The result of illness can sometimes be grief. It’s great when that is not the case but, unfortunately, sometimes it is. I wrote an article about Grief and How to Help Loved Ones in their time of need during grief. As the person grieving, it can sometimes be hard to cope with something so unfamiliar to you.
In my case with my dad, my grief was and still is the result of a very horrific illness. The Grief Diaries will be a part of my healing process and hopefully will help others in theirs as well.
I’ve dealt with illness related to old age previously, but it was a gradual decline over the years. However, in this recent case with my father, it was anything but a gradual decline over the years. It was more like a high-speed train that started, never stopped, plowed us over and continued on its way toward its next victim.
My father was alway healthy. He didn’t always eat so healthy, but his eating habits weren’t horrible either. He was an old school meat and potatoes guy. He did drink his water, eat vegetables, take supplements, and was pretty active. He worked until he could no longer work due to his illness.
Dad and I had dinner every weekend. He would stop by my home often to bring me lunch or a fruit salad on his way home from running errands as well. I never went a week without seeing him because he lived so close to me.
Since he was so healthy, I never in my wildest dreams could ever picture him sick. Well, that would soon change.
Dad had been experiencing stomach issues for a while. We initially thought it was just a stomach bug. The stomach issues persisted until we realized it was a bit more serious. After a visit to the VA Hospital, we thought he would be fine after the diagnosis of Acid Reflux. Little did I know until a lot later that he was previously supposed to have some follow up tests to dig a bit deeper.
Upon leaving the VA Hospital, dad was fine for a while after taking the prescribed medications. The medication’s effectiveness didn’t last for long and had lots of undesirable side effects. Dad continued on about his life in spite of that. A few weeks passed and I had not seen him. This was due to the continued persistence of nausea and vomiting that was a result of what we thought was Acid Reflux.
I went to visit him because I was starting to get worried. He was rarely ever sick. When I saw him, I was startled at the weight loss and was immediately concerned. I felt a pain in my chest because I KNEW it was cancer. I kept my concern to myself and started to think of ways to get him back to the doctor. I was also thinking that I may need to move into my house.
I talked him into going to a different hospital and through the ER. There were tests, blood work, and they gave him medicine to make him feel better. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop because I KNEW it was cancer. I initially thought it was pancreatic cancer.
Then it happened. A team of doctors sat down with the news. Stomach cancer was the diagnosis. I looked at dad, and then back to the doctors and thought, “this can’t be real.” Even though I KNEW he had cancer, I KNEW that’s what I would hear. I still thought, “This can’t be real.”
The doctors stared as us because we both had blank expressions on our faces. I’m pretty sure we were both in shock. The doctors had recommendations. However, I still don’t remember what they said. I do remember them looking at us oddly because we did not react.
This moment on this day, forever changed my life.
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