This Labor Day weekend didn't pan out like we wanted. I'm telling all of this here for my family and friends, so they will know what happened.
Saturday afternoon, my mother called to tell me my father was in the hospital. I was shocked, but not surprised. Dad hasn't been feeling well for months. He has had digestion issues, and twice that I know of, he's been suffering from bowel obstructions. This time he had one again, and he surrendered and let Mom take him to North Memorial in Maple Grove to the Emergency Room.
Sunday, Mom called to say Dad would be having surgery. She added, "Your Dad has colon cancer." I felt the blood drain down to my feet. His sister, Colleen, had colon cancer. She lived with a colostomy bag for the rest of her life, which ended way too soon last year in August. I got ready and Alex and I went to the hospital to see him.
Dad didn't look good. He was in pain, and still trying to pass the obstruction. The doctors had a large bottle of clear liquid with some pineapple flavoring that he was supposed to drink by the end of the day to help things along. We didn't stay long so Dad could rest. My brother, Andy, and his lovely wife, Lisa, drove all the way to Minnesota from Oklahoma and arrived on Monday.
Monday, Dad was scheduled for surgery, but it was post-poned to Tuesday. We saw Dad at the hospital and he was looking better than I'd seen him in months. He was smiling, drinking coffee and sitting on the edge of the hospital bed. I was hopeful, this might actually turn out okay. Please God, let this turn out okay.
Tuesday, surgery day, I called my very understanding employer and told them what was going on, and that I would not be in and why. I was there with Mom, Kelley, Andy, Lisa and Alex. Alex and I had a busy day already because Tuesday was the day his pins came out of his hand. He called it a "declawing" and now I can't call him "Wolverine" anymore. It was a relief, for both of us.
The surgeon, Dr. Kern, was a striking resemblence to my cousin, Nick, Jr. He explained in plain English what he was going to do and how, and what his goals were, best case and worst case. I imagined him in a uniform as a military surgeon, like he just got home from Iraq or Afghanistan and walked right back into performing surgery on civilians. Dr. G.I.Joe.
Mom all through this was shaking, all the time. She wasn't going to be distracted by anything or anyone. She couldn't take her mind off of what was happening. Neither could I. I don't think anyone of us has slept right or eaten right or paid much attention to anything the last few days.
The surgery started around 2:10 p.m. and it was over when Dr. Kern walked out at 3:40 p.m. to explain how things went. Better than expected. Dad was able to keep his spleen, no colostomy bag, and Dr. Kern was able to sew together both pieces of his colon and he took the mass they found, and a few lymph nodes to send for testing for cancer. We should hear by Friday, September 10th, what the results are. As he left, and walked out of the lobby, Mom collapsed into tears.
"It's over, it's over, it's finally over," she sobbed into her hands. We all gathered around Mom, hugging her and crying.
Before Dad went to surgery that day, I looked at his board. It tells his name, the date, the name of his doctor, etc. Down a little lower, it reads: "Goal for Today".
Dad wrote: "Live."
Mission Accomplished, Dad. Mission Accomplished.
Those of you out there reading this, please, if you are not feeling yourself, or if you have a high risk of colon cancer or prostate cancer in your family history, don't let economics get in the way of your health. If you have to beg, borrow or steal, or sell a few things, please, get your colonoscopy exam after age 50. Get your mammograms and your pap smears. Don't die of embarrassment or because you think you can't afford it.
Goal for Today: Live.