The Side Effects…. How many??? (Blog 7)

Bovril & Lettuce - Don't ask!!!

So Chemo seems to have come and gone quickly and having had a restless night we all wake on Saturday (20th June) in the naïve hope that the Side Effects won’t show until week 2 and things can just be normal again.

The side effects we were warned about included: Flu like symptoms, Fever, Loss of appetite, Loss of hair, In-growing toe nails, Rough skin, Sensitive skin, Gum problems, Loss of taste sensation, Change of eating habits, Phlebitis, Allergies, Mucous, Constipation, Vomiting, Nausea, Anaemia…. At this rate you wouldn’t find it difficult to understand why some people may opt out of Chemotherapy. The rewards though could be the greatest gift to my family ever, especially my dad.

What they didn’t warn us about was the Groaning, Moaning, Worrying, Headaches, Hiccups, Excessive tiredness and eventually as you would expect “Arguments”.

Saturday is a difficult day. We have been instructed that my dad MUST drink 1.5ltrs of water per day. This in itself is no easy task. “It tastes horrid”, “I can’t swallow”, “It hurts”, “Why do I need it”, “It’s pointless, You’re punishing me”, “You keep going on” This disregards the fact that the appetite has all but vanished.

My dad finds himself without energy, without any form of get up and go, without any desire to eat, without any desire to drink. The only energy he can muster up is the ability to moan like a bugger. And trust me he can moan 24/7 though somehow doesn’t seem to know why he is doing. He lets out the biggest grunts, knows he’s doing it then when asked tells us he doesn’t know why it’s happening.

Despite being in bed all day and not being swayed to move, I am encouraged by the odd smile here and there.

Father’s Day – June 21st. I had hoped today that I could take my dad for a nice breakfast at the local Rastro. Just father and son. It would be nice to have done an adventure walk, even if it was just around the house for 2 minutes. In my head I am being logical – This could in theory by the last Fathers Day I ever get to spend with him. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not being negative, just sometimes you do have to be realistic. Ideally I will be bankrupted every year trying to better the last Fathers Day gift. Then again just being here by his side is clearly enough.

I’ve written my dad a 3 page letter. Just personal memories and things I want to tell him before it’s too late – It’s not a good bye letter but it’s a chance to thank him for making me the man I am today. My dad has supported me through thick and thin. I just want him to know how I feel. We don’t have a lovey dovey relationship so saying I Love You doesn’t flow naturally. This is just how we are. I find myself thankful though that I have this opportunity. The day doesn’t at first seem to go well and having materialised from his bed only once, he is bed ridden for the rest of the day.

It gets to 22:45. I’m watching some rubbish on Telly with my dad in the other room – I wander to myself what the hell am I playing at? I go into my dads room and lay next to him. He reaches for my hand and grabs hold. We lay there for 20 minutes, gently chatting just about things that I won’t go into but this is possibly the most precious 20 minutes I will cherish forever. His hand in mine the entire time. In a random way whilst it hadn’t been my Fathers Day plan – it’s probably turned out the best day ever. The fact he is talking encourages me.

The next 3 days are all a blur. The good thing I guess is that fairy steps are being made each day.

The main side effect that no one wants though was always going to happen starts – the arguments. My mum is annoyed that my dad isn’t drinking. It’s a combination of annoyance, love, anger, hope and frustration all rolled in to one. Hearing your loved ones fight is never easy. Hearing them fight when one of them is dying is even harder.

My dad complains that it hurts to swallow though when we ask what he means he says there is no pain. He has started to eat some grapes. Fair enough this isn’t the meals he should be on, though at least it’s something. Somehow he can eat grapes but not drink fluid.

My mum god bless her doesn’t always know when to back off. Anyone that knows her will know what I mean – my mum will be reading this too. It’s not to make her feel bad. She is trying her best and loves my father dearly. She struggles though with the sheer frustration of my dad not drinking. Each of them bite at one another. He needs 1.5ltrs of fluid a day. If we are lucky he is getting a quarter of this.

Whatever system that has been happening just sadly is not working. My dad on the odd occasion is out of bed though sits with the same glass of water for almost two hours. My mum though is saying at every moment possible – possibly every 2 minutes – “you haven’t touched your water”, “you’re not drinking”, “you need to drink”.

It’s stressing me out hearing it let alone how frustrated my dad must feel. In his mind he wants none of it.

Having battled now for 3 days on and off enough is enough – I wake on the Thursday, hoping and praying that today will be a better day. Its not (well maybe it is). The back biting continues and whilst my dad is finally out of bed and in his chair, the continuous arguments can’t be good for anyone.

I finally snap and tell them that I’ve had enough of them both flying into one another. I keep them both quiet and if one interrupts they are told in no uncertainty to shut their mouth. Maybe I’m sounding harsh right now but I know my mum, and I know my dad and thankfully I feel I know what is good for them. Tough love time eh…and trust me – I would have been scared of me right now.

I reveal a number of home truths. My dad has started to act like a typical man with man-flu. Believe me when I say this. I do not under estimate what my dad is going through. What I have witnessed though is enough to prove to me he is taking the easy option now and just being a child. My mum is also just acting like a woman on a mission to bite someones head off – It’s bang out of order. As a family we can deal with this and each of us bring something special into the mix. We are all needed. We all have our own strengths and weaknesses. I tell my dad about the time I suffered with OCD. I tell him that even now each day should be a struggle. OCD is my escape. Though I have this in control. The easy option would be to go and wash my hands for hours on end due to the current situation. I am not doing this. I am not taking the easy option – I have it under control and fight for my future. I make him realise that it’s due to him and mum together that I have this under control. The easy option cannot be taken. I will not allow him to take the easy option.

A good family discussion ends with a new attack plan. Whilst my mum will remain in control of medication and that side of things in terms of daily blood pressure readings etc… I will take control of the water intake.

I agree with my dad that he will be given a glass of water every two hours and has the duration of that time span to drink it. I encourage him to drink it within the first hour though he will not be moaned at once and the control is with him. However if he chooses to be selfish, it’s highly likely he’ll end up back in hospital. He is now in control.

What he doesn’t realise is that the glasses are the sufficient size that I will be always 1 if not 2 over the minimum requirement each day. Win win in my eyes. Plus the bloody temperature is mid 30s. How anyone can survive without water in this heat is beyond me.

For dinner he asks for some chicken and tomato soup. One request he made in hospital though for some bizarre reason was that he quite fancied a Lettuce and Bovril combination as he thought it sounded nice. My brother has also said via telephone the time has come – Disgusting as it sounds, the lettuce leaf spread with Bovril is prepared. He wolfs it down. Not sure if to be pleased or not but he liked it – weirdo. The rest of the night is calm and things are looking up.

Friday 26th comes and we finally seem to have broken the mind over matter battle. My dad is actively asking for food and the new water regime is working well. As I write this tonight we are at 1.5ltrs – I am ecstatic. He’s also had two good sized meals today – well good sized for a kid but he is going through a lot after all and the fact he is asking for food is the best sign all week.

The weekend ahead is full of delights for my dad – Heather is paying a visit tomorrow. For those not aware Heather is his daughter, my sister. This in itself technically has a story behind it but I may save that for Blog 8 lol. In fairness I could create a whole separate blog on this subject matter alone.

On Sunday we are hoping to take my dad to see his sister Margaret in Albir – She is on holiday though desperate to see him – We aren’t sure about the 60 minute journey yet though feel the positives from the visit outweigh the negatives of the journey length.

Here’s to a fun family filled weekend – I honestly think tomorrow seeing his daughter may be the best medicine needed to boost him. Let’s hope.

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