Caregiver Rollercoaster

It has been a bear of a week.

We had some health scares which sent my emotions running down the same dark road that was reminiscent of those trying times I traversed with my mom. Dad has always been the strong and healthy one. At 78, he still volunteers regularly, doing gardening and other tasks around the Okinawan Center and occasionally helps maintain the church grounds. He walks the dog three times a day. I thought surely I would find some reprieve from the medical drama, at least for a while.

He complained of a sharp abdominal pain in his lower left side. His appetite hasn’t been the same ever since Mom passed away and he seemed to have less energy than usual. When he mentioned these symptoms to the doctor, he ordered a CT scan. We didn’t expect to find anything, but when the doctor called me to schedule a follow-up MRI, I was concerned. They had found a 2.5 cm “something” near his pancreas. The doctor said he could either give me the results of his MRI on the phone or we could schedule an appointment. I stated that I preferred to receive a phone call. “What if I have to tell you it’s cancer? Would you be okay with hearing that over the phone?”

Ugh, the “C” word. I told him,  yes, I would prefer to have the news sooner rather than later.

Google can be your best friend or worst enemy. I should never google possible medical conditions. I discovered that pancreatic cancer has one of the worst survival rates and prognosis generally not good. I shed tears over the possibility that Dad might have cancer. His MRI was scheduled for Friday, Sept. 14 and I prayed at every opportunity for him. Actually, praying is probably not even the best way to describe it. I pleaded. I begged. I cried out to God. In spite of uncertain circumstances, I know He is always in control.

Dad’s blood pressure had been consistently running on the low end of the scale. Not dangerously low, but low enough that the doctor felt that reducing his blood pressure medication would be a good idea. So, he instructed us to cut the dose in half.

About a week later, I started seeing Dad’s blood pressure trending upward. From numbers in the 118/54 range to pressures that started going 150 and above. On Thursday afternoon, his blood pressure topped 213/70. I called his doctor and took him to the Emergency Room where they gave him 20 MG Lisinopril (same Rx he had been taking) and had him wait until it kicked in. When his systolic pressure reading was under 170, they released him. We spent about 4 hours in the ER that night.

The funny thing is that Dad’s fantastic ER nurse Sunny recognized me from my blog. What a small world! 🙂

The following morning his blood pressure was back up to 190’s, we saw his primary care physician and he changed his blood pressure medication. After that visit, we went straight to the hospital to get his MRI.

The time between the MRI and the doctor’s phone call was brief, perhaps only about two hours. From the sound of the doctor’s greeting on the phone, I surmised that he had good news for me. And he did. The “something” they saw was not a tumor. It was a blood vessel. Harmless. No cancer!


Instant relief. I thanked the doctor profusely and gave Dad the awesome news.

Now, we are just trying to stabilize his blood pressure. His numbers were good this morning. I am just praying that the new meds do not give him any side effects or drop his pressure too low.

If nothing else, this was a wake up call to cherish every day with my loved ones. Life is too short. Our days are numbered. Let us not waste a single one.

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Dancing in my heart

Hubby was away, traveling in Texas with family to celebrate a significant accomplishment for his niece. Lil’ K and I kept each other company and snuggled in bed together. She laid her head on my chest and said, “Mama! I hear Baba dancing in your heart!”

My Mom loved dancing, but never danced herself. One of my fondest memories of my toddlerhood was when Mom, then a housewife, would play her LPs on the record player for me. Anything from traditional Okinawan music, Hawaiian music, to patriotic marching tunes would keep me occupied for a while, dancing and twirling in the living room.

She saw my love for music and dancing early on and enrolled me in Okinawan dancing at age 5 and hula lessons several years later. She was always my biggest fan, whenever I got onstage, whether it was for a recital or just a spontaneous round of kachaashii. Whenever I dance, onstage, around the yagura during obon, or in the livingroom with Lil’ K, I think of Mom and her profound influence on me. And how much I miss her.

But now, she is dancing in heaven. And, forever in my heart. It is so wonderful that Lil’ K can hear her footfalls in my heartbeat.

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Bible Banter

After a late night, we were headed home. It was past 10:00 p.m. and clearly past Lil’ K’s bedtime. She was excitedly talking about her plans for her birthday party. (Which we haven’t yet planned or decided on yet.)

“I need to make drawings to give away to everyone who comes,” she said. “I will make one when we get home.”

“When we get home, all we need to do is go to bed. It’s very late.”

“No, Mom. I need to make a picture.”

“K… it’s bedtime. You can do it tomorrow.”

“MOM, listen to me. I need to make a picture.”

“K, remember… ‘children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.'” I quoted their “C” Bible verse from school.

“Well, Mom… the other Bible verse says, ‘All have sinned and come short of the glory of God,'” she recited her “A” Bible verse. “And right now, I’m sinning.”


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Pay the bills

Lil’ K’s preschool teacher related a funny story to me.

In class, children were asking the teacher questions. One of them was, “why do you work here?”

And Lil’ K piped up and said, “to pay the bills!”

She was amused by the answer, but agreed that it was true! 🙂

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