Bad news confirmed

October 30, 2007

Someday this blog may, no WILL be about stuff other than my own family crises.

But, according to the oral surgeon, my mom does have osteonecrosis of the jaw.  She has two places of exposed bone behind her bottom teeth.  Bone exposure is kind of the defining standard for making the diagnosis

So, onward to the appointment with the dental specialist.  There’s nothing to do per se, except try to hold it where it is right now.  Prayer is good because God never ceases to surprise me.

My dad’s heart surgery is scheduled for Friday, November 16 (yes the day before the Michigan game, much to his chagrin and frustration). So everything between now and then is categorized as BAHBL.

So BAHBL:

  • I will get Christmas shopping done. For my kids and friends. And most especially, for my parents. I mean, I’m doing their shopping for them. And cards. I need to get cards. And crap, we need a Christmas tree (fake because of the kids’ asthma, and frankly, because I get too damn cold in Christmas tree lots listening to my children argue) because the top of last year’s tree kind of fell off and broke down and we threw it out. It was, however, “trash-picked” by a guy in a huge topsoil truck. Watching this guy struggle to get the tree box into the passenger seat of the truck cab was truly worth the cost of a new tree.
  • I must gather a list of what my brother is euphemistically called skilled nursing facilities, despite the fact that my father is refusing to consider said option (apparently my desire for him to do this has been read as my not loving him and wanting him to die….okaaay…believe me, if I wanted him dead, I could do it easier than this). I want to have this at the ready in case it becomes necessary.
  • I will get my children’s drawers completely switched from summer to winter clothes. And perhaps pick up some long sleeved shirts for my daughter, as she has, oh, three that fit. Must remember to put bricks on my children’s heads to prevent their growth. And maybe I should give them cigarettes.
  • I want to get the house as thoroughly organized as possible, though this fights against every natural instinct and ability I have.
  • I must take my parents to a myriad of appointments (pre-surgery, oncology, oral surgeon, etc.). I’m livin’ large, I tell ya!
  • I should probably plan some meals for my mom while my dad is in the hospital, so that she eats more than the occasional Wendy’s Frosty. And then some meals that following week once he comes home. Any of you foolish friends who say things like, “What can I do to help?” — I’m rubbing my hands together! Seriously, I think that this is a great opportunity to show my parents the love of the body of Christ. Because let’s face it, love = food.
  • I need to find substitutes for children’s ministry (6-10 year old teachers) for the last two weeks of November. One Sunday is two days after my dad’s surgery, when he very well may need his bitchy and stubborn vocal and assertive daughter as his medical advocate at the hospital, and the other is probably the day he’ll come home. So. Any takers are welcome there.
  • Must keep clinging to God.

I can’t think of anything else right now to do BAHBL. But I’m sure I’m forgetting important things…

Moving beyond nothing…

October 25, 2007

For some reason, the song from A Chorus Line called “Nothing” is running through my mind…

I dug right down to the bottom of my soul…and I tried and I tried…Nothing! I felt nothing.

It’s a song about a girl taking an acting class who is being demanded to feel all sorts of ways in preparation to be a good actress. Yet she finds that she can’t. While others around her can make themselves feel like an ice cream cone, she just feels…well, nothing.

I can relate.

As I have navigated the minefields of the medical world, I have turned — by necessity — into a person who feels very little. I talk to others about the risk of death (4%-13%, though looking at risk factors, I think he’s on the lower to middle end of that stat) from the surgery. Some would say, “Oh, God, don’t google it. You’ll find out all sorts of stuff you don’t need to know.” But I do. Need to know, I mean. I recognize that some of my information gathering is a futile attempt to exert control over a situation over which I have exactly no control. Of course I get that. My knowledge is an armor of sorts too. I have to deal in facts and figures so that I can wrap my mind around any of this. Facts matter. They don’t determine all, and I certainly don’t live or die (wow, really bad phrase that) by the statistics, but knowing them gives me some idea of what it is we’re dealing with.

Ane on that topic, I have a very specific prayer request. Without boring everyone with a whole lot of information (yes, yes, I googled it too), my mom appears to have some of the early symptoms of something called oral osteonecrosis. Long, long story short, medicine that she has taken to stave off the cancer may have weakened her jaw to the point that the bones will basically disintegrate. It’s ugly stuff and very scary. I feel an urgent need to stand in prayer against this. I take her to her oncologist tomorrow, but we probably won’t learn more about this topic from him — we’ll need to see oral surgeons who specialize in it.

So, nothing. Yeah, I’m starting to feel. And let me say, nothing can be a pretty big gift at times. But God is good. And I don’t say that as a knee-jerk Christianese kind of reaction. No, the fundamental goodness and closeness of God is the only thing that makes feeling all the somethings of this situation tolerable.

…an update.

Good news, but worse news too. The good news is that my dad doesn’t have any blockages in his heart, and that his grafts from his 2001 bypass have held very well. My dad had the TEE and the cath done today. Amazing that both tests could be done in the midst of the hospital slo-mo time. Truly a God thing.

Bad news, though: he has two leaky valves. And they need to be replaced or he will basically spiral downward into congestive heart failure and die. So. Option B is surgery. The really major cut into his heart he could die on the table type surgery. But thankfully (because at least things are clear), there seems to be complete accord among the doctors that surgery is his best option. He is a reasonably good candidate for surgery, and other than the valve problems, his heart looks pretty good and his general health is strong.

He is planning on going home tomorrow and doing the surgery some time next week probably. It’s not an emergent situation at this point, but he feels that there’s no percentage in putting it off.

I like his surgeon. He came up to my dad’s room after a long day of performing surgery, so that we could talk to him today instead of waiting until tomorrow. I so appreciate that.

I am the only child of my parents in town. I will be there for them as much as is humanly possible. But I admit to feeling overwhelmed about the level of need they both have. I think that my dad will, if for no other reason than my mother’s health and sanity, need to go to a nursing/re-hab facility for a couple of weeks. A true miracle (and I’m not exaggerating here, my friends) would be if he could accept this with some degree of grace.

Holy shit, I have to give this all over to the Lord because there’s no way, no way that I can manage it on my own.

I’ve felt your prayers propping us all up. Thanks. We’re going to need a lot more of those prayers.

…I won’t.

But I’ll update briefly. And probably rant a little.

As of now, we know: very damn little. His echo-cardiogram revealed that he has a leaky valve — which we actually knew back in 2001. There seems to be some debate why it wasn’t fixed during his 2001 open heart or if it should have been fixed at that time. No matter, I guess at this point. But the leakiness appears to be worse. To-wit, he will be having a TEE tomorrow at some point — which is basically a camera down the throat that gives a better look at the heart valves. The cardiologist also wants him to have another test — either a nuclear stress test (basically a dye injected into the heart and an X-rayish kind of thing) or possibly, a heart catheterization, which is every bit as lovely as you might think, what with the word “catheter” and all. Those latter two tests check for blockages in the heart.

If the valve is in really bad shape and it looks like he may need surgery, they’ll probably move right to the cath, as that is the best pre-surgery tool. But there are issues here — that the cardiologist acknowledged. To be blunt, this would be major fucking surgery, even worse than his open heart in 2001. We’re talking hours on the table, being placed on the heart-lung bypass machine (which carries with it a lot of after-effects, cognitively speaking), having his heart pretty much sliced open…his recovery nearly 7 years ago was rough, rough, rough…and I don’t know if it would be the best thing for him to do this surgery now. Factor in the issues with my mom’s encroaching cancer, and well, there’s some decisions that would need to be made…again to be blunt, if he’s had this leaky valve for 7 years, which is more likely to kill him quicker — having the surgery or not having the surgery?

And of course, if he has major blockages, all bets are probably off, because he’ll probably need to do surgery regardless.

So…best case is that there are no blockages and that the doctors don’t find the valve to be significantly worse, so that he can avoid surgery and continue on as is. So that’s what we pray for.

A couple of thoughts on the hospital: why is it so damn tiring to sit around and wait? I feel like someone has pummeled my entire body. Why would the initial admitting doctor, after evaluating my father’s heart and seeing his history of severe heart disease, NOT PLACE A CALL TO THE CARDIOLOGIST, so that at around 4 this afternoon, we all come to realize that one reason we have not yet seen a HEART DOCTOR at the McCONNELL EFFING HEART HOSPITAL, is that said doctor may not have realized that my father had been admitted. That said, good nurses rule, they really do. I credit his two nurses with bull-dogging their way through the bureaucracy of the hospital, so that my father saw a cardiologist today and didn’t have to wait for tomorrow. God bless Aida and Joanna.

At some point, I will have to say a word or two about the idea of the hospitalist — the doctor (an internist I guess) who sees patients before the specialists (the delicate geniuses, as my friend George Costanza would call them) deign to see them. These doctors are put in kind of a bind to begin with, but? Jack of all trades, master of none, my friends. Not so much able to do you a small hill of beans worth of good. But maybe I’m just tired.

Oh, and as a bonus this week, I’ll be accompanying my mom to her oncology appointment because my dad will still be in the hospital…but you know? It’s actually kind of good. I’m in major kick some medical ass mode — I’m taking names and taking no prisoners.

God, I’ve ceased making sense. Or is it cents? Whatever.

Thanks ALL for prayers and such. Please, oh please keep praying.

Please pray.

October 22, 2007

I have just a moment:  my dad is at Riverside Hospital with heart problems.  He had by-pass surgery in 2001.  I’m going down there now to see what’s up.  I’ll update later.  Thanks.

I will not name the establishment. Can you imagine the lewd and nauseating hits this blog would get if I did?

I will however give you this link.

Understand that this establishment is right on the way to my children’s school, that this establishment is within about 200 yards of my children’s school and right across the street from a McDonald’s and Home Depot (each a business one would consider fairly normal family fare, right?). It’s also in the same parking lot as an urgent care, where people may well take their children, as well as a karate studio, where people definitely take their children.

When this establishment went under a different — yet equally uncreative — name, my sons asked me to explain what “that place” is. And so I did. I explained that sometimes men make very bad choices that go against what God would have them do, and then they choose to look at women dancing with little to no clothing. I don’t lie to my kids and I don’t sugar-coat with vagueness. Luckily, my two seven year olds are still at the age where, “Yeewwww!” was their primary reaction. As it should be for all of us.

This morning, in the drive through line at the aforementioned McDonald’s (hey, a girl needs her Diet Coke), I noticed construction across the street and then I saw IT. I’m no great measurer, but I have to estimate that this sign is 15 feet long and is set off the ground to be about 10 feet high — and it is about 30 feet from the actual establishment. It has hot pink neon lettering. And? A huge silhouette of a naked woman lying atop the letters with her legs dangling down, so that a triangle is formed right at the location of her privates…niiiiiice.

A couple of things come to mind here:

  • I feel virtually certain that the owners of this establishment are within the Columbus laws for signage and the like. I suspect that these people thrive on the very fringe of the laws and have not a care for the impact such an image has on others. I will look into this, but I bet, just bet, from a legal standpoint, that there’s very little to be done.
  • Just because these owners may be unable to be stopped legally speaking, does it mean that we should not have a sense of outrage at the sheer ickiness of this? Does it mean that there may not be a level of moral approbation that can be enacted? What is to prevent someone, anyone, from taking pictures of the vehicles in the parking lot and publishing those pictures on the internet? (Maybe this is illegal? Golly, I hope not.) How many people can bug the poor soul whose job it is to deal with issues of signage at the City of Columbus Department of Development? What can we do to bring shame where shame is due?
  • There is a certain sick humor about the sign. Without the naked woman atop the sign, would people really not know that it’s a strip club? Is this kind of like the picture of the little guy walking across the street that appears on a crosswalk sign? So are the owners saying that in addition to being skeevy perverts, their patrons can’t read? Does someone drive by and say to his buddy, “Hey, look Jimbo, I thought that establishment was just a restaurant, but NOW I know I can get me a lap dance!”?**
  • It does not take a series of dissertations in Women’s Studies to determine that these places fundamentally exploit young women who, for whatever reason, have a need for more money than they can make elsewhere. The United States may not have as formalized a sex trade as some other countries, but this kind of establishment turns women into commodities. I venture to say that very few (if any) of these women want to work here, but that they lack either age, education or experience to get paid as well anywhere else. Young and beautiful women. Women created in the very image of God. If we do anything good here, I wonder if there’s some way to help these women so that they are not relegated to such circumstances…it bears thinking about.
  • I tried to take a picture with my cell phone today, but the darn thing didn’t take right. And as I was standing in front of the sign, camera phone in hand, a “gentleman” walked over and asked who I was with (“Myself,” I answered.), and then asked me to get off the private property. I gladly obliged. And then later drove by and tried to take another photo. This is the best that I have so far, but I’ll get a better one. There’s lots of public places from where I can get a good picture, which will be forthcoming on this blog.

The Sign

**In all fairness, I don’t know if said establishment offers lap dances….Aw, hell. Why play fair? They don’t.

I will continue to track this situation and continue to rant about it. Can I get an “amen,” my friends? (Okay, okay, so I don’t blog for weeks, but I’ve come back with a bang!)