January 26

Another great day over here. Dad woke up and had a good breakfast with mom, Dave, and Bob (they all tend to wake up sometime around / shortly after 5am, so I catch them after these early morning adventures). Mom headed out around 7am, just about when the four of us began spending time next to the fire. 

Dad’s energy continues to follow a positive slope: he was enthusiastic, emotionally available, and ready to get the show on the road by around 8am. We had a long list of things to do: beard trim, Patagonia, bike shop, Stanford shopping center, and a trip to Santa Clara Valley Hospital (to pick up the huge bag of books that somehow got lost in translation in one of the many transfers from ICU to rehab to ICU to transitional care to Stanford). 

Increased emotional and physical energy facilitate an important opportunity for dad to become more independent with basic self-care needs. Today and yesterday, we worked on getting him more comfortable with getting himself undressed and changed into clean clothes, using the toilet on his own, and navigating from wheelchair to chair to rug to bed more independently. Today, with some serious undivided focus, he was able to unbutton his shirt. He asked for help with getting dressed, but was able to move more fluidly. 

Other changes: dad has been asking us to teach him how to do some of the new tasks that have come up. For example, we just picked up a new coffee maker with individual packets of coffee for easy production. Dad drinks coffee throughout the day, so the machine solved the ongoing problem of having to measure out fresh grinds and water each time dad wanted coffee. He asked us to teach him how to use the machine, and is close to being able to make his own cup whenever he likes. 

Anyways, after getting dad dressed and caffeinated, he and I headed to University Avenue to get some of the errands out of the way. Bob and Dave took on the arduous task of fetching the books from Santa Clara (really, this place will never go into part of our past. There is an ongoing list of tasks that connect us to this dreary place). Because of how comfortable dad has been with his walking, Dad and I decided to ditch the wheelchair at home, and set off for University Ave without it. After parking, we walked to his local barber shop for his beard trim. This barber shop is one of those stereotypical places you’d imagine a barber shop to be. Dad sat there with the long line of men waiting to be trimmed by their favorite barber. In other words, this place is quite the scene. I imagine it was really good for dad to sit there with the crew and shoot the shit for awhile.)

He was happy with the beard trim, but his energy was crashing. We decided to make a pit stop at the Gyro place next door to the barber shop. We shared an early lunch together, and I was really struck by how vital he was. Last week, spending time with dad felt a lot like spending time with someone who was on their phone for the duration of time together: he was unfocused, constantly zoning in and out, and not the same person who I know him to be. Today, although he may have been tired, he was definitely mentally available to whatever I felt like bringing up. For me, and (I imagine) dad, this weekend has felt very enriching, and a nice escape from the complete exhaustion of the previous weeks. It might be a good time for loved ones to reach out and call him up – he’s spending more time awake and has more energy available for conversation. 

After gyros, dad was zapped and ready to get back in front of the fire. Poor Bob and Dave had no success with fetching the books, unfortunately using up some of their kindly donated time to Santa Clara for nothing (really, the Santa Clara missions never end!). Back at home, dad and I were greeted by Steve. (I say this everyday, but it makes the difference to have a full house.) Dad made himself some coffee, and headed back to his hospital bed to rest for awhile. 

Mom and dad headed out around 2pm to pick up Charlie, my mom’s brother, from the airport. Charlie has kindly donated a large chunk of time to help with things around the house. It will be nice to have him around for the next week and a half. 

He’s been on the upswing the last few days. I imagine this could be explained by a combination of things: newfound excitement about his visitors, acclimation to the radiation and chemo (if there is such a thing), and maybe the treatment is temporarily shrinking a bit of the tumor (haven’t heard this for sure yet from the oncologist / radiologist, so this may be pure conjecture). Whatever the explanation, it’s been really wonderful to have dad back. 

A shout-out to Dave and Bob, who have been staying with us for the weekend: it’s been so wonderful to have the two of them around the house. They bring in a constant and supportive presence into the house, and soothe dad in a beautiful way. Dad remarked how good it’s been to have such historic friendships around while all this is going on. Personally, I’ve loved having the extra company. Plus Dave helped me fix up one of our old bikes, so I’m a doubly appreciative. I’m sad to see Dave head off tomorrow, happy to have Bob stick around, and grateful for their kind visit this weekend.

Tomorrow he heads back to radiation at 9am. I hope to get in a walk outside with him, but will wait and see how he’s feeling tomorrow morning. 

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