To begin with I must tell you that, though it's early doors, things are looking good. I hate it when people have something a bit dramatic to tell a cove and string out the story without revealing the very crucial outcome until the very end. It's all well and good if you're a Larsson or a Le Carre doing your best to weave a good thrilling yarn with a cunning twist appearing out of nowhere at the second from last paragraph.
But, when you're told that so and so has had a heart attack, most people really want to know the outcome, then the messenger can give the details about the way the ambulance driver farted when he turned right at the roundabout.
As you know it wasn't a heart attack, it's cancer. And there was no farting ambulance driver either.
My Dad's now going through chemotherapy for the Myeloma. It's a five to six month programme and we're only about halfway through the first cycle, with each cycle lasting about four weeks.
As we (his family) see it there are two elements to the illness. One is to reduce and manage the short term pain he's in, which has been severe when it's been at its worst and pretty bad even at its best. The second is to hope that the chemo will be successful enough for him to be classed as being in remission, as Myeloma doesn't get cured but can be controlled; our ultimate objective.
We've had to adjust things in our lifestyles quite dramatically and I must admit that has been hard at times, though much harder for my Mum than for anyone else. Sri Lankan mothers, as you will probably know, are a unique breed. Unique in the sense that they're all the same in so many ways.
A Sri Lankan mother who's a Doctor combines the controlling matriarchal aspects of a Lankan mother with the controlling characteristics of a Doctor. When things are bad it's heady mix. Occasionally the mixture of these rather powerful and often overwhelming attributes is useful and needed.
And when your Dad gets cancer is a prime exampl of when it's needed! The old girl has gone into full battle and lock down the hatches mode, which might actually be two modes. Sometimes, for the rest of us, it's a bit of a pain but for most of the time it's a blessing. The old man's got twenty four hours a day care, in fact sometimes more than that.
Me and my brothers are trying our best with differing levels of input and availability. We all work, have families, wives and partners and things and have to do the best we can to juggle our priorities. Seeing my Dad, on an emotional level alone, has become much more important. Seeing him and my Mum on a practical level is also now much more needed.
There are weekly visits to the Royal Marsden hospital to be helped with and there are practical things around the house that we've now had to get more involved in as my Dad isn't physically fit enough to deal with them.
The short term pain does seem to be getting better, but it's slow progress. If I was to plot a pain graph I reckon it would show a line that was reducing at a gradual and definite rate, but with many peaks and troughs on it as it progressed. We're told that he overall improvement in his pain is caused by a combination of the chemo drugs themselves and the pain management medication and the respective dosages vary according to many factors.
There are days when he has to take quite literally twenty or thirty tablets and others when things are quieter. But a "quiet" medication day for him is still what most people would consider a busy day, even the average pharmacist.
Last week we were told that his "count" was down to eight. It had been fourteen the week before and twenty eight prior to that. I'm a bit hazy on the twenty eight bit, but sure on the other two, as well as certain that the aim is to get to a big fat zero. Exactly what count it is I know not. The important thing for me is that things at this stage are good, that the Doctors have said the figures are better than expected.
One of the nice things about the situation is that their house is busier than Clapham Junction and Fort Railway station put together on most days, which they love. Every time I go there I hear stories of who's called, who visited yesterday and who I just missed. A and K have been visiting far more than usual and their mother has been extremely supportive by taking them and visiting too.
C was here for a few weeks and I did have a passing thought that we might bump into the ex wife while visiting, but figured that if it happened it happened and that it's an event that will occur at some point anyhow.
It's a lovely thing to see all the love for my parents from all their friends and family, though me and the brothers have made an attempt to stagger our visits in order to help deal with practical things rather than create a boom and bust scenario.
The adjustments have been many. They live in a three storey town house with their bedroom on the third floor and have had to move to the ground floor as he can't manage the stairs yet. My Mum now has to do all the cooking, something that he used to do a lot of. They had a big trip planned in November, to Australia and the motherland, but have had to cancel that as it will be whilst he's still having chemo.
But I think one has to approach things like this with pragmatism, to just try and get on with life while doing what's needed.
In a situation that's a quite a bummer, yet could be worse, we're doing pretty damn well.
And that my friends is where we are. Thank you so much for the messages of kindness and support, they mean a lot.