Monday, March 25, 2013

Last Night in Gympie

This is my last night in Gympie for this trip. Mrs Holt Press and I are planning to be back in June when I have three weeks holiday and Dad is due to have surgery.
Things have gone well. I've taken on chauffeur/support duties while Vicki has been able to stay home and rest the last week. With no treatment over the weekend things were pretty quiet for all of us.
On Saturday we drove down to Tin Can Bay and had lunch with Dad's good friends Ken and Jackie. It was very pleasant and peaceful sitting by the water and sharing stories, laughs and good company.
On Sunday morning Vicki and I had a browse around the Southside markets before finding our way to The Palms for a look at where Pop first lived when he moved to Gympie.
In the afternoon I got busy in the back yard, whipper-snipping and then trimming the bamboo which has been a bone of contention with one of Dad's neighbours. With another neighbour's help I tidied it up and we took a trailer load to the tip. By the end of that exertion I was hot, sweaty and slightly sunburnt but satisfied with my efforts.

After the first week of radiation and chemotherapy Dad is holding up very well. So far there have been none of the "usual" side-effects: no nausea, no vomiting, no hair-loss (although with the latter it would be hard to tell). We are glad about that and hopeful it will continue. About the only symptom of the treatment so far is that Dad feels lethargic a lot of the time.
I've enjoyed spending the time driving Dad down to Maroochydore each day. Our conversations have ranged far and wide and been laced with laughter and reminiscences.
Today was particularly busy because as well as the radiation we had appointments for blood tests, PICC dressing, wound dressing, stoma condition, chemo canister changeover and to see Dr Alex, Dad's oncologist. In the midst of all that and because it took about an hour and a half longer than we'd anticipated, we forgot to move the car in the 3 hour car park and came back to find that the friendly parking inspector had left us a note just 10 minutes before we got there!
Pop took it in his stride and we went and had some lunch before driving home to Gympie.

By this time tomorrow night I'll be airborne and heading back to Victoria.
I start work at 6 o'clock Wed morning so I hope the flight is not delayed.

My Favourite Daughter will pick me up from Tullamarine. She turned 24 yesterday! 
It is hard to believe she's that old already. She is a beautiful young woman with a lovely spirit, a generous heart and a creative streak which she puts to use in her photography and her art and craft. I love her more than words can say.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Reporting From Gympie

I'm back in Queensland to visit Dad for a week. Vicki is back here too after a brief return home to visit her new house. This means we can share the load a bit in helping to look after Dad. His radiation treatment and chemotherapy started on Monday and will run for 28 sessions in all, which with weekends and Easter will take it up until the end of April.
Treatment involves driving down to the radiation clinic at Maroochydore each day, about a 90 minute trip each way, and occasional trips to Gympie and Nambour hospitals. Thankfully there have been no unpleasant side-effects yet and dad is managing the travel and treatment regime very well. We are all aware that it may get difficult and unpleasant as it progresses so we are enjoying the ease of this phase with gratitude. I had my first lesson (hands-on) in changing his colostomy bag today which wasn't quite as confronting in reality as it had been in my imagination. Dad has adjusted to it very well and the whole process is handled with a minimum of fuss.
Me being here meant that Vicki could take the day off and stay home today which is a welcome relief for her. I'll take driver/companion duties for the next few days while I'm here. I fly back to Victoria on Tuesday afternoon and return to work at 6 o'clock Wed morning.
Wed night I "receive" my Christmas present when I achieve a long-held ambition: to see Bruce Springsteen in concert, at Rod Laver Arena. I have been a big fan of The Boss since the early 80's but this is the first chance I've had to see him live.

I have 11 days off work in total and on the weekend just gone Jordy and I hired a truck and drove up to Mum's place at Tatong to collect the remainder of Vicki's furniture etc. The trip went well and Jordy was a great help and good company. He liked Mum's place and even said he might go back up on his own for a visit.

Over the last few weeks I have been collecting old railway sleepers from a railway stockpile (with permission) and bringing them home to cut up for firewood. I burnt out the motor of the powersaw I bought on ebay because the wood is too hard so I've graduated and bought myself a chainsaw! Woohoo! (Imagine Manly grunts and gestures). With an abundance of good quality firewood for the winter not only should the notoriously poikilothermic Mrs Holt Press stay warm but we might be able to sell off a couple of trailer-loads of firewood as well. Jordy and I will split the workload and the profits on the venture.

Finally I can't blog without saying how much I'm looking forward to the return of the footy season with the opening game tomorrow night. The Summer hiatus is almost over. Bring it on.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Medical Update

Despite my best intentions, my blogging has become spasmodic again. If you are one of my loyally persistent readers, thank you for your patience.

I am currently suffering a broken toe, the 2nd toe on my right foot. I have no idea how I broke it, I have no memory of doing anything bad to it, either accidentally or on purpose. But it HURTS!
There is no correlation between the size of the toe and the level of pain it is generating. It hurts BAD!
And it seems that in the exhaustive annals of medical science, there is no treatment for a broken toe!

But enough of my whingeing.

My Dad is having a much tougher time than I am.
On Monday he starts 4-6 weeks of intensive radiation and chemotherapy treatment on the cancer in his bowel. Then follows a "recovery" period before further surgery to (hopefully) remove the tumour. The op is planned for early June. The whole saga has been very difficult already and is probably going to get worse before it gets better. Dad has always said "I've never been sick a day in my life". Sadly that has all changed drastically.
At the moment my big brother Alan is staying in Gympie to help look after him which has allowed Vicki to come home for a break, and to "settle" into her new home in Leopold. Jordy and I are taking a truck up to Mum's place at Tatong on the weekend to collect the last of Vicki's furniture.
She is going back up to Queensland on Saturday night and will tag team with Alan as he returns to WA Sunday night.
Then I am flying up on Tuesday arvo and will stay for a week as Dad commences the treatment.
None of us knows how Dad will react to the treatment but we're anticipating it will be pretty bad. 
Hopefully Vicki and I can support him and one another as it gets underway.
My little brother Bruce is going up for a week in April to help share the load which is falling primarily on Vicki. Dad is not rapt about being the centre of attention as he hates to be a "burden". Needless to say we don't see it as a burden, rather it is our responsibility and our desire to care for our Dad when he needs it most. Happily I have several weeks of holidays and time-off I can take as needed. I have holidays in June and Carolyn and I were going up to Queensland alread. Now we'll be able to be there in the post-op recovery period.

On behalf of Dad let me say thank you for the many get well wishes and prayers that have been expressed for him.

Pic taken a couple of days after the first operation, in Nambour Hospital

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Bad Day For Aussie Cricket