Saturday, January 23, 2016

In Remembrance

If you follow this blog for very long, you'll begin to realize that I tend to exaggerate. For example, I've tended to focus on the grumpy, cantankerous side of my brother-in-law. I now find that I must be somewhat more serious and tone down my characterization of his personality. He passed away last Monday and my wife and I have been busy making funeral arrangements in the middle of what the local news has been calling "The Blizzard of 2016."

While he could out-stubborn a mule and was quite aggravating at times, my brother-in-law also had a heart of gold. I can't begin to count the times he helped out my wife and I. Total strangers were just as likely to earn his favor. He even gave away his only vehicle to someone he barely knew because theirs had broken down and couldn't be fixed. While my wife speaks about her older brother throwing dirt clods at her when she was little, she remembers many acts of kindness as well. He loved to play cards and Scrabble. He fed feral cats on his doorstep and went through about 100 pounds of cat food a month. He watched wrestling on TV as well as reruns of old westerns from the 50's. He was obsessed with Bigfoot and model trains. Possums, skunks and groundhogs feared his pistol and we frequently heard him shooting at one in the middle of the night. John Deere tractors held a fascination for him and you rarely saw him without his battered old green and yellow baseball cap. When the weather turned cold, his John Deere jacket came out of storage. He loved a practical joke and I'm sure his spirit is somewhere having a good laugh at us having plan his funeral with a foot of snow on the ground.

While I frequently wrote about him and characterized him as a grumpy old curmudgeon, it was with my tongue placed firmly in my cheek. Yes, he could be crotchety, pigheaded and obstinate, but he was still dearly loved by everyone in the family and will be greatly missed for many years to come.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Yeah...That'd Be Great

I received the results of my latest CT scan on Monday. The doctor's appointment wasn't until 3:30 p.m. and valet parking closes at 5 p.m. I knew I wouldn't get out in time to claim my car so I parked on the street. The problem is the closest on-street parking for the hospital is two blocks away, a long way for me to walk. But I did it.

The scan results show the tumor is continuing to grow, the new medicine doesn't seem to have helped slow it down any. So they're going to put me on a new immunotherapy drug which was recently approved by the FDA. It's administered intravenously every two weeks. At least I won't have to drive to Gotham to get it done, there's a local doctor that can administer it. I'm supposed to return for another CT scan in six weeks. Doctor Whoosh did spend a bit more time than usual talking with me, I think it was because the nurse practitioner took the day off. That evening my brother-in-law starts swelling up in the nursing home. Apparent kidney problems, which meant a late night trip to the ER where he was admitted for treatment. That was Monday.

Tuesday he was released and sent back to Fartland, so we went out to make sure he got settled back in. As grumpy as ever, refusing to eat anything or even talk to anybody. Best you can get out of him is an angry grunt.

Yesterday, Wednesday, I took the wife to dinner at a four star restaurant (nice place!) and a special showing of a movie she has been wanting to see for a long time. Almost a two hour drive, but totally worth it. On the way home I made a wrong turn and ended up in the back of nowhere. I knew by the route number that the road would eventually get me to my destination, but it seemed to take forever and I was low on gas. Every little burg that we drove through had rolled up the sidewalks at sundown, so I was getting nervous when we finally found an open gas station. Standing there pumping the gas I remembered I had turned my phone off at the movie theater. I switched it back on and discovered I had a message. My brother-in-law was back in the ER and we're still miles and miles away from a four-lane highway.

We eventually made it back to civilization around midnight and spent the night with him in the ER, finally getting to bed around 5 a.m. this morning. 11 a.m. we got a call, they've sent him back to Fartland again, this time with a bi-pap. So it looks like another trip to make sure he's settled back in again.

24 hours without a major health crisis. Yeah...that'd be great.