Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Mental Mill

Foremost on my mind today is the cancer which is growing daily in my step-father's abdomen. Resistant to radiation and chemotherapy, the mass has reached its tentacles of new blood vessels beyond the pancreas, encapsulating crucial abdominal blood vessels, siphoning off his very lifeblood for its own parasitic purposes. Cancer is truly cell growth gone beserk, and the cells just keep multiplying as he becomes less and less comfortable, and more and more fatigued.

Now, a clinical trial is on the horizon, with the promise of an experimental drug to stop the tumor's growth of new blood vessels, also known as "angiogenesis". These clinical trials are often the last stop in terms of known therapies for patients still looking for cure or treatment, and we have illusions that it will buy us much more than few months. But who knows? Miracles do indeed happen.

As the "family nurse", it's a challenge to know when to turn off my "nurseness" and simply be a son. I am constantly wondering about treatment options, resuscitation status, hospice referrals, funeral arrangements, symptom management. The son in me worries most for my mother, her future as a widow, where she will go and what she will do after these thirty years of marriage. I have walked many families through this journey. Now I'm on the other side of the equation and it is testing my mettle.

It is all excellent fodder for therapy, and some very coarse grist for the proverbial mill. They say that God (or The Universe, if you will) never gives us more than we can handle at any given time. If that's so, I want to say to whoever makes that determination that I have plenty of grist right now, thank you. My mental mill is working overtime, and no additional stressors are welcome at this time. Will my request for a reprieve be heeded? Only time will tell.
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