Friday, September 05, 2008

Back from Texas

Well, that was interesting.

(A little backstory. My dad has been sick for some time. He had cancer about 5 years ago and was able to get through that with chemo. Nowadays, he has cancer again, this time of the colon. He's been "treating" it without chemo or radiation or anything like that, as he doesn't want to go through the pain of it again. He's been doing as ok as you can when you have colon cancer, I suppose. He says he's not in pain, that it's mainly inconvenient for him [he needs to be near a restroom pretty much at all times]. Even so, he's been able to live his life the way he's wanted, instead of laying in a bed recovering from chemo, etc.)

A few weeks ago, we heard from my uncle, who was in Tomball, TX (a suburb outside of Houston) with my parents. He said that Dad wasn't doing so good, that he actually passed out at one point. My brother, Knight, and I made the decision that he would fly to Houston to be with M&D to make sure they were ok, and if they weren't, to do something about it.

Knight made arrangements and went to TX for about 5 days. While he was there, Uncle Bob actually flew to China, picked up some medicine on the QT and brought it back to TX in the span of about 3 days. Pretty incredible, if you ask me.

Knight stayed with M&D and just took time to see how Dad was doing. He seemed to gain strength while Knight was there and, when Knight came back home, he was feeling pretty good about how Dad was doing.

A few days ago, Knight called me saying that Dad was doing not so hot again. Apparently Dad was short of breath and saying he needed a blood transfusion (!) or something. We made plans for me to go to Houston this time, even though M&D were to come back the following day.

I caught a flight from SeaTac at 8:20 Thursday morning. The flight was pretty uneventful. I sat by some old ladies who kept to themselves. I tried to catch some shuteye and listened to tunes the whole way.

Once I got off the plane, I had to find my way to the rental car place. Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport is pretty big. It's like a shopping mall, too. They had a vending machine selling Sony products. Heck, if I wanted a PSP, I could've bought one there. Handy, I suppose.

I finally got to the rental facility, got my car (Ford Fusion), and made my way to Tomball to see Mom and Dad. Did I mention that it was about 90 degrees with humidity? And what did I wear? Jeans and a black shirt. Ugh.

I was pretty impressed when I pulled up to their house. I've seen pictures of it, but in person, well, it was different than anything out here. First of all, it was all red brick. Very stately. It was tall, too. Kind of like a milk carton. The driveway wound around the side of the house to a detached garage. I got out and met Mom out back. She was pretty happy to see me. Dad and Uncle Bob were inside and I guess the good news was that I wasn't surprised or anything about Dad's appearance. He actually looked pretty good, considering.

We hung out there a bit after I got the tour from Mom. It's a big house and pretty empty since it's just the 2 of them there. Evidently Dad was feeling pretty spry so we headed out to what I've dubbed, The Compound.

For the past few years, M&D and Uncle Bob and Yumei have all headed to Houston at various times to be at The Compound. It's on a piece of land near their home in Tomball where a bunch of people have volunteered time and money to build a sort of sanctuary. There's a big swamp/pond, numerous walking paths, small homes and dormitory style buildings, a common area, as well as places for worship and congregating. I'd never been there before and always thought it was a little out there. But, after seeing it first hand, I must say, I was quite impressed.

My Uncle Bob was there, and, as always, he was a crack up. He's been there since April, I think, working away, paving paths, pulling weeds, building fountains and the like. It's hot and muggy and full of bugs, but, you know what? It was peaceful and beautiful. Though I'd never been to summer camp, I'd imagine this was like year-round summer camp for the people involved.

The other people there were happy to see Dad. He's sort of a VIP or BMOC there and they hadn't seen him for a week or so due to his weakness. When he arrived, you could tell people were relieved, but also cautious around him. They all want him to get better, but Dad is a stubborn ol' dude. He's going to do it his way.

M&D ended up having dinner there while I sweated it out chatting with a younger member there. His name was Kai and he was the musical director or something. I also got pulled aside by the Si Fu (Master) later. He ran down the ground rules for my dad once we got him home. No meat, no losing his temper, he must rest and not speak, no more going to the casinos, and he must continue to take his medicine. After a month or so of that, the Si Fu's thought was that Dad would get better. So far, he's been on this new medication for about a week and he has improved. We'll see how he does a month from now.

After our visit to the Compound, we hit Target (I forgot deodorant. In Texas? P.U.), then dinner for me at Chili's. Following that, it was back home for an early bedtime as we had to rise the following morning (today) by 4:30am or so.

Fast forward to this morning. I got up and showered and we headed out the door shortly thereafter. We got to the airport with no problems and, long story short, the rest of the trip was uneventful.

Apparently, Dad chewed Knight out later for sending me out there without his knowledge. I think Dad is just tired of everyone telling him he's sick and that he needs help. I know if I was him and I was getting bombarded by everyone, I'd probably tell everyone to shove it too.

Right now, Dad's at home, chillin', I hope. I'm working from home this afternoon as I am wiped from traveling (feel kind of wimpy about that). Dad's grounded for now. We're not letting him go anywhere until he can prove to us that he's healthy enough to do so. Mom seems to be in good spirits and we're all going to be spending some extra time together.

I'm a bit conflicted about how I feel. Part of me wants to drag Dad's ass to the doctor to get him checked out. We need something concrete to go on. He keeps telling us that his tumors are shrinking, but how does he know for sure?? He can't! Then again, part of me wants to sit back and let him live his life the way he wants. The problem with that is he's only 67. This dude should live another 20-25 years or more! For him to potentially cut himself short of that many years is distressing.

So, there you have it. My past 48 hours in a nutshell. Thank goodness it's Friday and we can all chill for a few days. To those that have called and sent well-wishes, I thank you. It's touching to know so many people care so much. I'll keep you posted.