Daily Archives: April 9, 2013

What A Difference A Walk Makes

Sometimes I live a little bit too much inside my own head.  It’s easy to do.  I am single. I live alone.  I have no kids.  I do leave the house and go to work each day.  I have co-workers that I talk to off and on during the day.  That helps.  But when there is no one else to share your day or your thoughts with, one can get lonely.

I was kind of feeling that way today.  Today was hot.  I came home and my apartment was hot.  My fan broke last summer, so the only way I can cool down for now is to open a window.  I did not want to cook because it was hot.  I decided to nuke some chicken my friend Sush made for me yesterday.  I also decide to heat up some palak paneer (spinach and cheese) I had in the freezer so that I could have a vegetable that I could nuke and not heat up on the stove.

Well, I ate too much.  A lot too much.  I have not eaten that much at one time since before the surgery.  My stomach was hurting and upset.  Plus being home alone and feeling sick, I was stuck with many thoughts I have been avoiding thinking about for several weeks racing through my head.

My step-dad has lung cancer.  His initial prognosis was very bad.  The first doctor told him he may have six months to a year to live.  Obviously, the whole family was hit pretty hard with this news.  Well, he went to another doctor and then saw an oncologist who has given him every reason to hope his cancer is very treatable and not as far gone as the first doctor thought.  The first doctor thought the cancer had already spread to his liver and brain.  After doing some scans and tests, the oncologist determined that it had not.  It has spread to his spine and his lymph nodes.  Not great news, but still treatable.

Well, my mom shared some other news with me this past weekend.  Apparently, one of the lumps of cancer is pressing on a major vein or artery that goes to his heart.  My step-dad already has a pacemaker and a defibrillator.  Fortunately, the cancer is not on the side of his chest with those two devices.  Nonetheless, he’s been in afib for a week or so and is sometimes coughing up blood.

I’m not entirely sure what that means, but I know it’s not good.  So, the race is on.  Can they shrink and hopefully eliminate the lump before it does irreversible damage to his already strained heart?  I don’t know.  I have been very upset since she told me this.  What’s worse, there is nothing I can do.  I want to go and visit with them, but they have asked me to stay away for now.  They live in another city.  I would have to drive there, which I have no problem doing, but since he’s doing chemotherapy, he’s very susceptible to germs and illness.  So, they want everyone to stay put for now and wait.

I hate waiting.  I love my step-dad.  He’s a wonderful man.  He married a woman with four children, took them into his home and made them his family.  He has always been one of my biggest cheerleaders, too.  When I call, or visit, he always says, “It’s the amazing Colleen.”  And he is so proud of everything I have accomplished since the surgery.

So, here I am, sitting all alone in my small postage stamp, hot apartment, too full and nauseated, and getting grumpy and depressed worrying about things I can do nothing to change.

I got up off of my bed and put on some shorts and a t-shirt, grabbed my cell phone and Google pad, and walked out the door.  I walked down the street to the little village at the bottom of the hill.  I bought an iced tea at a local coffee shop and sat outside reading a book using my Nook app.

The little strip of shops and restaurants was alive with action this evening.  The weather is finally warm and people have been anxious to get out of their houses and out into the world.  People were out walking their dogs, dining in restaurants, in and out of the library, and browsing in shops.

I sat outside the coffee shop and watched two young girls stop and spontaneously start dancing while sharing music on their electronic device.  A dog trainer walked around with a group of dog owners encouraging them to continuously give their dog treats to instill good behavior.  Couples walked by talking and holding hands.  Families toting kids or pushing strollers made their way down the street.  My little town was alive tonight.

My mom called while I was sitting there and we had a great conversation.  My step-dad was in good spirits and making jokes to me through her while we talked.  He sounded good.

After I walked back up the hill to my apartment, I realized that not much had changed.  I still felt overly full.  My apartment was still too hot.  My step-dad still has cancer.  And there is still nothing I can do from here to help him or my mom.  I do feel better, though.  The walk, the reading, getting out into the world has really helped to clear my head which is what I wanted.

I do not know what the future holds.  I just know that I need to continue taking care of myself.  Whatever happens, whether it’s to celebrate his defeating the cancer, help my mom prepare to deal with a long-term illness, or worse, I need to be ready.  The only way I can do that is to stay focused on continuing to improve my own health.

I know my step-dad wants that too.  He would get up out of his sick bed and walk here to kick my butt if I allowed his illness to knock me off track.

Correction:  My mom posted this information to update what I had written: 

“He does have a new smaller tumor but it is not pressing on any of the arteries leading to the heart. It is pressing on the bronchial area and when he coughs, it breaks the little arteries causing them to bleed. Sometimes it is a lot of blood and sometimes not. We have been warned that it could be alot at which time we are to call 911 and get him to the ER. The heart is another matter. He was/is in a-fib which means basically, that the heart is in a little trouble. The defibulator is working overtime but it is working and that is important.”

Thank goodness the tumor is not pressing on an artery leading to the heart.  They still do not know why he is in afib.  Hopefully, they will get some answers today as he sees the heart doctor before his chemo treatment today.