What a year.
This was supposed to be my year.
When I first retired four years ago I spent a year being a caregiver to my younger brother who had colon cancer. It was a lot of driving him to doctors, radiation and chemotherapy. Lots and lots of waiting rooms. Once he passed I planned my year, then my mother got sick with lung cancer. A cancer that made no sense. After all, she had smoked for seventy years and it had never bothered her. Taking care of her was much more time consuming as she was an agoraphobic and couldn’t be left at chemotherapy. I had to sit there with her for the four to six hour treatments. After she passed I once again planned my year.
Before that year was to start my two aunts passed, both being around ninety. Then a couple coworkers died. I was tired of cancer and death. I was ready to restart my retired life and get on the bike.
I was able to get out in the Spring even though it was very wet. I had been on the trainer all Winter so I was ready. I got up one Saturday in late Spring and all of my obligations were done. My rental property was completely restored and all I had to do was get on the bike. I started eating breakfast and the doorbell rang. I answered it and a lady asked if I lived here. Yeah? She said she lived across the street and had backed into my truck. Did a lot of damage to one side of it. Oh well, things happen. No one was hurt and the insurance would take care of it. I went over and spent an hour talking to insurance people, taking photographs and doing the things adults do. It was still early so time to get on the bike.
As I walked across the street to come home I got a call from one of my younger brothers. He needed to go to the emergency room. Oh no. It was beginning.
For the past few years the family has been worried about him. He is an alcoholic and smokes heavily. I had stopped seeing him as it was too emotional to see him in the state he was in. I said I’d be right over.
I picked him up and he had a very large lump on the side of his throat and he was scared. They took him right in and quickly diagnosed him with cancer of the mouth. It had spread to his neck. We got an appointment with an oncologist for Monday, just two days away. There we got the bad news. He had multiple spots of cancer in his mouth and larynx. He had two choices. He could stop smoking and drinking immediately and start treatment or he could call hospice care. They gave him 30% chance of survival.
Things became complicated very quickly because he didn’t have insurance. Because of Obamacare he could have got it very cheap but didn’t do it. Now we had to see Social Workers along with the doctors. The social worker directed us to a local agency for people with drinking problems. They offered rehab facilities until they found out he had no insurance. Instead he would have to do it on his own at home.
He had no choice and immediately stopped drinking and smoking cold turkey. I stayed at his house during the day to make sure he got through and he did it. I was surprised. Then the work had to begin. Before they would start radiation he had to see a dentist which he hadn’t been to in years. I had dentist visits, social worker visits, oncologists, surgeons and chemotherapy doctors. Finally, before the actual treatment began he had to go Cleveland and get a feeding tube installed. Once the radiation began he would have trouble eating. His triplet brother and I took him there and after a long day it was done.
All summer I took him every day to radiation, once a week to chemotherapy, plus so many other doctors. Plus since he doesn’t drive also to the pharmacy and stores. It’s been exhausting for both of us. The radiation burned his throat so bad that he couldn’t eat and the chemotherapy made him nauseous and tired.
Tomorrow is his last radiation treatment and only two more chemotherapy treatments. He will have to have surgery in a few months but they expect him to recover.
I’m really impressed that he was able to turn his life around.
This took much more from me emotionally than I expected. I’ve seen too much death and far too much loss. Things will get better. I will be on the bike for the rest of the year, as long as the weather allows. Assuming no other major problem appears over the horizon next year will be my year. I have my fingers crossed.
September 28, 2015 at 8:50 pm
Wow, what a story! Lucky family to have such a givng guy to lean on. Wishing you wind at your back and no traffic on the roads. Will send good vibes your way.
October 29, 2015 at 12:52 pm
Oh wow! Your family is blessed to have you! You are doing such a good job for them. I hope you get to ride as much as you can. While your family has you to rely on, hopefully, you can rely on cycling to release some of the burden you have had to carry.