Vamos a la domenica republica

We are off to our very good friend - Patrick's wedding in the Dominican Republic. Felicidades en tu matrimonio, Patricio y Joanna! [Al & Patrick have been best friends since their college days, so we are happy to join in his & Joanna's festivities this weekend.] Anxious about not being around for a few days, we've asked some of our family and friends to check in on Mom & Dad while we're away. Dad just had dialysis yesterday, gets a break today, and resumes dialysis again tomorrow. His dialysis schedule: Mondays/Wednesdays/Fridays for two-and-a-half to three hour sessions . . . with all kinds of specialist doctors' appointments in between. Sometimes Dad thinks (& acts like) he's a celebrity!

Thank you to everyone who calls, stops by for visits, and sends peaceful intentions. Nursing a sore throat for the past week, Mom is currently getting over some kind of bug. I think the day-to-day is making her feel a little run down, which causes me great concern. I am thankful that I will be working from home on Fridays beginning August so that I can give Mom some kind of a break. Off to the DR! Hasta luego.


Dialyses, transfusions, and grafts -- Oh my!

Seems like every time Dad goes in for hemodialysis, he's also going in for another blood transfusion.  Dad's hemoglobin has been low.  He had another blood transfusion today.  

He was scheduled to have a minor surgical procedure done this Thursday, July 31.  It's been postponed due to his low hemoglobin count. The procedure is supposed to create more direct and permanent dialysis access, an entranceway into Dad's bloodstream that lies beneath his skin and is easy to use. 

The two kinds of access portals are: 
- FISTULA -- joining an artery to a vein
- GRAFT -- a man-made tube made of plastic or other material that is inserted under the skin to connect an artery to a vein

The procedure is now scheduled for Thursday, August 7.  

Pinching his cheeks which are always a bit rosily flushed after dialysis and/or transfusion, Dad looks at himself in the mirror and asks, "When, when?"  He seems to be having more of those conversations when he thinks no one is looking. Or maybe he knows Someone is always watching and listening . . .  



Transfusion: (1) the act of pouring liquid from one vessel to another (2) the transfer of blood from one individual to another. 

Dad has been receiving a couple of blood transfusions since last week.  He just had another one yesterday.  Doctors say his hemoglobin is low.  Every now and again, Dad says some wacky things like --

(Even as the sun shines through the front window) "Leave the light on.  I want to see what heaven is going to be like."

"What kind of blood are they giving me?  Maybe Chinese.  If it's Korean, that's good too."  (Must be all of his daughter's years working as an educator in Asian American Studies.)

(To God) "Just take me now.  I'm tired."

It is those spontaneous comments that remind me just how wacky Dad is.  Thank goodness for his sense of humor which manages to pour itself from Dad's being into our hearts for all of us to appreciate and make light of the moment and feel just a little better. Transfusion.


anticipating (summer's) end

My dad is dying. Aggressive advanced metastatic prostate cancer. Hormone therapy, chemo treatment were shortlived. It has not even been an exact two years since his diagnosis was confirmed. The doctor has provided a prognosis and a timeframe. All we can do is appreciate being in the now, support each other and wait for the inevitable. Daunting . . . and real. Dad has stopped chemo. He is in palliative care, receiving various injections on a monthly basis to manage his pain, on the patch. I observe how his health is slowly deteriorating as he has to physically lift each of his legs in and out of bed, the couch, the car. He is walking with a cane now. And on top of all this, he is on long-term kidney dialysis . . . having to go to the hospital every other day for dialysis treatment and the occasional blood transfusion.

We are on this cancer/life journey together. Al & I do our best to visit during the week in the midst of work and trying to balance our own lives, and we make sure to spend a significant part of the weekend with my parents too. It's hard, and I'm constantly trying to see beyond the exhaustion, the emotional challenges. While I maintain a good face in front of my folks, I have my moments -- in the car, on the bus commute, at work, at the gym. I am overwhelmed with grief, love and wanting to make sure that my mom and dad have all the support that they need -- emotionally and practically as they encounter their day-to-day routine.

Anticipating my dad 's death is like anticipating the end of the summer . . . and so Emerson's quote has reminded me.

"Our fear of death is like our fear that summer will be short, but when we have had our swing of pleasure, our fill of fruit, and our swelter of heat, we say we have had our day." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


Dad's new chair

Check out Dad's new canopy chair!  As you can see, Dad goes nowhere without his trusted sudoku in hand. Cousin Mitch (Elgarico) came out from CA to support for a week, and we took Mom & Dad to do some crabbing at the pier in Keyport -- just 15 minutes from our Parlin home.  My brother- and sister-in-law, Ed & Wendy, joined us along with their kids, Ashley & Max. We didn't have much luck catching anything, but it made for a most relaxing Sunday morning at the bay.  No matter, we later headed to the local Vietnamese restaurant for a taste of sauteed soft shell crab. Yum!


The Embrace by Kathleen McElroy

(Cousin Kathleen and her son, Malachi, came up to support for a week in July. Pictured right:  Malachi hanging with Lelong Amante at Bayonne Park)

Blood vessels in his fingertips willed into magnets
Gravitate toward this child
His arms capture
A warm and soft nest of air
Fragile lap and chest
Dangle from the strongest arms in the world