March 19

I mentioned the other day that I had gotten some disturbing news. My dad had been admitted to the hospital because of dangerously low potassium levels. Once there, they determined some other things weren’t quite right, like white blood cell count and EKG. All things that pointed toward an infection of some kind, but given my dad’s history with cancer, it could also indicate a return of that dreaded disease. I’m thankful today that he was released and sent home. They got levels returned to a normal range, but they didn’t determine the reason things got off-track to begin with. I guess he now has some follow-up visits with his doctor. Of course, I’m thinking positively.

I had written a bit about my dad’s stomach cancer before. Did you know that if you lose your stomach like my dad did, they create a small pouch out of your small intestine and attach that directly to your esophagus? It makes eating a whole new experience. There’s no place, really, for food to be stored, so my dad has to eat very small amounts at a time. And can’t drink and eat much together. We started kidding him a little at family gatherings by giving him the smallest plates and cups we could find. I’d hand him a juice glass about 1/3 filled and ask him if it were too much. He’d laugh and say it was perfect, actually, thank you very much. Apparently, there is also no real separation between the new stomach and esophagus, so he would complain about the taste of things lingering and decided rather early on that what didn’t bother him as much was sweets. And he was never really one for candy and confections. Now he lives on fruit juices and a limited amount of snacks that my mom keeps stocked by his recliner. That’s not to say he doesn’t eat regular food anymore, but this is the guy who loved meat and potatoes and weighed over 200 pounds at 5’9″. Now he’s about 130 on a good day and my mom has to force him to eat a sandwich. It’s crazy to me the drastic changes one fateful thing can bring about in someone’s life. Now something as simple as an infection can mean serious complications for my dad.

I had a retired friend who used to tell me that every day he was vertical was a good day. It always made me laugh. But it’s really true. Today my dad was fine. So was everyone else important in my life. It was a good day.

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