As much as I said my blogs may start petering out… based on the appointment schedule we have for the next week or so… not so much.
Since returning home on Saturday, Dad has been visited twice daily by the lovely nurses of Silver Chain. As of this morning Dad’s INR readings were up to 2.2 and holding steady and they were very pleased with this outcome. One more Clexane injection tonight and a visit tomorrow morning and Dad should have reached therapeutic levels and then will be discharged to the loving arms of his GP for further Management.
Yesterday was all go central here in the Lawrence household. In addition to the Silver Chain ladies, Dad also had visits from a pair of occupational therapists, long-time navy chums Buster Keating, Ramon Lawrence and his wife Norma, and Peter and Kay neighbours but one from Mum and Dad. Buster has been an amazing source of information and support during the past two weeks, and he was able to sit down with Mum and I while Dad was being chatted up by the OT’s to go through what paperwork needed to be completed for Department of Vets Affairs to take over management/payment of any medical expenses etc… Ray, the ever travelling Sensei was filling us in on the exploits of the newest four footed member of their family.
A full day that had the added bonus of being just busy enough to poop out Dad and give him a relatively uninterrupted night of sleep. I however did wake up at one point because I heard coughing in the bathroom. This time it was Mum… go figure!
The other big news of the today came in the form of a phone call yesterday morning.
I spoke before that we had received a call from a Dr Chris at SCGH Cancer Centre who was touched base with us about the why’s and wherefores’ of setting up a treatment schedule for Dad. We had been told it could take up to a couple of weeks to get the first outpatient appointment.
Apparently not! We had a call from a Dr Gill at the Cancer Centre who specialises in Radiation Oncology yesterday. Could we come in for an appointment tomorrow at 2.30pm? … Um… yeah… “excellent, see you then”.
After a quiet morning, save for me making a dash to Curtin to sort out enrolment thingies, the three of us had some lunch and headed into Sir Charlies. The Cancer Centre at Sir Charlies is located in building DD… forever now to be known as the Big Booby Building. There was some consternation in the mother department when Dad decided to take his time and do some judicious trimming of his beard and other finicky hair bits around his suture line just before we left – he needn’t have worried (more about that later) but we still made it well on time.
Dr Gill turned out to be a tall, very pleasant young oncologist who seemed genuinely interested in Dad’s “Grumpy Old Submariner” t-shirt as we went it. He started the consultation by explaining what it was that radiation oncology does. Basically treatment for this type of condition comes down to a hard target beam of x-rays being administered directly to the site of the lesion (in this case three, that when you look at the MRI’s sit basically in a line from the top of the left frontal lobe and bores straight down.) The treatment does work in conjunction with a form of chemotherapy called Temozolamide but is delivered in small doses over three or six weeks that result in far less symptoms than a broad spectrum treatment for the likes of some other body based cancers.
Mum of course was very much uptight regarding the expected prognosis originally given to us of 6-9 months. Dr Gill said that he could, if we really wanted to, use metrics to work out time frames, but in his experience it is just a number and that no… it would be much, much longer than that. Mum, I think, just about fainted with relief. Obviously time is still finite… but the longer we can keep Dad around without undue detriment to his health it’s worth the risk. Dr Gill indicated that his Dad is 72 and that if he was in the position of having what Dad has from his records, then Dr Gill would be recommending the 6 week treatment without hesitation to his Dad.
This is much better news. When we got home, Mum pondered why a neurology Dr said that time frame when the Oncology Dr said something different. I can only suppose it’s something along the lines of a fire chief can tell you that a fire was deliberately lit, but a forensic fire officer can tell you exactly what type of accelerant was used and where it was lit and what time… horses for courses. At this point we will take any rays of sunshine life choses to throw us!
One very amusing moment occurred when Dr Gill was asking Dad a series of baseline questions to ascertain basic memory function. After running through the normal, what day is it, what month, what’s your date of birth, he asked “What is the name of the Prime Minister”. Dad paused and thought heartily for a moment before responding… “Shit shit shit shit shit!”. We all laughed… people may call him that, but that wasn’t the right answer.
Dr Gill escorted us down to the ground floor and Dad had to go in for this initial scan and fitting of his head brace – basically a moulded plastic head cast that enables the exact same spots to be targeted every time and helps prevent the patient from moving his head. Mum and I waited in the corridor while Dad had his first fitting. When Dad walked out my first thought was… Shit he looks gaunt around the face… granted in the two weeks he’s been in hospital he’s lost approximately 10kg and quite a bit of muscle tone (he said he wanted to lose weight… bit bloody extreme)… but that was not the reason for my shock…
Notice anything wrong with this photo???
This is only the second time I have ever seen my father without a beard… *THIS* freaks me out!