February 11

I feel happy to share that dad walked on the treadmill for 40 minutes today. An unexpected and proud ‘welcome home’ for me. Dad started the week off somewhere between powerwalking and jogging – a happy pace for someone who is still a bit wobbly from surgery. 

It always feels like so much happens day to day, so catching up on a week will be challenging. Some of the major movements in the works are: getting dad involved in a clinical trial at Duke. Specifically, we’re hoping to enroll dad in a trial at Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center (PRTBTC) at Duke University. This effort is due to my mom’s efforts, for which she should be recognized. We will accompany dad to Duke when his treatment wraps up, which will be sometime in March. There he will be evaluated by the doctors and nurse practitioners to determine if he’ll be a good fit for the trial. The trials sound very interesting: injecting the tumors with polio virus to delay the growth of the cancer, among other trials at Duke. Check out this website for more information: http://www.cancer.duke.edu/btc/modules/leadershipmain20/

In other news, our dear friend Bob Wilkie headed back to Washington after spending three weeks out here with us. Words don’t touch on how appreciative I am of Bob for his generous stay. We all loved having him around, especially dad. Bob was incredibly perceptive, and also willing to take dad wherever he wanted to go: San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Mountain View for ramen or pho, Half Moon Bay, among other of my dad’s favorite spots in the area. Dad is so fortunate to have Bob as his friend, and I feel lucky to have been able to spend that time with him. Bob was smooth when tensions were high in the house, and I found his presence immensely comforting.

Now the house is back to normal, or whatever you’d call normal considering this constant state of flux: Mom, dad, and I at the house. I got back from Boston late last night. When I woke up this morning, dad had lit the fire and was up walking around making coffee. I was taken aback by his strength and agility. Mom and Bob took dad to get his head shaven, so that he didn’t continue to lose his hair all over the place. Aside from a shaven head and a different demeanor, he resembled the dad I grew up watching romp around the kitchen making coffee and lighting the fire in the mornings. 

There are important deficits and differences, but today I was very struck by how much more strength and precision he had developed in his left hand. Today he was more comfortable moving his hand and fingers around. Though he still struggled with two hand jobs, such as opening plastic bags, the improvement from last week was striking. I mentioned how strong he appeared, which he really appreciated. Like anything, it’s hard to see how much you’ve improved when you’re so stuck in the day to day trials and errors of your own life. 

Other things: dad was very conversational today. We did a fair bit of driving together (pho lunch with Bob and Melissa (Bob’s wife), heading to the gym for dad’s workout and shower), and spent the time we had talking and catching up. Granted, the conversations still feel different, but I appreciated his relatively greater availability in our conversation. 

Dad is also far more self-sufficient these days. Bob, Melissa, and I were able to leave dad napping at home while the three of us picked up some groceries. This felt like a huge change, since before I left Boston dad required 24/7 supervision. I know he appreciates the freedom, as do we!

It was nice to be back with dad today. It was hard to be away from him this past week, and I’m happy to see him so full of energy today. 

Until tomorrow, I send off peace to each of you!

With gratitude,

Mikaela

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