Saturday, October 14, 2006

When "You're seriously ill" is the good news

My father, Tom, is 79 years of age and apart from diabetes (which hardly bears a mention given his present situation) has had variously a burst appendix, hepatitis, cataracts, bruised ribs, colon cancer and prostate cancer. The colon cancer arose in the past eight years and the prostate cancer in the past five. He has undergone operations to help cure or manage both these conditions. He also received chemotherapy for the colon cancer. The treatments all appear to have been successful until recently when he lost his appetite and complained of pain in the abdomen. The thoughts of his GP immediately turned to a recurrance of cancer of some kind and so he has spent the past couple of weeks in hospital undergoing treatment and a battery of tests.

The family has been fearing the worst, especially since our minds have been concentrated on the matter of death given the recent loss of our Aunt Nelly from colonic cancer and our most recent loss of her (and my father's) brother, Jim, from lung cancer.

In 2006, Tom was diagnosed with an aneurism in an artery. He is usually compliant when it comes to keeping hospital appointments but in February an administration error in the hospital to which he was to go as an outpatient gave him the perfect excuse to walk away and refuse to go back.

Wikipedia says: "An aneurysm (or aneurism) is a localized dilation or ballooning of a blood vessel by more than 50% of the diameter of the vessel and can lead to instant death. Aneurysms most commonly occur in arteries at the base of the brain (the circle of Willis) and in the aorta (the main artery coming out of the heart) - this is an aortic aneurysm. This bulge in a blood vessel, much like a bulge on an over-inflated innertube, can lead to death at any time. The larger an aneurysm becomes, the more likely it is to burst."

On Friday my sisters and I met Tom and the professor heading the team of doctors handling his case. It transpired that the abdominal pain was caused by a stomach ulcer whose initial tests came back clear of cancerous cells. They plan to do further examinations in this area, but he is being treated for a stomach ulcer and is responding well to treatment. Tom is anemic from blood loss, probably from the ulcer, and they plan to treat him for iron deficiency. Finally, a vascular surgeon is going to examine whether or not it would be feasible to treat the now four anurisms in the arteries of his body.

We were so happy to hear the words "You are still seriously ill" because the conference with the professor appeared to rule out more cancer as a cause. In fact, we were positively beaming afterwards. Tom's morale is much improved and he was planning to change out of his pyjamas and into his everyday clothes for the day.

If you had the choice between a potential catastrophic failure with a quick death and a long, lingering suffering, which news would you be happier to hear?

9 comments:

Angh said...

Taking a breath over "just an ulcer" is not a good thing, but I can't help it right now. At least it's something easier to deal with sometimes than Tom's other ailments. Sure he doesn't remember our brief meeting, but give him my best wishes anyway please. And hugs to the rest of the family. So glad you posted this...I hope Tom gets some speedy and lasting relief, and resolution of the aneurisms.

Angh

Peter (aka Fitz) in Dublin said...

Definitely the former.

My best wishes to your Dad.

Take care of yourself too.

Anonymous said...

I of course agree with everything Willie has said. *S* Tom had another scan today, the doctor will tell him later of the results (second scan). It seems it would be mighty dangerous to operate as well. We will have to wait and see. Yes, we all breathed a sigh of relief when the big C word was not out in front of the conversation. Willie, our sister and myself, having finished our visit that day, giggled like kids down the corridor and into the lift. A false comfort for ourselves perhaps ? Joan

Anonymous said...

Heya sorry to hear of uncle Tom he s in all out thoughts let us know of any news all the best Kerry and Tom

Willie_W said...

He's been home for a number of weeks now, and though a bit feeble is able to move about the house and make a few bits and pieces of food and such like. His morale has been quite low but my brother managed to take him out for a drive last weekend which cheered him up. The weather being so cold and damp, though, he knows not to go too far afield nor for too long. Nice to know he's out of hospital, but it's a deep regret to see him so slimmed-down and relatively inactive. Comes to us all, I suppose. Well, maybe not the slimming, in my case...!

Jo said...

I phoned to wish Tom a very Merry Christmas on the morning of the same.
My family were all in my house on a visit before they all did their visiting elswhere. I asked them if they would like to wish Grandad a Merry Christmas. Eyes wide and apprehensive they waited while I punched in the numbers.
Oh dear, it did not take long before Dad was in tears and saying he felt ill. Poor man, I calmed him a bit and told him I would ring later that day.
My lot all looked at me and did not know what to say. "Go on you lot " says I, " he will be fine in a while". On my own then I decided to make a few calls. Poor Willie must have thought I had gone over the top . All has settled now and Dad cherrily phoned me yesterday to say he was sorry for the lack of conversation and hopes he did not upset me !.
I fully understand, he is going to get days like that. I feel for him, not long ago he was a big strong man. Now he is frail and ill. Life can sure give you a sudden kick. Frustrating being here in England and just getting phone calls.

Jo said...

Ahh, some enlightenment at last. Dad is feeling a good bit better of late. Still ill though. He seems in better form but still has his "off " days.

Jo said...

Of course I can't actually see what's going on with him but when he phoned me again he soundedlike he was "on a good day" *S*

Jo said...

Well, Tom came through the lastest of his ill's. A strong man all through his life and I would say that is why he is able to fight off most of the things other's would not be able to. He will be 80 in June, well done Dad for reaching that ripe old age ! Delighted to say we will all be there for the celebration.