Since discussions of ugly words like "metastases" and "radiation oncologists" had kept me a bit later at Mom and Dad's than I'd originally expected, I arrived at Colter's apartment late enough that it was pointless to consider attempting to go out for dinner.
Given that, we reverted back to the old college standbys: pizza and beer. Except that these days, our pocketbooks finally allow us to indulge our slightly esoteric tastes; the beer wasn't American and the pizza didn't have a drop of tomato sauce on it. We ate it, piled up on the couch in his living room, watching Robin Williams and talking about music.
In other words, normal life.
Haven't had much of that lately.
For days like these, victories get measured in the smallest of things. Today's victory was realizing that Dad could take an eight-dollar kitchen gadget and use it to make his life a bit more bearable. The random gadget: a digital timer.
Why, you ask?
Dad remains on a constant morphine drip to help manage his pain. ('Manage' being the operative word here.) In order to prevent overdosing, the drip is controlled through a machine. If it turns out that he needs a bit of a temporary boost in medication, he can press the "dose" button to receive a slightly boosted dose of morphine.
This can only be done every ten minutes. Any sooner, and the machine simply ignores the requests.
Previously, we'd each kept an eye on our watches, stopping what we were doing every ten minutes to tell Dad that if he needed another dose, he could have one. Mom's instructed me on how to use this as preventive medicine. Since Dad finds riding in cars to be excruciatingly painful, we begin upping his dose of morphine approximately thirty minutes before it's time to leave for a doctor's appointment. We do this for other major activities as well, such as showering or changing his clothes.
It doesn't make things right. But it helps—somewhat. By having the timer automatically set for ten minutes, Dad can manage his own pain medication with a bit less intervention from us, which helps him immensely. It's difficult to watch him and realize that normal everyday activities are virtually impossible for him now (walking up and down the hall twice, using his walker, is currently all the exercise his body can handle) but some victories simply must be taken at face value.