Monday, May 19, 2014

Optimism, pessimism, and realism

I once wrote about my dad, and how frustrating it is when he doesn't answer his phone. That sentiment hasn't faded one bit -- especially now.

See, my dad is dying of liver cancer.

He was officially diagnosed back in February, after an oft pushed back check up abruptly turned into a week long hospital stay, but his sickness was readily apparent for quite some time. After years of drinking and smoking very heavily, a cancer diagnosis (with a side dish of cirrhosis of said liver) is far from surprising. To think that he would have somehow avoided these particular afflictions would have been idiotic.

I'm aware that my above statement is incredibly bleak; after all, there's no way that anyone can know the ultimate outcome just yet. Dear Old Dad is on some radiation meds, and is supposed to undergo a TACE procedure soon.* There's also talk of being put on the organ transplant list. He doesn't feel horrible nor is he in any way incapacitated, so, hey, that's a great sign, right? Perhaps everything will fall into place, and this will all go away: he will triumph over his illness, or maybe the radiation pills will grant him super powers and add ten to fifteen years to his lifespan.

But as time goes on it is painfully obvious that an extended life span is not in the cards.

Now, I know I tend to automatically jump to the worst-case scenario imaginable when it comes to basically everything ever: I worry to the point of making myself sick -- even when logic tells me that I'm being ridiculous. With that being said, logic is telling me that I'm not being pessimistic. I'm being realistic.

At 64-years of age, my dad is neither young, nor spry. The mass in his liver is 9cm in diameter (on a side note Nacho is only 1.2cm and, to me, feels gigantic), and there's no telling how long it has been there. I'm going to guess that it has been around for awhile though, given how he began to drop weight at an alarming rate some time ago. I heard a lot about how the pounds were just dropping off, but, just... damn. My mom, who is so technologically inept that it borders on comical, finally figured out how to send picture messages to my phone... and I almost told her to stop sending them. My dad looks like an animated skeleton, like a ghoul. Each message was like a sucker punch to the gut, and it's taking quite a lot for me to keep from grabbing my phone and hitting DELETE DELETE DELETE until my fingers fall off or the fucking thing somehow explodes.


In the last few weeks things have gotten pretty bad. I have been told that dad has dropped even more weight, and severe edema in his legs has him almost unable to walk. He's been sleeping a lot, and his appetite -- which was always pretty strong -- is beginning to wane (although he personally told me that the claims of him not eating were "simply untrue." I suspect he was lying, but I digress). He sounds perpetually tired, and each time we talk he comes across as more and more exhausted.

I am now constantly being told that I need to go see him -- I have to get out there. He's getting worse. The cancer is taking over quickly (it has metastasized to his adrenal glands), he doesn't have much longer. Bring the girls so he can see them again, you need to come out. Phone calls from relatives whom I haven't spoken to in Idk how long reiterating that he's in dire straits. I want to get out there as soon as I can, but the timing is fucking terrible: I have been in the throes of moving hell since the end of March. I had to pack up an entire house for an interstate move in the blink of an eye, while carrying out the normal duties of a stay-at-home mom, on top of a writing gig for Shoryuken.com (I never did write about that, did I...) that I ultimately had to quit. If I could give up the Final Fantasy VI wiki I took on for IGN back in January I would; it has been disgustingly neglected because between everything I just can't focus for shit. But, whatever, let's get back to the main idea.

A few days ago my dad lamented being useless and unable to function because of his legs, because of how tired the simple task of eating makes him; he said he was "kaput," and told me it was something we would talk about another time. He has told me that seeing me would be nice, and that it would be great in time for Father's Day. Although our last exchange was very slightly less bleak, he told me that I might cry when I see him. (To which I replied "I know you look horrible, and I've been preparing.") The conversation as a whole left me bummed out: I can hear the sickness in his voice; how the cancer is eating away at him, and how his depression has given way to resignation.

Sigh.

Fuck cancer.

*I started writing this not long after he was diagnosed, so that whole thing probably won't happen. Also, he feels fucking awful, and is clearly much less optimistic about his chances at survival.