderful, funny, warm people who’d do anything for you and only one whose disease didn’t turn out to be terminal.

Cancer is fucking hideous. It really is. If I can ever find some way to get rid of this fucking abysmal disease I will do it. I know that some of you have experienced this but I hope that none of the rest of you do because it’s bloody horrendous.

Oh fuck someone’s crying again. Where’s the door?

One of the many problems of having a relative with terminal cancer is that suddenly you’re expected to be emotionally aware and a person who can deal with the outpourings of others. I am not this person. I am not someone who does ‘touchy feely emotions’, I am not Oprah and I suspect I never will be. If a person in the room is crying I’ll be easy to spot, I’m the one sidling towards the door while avoiding eye contact with anyone or sudden movements in case drawing attention to myself will result in me having to be the one who deals with this. My solution to virtually every emotional crisis involves the pub. I can just about manage ‘giving upset person a hug’ but I can guarantee you that I will have absolutely nothing useful to say while I do it. According to some this inability to be useful when someone is having an emotional meltdown makes me ‘emotionally inept’ and perhaps I am but then if my car breaks down I can’t fix it so I am also ‘mechanically inept’. I’m a scruffy mare who hates cleaning so I’m ‘domestically inept’. I can’t even draw a stick man in proportion so I’m ‘artistically inept’. I never claimed to be superwoman. I’m much better on the practical front.

This is difficult when the problem you’re facing is cancer. You can’t be that useful on a practical front because you can’t mend it, not even with cable ties, superglue or duct tape which have never before failed me in a fix up job. Well except for the broken knee anyway. What people want is emotional support and I’m some way beyond shite in this capacity. In this respect I’m my father’s daughter because he’s shite at it too. His solution is to make a joke and go to the pub, which is quite possibly where I get it from. Knowing where it comes from however goes no way at all towards fixing the problem. We’re only a couple of months in to ‘cancer journey’ and I’m already starting to avoid situations where I think people are going to cry at me, making non-committal ‘mmmmm’ noises when people cry at me on the phone and heading off tears from others by changing the subject wherever possible. This may seem heartless but it’s actually going to seem worse when someone expects comforting and all I do is stare at my own feet while fiddling with my fingernails.

Really I should be doing something about this personality flaw but I’ll be perfectly honest – I can’t be arsed. I’m tired, I’m stressed and I’m rapidly reaching the point where my own survival without cracking is overtaking my feeling of obligation towards others. I think I need a holiday, which is a problem because a) I need to save my holiday time and b) I’m skint. Oh and c) Mr V is going to Scotland for a week in June so he can’t take any extra time off for a bit. I might go up to the Lakes while he’s in Scotland for a bit of a breather for a few days with the dog, recharge the batteries a bit. Perhaps a break will render me slightly more useful on the emotional front. Or perhaps not. I suspect the latter. God almighty, can you imagine the funeral when we eventually reach that point, it’s going to be a complete fucking nightmare. Crying people everywhere, requiring words of comfort from the grieving family who are always expected to be dignified. I wonder if you can buy tranquilisers on the internet, I could just spend the whole thing as caned as a weasel so it slides straight over my head.

The woman who smelled of wee…

She stinks, what do I do now?

 

So yesterday we arrive at Christies hospital to visit my dad and as we turn the corner into the Medical Assessment Ward, we’re hit in the face with a smell. I worked in a nursing home for long enough to know that smell when I find it – it’s wee. And since all the patients on this ward are mobile to some degree or another, it must have come in on a person. I’m praying that it’s on someone on the other side of the ward.

Which turns out to be a futile waste of energy.

When we get to my dad’s bed, the man in the next bed isn’t there. We sit and chat for a bit and then we see him approaching, accompanied by a woman who I think is his mother, she’s a reasonably turned out woman, make up on, clean hair, clean looking clothes. As she passes by to get to the bed next to my dad I notice something odd.

I’ve gone cross eyed and I can’t breathe. The smell of ammonia wafting off this woman has sucked all the air out of the room. I look around, my mum is trying really hard, it has to be said without much success, not to laugh at my expression. The girl visiting the man across the way has gone white. There’s a nurse staring at the woman in appalled fascination. SHE SMELLS OF WEE and it’s horrific.

Once she’s sat down things inprove because you only get an ammonia backdraft when she moves. We carry on making conversation and I carry on getting told off because I keep muttering about stinky women and the need for showers which mum thinks is indiscreet. How is is she is classing it as socially unacceptable to mutter about someone but not socially unacceptable to wander round a ward full of sick people smelling like the gents urinals at a third division football match after half-time? And then the woman gets out a can of deoderant.

Hurrah, I think.

No. She sprays the tiniest, stingiest amount of this stuff onto her neck. Tiny amount. Barely even pressed the spray top down. Don’t stint on it love, SPRAY DAMN YOU!! Spray until the air is white and we can all breathe again. Don’t stop spraying until the can is empty. I’d rather go out in a cloud of Sure for Women than the pungent aroma of a pig farm.

She was still there when we left, sitting happily in her green cloud of stench, a cloud so foul that even flies didn’t dare approach for fear of asphyxiation. All the way home I was paranoid that the smell had wafted to our bay and I now smelled of wee. Even though I’d had a long shower before going to the hospital, I had another one when I got home just on case. This evening I shall be taking a bottle of super strength deoderant and if she’s there then social niceties be damned, for the health of all patients, staff and visitors on that ward, the stinky witch is getting doused.