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August 29th, 2013

Denial, and Family, and Hope

SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK

           Many years ago, I was awakened by a phone call to discover my father had suffered a heart attack.

           I said okay, that I would be at the hospital later that day – then I rolled over and went back to sleep.

           Too sleepy to process the information? Maybe, but I think it was mostly a case of denial. When it comes to medical stuff, denial is something we Hunter men are particularly good at.

           But time goes on, and reality intrudes. By the time we’ve seen our fourth or fifth specialist and half a dozen prescriptions, medical stuff becomes less something to deny, and more something to fear.

           When I got the call this time I was standing in the Trail of Tears State Park in Missouri. I’d just been on a scenic overlook, snapping photos of a spectacular Mississippi River and enjoying the attention our dog got from every single person who encountered him.

           Then the phone rang.

           My brother had been staying in contact more since earlier this year, when first I, then my sister-in-law, then my wife ended up in the emergency room for various reasons. I had no reason to think he was doing more than checking in.

           Instead, he called to tell me it was my father’s turn to be rushed to the emergency room, with pneumonia. It seemed a repeat of what happened to my grandmother over the winter. Pneumonia’s bad when you’re young; it’s often fatal when you’re old.

          

Oh, and there were also the lumps, in the area of his lymph nodes. By the time I got the call, doctors were already pretty sure he had cancer.Collapse )

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