Thursday, November 13, 2008
These Waking Hours
Actually, there was no crack in the ceiling at all...
I was awake last few nights, unable to get a decent hour of uninterrupted sleep. I would wake up often and stayed awake, laying on my bed and looking directly at the ceiling in my darkened bedroom.
There was no crack on the ceiling, just the shadow cast by the street light on the twigs from a tree outside my bedroom window. The day curtain did its part to trick my tired eyes. It was not a pretty night either. There was nothing to stare at the sky as it has been raining most nights and cloudy these past few days.
The days leading to face the result of the biopsy Dad had gone through about a week ago, was a mentally tiring one.
Thursday, SGH Block 3 Clinic A. Appointment at 3:20PM. Bronchoscopy results... my iPhone beeped to remind me as I took off work in the afternoon.
"This is not good news." Dr. Devanand looked at me straight in the eye. "Your Dad's cancer has come again..."
What he said after that was incoherent as I drifted to nowhere I had gone before. Then snapped back in to reality and composed myself to focus on what the doctor had to tell.
"It's already in the advance stage..." the doctor continued, "there is no cure..."
I slipped into this temporary zombie state back and forth. I could not believe what I was hearing. Those dreaded words were replayed it in my mind so many times to prepare myself for the real thing. This is real.
What about Dad?
He's not prepared.
Would anyone be?!
Then the million questions came the doctor's way. Dr. Devanand was patient to answer them as best he could. At times referring to "statistically, what survival rate do we have here in Singapore?" charts displayed in his monitor after some tapping on his keyboard.
Not good. At stage 4, the survival rate is less than 5 percent. "Most patient survive from 6 months to a year..." he said, "many did not go beyond two."
I had to force it out from him even after he repeated to me that he was not the right person to advice on this matter. "More information and any specific questions" that I threw at him were "best answered by the oncologist" at the National Cancer Centre.
Dad will have his first chemotherapy session on 5th December 2008 on Friday morning.
His earliest session would have been on 28th November in the afternoon, but Dad wanted to attend a wedding in Kedah, Malaysia instead. Given that the 5-day road trip may be his last, I requested a later date after consulting the doctor.
Dad wanted to meet Mom's side of the family there and he loves to sight-see the ancient town of Malacca. A place he had gone by car many times with Mom, 2nd elder Sis and her husband before.
While waiting for the cough medicine at the pharmacy, I made a call to all my siblings, at times breaking-up into tears as I repeated the bad news the doctor had told me.
Both Dad and Mom do not know this, which makes it such much harder and me guilty immediately when I heard Dad told Mom as soon as he came out from the consultation room.
"I still have a growth in my wind-pipe... the doctor wants to shrink it with X-ray." He repeated my "translated words" to him, saying it without a hint of fear or sadness. Like it was just a common cough and what the usual cough medicine cannot cure. Oh Dad!
This weekend and the weekends that follow will be busy days at our parents' place as everybody has decided to spend more time with them during as many waking hours as possible.
While they are away on their road trip, all my siblings will come together to discuss who are able to take them in and whom the parents choose to stay with while Dad recuperates with every chemo session.
It's almost 2:00AM and I still am not able to sleep... I had to write this down as I am wide awake and restless.