Posts Tagged With: Dad

Catching up…

Been a minute since last I posted… When I last left off I was moving out of my house in VA, packing up my car and driving to my folks in FL. My dad had recently been diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer, and the prognosis was pretty damn grim. Terminal, I believe is the word. Trust me when I say, a lot has happened since then…

Florida, in a nutshell- was about family. The day after I got there, my sister arrived from Italy, and my brother came in from Seattle. It has been over 10 years since the three of us have been ‘home’ at the same time. I say ‘home’ but, really- it is where our parents retired to. We never lived there. So really, it was the first time my parents had all of us in THEIR home. And it was wonderful.

My dad had his team assembled for a fun week prior to his surgery! He’s one of those guys who just loves having his kids all home. Mom does too, but she was still carrying dads diagnosis and pending surgery on her shoulders, and it was wearing her down. We all had a good time, to be sure, and his BP was the lowest it has been since this whole ordeal began.

His surgery was on April 4 at the Moffett Cancer Research Center in Tampa, FL. I can’t say enough good things about that place! I felt better after seeing the facilities and meeting the people who were taking care of my dad. Truthfully, it was a night and day difference between his cancer experience and my own. Obviously our prognoses were a big factor, but even just how it was handled was amazing. I had a form letter, with a date for “your cancer surgery.” That was how I found out I had cancer. A filled in form letter. Dad has an extensive team of brilliant, compassionate professionals and a hospital that offers both cutting edge trials, new advances and holistic approaches. They treat the whole patient, AND the family that is going through cancer with them. Amazing.

So, since his surgery… Dad had a radical lymphendectomy (sp.), tumours removed from his throat (near esophagus) and upper back (dead center on the spine). His back, (ground zero– the original tumour that raised the alarms) was originally going to require a skin graft, but instead they were able to do a wide excision. Good news!!! Dad has a large scar across his upper back, another under his arm, and a third that runs from below his ear down his clavicle.

His surgery was about 6 hours long, and he came through like a champ. Surgery was on Friday, and he came home Monday morning after I left for my cross country trek. He amazes me on a regular basis… His next check up will be Wednesday, but as of right now, the doctors seem confident that they got it all, and he may not even need chemo or radiation!! Seriously! Did I. Entire. His doctors are brilliant? Chairmen of the Sarcoma and Melanoma departments. He had the best of the best, and is healing beyond our wildest expectations. My dad IS beating the odds. My dad IS kicking cancers ass, one nap at a time right now… ❤

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Regression

I don’t care how old you are. When shit hits the fan, and you feel like you have too much on your shoulders–having your mom swoop in feels like a rescue. Mind you, we may just be spending the next few days drinking wine and throwing stuff out, but somehow– that’s enough. Having another living, breathing, person under the same roof– who has done this before, who understands the stress of an overseas move, and sharing the stress of dad’s illness. It helps. I’m NOT losing my mind (appearances to the contrary). Or at least if I am, I have company along the way. 

Thus far, we have killed a couple cups of coffee, discussed daddy’s treatment plan (as of right now, subject to change–of course), and laughed at my students ‘We’ll miss you’ artwork. ❤  My kids made all these little cards and pictures, featuring lots of little pictures of them and me. I love every one of them… Other things accomplished– my car will be legal (or inspected anyway) today at 4, I received my GLB (Gov’t Bill of Lading, not Gay-Lesbian-Bi! lol!) today for this weeks move, and now have an estimated HHG (Household Goods) delivery date of May 5. Theoretically. We’ll see if that works out… 😉 Anyhow– there’s that. So, today is more of the same: tossing stuff I don’t need/want, packing things I don’t want broken, and making sure my important-keep-my-hands-on-it crap is in my car (not to be trifled with/lost by movers!). Onward through the fog…

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Update on Dad

Well.

Been a hell of a month… Since my last update, Dad has been poked, prodded, scanned, biopsied, evaluated and things are still going on. Today he is having a cardiac-stress test  and I think his brain MRI.  So far, we know: Malignant melanoma stage T4b on his upper back (where your tshirt label hits). This is Ground Zero. Primary Site.  In the course of evals, it has also been found that there are 11 more little friends (sarcoma) hiding in his lymph nodes. So, surgery is being scheduled for his lymph nodes to be removed, as well as the ‘Ground Zero’ tumour. Since this will be a 7-8 hour surgery, they want to be sure his body can handle the stress of it all– so today’s stress test/cardio eval is for that. Also since it has decided to met out (metastasize) to his lymphs, the brain scan is necessary. The location of his primary tumour, being right on the spine at the base of his neck/back means this beast- if it so chooses– can migrate north just as easily as south. Since the south (lymphs) are popping positive, it’s time to find out if this thing has headed north. Please– cross your fingers, pray, send well wishes, good karma, light, whatever you’ve got..We’re looking for miracles right now, and I’m pretty sure all those things pave the way for them to happen.

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Division of Me and MrsUSN

Well, it was never my original intention for this to be one of those blogs where I use it as a personal journal. That’s why no names, no rate, no rank, none of that have been used.  But– life happens.  Anyone who has been  a military spouse knows, life (and Murphy’s Law) tend to ‘happen’ at the worst possible times. Or so we think at the time– somehow they always end up being blessings in disguise. Heavy disguise. Invisible Man levels of disguise…

Anyhow– Initially, I wanted this blog to chronicle our move to Hawaii and all the chaos involved in that. I had no idea life would toss us a curve ball like this one. My dad was diagnosed this week with a Metastatic Malignant Melanoma, I mentioned it yesterday. Well, obviously this has really screwed with my chi. To put it mildly. But part of this crazy life (Mil or Civ) is adapting, improvising adn overcoming. This is one of those moments where ones’ tuck n’ roll skills are really important.

Since SeaMonkey is away, adn I am handling this move and now this, a sick parent– I’m going to need this blog to pull double duty for me. I understand, not everyone wants to read about my personal life, and admittedly- I don’t expect it will be anything thrilling. But it’s a vent. It’s a place for me to keep sane during this craziness. So, I’ve added a page to this blog– the division of me adn MrsUSN. When you go to mrsusn.com you will find my moving info. If you want to know how I (personally) am doing– I’ve added a page.. In the menu on the right just click ‘Brain Salad’ and you can see whats in my head lately. Hopefully this will keep my blog relevant to strangers looking for moving advice, or friends/family wondering how I’m doing.

****03/10/14  EDIT: I had to remove the ‘Personal’ Page–simply because I coudln’t find a way to send my updated posts directly to it. Everything defaults to the main page. SO, buckle up or get off the ride, because it looks like anyone who stays is in for both the personal and more public sides of my life. **** ❤ Mrs.USN ****

In the meantime, please enjoy this pitiful look at how my packout went the other day. 2 Days into dads diagnoses, I just couldn’t think straight. As is evident by this shipping manifesto… (go ahead, count how many folding chairs and coffeemakers I packed! ) It truly is ridiculous.  (FYI: the bins marked ‘clothing’ were actually just beach towels. Yeah, beach towels. No clothes were packed…)

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I need more time…

Holy hell what a week…

So, this week (from Wednesday on) will go down in the books as the WORST week of my life, thus far. Wednesday, I got a text from my mom “Dr’s office called, bad news, both gotta go in. Uh oh.”  So, needless to say, THAT was on my mind. That evening I found out just how bad the news could be… My healthy as a horse dad, was just diagnosed with Malignant Nodular Melanoma, Stage t4b.  I hate that I didn’t have to ask what that meant. For the uninitiated, cancer runs on a scaling system of 0-4. t4b means tumours, stage 4, and the b indicates a likely spread to organs. My folks walked into the office expecting to hear ‘you need to have surgery’ and walked out with my dad only having 4 months to live.  4. Months. 4  months.

I don’t think I have to tell you, I went to pieces. Still am. We all are.

How am I supposed to move halfway around the world away from them right now?! I just want to go down there and be there for them, and help them in any way I possibly can. But I can’t, not yet. I have to move my house, ship his car, hire the property manager, rent my house, and give my notice at work.

So, after 2 days of pretty much non-stop sobbing I came up with my tentative plan. I need to save my dad. I’m not ready for goodbye. I called HR for my school district today and got my leave balance: 35 days. I asked the hardest question: “Can I use my sick leave for a terminally ill parent?”  The answer lifted a weight: YES.  I know right about now you are probably thinking ‘What about FMLA?’– well, FMLA goes into effect AFTER you have used up your own leave. It also is unpaid and really just exists to protect employees jobs, should they need extended leave. I’m not coming back here. I don’t need it. What that 35 days WILL allow me however, (with a doctors note explaining this) is to leave as soon as the packers move me out. I’ll head straight for my parents home, down in FL. I will use my last 3 weeks stateside to be with them. I need to be there.  Additionally, what I will be able to do is give my “last day” as May 1, so I can still be on payroll, but use my sick leave for the month of April and still get a paycheck. That last paycheck is how I will be able to afford to fly home if dad loses this battle. Which he can’t. He just can’t.

I spoke to my sister and brother (Seattle and Rome,Italy) and we’ve decided to spend “St.Paddy’s with Daddy.” So we will all be converging on them at the same time, flying in from our various points on the globe. He will be one month past diagnoses and should be already following whatever agreed upon protocols it takes to fix this. I’m guessing he’ll be feeling it by then, so having all 3 of us home to help should be good for both him and mom. The part I’m dreading though, is going to be when I have to get in the car and leave. At some point, I will have to leave for my cross country trek and then board the plane that takes me so far away from him. I hate it so much. This move that I was excited about, is suddenly weighing so heavily on me. SO much is depending on how his treatments go and how he responds to them. I’ve found cases of Stage 4b’s actually recovering! I HAVE! It’s not a big percentage, but it’s big enough for me to have faith. And pray. Not gonna lie– right now, I’m taking prayers, wishes, karma, light and love, and anything else anyone is willing to give to keep my dad.

Meantime– today was my UB packout. You’ll forgive me if this wasn’t a priority?

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In a nutshell: I didn’t pack. I haven’t slept since Tuesday night. I’m a hot mess. Packing did not happen. Since sleep didn’t go so well either though, I was up early and tried again to pack. I grabbed some of the Rubbermaid tubs I have saved from so many moves, and started throwing things in them. Now, mind you, the UB packout is supposed to be things you need to set up your new home. The vitals. What did I consider vital this morning? Sigh… yeah. Not much. As a result, when this shipment arrives in HI — opening these boxes will be like Christmas in the Alzheimer’s ward.  I say that not as any kind of insult to anyone with Alzheimers, but simply a commentary on how random my packing was this morning. Example: one box, labeled by the movers: “Dog beds and Griddle.” Because, you know, I TOTALLY kept those items together.  (What?!)

Sigh.

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Sigh.

Sigh.

I already warned the SeaMonkey– I’m pretty sure I packed a coffeepot, linens, a beach cabana, and about 65 folding chairs. Don’t ask. I was (and am) distracted.

Oh, I failed to mention the part where I fell apart on the movers. Yeah, that was magical. One of the movers was about to remove a strip of blue painters tape from one of my rubbermaids and I flipped out. On the tape, in my dads neat-but skritchy handwriting were the words “Muffin Pans”. I flipped out. “NO! Don’t take that off!! My dad wrote it…” and I fell apart , before managing to squeak out “…he’s stage 4.”  He understood immediately, and bless that man, he took clear packing tape and covered the painters tape. “We’ll protect it. It will be there when you get to Hawaii. And I’m sorry about your dad.”

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One thing I am always amazed by— when confronted with cancer, even in a stranger, people are compassionate and want to help. This man had been in my house for 30 minutes, I blew up on him over a piece of tape, and he was still so kind and took measures to protect what was so important to me at hte moment.

A little kindness and understanding really do go a long way. ❤

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