|Dad, with a few of his favorite things - Foster, the newspaper, and a Sonic Diet Coke - December 2010|
One day the PT came at 8 a.m. (an hour after Dad had finally gotten to sleep from the night before!), the OT came at 11:30, and the Speech Therapist came at 3:00, thus thwarting any type of bid for a nap or for venturing to Sonic for a large Diet Coke, Dad’s main pleasure for the day on many days. The next day, the therapies were at 9:30, 1:00, and 4:00. There were lots of last-minute schedule adjustments and some cancellations by the therapists, too. The only consistency from the home health agency was the inconsistency. Therapy was hard for Dad; he wasn’t the Road Warrior/gym rat that he had been for 50 years before. He tried to get on the recumbent bike for some extra exercise some days, but mostly he just tried to tolerate the sporadic visits of the therapists and a select few other people who stopped by as he fought off exhaustion.
The nighttime routine went like this: around 8 p.m., Dad started to comment about being ready for bed from his position in the recliner; every day was a very hard day for him, plus he really couldn’t sustain his attention long enough to watch TV or read and so he was, in short, bored and frustrated. On the nights when we would help him to bed that early, he tended to fall asleep for an hour or two and then be up for the night, often with a severe headache and sometimes with awful heartburn too. Most nights, we would try to keep him up longer and attempt to get him to eat a healthy snack so that he could have something in his stomach and stay up until at least 10:00 p.m., at which time he would make it to the bed, where he would put on his reading glasses, prop up in the bed with pillows, and try in vain to read. He seemed to alternate between a Lance Armstrong book, the December issue of Triathlete magazine (“I doubt it’s going to be my ‘best season ever,’” he said every time he looked at the cover of that edition), and a binder of info on brain cancer that I had put together for him, complete with highlighted sections about nutrition and exercise and articles about how effective Avastin was in treating GBM.
Some of the late-night conversations were, perhaps oddly, enjoyable. Others were about dreams and thoughts that Dad had, most of which were on the darker side. Many were just discussions about memories of the past, intertwined with fear and worry in the present and hope (desperation) for the future. Dad was the most optimistic person I had ever known, and it was one of my main goals at the time to foster that in him, to protect him from knowing all of the cold, hard, ugly, sucky truth. I believed in the power of belief, and of that we had just enough to get us through the day (and the night).
Coming Soon ... Part 25 - Round 2!