The following is an email I sent to my coworkers a few minutes ago. I don’t have the energy to reformat it for my journal.
First things first: I’m very grateful to be able to be here, and I want to thank each of you for your part in helping provide the flexibility for me to be away for an extended period of time.
That said, these past weeks have been some of the toughest in my life.
My dad sleeps more and more each day, and usually gets out of bed only to go to the bathroom, and then only with a great deal of assistance. He still wants to leave the house every few days or so, and we’ve managed to take him out for dinner once or twice, but it’s inevitably very difficult and he inevitably feels worse the next day.
He’s not very coherent much of the time, and the hospice nurse says it’s as much the cancer as it is the drugs causing that (not to mention the strokes he had during one of his chemo treatments last year). He’ll say something seemingly random, clear out of the blue, but I think most of the time he has a context in his head that he just doesn’t have the energy to explain. I figured out that I can guess at the context and ask him yes or no questions (so he can simply nod or shake his head in response) to clarify, and then things usually start to make some sense. My mom doesn’t seem to have the patience for this little “game,” and she tends to get a little freaked out by his randomness. So I’ve gotten pretty good at being his interpreter.
I finished the 10 mile race on Labor Day (in about the same time I did last year), and Karsten and my nephew were there to cheer for me when I came in. My dad wanted to be there to watch but just didn’t have the energy. My sister and her two kids and my brother were all collecting donations at the race for the Red Cross for hurricane relief — my sister organized it with the village. I think they took in quite a bit of money.
Anyway, since the race, I’ve been sick with some kind of cold or flu bug and have been ill for the past two days, so that’s pretty inconvenient. I was probably more vulnerable from exhaustion — I hadn’t slept the night before the race, because my dad made several comments on Sunday that indicated that he believed he would not make it through the night. As a result, neither my mom nor I could sleep, and I ran much more slowly than I’d trained, and ended up sick the next day. I guess sleep really -is- important, huh?
There’s more, but I’ve gone on long enough. There’s a lot to do here, so I have to hurry up and get better.
Thanks again for your support. I miss you all!
– Kate O’
(It’s OK to forward this if anyone asks how my dad is doing. Thanks.)