Thursday, May 09, 2013

The Calls We Dread ...

I'm at a loss tonight.  My cousin called me with somber news ... he's been set up with home hospice.  He's having terrible pain because of the cancer in his liver. The tumors are causing his liver to produce extra bile ... which is causing vomiting and dehydration.  It's a vicious circle ... his meds help with the pain but cause bowel issues ... it's just not a good situation at all.  I'm not sure what hospice means for my cousin ... in terms of the big picture.  I only have one experience to draw from and that's my Dad.

In Dad's case, when they released him from Memorial with home hospice, they told us it would be a matter of days.  But ... my Dad was nothing if not a fighter ... and after about three weeks he asked the visiting nurse, "So, what are you guys going to do when I don't die like you're planning?"  The nurse, who was an amazing person, gave him a hopeful smile and said, "If we need to, we'll evaluate your case after six months."   Dad lasted twenty five days after coming home from the hospital ... a pretty valiant effort considering they didn't think he'd survive the ambulance ride home.

When my cousin called, we only talked for a bit ... the Demerol was kicking in so it was a short conversation.  The last thing he said before he hung up was, "I'm okay, kiddo ... we'll talk later."  He's desperately trying to be the guy he always was ... even though his voice is weak and hoarse.

When Dad had his heart attack, it was so massive and so horrible.  My mom, my brother, and I took shifts at his bedside ... but we spent most of that night sleeping in the cardiac ICU waiting room.  I remember sitting by Dad's bed and praying ... trying to make a deal with God.  The deal was that I wouldn't ask God to save him ... but if he couldn't save him ... if Dad had to die ... I wanted God to do it quickly ... and not let him suffer. 

I suppose that's why I was so angry when Dad died eight months later.  My brother is very religious and was going on about God at some point after the funeral ... and I got upset.  I told him I asked God not to let him suffer ... I made a deal with him that I wouldn't ask him to save Dad if he just didn't let him suffer.  My brother told me that God didn't make deals ... and I told him then God was a miserable prick.  In retrospect, that's probably something I should mention in confession next time I go.

In any case ... I won't be trying to make a deal with God this time.  He doesn't stick to his side of the bargain anyway.   But at this point all I can hope is that my cousin doesn't suffer ... or suffer any more than he already has.  It truly is a fucked up world ... we just gotta make the most of our time here.

Into the distance, a ribbon of black
Stretched to the point of no turning back
Flight of fancy on a windswept field
Standing alone, my senses reel
Fatal attraction that's holding me fast
How can I escape this irresistible grasp
Can't keep my eyes from the circling sky
Tongue-tied and twisted; just an earth-bound misfit, I

Pink Floyd - Learning To Fly

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