If I’m being honest today, it’s been a long week.
After having a great weekend at the Lake last weekend, Dad developed a fever on Sunday and was re-admitted to the hospital with a blood infection. He seemed to be doing ok until 2 days later when Dad woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t open his left eye, it was swollen shut. They rushed him down for a CT scan, which showed a lot of swelling around the eye and optic nerve.
Things moved very quickly and he had an MRI which confirmed the inflammation around the eye and nerve and possibly the lining of the brain. The ENT doctor did surgery to look at the area with a scope to try to figure out what was going on with his eye and found it was a very serious fungal infection. He was immediately started on anti-fungal medications. Unfortunately, he has permanently lost the sight in his left eye.
Thankfully, he was at the perfect timing of his current chemo cycle, that his white blood cells started to rise the very next day to help the medication and his body fight this infection. It’s been a very precarious few days while we wait to see if the medication and Dad’s body can turn this infection around.
My favorite thing of this week, was my sister’s (Jenny) post on Dad’s Caring Bridge site this week. . .
After Dad came out of surgery last night, he asked for a mirror. Mom pulled out her compact and he peered into it, looking with his one good eye at the left eyelid, swollen completely shut, the muscles around the eye socket too numb to move. I held my breath — if I had just gone blind in one eye and was seeing the damage for the first time, I’d probably burst into tears.
“Well,” he said, holding the mirror out at arm’s length and tilting his head, “if I get an eye patch I’d make a great James Bond villian now.” And he grinned.
Turns out the optic nerve is not connected to the funny bone.
He’s in fine form today. When Mom and I arrived at the hospital this morning, Dad was already bantering with the nurses, who had just finished outfitting him with a temporary, clear plastic eye patch to protect the dead eye from drying out.
“Arrrrrrrrrr,” he said when he saw us standing in the doorway. “Come aboard, ye mateys — I’m designing a new line of pirate fashions.”
Team Tom is ecstatic that he’s in such good spirits. During rounds he cracked up the entire medical staff; one of the doctors finally came up for air long enough to say, “So I see the real Tom is back to his old self. Best sign of health I’ve ever seen.”
All day Dad’s kept up a running commentary in his usual manner:
“Everytime I blink now, people will think I’m winking. Your mother will be so confused.”
“For Halloween I’m gonna dress up like Captain Jack. Lukie can be my parrot.”
“You know how some men have a midlife crisis and buy a Corvette? Let’s tell people I had a midlife crisis and went pirate.” (Me: “Ok, Mom can be your first mate. See what I did there?”) (In other news: Turns out Dad can still glare at me with one good eye.)
It’s a relief to see Dad being Dad. This is serious stuff. He must fight off the infection before it claims his other eye; he needs his white blood cell count to come up dramatically, but letting the count come up runs the risk of sparking another blastic crisis; he needs to be on the anti-fungal meds for 30 days, so the bone marrow transplant will be delayed. It’s scary. I can’t think much beyond today — there’s too many horrible “what if” possibilities. I have to focus on the present moment, celebrate today’s wins, or it would all be too much.
Thank God our family uses humor as a coping mechanism. It’s the language of our people.
Dad just asked me for mandarin oranges — “gotta eat citrus so I don’t get scurvy out on the high seas.” Better go get some; if I’m mutinous he’ll make me walk the plank. It’s the pirate life for me.
Despite the seriousness of everything going on, Jenny’s post made me smile and laugh out loud. Exactly what I needed.
What made you smile and laugh out loud this week?
And cheers to a great weekend!! What are you up to??