Breaking Records – Blog 34

Record

Well I say breaking records but I guess I mean more sounding like a broken record.

Firstly though my Dad would like to thank everyone for their well wishes, cards and presents that he received for his birthday. All the messages be these via the blog, Facebook, cards etc… have been forwarded on – each received with a smile.

His birthday itself was a great day and as planned we did end up at Alicante before meeting up with Mum & Alan at the airport later that evening. During the daytime Dad, David and I visited Santa Barbara Castle which gives you a great view of Alicante, the harbour, the beach and just a generally nice vista.

The castle itself was really worth the visit with plenty to see and do and as you’d expect the odd café or two to stop off at and chill. Dad even got speaking to a young lad from Peru who was visiting the castle by himself. As you’d expect a joke or two was shared with the poor lad struggling to understand the punch lines. I mean, you’ve got to feel sorry for him as we struggle too at times… lol.

Later on we also dropped down onto ‘La Ramblas’ and then had a walk along the pier before braving a shopping complex for a spot of Black Friday shopping.  The one thing we noticed though as time went on, my Dad was getting increasingly impatient as the flight landing time drew nearer. As we drove to the airport and parked up we struggled to keep up with him as he practically raced to the arrival gate so he could be on time to greet his ‘lickle wife’ and of course Alan. Both were clearly pleased to see one another as Mum & Alan walked through the arrivals gate holding a massive birthday banner for him.

Whilst there was only 3 hours left of his birthday now, it was certainly right that they got to spend it together. As we got back to the house we got him to blow out the candles on a cake that had been given by some of their close friends and everyone stayed up until the day was over chatting and just having some quality time together.

One of the things my Dad had also enjoyed the most on his birthday was getting to speak to a number of family members either on the phone or via Skype. My Dad is a bit of a technophobe with these kind of things but you could tell he was quite touched each time another person wanted to say hello and pass on their well wishes.

Now everyone is back at the house, the noise levels are well and truly back to 110% and the peace has been shattered, but for them a little bit of normality has been restored.

For myself and David, the last week has been a pleasure and getting to spend this time with my Dad has been priceless. I know many of the family would love this opportunity so I don’t under-estimate its value at all.

I must say though that an element of me remains slightly disillusioned and yes it all comes back to smoking. I’m not actually sure what part has bothered me the most.  The fact my Dad tries to smoke in private and out of sight can be seen as a good thing but I also see this as sneaky and underhand; especially the fact that each and any opportunity to do so is taken when ‘ones’ back is turned. The stench also doesn’t help his secrecy.

It also annoys me immensely that whilst alcohol has been given up completely and has been pushed as the pure evil, smoking is still permitted and continues to this day (and more than the 3 per day I was told about). Doctor advisories have been used to suit needs and the irony of the fact that smoking pretty much caused the Cancer and not the Alcohol is not lost on me at all.

It’s not that drinking alcohol is a good thing. As he continues to make drinking water an issue because he doesn’t like the taste, the intake of alcohol could cause dehydration and lead again to low salt levels and re-hospitalisation. Giving one thing up is a massive deal so giving up on two things is not an easy task.

I guess I am just a little lost as one addiction has been beaten whilst the other that has actually caused the Cancer continues to go on. I know that many members in the family are also upset by the continued smoking. I love my parents as by now I think you can tell but I do feel extremely resentful too that albeit it is my Dad who is suffering with the Cancer, it’s the ones around him that have to also endure the pain and suffering and it is us that will have to deal with the stark aftermath of his ‘passing’. At the end of the day it is his life, so maybe it’s time I just backed off and left them to it. The ‘enjoyment’ that is taken from smoking just seems to outweigh any logic or sense.

My memories will remain intact and we have thoroughly enjoyed our time with him. This isn’t meant as a bitter attack. I just find it shocking that addiction or not, when a medical institution provides so much free care, treatment and life giving hope that irresponsibility can still prevail. That’s humans I suppose. We all have our own demons to deal with and each and every single one of us makes decisions on a daily basis that may not be agreeable to others but are made nevertheless.

The good thing is that my Dad continues to see himself around until at least his 75th birthday and I hope he is. A four year lifespan is not the prognosis we were given, but I do know of people in similar situations that have seen this goal reached.

He still has his scheduled scan on 4th December with the results due on the 14th. Let’s hope that Mr Bionic himself can be one of those that is lucky enough to beat Cancer. If not then we will wait and see what the next chapter has install for him with hopefully a little bit more common sense prevailing.

And for those without Facebook here is just a sample of some of the Pictures from his Birthday :o)

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The Freedom Files, Part Deux – Blog 33

Altitude

On Wednesday we achieved what we had set out to achieve with my Dad during this freedom week. We scaled the 520m mountain that they look up too from the house. It may seem an odd goal to have aimed for but my Dad & I have done an adventure walk up here before quite some time ago and it was one of the best days we had spent together in a long time.

On that occasion we had disappeared for hours on end in the blazing sunshine, but our survival instincts got us through. We were drinking water from dodgy pipes that we found in the ground and taking shade under trees and eventually arrived back at the Rastro where my Mum & Alan were waiting late that afternoon. I can’t say we arrived unscathed as my Dads legs had been cut to buggery thanks to the bramble forest we had had to trample through. My legs were fine though as I had let my Dad flatten the brambles down lol. After all he did raise me to use my brain so sending him first, technically was the right thing to do….. that’s my view anyway.

Back to today’s adventure and it was in slightly different circumstances. This time with drove the car up the mountain as far as it could go and walked the rest. We didn’t go bramble trampling though we did reach the peak and took the opportunity to take some photos….

We could tell my Dad felt quite proud of himself and damn right too. At one stage I could sense just how much he wanted to get to the top and this was the whole point of the trip. He told David & I to carry on up and he would catch up with us in his own time. Naturally we made our excuses at enjoying the sights so there was no rush but this was this first tell-tale sign he was happy doing the climb. The second sign then came out when he reached the top…. ”A mans gotta do what a mans gotta do” and it was clear that he was happy being ‘On Top of the World’.

On the ramble back to the car a short joke’a’thon started. Initially it was with my dad being cross saying that he had a bad ‘altitude’ problem. He then saw a Butterfly and asked why they weren’t could ‘Marg’flies. My response followed with the rationale that it was to do with if they could ‘spread’ their wings. My Dad ‘could not believe’ this response which I thought was ‘utterly’ crazy. Yup, the jokeaphons don’t get much better than that!

The rest of the day was spent going between different cafes – a hobby I could quite get used too.

One of the things that has surprised me this time is just how domesticated my Dad is too. Before we had set off on our adventure today he had set too with the house work. He darted around between using the washing machine to sweeping the house through. It was like watching a man possessed. It also unnerved me somewhat.

One of the funniest things this week though has been his attempts at Spanglish, Enganol or any combination you can think for the two languages. I truly admire his confidence in giving things a go no matter how embarrassing it can become for those next to him. One of the best was when we went to the shop to get some wiper blades for the car. We didn’t know the word for wipers so instead my dad asked for some sch sch sch schsss and waved his hand from left to right in an arch style and said coche (car). He repeated this three times though amazingly it worked and we were led directly to the item. The same happened with other items in similar style but I can’t say what these are as may give away some presents that Santa is due to deliver.

For now I will leave the tales there. I think we are staying fairly local today and then tomorrow for his birthday we are planning to head to Alicante as none of us have actually been around the city itself. It also means we will be nearby for the arrival of Mum & Alan.

Freedom files – T-Minus 37 hours to go…

The Freedom Files – Blog 32

Castle knight

So we arrived in Spain on Saturday evening and met my Dad at the airport as planned. First and foremost he looked really well. His hair has started to grow back and on face value you would not look at him and think of anyone who was ill let alone someone that has gone through 40+ sessions of treatment and months of the unknown. He just looks like the Dad I knew from earlier this year before the ‘C’ word was dropped on him.  His memory is a little questionable as he just seems a little.… forgetful almost in some way but I think this is just down to his age more than anything as well as everything he’s been through.

Other than this though he is plodding on quite merrily and whilst he may not be back to full strength, he’s in quite a good place. He never needed to have his food blended which was a concern following the Radiotherapy and his skin is staying healthy so he isn’t needing to apply creams constantly as he feared. He keeps out of the sun which gets to him at times but he knows that this is for the best in the long run. It seems that through my Mums constant badgering but most importantly her love, his own self-awareness and all of our gradual understanding into the world of Cancer I think things are looking good.

Sunday is a day of rest in Spain so planning what to do on Day 1 was always potentially going to be a challenge. One thing David and I have wanted to do for a while though was to explore Xativa Castle, as we have been visiting the area for near on 8 years and have never been. My Dad seemed up for it and so we headed off around 11am in the morning. Having bagged himself a pensioner entry price somehow as it wasn’t even advertised we made our way to the Roman side of the Castle first. In hindsight our choice of tourist attraction was questionable as there was much more ‘climbing’ than we had planned. Having eventually reached the highest point of this side of the castle we could tell he was a little out of breathe. We did take our time but he never once complained though we kept a close eye on him. We have to remember though he is almost 71. I think a little breathlessness is not necessarily an unexpected thing at this age.

We saw some incredible sights though and explored all the different areas from Luis Crespins final resting place to The Borgias family private salon as well as got to play with the Daggers and cannons in the armoury. We also saw a Knights “Chainmail” suit which my dad said was one of the first letters sent by Royal Mail….. bah dum.

The visit took around 2 hours which we hadn’t expected as the Castle grounds were much more scenic than we had first appreciated. Certainly worth a visit. Next we made our way down in the Xativa town itself. Our sole intention of this part of the day was coffee. Find a café, settle down and chill. It was also a good time to do some essential catching up and seeing how things truly were.

He reminisced about the time he spent in hospital and one of the things that he still thinks of now was some of the illusions he had when first admitted. It’s difficult to place a label on these so called illusions as unless you have been through it yourself you can only really surmise what they might have meant.

The one that stood out mostly for him though was the night that he went for a wander around the other wards and stumbled across the Messiah. What he saw was the Messiah blessing the other patients, and whilst he doesn’t fully understand what was going he wanted to know why he wasn’t visiting my Dad only to be told he didn’t understand him either and waved him on. Was this a near death experience, a passing close to the white light, the mind playing tricks; who really knows? All we do know is that this has remained a memory that my Dad has not forgot. My thoughts of the ‘illusion’ are that this was the Messiahs way of saying that now was not my Dads time, hence he waved him on. A little on the silver lining and fluffy white cloud line of thinking but works for me and seemingly has worked well for my Dad.

The afternoon saw my Dad and I cook a Sunday meal ‘together’. Yep, both of us in the kitchen at the same time. The meal was great though with boulder sized potato chips, seasoned & perfectly cooked chicken and some veg to show our willingness at getting our 5 a day.

In the evening we just settled around the house and began to watch ‘The Life of Pi’. My dad then asked if we had any ‘chips’ to go with this. He’s pretty much never more than a heartbeat away from a wise crack though still amuses himself even if the rest of us do just roll our eyes.

Day 2 and the temperature surprisingly is not as warm in comparison to England as we had hoped. Its peaking at 15c which I get is much warmer than home but we wanted the tropics. It actually feels quite cold. So today we went to Alzira but thankfully not to have to visit the hospital. We instead went on a food/shopping mall adventure – man style! Each shop we stayed in for less than 5 minutes and pretty much knew if there was anything worth buying. None of this shop until they chuck you our malarkey. We dragged the time out though by calling in for a couple of coffee/tapas pit stops though this was also my canny way of making sure he was taking in some liquid rather than none at all.

This afternoon (Monday) sees me writing this blog, my Dad pottering around in the garden and David trying to breathe some life back into the cars dodgy steering. It’s quite nice doing normal mundane stuff without needing to make too much of each minute passing by. I think later we are heading into Canals for a late night wander round.

All in all though the time spent here so far has been good and if nothing else has given me a confidence booster as to how things are. In June my Dad was given a 6-12 months prognosis. We are close to 6 months now. In one sense I should be worried but I know some other friends who have gone through similar and 3-4 years later and life is still going on at a good standard.

I can’t really tell what the future holds for my Dad in terms of what’s next but I am extremely proud of him. His attitude, his energy and his sheer determination. He has battled through Chemo and Radiotherapy admirably and shown that whilst some side effects do creep in, they are not always guaranteed. It also goes to show that being strong on your own is one thing though having a strong sense of loyalty and love around you certainly helps to make the battle easier. My Dad loves his family and I can tell even now with just a couple of days apart my parents miss each other dearly. Absence does make the heart grow fonder and the time apart will be a good re-energiser for them both. For David & I though it’s T-Minus 4 days until the return!!! ;o)

A Good News Story – Blog 31

Cool

I delayed this blog a little as things continue to be fairly steady at the moment. Especially given the circumstances over the weekend across the water in France, it seemed there was enough news to digest without me whittling on. Then again Friday the 13th was not a good day for many places across the world if you believe all of what you are told. And that’s partly the problem as information is spoon fed and censored leading us to not really know what has happened, when or how.

Then I kind of thought that reporting on how good things are at the minute was probably a really great thing to do. As you know my Dad has been through an intense course of Lung Cancer Treatment. And whilst I appreciate this is just one person in a world of 7 billion – this one person happens to be a very loving father, husband, friend, brother, uncle, Grandad etc…

This one person dedicated his life to his family and didn’t really deserve being handed a death sentence. Then again, such is the way of life if it wasn’t my Dad it would have been somebody else.

My Dad’s battle is one of hope and courage. He continues to find the strength to regain an element of what his life was like before the Cancer struck. Over the last few days he has even been back into the garden helping to strim part of the plot. Granted the one stretch he did took about 7 times longer than it would have done previously but he did it. He took his time and ploughed on. Something I always said would happen. He does know his own body and mind and whilst he will need reigning in at times by those around him, he is doing well.

David & I are gearing up to take these reigns on Saturday for a few days. My mum whilst trusting us, does wonder what the three of will get up to in her absence. I’ve already pre warned her about the wild house party we have planned, the copious amounts of alcohol which he is not allowed and generally all the hard labour induced tasks that need doing that we will attack together…

Pretty sure the reality will be a little tamer than this but we are really looking forward to it. It also means that I will be able to provide a much greater insight too, again from my own personal take on things. The highs, the lows, the in-betweens, all of which will be un-censored.

P.S. Apologies for todays’ picture – this is my Dads ‘attempt’ at looking cool courtesy of Skype.

The Ripple Effect – Blog 30

Water

My Dad continues to do really well. It’s now been over a week since all the treatments concluded and life seems to have returned to some sense of normality for the Spanglish clan.

He even helped pick all the Oranges yesterday with Alan which whilst not being the most exhausting job, is no mean feat for someone who only a matter of months ago could not get out of bed. He did say that he was tired after though which is to be expected but he said it was a ‘good tired’. I’m quite jealous as I can’t remember the last time I was a ‘good tired’.

Communication with my parents is better these days too as I now speak to my mum mostly on Skype. Other than being free, the benefit of this is that I get to have a more real conversation with my family which helps keep the bond much stronger. It’s easy when you’re on just a phone call to only partly listen. I suppose this has its bad side though as I now have to intently listen to every word being said as my facial reactions can be seen….(only joking mother). It’s great though as I get to regularly see my parents without having to physically be there with them. Even my Dad is getting used to looking into the camera properly.

Yesterday’s funny quip was that my Mum asked if my Dad wanted anything bringing back from the UK when she visits later this month. My Dad just said for her to return would be enough. Eugh! Vomit inducing stuff but good to see he continues to have his sense of humour. Deep down though he is a softie but he won’t ever really admit this.

One bad thing though is that he is simply not drinking enough water. For anyone, water intake is key to a healthy body and mind. For my Dad it is crucial as the lack of water combined with everything else initially first saw him enter hospital.

So for anyone that is lucky enough to chat to my dad, see him in Spain etc… please tell him off. Whilst he is doing remarkably well and formal hospital treatment has concluded for the time being, his own treatment schedule must stay on course and simply drinking 2 litres of water a day is all that’s required. It literally could be a matter of life or death.

And in homage to my Dad here are some really terrible jokes to lighten the mood:

Joke 1: A man was caught stealing in a supermarket today while balanced on the shoulders of a couple of vampires. He was charged with shoplifting on two counts.

Joke 2: My cat was just sick on the carpet, I don’t think it was feline well.

Joke 3: How do you organize a space party? You planet.

Joke 4 drum roll please….

Q: What do you call a guy with no arms or legs floating in the water?

A: Bob.