Interim

Apr. 20th, 2017 08:02 am
randy_byers: (Default)
[personal profile] randy_byers
I'm just back from spending a week and a half with my family in Desert Hot Springs in Coachella Valley. When my bad health news hit, my mom and sister conspired to bring me down to Mom and Dad's winter home to spend some time in the sun being pampered. So LaVelle came to Seattle, and we drove south from here on I-5, picking up my brother in Corvallis along the way. The trip down was two days in which LaVelle and Lonnie did all the driving. I was theoretically capaable, but I honestly didn't feel like it, especially with a stick shift, which is something I'm no longer used to.

It was great to hang out with my parents and siblings, who once again rallied around me in a time of distress, and then my sister-in-law made a surprise visit, so the old gang (circa 1983) was back together again. The surprise was one of the many things that we had a good laugh about -- in this case that LaVelle and I were so oblivious to all the hints and near-revelations along the way. Our family is big on teasing, and this kind of thing gets spun around through teasing a dozen which ways. For example, why didn't we ask "What the hell?" when Lonnie said he was going off to meet somebody that none of us knew.

The laughter and self-mockery was good medicine, but I suppose in my current state of mind I couldn't help but be touched by two of the health crises happening while we were down there. One was my parents' friend, Russell, who suffered a terrible stroke around the time we arrived, which left him paralyzed and unable to swallow. His wife, Letha, stopped by toward the end of our stay, and she was barely holding it together. We had dinner guests that night, my parents' Canadian friends, Merv and Lorraine, and I could see that the stoic Merv, who is having health problem of his own, was barely holding back the tears.

Th other health crisis arrived with the couple from Manitoba who has just bought my aunt and uncle's house in the park, which is right next door to my parents. We had heard that the husband was having health issues, but by the time they arrived he'd had surgery that revealed a tumor on a blood vessel that the doctors thought could take him at any moment. His poor wife was completely distraught, because she was away from their medical system, away from home, and her phone didn't work in the US, so she had no phone if an emergency struck. She asked my mom if it was okay if she came and pounded on our door in the middle of the night. Of course it was. They had bought the vacation home before they knew the severity of the husband's problem, and now they were going to have to turn around and sell it immediately. The least of their worries, I'm sure.

Anyway, those two crisis certainly put my own crisis in perspective. Between that and the fun expeditions to look for the superbloom (a week past its prime, alas), ride the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, and eat date shakes, I was feeling quite a bit better about my own predicament, at least until we started heading north. We took three days on the way back, taking Highway 395 up the East side of California for a change of view, and with our parents in tow as they migrated north to their summer home in Portland. This time I was able to help with the driving. (Another bit of teasing: because Lonnie had kept forgetting the clutch when he drove LaVelle's car and thus killed the engine quite impressively a number of times, I was always able to remember to use the clutch. Thanks, Lonnie!) The first day I drove I started to feel teary because it used to be something I did without thinking, but now I was hyperaware of what I was doing -- and thus hyperaware of the self-confidence that I had lost. I also felt completely decrepit getting into and out of car. When we got into Oregon, I started feeling teary because I wouldn't have the security blanket of my family around for much longer. Both Mom and LaVelle told me I was always welcome in Oregon if I needed a dose of family love.

LaVelle and I drove on to Seattle, and she stuck around to visit the oncologist with me yesterday. This was the first visit since the bad news that the cancer had returned, and I wanted another pair of ears with me to hear about what was next. It was a bit of an anti-climax on that front, because the main topic of conversation was about whether it was a good idea for me to go to Micronesia for three weeks in May with Lonnie and his family. We went around and around on the topic, discussing the question of how dangerous it was to leave the cancer untreated for three weeks. Dr. Taylor thought that the cancer had returned as soon as I stopped taking Temodar, and maybe that's why she came up with the idea of sending microdoses of Temodar with me on the trip (too small to debilitate me, but enough to combat the cancer). We're still working out the details of that idea, but I confess I felt relieved that she had thought of a treatment plan that would work while I was traveling. Knock wood.

When I get back from Micronesia, they'll do another MRI, and then we'll talk about the future. For now, however, the other interesting little thing that came out of the discussion was when LaVelle wondered whether my hoarse voice, which started as soon as we hit the road, was a byproduct of Avastin. Dr Taylor said yes, Avastin attacks blood vessels in the cancer, and sometime it attacks one in the vocal chords by mistake, with the result that your voice gets hoarse. Mystery solved, and it's not an answer I even considered. Once again, my family came through for me.

So, all my love to all my family. I feel completely vulnerable and uncertain about my future right now, and I can't begin to say how much their love and support helps me feel more safe and secure, whatever tomorrow may bring. I'm happy the Micronesia trip is going to happen, after it had started to look shaky. Next up on the travel front, however, is heading to Woodland Hills, CA for Corflu the weekend after next.
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