I owe you an update. I know. It's been a long three months full of hope, optimism and more than a few "tears caught in the throat" situations.
I'm not one to cry. Just ask any of my friends. If the tears well, I take a deep breath and say "Suck it up. There are people who are worse off." And, there always are. There are weary cancer soldiers (and I include their families in that group). There are those with no support system. There are even those who do not know that some situations deserve laughter instead of worry. But, these past few months, I've cried. Not as openly as some friends and family would wish for me, but tears nonetheless. And, while I owe you an update, a "hey I'm still here" post, I owe you the truth as well.
Christmas has come and gone. It was harder than most because of the roller coaster of weeks prior. My dad - my fighter of monsters under the bed - was more victim than soldier. He was weak, pale and mortal. October and November brought a constant blur, of visits to the St. Catharines Hospital, of late night texts and a slew of ambulance rides - so many that my parents' neighbours were used to the swirling lights and the sirens. "Oh, there goes Joe" they said.
There he went time and time to the hospital, each time with worrying symptoms. Crohns, C. difficile, pneumonia, an irregular heartbeat, congestive heart failure and finally a mini-stroke. The doctors were baffled (or at least they never seemed to have an answer). It was daily and it was difficult. While I could focus on the day-to-day, the future was not yet determined. To see him shuffle from the gurney to the xray table and back to the bed was horrible. Rubbing his feet was the only solace and he put up with it. He also put up with the worried looks my mum and I would exchange when his memory failed and his feet, legs and hands swelled from the lack of circulation. The strong and vibrant character was failing. His larger-than-life stature seemed stunted, changed, and closer to the end of his journey rather than a hiatus.
But, there is a light - a glimpse of the soldier he has always been. It's been over a month since his mini-stroke, and thanks to a revamping of his medications - additions of one and decrease of another (10 in all, if you can believe it) - he has had no other symptoms, no other ambulance rides, and he's now gathering his strength at the local gym by walking the track (and taking lots of naps).
Christmas was low-key - gathering at my brother and sister-in-law's house to relieve some of the Christmas dinner stress from Mum. There were lots of hugs and I love you's. And there was lots of laughter and tears. I never miss a chance now to tell someone I love them because you never know when it will be your last chance.