Month: April 2016

There’s A Shower Chair In My Dad’s Kitchen Because He’s A Massive Dork.

Buenas dias, señors y señoritas. ¿Qué tal? ¿Bien, y tú? Jajajaja!

Hey! Guess where I am! Deshler! Isn’t that new and different! Wow! What fun!

Full disclosure: I’m getting tired of coming down here. That’s awful of me to say, but good golly. I know I should enjoy the time here because chances are very likely I’ll probably never come back, save special circumstances, like high school reunions, but right now, I’m getting burned out on D Town. It is nice sitting on Dad’s front porch and as he likes to say, “watch the world go by.” I’m currently doing just that. I have coffee and being a bit of a dork and have my car stereo on so I can listen to music. I need to turn the bass down, though; it’s a little hot. Will I? Probably not because I am lazy and can’t be buggered to walk the 20 feet to my car.

***
Well, I got interrupted in writing by Dad.

He was at the farm yesterday when I got to Deshler and he spent the night out there, which got my worry wort tendency to kick in. I know he loves it out there, but it’s gotten to the point where I fret about him being out there, especially when he sleeps. I had decided that if he wasn’t back in town by 10am, that I was going to go out there to check to make sure he was still alive. Morbid? Yes, but warranted. As I  wrote earlier, I was sitting on the porch and he drove up around 8:15. I went inside to say hello and he could barely make it up the backdoor stairs. He said he was in pain again, so I gave him some morphine and put him to bed.

This shit is hard. It’s heart wrenching to see your father hunched over in pain and I can tell when it’s bad for him because his voice changes. Plus, he doesn’t exactly talk gibberish, but he just says odd things. I was getting him situated in bed and he was thanking me for helping him, and he suddenly started singing “rubber ducky, you’re the one…” Then he said, “have I mentioned I’ve been hallucinating lately?” and his dreams are super bizarre. Cool, Dad. That’s not concerning at all.

Another difficult thing is the emotional rollercoaster. One day, he’ll sound great and be feeling well, and we all think he was premature in his assessment that he has a few weeks left. We’re like, “fuck yeah! He may have cancer, but cancer is having him yet!” Then, there’s days like today when he’s in pain, weak, and starts singing Sesame Street songs and I am scared to death to leave to go back to Lincoln because I’m just certain that it’ll be the last time I see him and I start thinking about how I will need to go buy clothes to wear to the funeral. Talk about going from zero to sixty in a few seconds. It’s exhausting.

I also have the feelings of “I’ll be so glad when this is over,” which breaks my own heart because that means when it’s over, he won’t be here. That’s so hard to reconcile. It’s not like when it’s over, he’s going to wake up one morning and be free of cancer and live another 20 years. Not to make light of the situation, but it’ll be game over, man. Game over.

I really want to start drinking right now. Healthy, no? Good coping skills, E. They–and I don’t know exactly who “they” are–never should have introduced me to alcohol. Or I should be smart enough not going to the bottle to help deal with this shit, but I never claimed to be smart.

Oh, I did walk to my car to turn the bass down finally. Why I’m not listening to the music in my phone is beyond me, but whatever.

I really wish I was in Lincoln helping with the highway trash cleanup that my atheist group is doing today. That sounds way more fun than what I’m doing now. Oh well. Next time.

I’m sorry I keep writing about this crap, too. But I am my father’s child and would rather write about this than talk to anyone. Plus, in my mind, I don’t want to talk about it because how many of you have dealt with this exact situation? I’d only make you uncomfortable and feel awkward that you can’t offer words of wisdom, so if I write about it, I’m helping us both out: I can get my mind clear and hopefully, my tales will be useful to anyone who has the misfortune of having to go through this at some point with your own parents. Hopefully not, because I wouldn’t wish this experience on anyone. I guess just treat these posts as the train wreck you can’t look away from.

In closing, a giant “FUCK YOU” to cancer. I was rubbing Dad’s back earlier and wondered if I could feel it under his skin, and then I wished I was like John Coffey in “The Green Mile” and could somehow remove it from him. That’d be awesome.

I’m rambling now, so I’ll stop.

As always, thanks for reading.
E

April 10, 2016

Good morning from Deshler, Nebraska 68340.

It’s been a wild last 2 days, lemme tell you what. Wild! If there’s one thing I can say about my dad is that he always keeps us on our toes, the rascal.

My brother Nate and nephew Shane drove from Idaho on Tuesday and got down to Deshler late Tuesday night due to the news Dad dropped on us last weekend about his anticipated remaining days. Luckily, Dad was put on a steroid and muscle relaxant to help aid in the pain medications he takes and that seemed to give the old man some pep in his step. The men were able to go out to the farm, shoot some guns, and help Dad move some stuff down in the basement.

Dad was feeling so well, in fact, he was able to go out to his cabin at the farm and sleep up in the loft, which blows my damn mind because well, it just does. He’s been in a constant state of pain the last few weeks, so for him to have the gumption to go out there is fantastic.

Early Friday morning, though, his fun came to a bit of an abrupt end and he drove back to town because he was in such severe pain.

Now, me being me, all last week knowing the conversation I had with Dad, I kept expecting my brother to call me some morning and tell me Dad was gone. I know, I know…I am a pro at worrying about things like that, but you can’t blame me. I was feeling a bit cocky by Friday and had plans to join the boys that night after I got off work and have a good old time with the Hoffmeyer Men.

Friday morning as I’m driving to work, my phone rings. It’s my brother. My stomach dropped into my shoes.

Nate called to tell me about Dad. Dad had called hospice around 3:30 Friday morning to see what he can do and he has a small white box in his fridge that has liquid morphine and some other medications that are used towards the end of things for terminal patients–there’s lorazepam, some anti-nausea stuff, and some other jazz. The nurse told my dad to take some morphine. The first dose didn’t help, so Nate called back and they told him to give him some more. Still nothing, but it was enough to knock the guy out, so when Nate called me, Dad was sleeping and the hospice nurse was on her way over to see Dad.

My brother’s a pretty stoic guy and tries not to let things rattle him, but when we were talking, he was definitely shaken up by what was going on, and rightly so. I wish he hadn’t had to go through that with Dad, but it happened and I’m so glad he was there. I asked if he needed me to come down to Deshler and he told me to stay put, but would call me if anything changed.

Two hours later, he calls and says I should get down to Deshler quick. The nurse had just left and gave Dad a lot more morphine. Like, a lot more. I left work unsure of what the rest of the day would hold, whether or not Dad was on his last legs. Needless to say, I might have been speeding on my drive down.

I got to Deshler about 90 minutes later and my brother and nephew are outside. Dad was obviously knocked out and snoring loudly when I went in to check on him.

On my way to Deshler, I called hospice and talked to the nurse and she told me that she thinks Dad just did far too much the last two days and it kicked his ass hard and now he was paying dearly for it. She said he was stable but put him on a schedule of morphine every 3 hours. I also had to ask her about how long she thought Dad had and if his guess of not seeing the beginning of May was accurate. She told me that when patients can feel the changes in their body, that they’re usually “spot on” abonight. Cool.

Dad got through the rest of Friday and then, yesterday morning, I had gotten up at 6am to give him his medication and he seemed better, and even told me he felt good and wanted to go out to the farm later as was our original plan for the day before the incident 24 hours earlier. I left and got coffee and donuts and when I got back, the old fart was up and sitting on the steps to the back door, a cup of coffee in his hands and I was like, “say whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa?” This was definitely not the man I had seen a few hours previously. I was shocked, actually. And by god, the four of us went out to the farm yesterday afternoon and had ourselves a grand old time together. I shot a rifle and handgun! I know, right?!

We got back to town, grilled food, and watched freaking Star Wars last night. I have to say, that’s one of the best times I’ve had with my family in a while, and I think it did all of our hearts so much good. Yesterday was a great day.

Nate and Shane decided to go back to Idaho and left at about 3:30 this morning and I think Dad’s pretty worn out from our day because aside from the few minutes I woke him up to take his meds, he’s been sleeping.

His time is nearing the end, but I can’t express how happy I am he got to see his son and grandson before that comes. The next few weeks will be rough, but that’s to be expected.

And there you have it. I want to apologize for blowing up Facebook yesterday with all my pictures and posts. I got a little carried away, so thank you for humoring me. Also, thank you for allowing me to write about all this lately. It helps me tremendously to do so.

Much love,
E

Tres de Abril, However You Say “2016” in Español

Good morning, all. The sun is shining, the grass is green, trees are budding, and it’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

As you know, my dad has terminal cancer and hasn’t been doing chemo for about 3 months now. His oncologist, I’m sure as part of her job and to give some hope and comfort to a dying man and his family, gave a very generous estimate of six months to a year left to live his life. Since he stopped chemo, he’s been dealing with a great deal of back pain and discomfort. He’s on pain medications and patches, but they aren’t fully taking the pain away, just making it more tolerable.

He tires out so easily; the simple task of doing dishes makes him have to sit down on a chair. Laundry requires him to go up and down the basement steps, so he lets it pile up a bit before he trudges back and forth. Luckily, he can still do these things for the time being, but you can tell it wipes him out. He also yells at me for trying to help, the crazy old man. I get it, though–a dying man’s act of defiance to prove he still has it in him to do these things. And I wonder where my own stubbornness comes from.

He called me yesterday afternoon and I could tell it wasn’t going to be a simple conversation, or just to chat.

Since my last visit to see him, we agreed it was time to set him up with hospice care, which means a nurse comes in a few times a week, checks on him, does vital signs and all that jazz. We also managed to talk him into having someone come in twice a week for “companion care,” so basically to sit and chat or help with light housekeeping. Oh, he was pissed at that, but as his daughter and also medical power of attorney, I strong-armed him into accepting it.

He didn’t have good news, sadly. He said his pain is getting not so much worse, but “different” and he said he is also noticing other changes in his body. He had a frank discussion with his nurse and she bluntly told him, and as he likes to say, “the leaves on his tree are starting to fall.” She told him he may not live to see May, as in he most likely has about a month left to annoy me. (Kidding, of course.)

We have a month left with Dan Valentine Hoffmeyer.

I talked with my brother and sister-in-law last night about this and my brother and nephew are going to drive from Idaho this week so they can spend some time with Pa for one last time. I’m so happy about that. Not for the circumstances that’ll bring them here, but just the fact they’ll be here.

How am I doing? Well, truthfully, I’m oddly okay. I knew his cancer was fucking aggressive, and Dad even said himself that the 6 months timeframe was liberal. And besides, I had my mental breakdown last week, so I’m much better equipped to handle this situation now. It doesn’t make it easier by any means, but it does, kinda.

As I keep saying to myself and my family, it’ll be okay. We’re going to be okay. And we will. The man’s had a good life and he’s ready to go. I’m not ready to let him go, but I don’t really have a say in the matter.

I want to write his obituary, so I’ve been trying to find the words to do so, but nothing seems good enough yet. I’ll keep thinking about it, though.

And there it is, folks.

Thank you for all the love and support so many of you have shown me and my family during the last 15 months. My heart is full and I hope I can bestow the same amount of love to you when you need it.

If there’s one thing I want from all of you, it’s that I want you to tell your family, friends, whomever has been there for you in your life how much they mean to you and that you love them. Please and thank you.

That’s all for today. As always, thanks for taking time to read this.
E