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Friday, April 02, 2004

Back again. Mrs. hippy knows about this now. I decided to tell her about me being the northlondonhippy today, or rather I showed her. She read it all. Her main comment; it seems very honest.

That's cool because I am aiming for honest.

My father telephoned tonight, right in the middle of Eastenders, I took the call.

He started out by telling me there's good news and bad news. I hate it when people say this, because the good news usually isn't that good, but the bad news is almost always very bad.

The good news was that my mother took ten steps with a zimmer frame today. This achievement can not be underestimated. She has not walked at all since she had her stroke, but her resolve to walk has not faltered. I was very happy to hear this, its the first real progress she has made in a very long time. It's a step (well ten) in the right direction.

Now the bad news, my father heard back from his oncologist about the surgery. The doctor is willing to go ahead with the surgery to remove my father's cancerous bladder if my father wishes, but with some serious caveats. He says my father has a fairly poor chance of surviving the operation because of the state of his general health. The doctor also said he can't guarantee that he would be able to remove all of the cancer, so it could easily come back. But the kicker is that my father would be incapacitated for at least six months while he recovered; if he recovered.

The alternative is to do nothing and wait for the cancer to spread, with no approximate time-frame on how long it will take to kill him. My guess is not long at all.

My father is giving both options serious consideration. He sees both as completely negative, which I suppose is true as neither really gives him much chance of survival. The question seems to be whether or not he wants to risk instant death or a slow painful one. I don't know which one I would choose, if it were me.

I didn't mince my words, I said to him I thought it was more a question of how he wished to spend whatever time he has left. He said what he always says, that his main concern is my mother.

He also told me he woke up a few days ago and couldn't move or get out of bed. This is really bad as well, but he was up and about today. He thinks it was virus of some sort which caused this, but that didn't make sense to me. I think it's possible that a tumour might have been pressing on a nerve, but I'm not a doctor, what do I know?

I stayed surprisingly calm during the conversation and thankfully at no time was visiting mentioned. I'm not off the hook yet though, I am certain the pressure on me will increase as my father's condition worsens.

After speaking to my father, I telephoned my younger brother to give him the latest. As we spoke, it became clear to me that there is no real choice. The doctor is creating the illusion of choice for my father by giving him the two options. The surgical route is just not realistic, there are too many factors that make it a bad idea. The doctor must want my father to reach this conclusion on his own, but this doctor doesn't know my father.

I would say there is a fifty- percent chance that my father will elect to have the surgery. He's not someone to take anything lying down and that includes death. He might think that any chance of fighting it is better than no chance at all. I don't know if I would agree with that, but then there's not much my father and I agree on.

My brother reminded me how shitty my father has been to me in the last couple years, especially over my work situation. My brother and I realized a while ago that our mother was the buffer between our father and us. She would talk to us on the telephone far more than he would. Once she had the stroke and communication became so difficult, that buffer disappeared. I'm sure that's a factor in the deterioration of my relationship with my dad.

None of these things makes the guilt I am feeling go away. Nor does it make me feel any less helpless. There's nothing I can do for either of my parents, that's not an easy thing to accept, but accept it I must.

I'm meeting my brother in town for lunch tomorrow at one of our favourite restaurants. It's going on my plastic, which my brother tells me is called "yuppy food stamps" in the states. It's a term used for when people run out of cash for the month and they use a credit card to buy food. I've run out of cash, full stop, but at least I'm having a decent meal anyway!
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