Monday, October 30, 2006

Emotional Sati

The past week has been difficult. My mother was in the hospital for dehydration and to find out why she was vomiting constantly. She thinks it is the Glade plug-ins that Dad has in nearly every available outlet in the house, including under the kitchen sink. Dad does like the scent of jasmine but a little jasmine goes a long way and a lot of jasmine, to the point everything in the house smells of jasmine, will make you sick. There were no Glade plug-ins when she was here a couple weeks ago and she was vomiting then, too. She also has an upper respiratory infection that finally seems to be breaking up, but neither of those would be cause for almost constant vomiting. She also had severe cramps in one leg and the next morning woke up in the hospital with extensive bruising in the same area and the doctors didn't think it was red flag enough to consider doing a Doppler to check for DVTs (deep venous thromboses, blood clots in the leg). I wonder what good they are if I can spot a potential problem and know more about their job than they do--and I didn't go to medical school.

The pre-op testing caught a problem with my Dad's mitral valve, the valve that exploded and was replaced with a tissue valve seven years ago, which means he would be extremely high risk for general anesthesia, or any anesthesia come to that, which would be needed for him to undergo the removal of his testicles. The surgery was set for November 1st, but that may have to be delayed or even canceled if his heart valve, which only has a shelf life of seven years, is giving out. So now it's a matter of what will get Dad first, his heart valve or the prostate cancer that has moved into his spine, ribs, and pelvis. The testosterone generated by his testicles feeds the cancer, which is slow growing (relatively) and will grow a little slower (relatively) without the added push of the testosterone. Hopefully, the cardiologist, who hasn't put in his two cents' worth yet, will okay the surgery under conscious sedation or even a local so the spread of the cancer will slow down, giving my father a few more months of painful life as his bones succumb more and more to the spreading cancer before his heart valve gives out.

I paint a bleak picture but it's not nearly as bleak as I know it really is. That's the problem with having spent twenty-four years typing up operative reports and death summaries, not to mention oncology and hospital reports detailing similar situations. I know the course of many diseases and the cause of even more diseases and I type reports of people in situations similar to my parents' situations and I know what comes next. I have no illusions; my work took those away.

My parents have lived full and long lives at 75 and 78, respectively, but I'm not ready to let them go. Still, I'd rather they go now without suffering what I know is ahead of them even with the dulling and mind numbing effects of increasing doses of morphine. Even nearly 2000 miles cannot cushion the blow of talking to my parents and hearing them downplay what I know is really going on. I am caught between wanting their pain to end and wanting my parents around for another twenty years. All of this almost eclipses the lack of work and my growing concern with the lack of funds spilling out of the pipeline I have spent so much time filling.

There are times when I hate publishing's pace. It's like a snail frozen in its slime trail most of the time. Lots of work up front but no money for long periods of time. Yet this is the path I have chosen and one that I am working more and more, almost as much to earn more money as to soothe the sadness and pain growing inside me with every bit of news from my family, every moment of frustration with ignorant and incompetent doctors on all sides of my life.

I have been sad and depressed over the past few days but now I'm getting angry. Anger is good. It's like the liquid oxygen that when ignited pushes tons of metal and ceramic and glass through the heavy embrace of the earth's atmosphere and into the black void of space. Anger is the emotional sati that burns away sentiment and fear and depression.

That is all. Disperse.

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