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Kansas


So I’ve been out in Kansas all week since my Grandpa has been sick.  I wanted to come out and see him, and my work was awesome enough to let me work from here for the week so I could come spend some time with him and the rest of my family out here.  All of my extended family live in Kansas, my parents and my aunt (mom’s sister) are the only ones who live out of the state.  The entire family on both sides goes back many generations of attending KU and being Jayhawks, and have a long line of being technical engineers of one form or another (my brother carries on this tradition at least).

 

Anyway, my grandfather, who I’m named after (Charles is my middle name and his first name)  has got prostate cancer that has moved into his bones, and he’s just not doing well at all right now.  It has spread throughout most of his body, even into his jaw making it hard for him to eat or drink anything because his jaw is completely numb.  At Christmas time, he was around 175 pounds, and just since then he has decreased to nearly 130 because he just isn’t able to eat enough to survive.  We helped him get a new electric bed and chair set up in the living room and bed room that raise and lower to help him stand up, and some days he’s been feeling well enough to sit around and talk with us for a while.  Other days it seems hard enough for him to just move from his bed to the living room.  It’s been extremely hard seeing him like this in such poor condition because he has always been such a badass.

 

My grandfather came from nothing, extremely poor roots, and worked his ass of his entire life to end up  being an extremely successful petroleum engineer and farmer.  One of the most knowledgeable and down to earth people I know.  He served his country in WWII (both of my grandfathers did), and I consider him a hero.  He was stationed in the Pacific, and fought the Japanese on many of those islands, ended up being a Staff Seargent before the war ended.  I have always looked up to this man just because he was one of the most honest, self made, grassroots badasses I have ever known.  I’m just so thankful to have had him and all of my grandparents in my life for nearly 30 years, and it breaks my heart to see him in such bad shape.

 

I’ll never forget for the rest of my life going in to his bedroom to help my grandma get him in bed so he could rest, and he had laid down in bed with his feet sticking off the end.  We needed to get him to slide up a bit so his feet would be comfortable, and the only way to do this was to put a sheet underneath him so we could grab that and slide him up.  But just the small pressure of moving him and sliding him up the bed hurt him so much he was yelling with pain.  It just completely broke my heart to see such a strong man so frail and in so much pain.  I just hope to god that he can at least not suffer any more.

 

One of the hardest things this week was getting him on hospice care.  My grandmother recently (last year) had a fall and broke her hip.  She is fine and fully healed, but ever since then she is not very stable and can’t support herself that well.  It just isn’t safe to have her trying to help him walk around and get in and out of bed, and in the shower.  So we really made the right decision bringing in additional care with a hospice company, but it was unbearably hard seeing my strong, proud, grandfather come to terms with the fact that he now needs this help.  They were interviewing him and asked him all sorts of questions about his current state, and when they asked him if he felt that his life was valuable and worthwhile, he replied that he didn’t really feel that way.  He has always been a strong, and independent man, and it’s so hard for him to realize that he can’t do much on his own anymore and he needs the help of others to do just the most basic tasks.  I think overall, it was the right decision and at least he will get the care and dedication that he needs in order to live a comfortable life from here on out, but it was a really hard decision to make for everyone.  It was very hard watching my mom interact with him and for her to see her father in such bad shape.

 

It wasn’t all bad, however, as Evan and I got to spend a lot of quality time with grandpa, and talked with him for hours.  He’s so interesting and knowledgeable about just about everything, that when we were asking him about some lamps that made out solid blocks of wood on a lathe, he really wanted to get up and take us into his office to show some of the pieces he had carved.  Even though it caused him so much pain just to get up and walk into the other room, he just wanted so badly to go in there and show us.  We talked with him about everything: farming, engineering, oil drilling, woodworking…it was great and definitely conversations that I will hold with me for the rest of my life.

 

Leaving was the hardest part knowing that I might not ever see him again.  But at least I left knowing that I got to spend some time with him and have awesome memories that will never leave me.

 

Me, Mom, Evan, Grandpa

Me, Mom, Evan, Grandpa

 

Me, Grandpa, Evan

Me, Grandpa, Evan

 

It has been really hard coming home to being alone and realizing I have no one here  for me to go through this.  I haven’t really lost anyone close to me like this before, and it’s as hard as when my mom was going through cancer.  I mean, I have my family and my brother close by, but ever since Jess up and left, it’s really hard at night sleeping alone and having all these horrible thoughts on your mind and no one to talk to about it at 3am when you can’t stop thinking about all of it.  Fuck.  I just feel extremely alone and unwanted that sometimes I’m not sure how in the world I managed to screw up getting engaged to the woman I thought would love me for the rest of my life.  It’s very sad and confusing to me.  Nothing to do but to move on I suppose.

 

The trip was great though, and gave me a lot to think about.  I managed to be able to go visit my grandpa’s farm, which holds so many memories from me growing up.  Every trip to Kansas from my childhood featured a trip to his 100+ acre farm, and I just remember running all around there, driving tractors, swimming, fishing, exploring, running through cornfields, and having so much fun.  Evan and I got to go out there with our cousin Billie and mowed all the lawn around the farmhouse for grandpa so that it would be easier to walk around there.  He was able to make a trip out to the farm too with a friend of his, and was actually able to get out and walk around the property to check on things, which I know made him so happy because that farm has been his passion for the past 40 years.

 

The Farm House

The Farm House

 

The Shed

The Shed

 

Evan and I also managed to get his old farm truck running.  “Old Blackie” was an awesome truck, a 1970 dodge pickup with a ’68 hood and an inline slant 6.  We all remember driving around sitting in the bed of this truck when we were little kids.  It has been sitting out at the farm for a number of years, so evan and i wrenched on it a bit and got it fired up and drove her around for a bit.  All it needs is a new battery to get back on the road.  Such a cool truck, I would love to restore it someday!

 

Old Blackie

Old Blackie

 

We even towed up my Uncle Kim’s MAX 6×6 amphibious buggy.  This thing is awesome, with a Briggs & Stratton 14hp engine, and 6 wheels, it will go just about anywhere.  We bombed the shit out of this thing all around the farmlands.  Check out this video:

 



 

On the way out, we stopped by the artesian spring at the edge of the property that I always remember stopping at to get a drink of the freshest water I’ve ever tasted, straight out of the ground.  Then, we passed through the tiny town of Cedar Point, which has this awesome old mill from the 1800’s that the city is trying to save.  We went over and explored around inside it for a bit before taking off.  Got some great pictures of it too:

 

 

Finally, before leaving, we stopped by my Uncle’s (My dads brother) house and checked out his neighbor’s cars and bikes.  My uncle is restoring a pretty sweet 1963 Pontiac Tempest, and his neighbor is also a big Pontiac guy with 2 GTO’s and some awesome bikes.  He had a 1974 Triumph, and a 1970 and 1968 GTO.  The triumph he had bought when he was 20, with 1,800 miles on it, and still had it in perfect condition:

1970 Triumph

1970 Triumph

 

 

1970 GTO

1970 GTO

 

 

So overall, it was a good trip, it was a bad trip…but it was great to see my family and help me remember my roots.  I don’t get to see my family often, and it really helped to at least get to spend an awesome week with my grandfather, as I dont’ know if I’ll ever have that opportunity again.

 

I have a feeling that our family is in for a rough upcoming year.  But I wouldn’t change the time I had with him for the world.

 

This post is dedicated to Charles Forrester.

Finally Rescheduled My Shoulder Surgery


Finally was able to get my surgery rescheduled for Thursday, Feb 5th.  This sucks because its the day before my birthday, and my birthday is on a Friday this year which was going to lead to some awesome partying.  Sucks how things work out sometimes, but at least it looks like both of my parents will be able to come down for it and hang out for the weekend, so at least I’ll be able to spend some time with them.  Drugged up, painful, sore time in a daze, but time nontheless.

My Dad is coming down weds night, and talking to my mom on the phone last night she asked if I cared if she made it down thursday for the surgery or on friday after work (shes a teacher).  I said its no big deal, just come whenever you can.  Then I told her sarcastically “Its no big deal, I was there for your cancer surgery, but now don’t worry about my shoulder”.  We had a good laugh, and I think its good that we can laugh about that stuff now, because the last year was pretty scary and stressful with her going through it.

On a tangent – now that my mom has gone through cancer, I kind of feel like I have been through the experience of dealing with it.  Not like I did anything, or was really affected by it, and I tried to be there as much as I could, but just that someone that was close to me had it and I tried my best to help them through it.  Now you meet all sorts of people who have had it, or know someone who had it, or their family member had it.  Its crazy, just something that you don’t bring up in conversation that often, but when you do you find that tons of people have gone through it or seen it in some way.  I was over at San Diego Rod and Custom, and starting talking to this guy Paul who had a ’59 Dodge Lancer (i think) at the shop getting it all kustomed out.  We were bullshitting and I find out he had this crazy neck lymph node cancer and was supposed to die, and got it when he was over in Iraq.  We talked about cancer and stuff for quite a while, like about an hour, and then he was telling me since he beat it and has been clear for about a year and half, he decided he wanted to build this custom car exactly like he had dreamed of.  It was a pretty cool story, and I think I have some pics of the car somewhere.

Anyway, back to the point:

I talked to Dani’s sister’s boyfriend, Dalton, who had just had the exact same surgery done last tuesday, and watched the video of it.  He said the first week is pretty rough, but he was just starting to be able to move his arm a bit, and drive (although his car is a manual too, and he said its kind of hard.  I have been practicing driving with just my right arm to prepare for this).  The surgery doesn’t sound too bad, you are pretty much just knocked out for the whole thing, wake up, and go home to be miserable.  Then a couple months of physical therapy, and supposedly you should be at 100% in around 3 months.  I’m hoping that is true because since I had to delay my surgery from its original date in November, 3 months our from feb will put me a the beginning of May before I can wakeboard again.  Looks like I’ll be spending a lot of time driving the boat for everyone 🙁  Hopefully I can get some wakesurfing in?

I’m really excited and a little scared to have this done, mainly because for the past year or so since my arm has really been destroyed, I am pretty much scared that anything I do will dislocate my arm.  I have disclocated it picking up cups of coffee, rolled over on it in my sleep and popped it out, and done it more times wakeboarding than I can count.  I know for a fact that the reason I’m hesitant to really stick my backrolls is because I’m scared of dislocating my shoulder on the landing.  I know that I can land it if I’m not scared about my shoulder, but the thing that really scares me is that what if I always have this reservation about my shoulder.  I kind of have the feeling that I will always be scared of dislocating it, even after the surgery, maybe even being more scared that after it’s fixed I will do it again and do even more damage, undoing everything the surgery fixed!  I hope I don’t think that way afterwards, but I guess time will tell.  Dalton said it felt good and tighter since the surgery, which is something I am looking forward to, because as long as I can remember this shoulder has always felt loose and sloppy.

Anyway, we’ll see what happens – I’ll keep you posted!

Support Our Breast Cancer Walk Team – Dirt Bags 4 Fun Bags!


Komen San Diego Race for the Cure®
November 2, 2008

Dear Friends and Family,

I recently accepted the challenge to raise funds to support the San Diego Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure in the Race to end breast cancer forever, and help those battling the disease today.

I race for the one in eight women who will  be stricken with breast cancer in her lifetime.   The more I can raise, the more the Komen San Diego can give back to fund vital breast cancer education, screening and treatment programs in our own community and support the national search for a cure.

Click here to visit my personal page and pledge your support.

Please join me in the fight by pledging in support of my participation in the Race or contributing generously to the San Diego Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Your tax-deductible contribution will fund innovative outreach and awareness programs for medically underserved communities and national breast cancer research. It is faster and easier than ever to support this great cause – you can make a donation online by simply clicking on the link at the bottom of this message. If you would prefer, you can also send your tax-deductible contribution to the address listed below. Whatever you can give will help! I truly appreciate your support and will keep you posted on my progress.

With your help, we will see a world without breast cancer.

Thank you so much for your time and support in the fight against breast cancer! Every step counts until this Race is won!

Sincerely,
Ian

To sponsor my participation online, click here.

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