The Brown Bag in the Refrigerator

That would be my brown bag that contained my urine sample for the day. I placed it discreetly in the refrigerator away from anything else. Yes, my doctor wanted refrigerated pee ( go figure ). When I got back from Church on Sunday, I went to grab my bag and it was gone. I calmly asked ” Where is my bag!”. My dad replied ” I threw the bag away and the container is in the back of the refrigerator with the rest of the drinks. Isn’t that the bag you brought back from the restaurant that you and your friend went to Saturday night after the game?”  I told my dad ” First, I never went anywhere after the game and second that container contains my pee, it is not a drink”. My dad was disgusted ” Who puts pee in the refrigerator?”.  I told him that the doctor had suggested keeping it there to keep it cool. I quickly got the brown bag and put the container back in it. Early Monday morning the container went to the lab to everyone’s relief.

My dad still ” does not smoke” . At least he does it on the patio with the windows open year round. One day my niece told him ” Papou you know that smoking causes bladder cancer”. He replied ” Well I already have it so why worry?” ( indeed ). Even the dogs , who follow my dad everywhere, won’t go on the patio with him. They stare at him through the patio door while he doesn’t smoke. Remember, like Bill Clinton, he doesn’t inhale. Of course the rest of us will probably die from second hand smoke. Every time the patio door opens it smells like one of the bars in downtown Denver.

Operation

Well, we heard from the doctor and the date for my dads operation is October 15. You can tell that he is getting stronger because he is getting crabbier and more critical of the things we do. ” Are you sure you checked the oil in the car correctly? Did you put the new oil in the car correctly? Did you remember to use the filter and not just dump it in all at once? Oh did you vacuum the carpet? I guess we each have are own opinion of what clean is. Now, I don’t mean to accuse anyone of anything but the next time you use the microwave cover the dish. Have you seen the inside of that thing? It is a mess. Well I am glad you finally fed the dogs, but now this is just a suggestion – I usually feed them a lot earlier”. Ah yes, Big Bad George is back.

I also had a return visit to my doctor as a follow up to my kidney stones. I am feeling much better and the blood work and urine sample all came back clean. However my doctor feels that more research needs to be done because ” Four kidney stones is enough for anyone to pass and we want to prevent more in the future”. First she wants a full days sample of urine. ” But you need to keep it cool before bringing it in – I suggest you put it in the refrigerator”.  Can you imagine a container full of urine next to the feta cheese? ( What would the feta cheese heiress Nicole think of that?)

General Hospital

On a normal Wednesday I would be taking care of my dad in the morning while Toni went to teach. However things are never normal around here. Tuesday night I ended up in the ER passing kidney stones ( such fun ). We came home at 2AM and I was in no pain. However several hours later I decided to pass more stones. Back to the ER ( where they know me by name now ). Luckily for us we have a very large and supportive family here. Cousins Kathy, Takis, Pete  and Crissy have been terrific when it comes to my dad. This time it was cousin Angela. Angela stayed with my dad while Toni went and taught and I bitched and moaned in the hospital about the pain. ( I am very good at this ). Thank you Angela!

Our house now resembles a poor version of assisted living – without all the amenities. We have my dad with his bladder, Katie with her RA , Toni with her asthma and now me with my kidney stones. Imagine four crabby Greeks in the same house. ( it isn’t pretty ).

The good news is that Jackie will have a client base just waiting for her when she finishes Medical School. The even better news is that when Katie finishes Law School, she can represent us in our lawsuit against Jackie for malpractice. This way we keep everything in the family. Who ever imagined things would work out so nicely?

Go Buffs

So, my dad returned to the hospital Tuesday night. He had too much blood in his urine. By the time he was readmitted , he was anemic and needed a transfusion. The doctor decided that he would need to stay and have the sources of the bleeding in his bladder cauterized. He was not a happy man.  ” You know I am really starting to hate this place”. Once again he was also told that he could have nothing to eat after midnight because of the pending procedure. ” Fine , they don’t want me to bleed to death but they don’t seemed concerned about starving an old man to death”.

To make matters worse, he wasn’t taken into the operating room until 1:00 the next afternoon. In the recovery room , my dad was very disoriented. “How long have I been passed out? Did they ever find the doctor? I have been looking for him all over this hospital.” He looked at me and said “What’s your name”. We discovered beyond a doubt that my dad could never do heavy drugs. He had had an opium suppository to help with the bladder pain right before the procedure. That added to the anesthesia and other drugs used for the procedure had made him very loopy.

After being back in his room for a while and having something to eat, he started to return to a normal mental state. Plus the fact that the Doctor had kept his promise to my dad. When he entered earlier in the week , he made the doctor promise that he would be home Friday night to watch the CU game because ” I am not watching the Buffs play a football game in some damn hospital”. So tomorrow night at 7:00 PM , we will all be gathered in the family room watching the Buffs play. The happiest one of all will be my dad because he won’t be in “That damn hospital”.

Meat Loaf

My dad needs to build his strength and gain some weight before he can have his surgery. First we need to find out what his weight really is. He weighed himself yesterday and found out he weighed less than  when  they had just weighed him at the doctor’s office. We guessed that one of the scales was off. My dad was sure it was the doctor’s scale because ” I have used my home scale for years and it has never been wrong”. Our solution was, the next visit to the doctor my dad will take his own scale and have them weigh him on that. Why would they object?

One why to build strength and gain weight for my dad would be to eat better meals with less preservatives in the food. My niece Katie, who is a great cook, decided that she will make home made meals for my dad. The first meal was meat loaf. She told my dad ” I got this recipe from a friend in England papou”. My dad replied ” Well I have never had meat loaf from England but it is very good”. Katie  replied “No papou, the recipe is from England. I made the meat loaf here”.

The Priest visited my dad last week when he got out of the hospital. It was a very nice visit of prayer and conversation. Before he left the Priest told my dad ” You know George , you can come to Church any day of the week you feel like. It doesn’t have to be just Sunday. And we have wheel chairs available if you are having trouble walking”. My dad was very adamant ” I am not using a wheel chair at Church”. When we both asked him why, he replied ” I am not going to be rolling into Church in front of God like some old disabled person”. The Priest agreed that walking into Church would also be ok.

Generic

My dad returned to the hospital Friday night. His bladder wasn’t draining properly and his legs were swollen up like balloons. He eventually ended up having a tube inserted in his back going directly into the kidney to get the bladder to drain properly.  He spent three days in the hospital before being released and of course we visited often.

Saturday, while we sat in his room talking and watching TV , he turned and commented to us ” Have you seen all the old people on this floor? I look out my door and there are nothing but old people walking back and forth”. My niece told him ” But papou, you are the geriatric floor. This is a special floor in the hospital where they treat old people like you”. He replied ” Generic – how can they say what I have is generic? How many people do you know with my medical problems?”. Katie told him ” No geriatric – old people. This is a special floor in the hospital where they treat old people and their medical problems”. My dad was even more upset ” Oh great, they stick an old man with serious medical problems on a floor with nothing but old people. How is that supposed to help?” ( indeed).

He was able to come home Tuesday afternoon but had to return Tuesday night when the bag draining from his back became blocked. He spent the night for observation. The nurse called the next morning , I went and picked him up and now he is at home walking ( with his walker) and a dog on each side. They aren’t about to let him go anywhere this time.

Trip Stumble and Fall

That was a great song by my favorite group The Mamas and Papas. Well the other day my dad fell three times. The first time he was on the patio in a chair – not smoking. He saw some WD40 and remembered that he needed to use it somewhere on my car. He reached for the can and slide out of his chair. Once Toni and I had picked him up his response was ” Damn now I don’t remember what I needed that for”.

The next fall was in the bathroom. He misjudged exactly where the toilet seat was and sat on the floor. As I went to pick him up he said ” Well this is really shitty” As I bent over to pick him up our eyes locked and we both burst out laughing making it even harder to pick him up. However, it turned out that my dad was right.

The third fall occurred in the shower. As he was standing there in the shower , I noticed that his lesgs became weaker and he started to slide to the floor grabbing the side of the shower to steady himself. I reached in to grab him and we both slide to the floor. It dawned on me a few minutes later that it might be easier to help him up if the water was turned off. It still wasn’t easy helping a wet, slippery ,soapy man stand up. ( this could also explain why I haven’t dated recently). I suppose this also reflects negatively on my new career as a home help aide. Basically, if you are home and I am there, you will eventually need help.

Just Visiting

My dad came home from the hospital on Saturday. He was happy to be home and the dogs were especially happy to have him come home – Darcy refused to eat while he was gone. The first night that my dad was admitted to the hospital , he found out he had a roommate. He told us the next day though that his roommate was mean. When we asked my dad why, he said ” Well when I entered the room I told him hi nice to meet you and he didn’t say a thing or even look my way”. We told my dad that the man might have been in pain or even asleep, to which he replied ” Well that is still no excuse for not being polite and greeting someone when they enter the room”. (indeed).

My dad also said that he was upset with the guy because ” He had his TV on all night and it kept me awake”. Now the way the beds are set up the speakers are on the headboards of the beds. The man’s TV was on all the time that we were visiting and we could not hear a thing. Not only that but while we were visiting my dad he kept yelling at us to ” Speak up because I don’t have my hearing aids on and can’t hear a damn thing”. ( Selective hearing?).

My dad was told that he would be sent home with a walker, but he set out to prove to the nurses that he didn’t need one ” Those damn things are for old people to use”. The day before he was discharged, we helped him out of bed and he proceeded to walk the hall without the walker. I was by his side and Toni was pushing the walker behind us. When we got to the nurses station he smiled and said ” I told you I don’t need that damn thing”. We we rounded the corner out of sight of the nurses, he grabbed the walker from Toni and said ” There is no need for you to be pushing that thing”.  He then used the walker all the way back to his room.

Options

Well, we arrived at the hospital and went through the normal routine of waiting until my dad finally went into surgery. Unfortunately, things did not go as smoothly as anticipated. Midway through the operation the doctor came out to have a chat with my sister and I. Apparently the cancer has spread to more of the bladder than he first believed. The good news is that the cancer has not spread to the kidneys – it is contained in the bladder. The doctor then said that before going further, he would sew my dad back up and give him three options tomorrow, once he was alert and awake enough to decide how to proceed.

The options will be do nothing and be around another two years (We talked this over with my dad and this is not an option that will be chosen). Next is removal of the bladder and as my dad stated “Walk around with that damn bag the rest of my life”. It appears that he will be choosing the third option of chemo therapy.

Now my dad has had chemo for bladder cancer fifteen years ago and it has been in remission until now. The doctor feels that my dad is an excellent candidate for chemo again. He feels that he has the strength to deal with the treatment and that he should have many years remaining afterward. No there was no humor in this particular post- Just facts.

Because of all the love, concern and prayers for my dad, I wanted to let everyone know the facts. We appreciate all the support from everyone – it means so much. We are also confident that he will pull through this and be around to tell us more of his stories or make us laugh with more of his antics.

Transitions

We finally got the time and date for my dad’s surgery. Next Wednesday 8:30AM.  Of course the surgery itself won’t be until 10:30, so we will have the pleasure of signing in, preparation and then waiting. Luckily as we all know, my dad is extremely patient ( indeed ).  The doctor also told us that instead of coming home after surgery as was originally planned, they would have my dad spend the night. This set off a whole new set of problems – the dogs. “Who will fed them? Will the eat when I am gone? Where will they sleep since I won’t be in my bedroom?”. Even though these are trying and confused times, we told my dad that we would somehow manage to take care of the dogs.

While talking with my dad about his up coming surgery, we discussed his past surgeries and there is quit a list. Nine heart bypasses, a heart valve, a heart stent, a hip replacement, two stents in his bladder, previous surgery for cancer in his bladder, surgery on his hand when it got infected and now this surgery. All in all we figured that with a few more surgeries over the next few years and my dad wouldn’t have an original part left on him. A true bionic man.

Of course he has to take several containers with him when he checks in. We need a case for his glasses, and containers for his upper teeth and hearing aids. Or as my dad stated so well ” Thank God nothing else is detachable”.

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