Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Friday, April 06, 2007


For the last couple of months, my father's been convinced he's dying. His long-time girlfriend and I have been convinced he's insane. Since he's bipolar and medicated to his gills, it's not a real stretch to be convinced of the latter. And we are, of course, right.

But so is he.

Turns out that despite some negative enzyme test several weeks ago, he does indeed have the pancreatic cancer he has been convinced he has. He's been waiting for this diagnosis since he was 52, the age at which his father died of pancreatic cancer. (Thanks for THAT genetic legacy, dad. First bipolar, now two generations of pancreatic cancer. Fun.) He's been convinced of this diagnosis for the past five weeks, during which he's dropped over 40 pounds (off of an I-figure-it's-gotta-be-nearly-300-pound frame, but still...) and complained constantly of severe pain. Since this is the man who taught me how to be a hypochondriac ("but I HAVE THINGS!"), it's not surprising we didn't really believe him.

I feel a little bit like shit for that.

The cancer is in his pancreas and in his colon and, considering the complaints he had a few months back where he was convinced he'd had a stroke and was having trouble walking, possibly in his brain as well. He's had symptoms for five weeks. The average survival time for pancreatic cancer (which is more than 99% fatal, the deadliest of the cancers) is three to four months from diagnosis. The cancer is not only not operable, it's not treatable; they sent him home today after the doctor appointment in which he was told about his cancer with pain killers and a promise of home hospice care when (not if) he needs it. (Thank god for the VA benefits he gets.) He's going to be 69 in August. The chances of him seeing that birthday are exceptionally slim.

I have a lot to say about this, and I'm sure I'll say it all eventually, but for now, I'm going to be selfish and narcissistic and make this all about me and myyyyyyy neeeeeeeeeds and mmmmmyyyyyyyyyyy feeeeeeeeeelings and say only that I'm learning something, um, interesting/pathological about myself from this. My one and only reaction to this news has been to spiral immediately into a full-blown, physical-only panic attack. It's obvious that my body has now programmed itself to take any and all strong emotions--depression, fear, grief, confusion, indifference, whatever--and turn them into panic. How fucked up is that? (Rhetorical question...)

So, next up: Book a flight to NYC sometime in the next couple of weeks to see him/say goodbye to him, maybe/take care of business. I'm purported to be the executor of his will, but nobody is quite sure that he actually HAS a will. Of course, that's OK, because he also doesn't have an estate. All he has, best I know, is debt. Oh, and ex-wives who hate him. And children who don't speak to him. And family members who have written him off.

Don't you want to be a fly on the wall at THIS funeral? I do...but mostly that's because I don't want to have to deal directly with people I cut out of my life and heart over 20 years ago.

I may not know exactly how I feeeeeeel right now, but I do know one thing: This sucks.

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