Sunday, September 23, 2012

It is one of the mysteries of our nature that a man, all unprepared, can receive a thunder-stroke like that and live. There is but one reasonable explanation of it. The intellect is stunned by the shock and but gropingly gathers the meaning of the words. The power to realize their full import is mercifully lacking. - Mark Twain's Autobiography (writing about his daughter Suzy Clemens' death).

I've read the autobiography many times; it is my favorite book by my favorite author. There are many sentences, paragraphs and anecdotes within it that resonate. This quote has been running through my mind for the past week. Last Saturday morning, we rushed my father to the hospital because we thought he was having a stroke. Turns out it was not a stroke, but instead he has a brain tumor called a meningioma.

It's very serious of course, but not quite as bad as it sounds at first -- it is not something that spread from somewhere else but instead it is something that he had had for many, many years, apparently a lot of people have them and they do not cause symptoms and do not need to be treated if they are not causing symptoms. It is not "in" his brain, but on the surface in the membrane. Also, at 85 he is in excellent health and has no other issues. So they were able to stabilize him with medication, his symptoms went away, and he came home from the hospital Tuesday (my birthday, certainly one I will never forget). He has a slight speech issue, although no worse than many people his age, and you would never know something was wrong with him.  A big victory happened yesterday -- my brother threw a reception for his daughter, who married her partner over the summer and my father did not want to miss it. And he didn't!

We did research and found out the premier brain center in the US, maybe the world, is Mass General in Boston, so on Thursday my brother, Bob, my father and I made a round trip to Boston for a consult with a neurosurgeon, and he will have surgery on October 3 to remove the tumor. Recently Mass General bumped Johns Hopkins out of the #1 spot for best hospital overall (the other one in the top three is the Mayo Clinic).

My parents' phone has been ringing off the hook and our email boxes are overflowing, so my sister & I have set up a private facebook group so that family and close friends can get updates. This is an easier way for us to keep everyone posted.

My sister will be going out to Boston with my father on October 1 (he will be having pre-operative testing) and staying as long as he is hospitalized (which may be only 2-4 days after surgery). My brother is going to take my mother out there on Wednesday, surgery day.  My sister and this brother are the two oldest of us siblings, and do not have 9-5 jobs at this point. The rest of us (all 35, LOL) will be making round trips and overnight stays. We have to work out the details between now and then, but it looks like my other brother and his family will do the animal chores -- which includes the horses, but there are also dogs, cats, rabbits, chickens that need care -- we are an animal loving family and we all have dogs, while not one of us has no pets at all.

Bob and I will be going down to Samsonville on October 3 to drop off the dogs and cat, then we will probably head to Boston on Thursday. I've been scrambling to make arrangements for my classes, so far successfully. We may be the ones to drive my father home, since our car is the most comfortable of the “fleet”). Once he is home, we will take turns staying with them. Family round table next weekend to discuss all the details.

I have a lot of funny stories and many more details, but this post is already long enough and they will keep! If I am AWOL this is why -- I am spending every minute of my time doing research and keeping my professional life from spinning out of control.

Amazing how life can change in an instant. The past week seems like it has been six months long. My birthday, Rudy's, a sad 30th anniversary of a friend's suicide = all things I would have normally posted about -- passed by without notice. I planned to take a picture of the sole zucchini I grew in Castleton this year (an accomplishment, given that I have not been able to get any fruit in years). I have not cooked it yet, have been eating little besides carbs in restaurants, so I will still take a photo of my precious zuke!

Prayers greatly appreciated. Thoughts are good too, but prayers are better. :-)

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