Monday, July 12, 2010

The Cancer Chronicles, Part 8

I had a nice long visit with my Dad and Mary Jane this weekend.

Dad seems to be OK. His hearing isn't great, but he is able to talk on the cell phone and can follow the conversation reasonably well. This is an improvement over direct conversation, so it's good to actually get to hear his side of things. My aunt was visiting them last week and he was telling me that he taught her how to make one of the wooden pens that he loves to make in his free time.

He also told me about a visit from MJ's granddaughters, and he sounded happy that they were able to spend the day with the girls. He's handling the situation with a strength that I didn't know he had. He is concerned about what will happen after Mary Jane dies and he moves back to Iowa. Because he can't drive, he's afraid of becoming a burden on people. We will have to figure out what the best situation is for Dad, but there will be time to figure that out later.

Mary Jane was in a happy mood when I talked to her. She has such a big heart. She was all set for a hot air balloon ride last week. She has been wanting to take this ride since before she and Dad got married. On Thursday, the weather was really humid, and the balloon operator, who is aware of her health conditions, told her that he wouldn't take her up in that humidity. He explained that she wouldn't be able to breathe well, and he wanted her to enjoy the ride. Her sons were concerned that he was just putting off the ride that was already paid for, and they were worried that it would upset MJ to have the ride postponed. She explained in that matter of fact way, that she was glad the balloon ride man postponed the trip. She believes that he's a good person, and that he wants her to enjoy the ride.

She was telling me all about a conversation she had with someone from the Social Security Disability office. The woman was gathering her information, and the paperwork for her case was all messed up. The SSD office hadn't received any updated medical information, they only had the information from prior to the cancer diagnosis. MJ was calmly listing the scores of doctors she has seen since then, and providing the woman with telephone numbers. She told the woman that the hospice team answers one line, and was preparing to give her the telephone number, when the woman stopped her. "You're already in hospice care?" She asked MJ.

MJ explained that she was. The woman asked her to tell her the diagnosis, and when she explained that she has cancer in her kidneys, lungs, liver, bones, brain, etc., etc., the woman on the phone was horrified. She started to cry and told her that she was so sorry that Mary Jane had to tell her all of this. Apparently this information should have been provided to the case worker by the doctors, but for whatever reason, that hadn't happened.

Mary Jane was cheerful about it. "Don't feel bad. You're helping me, and it's worth explaining this to you for that."

I can only imagine what that poor case worker thought. I'm sure she deals with that on a regular basis, but she was choked up by MJ's case, probably because of the matter of fact way that she delivered the information.

MJ mentioned to me that if she hadn't seen the results of the X-rays, the CT Scans, etc, she would call all of the doctors crazy and tell them that she just has a bad case of asthma. She doesn't feel like she has cancer, she told me. Her arm is sore where she broke it, and her back bothers her where the large kidney tumor is located. But it feels to her like the normal aches and pains of a 57 year old.

The thought of that is interesting. And scary. I am working on The Husband to go in for a physical. He hasn't had one in 10 years, and is due for some routine tests. I have to work on him to get him to do these things, but I'm being pretty vigilant about it, so I hope he'll go soon, just to be safe.

If nothing else, this whole situation with MJ is reminding me how important yearly physicals are. I don't know that her cancer would have been caught earlier. Probably not, but I guess you never can tell.

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