Friday, June 14, 2019

Kenneth Kaelin 1944-2019


Thank you all so much for your love and support during the past few years of this cancer nightmare. Dad died peacefully and not unexpectedly just after midnight on Monday. 

I had known he was in early active dying since April when he came along on my Scotland tour, but he was hopeful and game for an attempt at cure. The doctors  -- until May 31 -- said they did believe they could resect the entire tumor. After viewing a mid-May MRI on May 29, the neurosurgeon decided it was too far along for him to comfortable remove so much of the brain. Again, this was not a surprise to me, who spent a lot of time with him and knew my dad very well. He had not been himself for a few months. 

He's been cremated and we are having a simple 4-hour visitation at Highlands Funeral Home Saturday June 15 from 2-6. We may all go to a neighborhood pub after the receiving-line-in-a-funeral-home bit to relax (a few venues have been thrown out there, but it's TBA), but Dad did not want a typical service. I suspect we will do another big street party in September to celebrate both of my parents, who were more popular in this town than my 'celebrity' could ever reach. 

I am doing ok. I'm sure I'll lose it at some point, but I'm looking forward to traveling and getting to know my children, who have not seen the best of me since Mom's diagnosis.

Obituary ran in the Courier Journal on Tuesday:
https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/name/kenneth-kaelin-obituary?pid=193108985

Thursday, June 6, 2019

WeBothHaveCancer.com

As much as I hope no one else in the world needs that domain (and I am hoping I never need it again), I'm also hoping to be rid of it soon. It's an awful feeling, a walking contradiction, knowing that a loved one is on his way out and that sooner would be preferable to later.

Seeing someone in such pain, misery and general discomfort, and knowing that person to have valued independence and strength, well, it makes it hard to not want it to go away for them. We are staying with Dad, snuggling when he'll allow it, holding his hands when he's asleep which is 23.5 hours a day at this point, and making sure he takes his pain medication to allow him sleep. Cancer is a nasty beast. For those of you who had hoped to visit, you are welcome at the house for hugs and a coffee with me, but dad isn't really up for visitors. I don't think he'd want people seeing him in his current state.

Picture of the boys because they make
everyone smile.
I wish I'd written more details about our family's cancer journey -- something I plan on sharing more of after Dad is gone. I've learned that so many other people have been through similar stories. I'm fortunate to have had understanding and access to palliative and hospice care and to have enough science education to understand medical terms. I wouldn't wish this on anyone, but I do want to write some blogs to help others navigate.

In the mean time, I'm still teaching and gigging and trying to keep the boys fed. David is an incredible support, and I'm grateful to my friends out there for the food deliveries, sweet messages and good thoughts.


Monday, June 3, 2019

Some not so wonderful news

"It was the third of June, another sleepy, dusty Delta day ..."

I had a gig yesterday, and it turns out I do know all the words to "Ode to Billy Joe." Today, however, is neither sleepy nor dusty and certainly not Delta-like. It's a crisp fall morning in June, and I'm siting on the front stoop of my childhood home where I'm caring for my cancerous dad. He's had a crap few years, and I'm finding it really hard to keep calm for him.

In good news, people I rarely see in real life (which is everyone, since the last 3 years have been spent taking care of my parents and my babies) have shared their hearts and their cooking. That has been so amazingly helpful. Meal delivery is everything, so my kids are getting vegetables again. Other helpful things have been people picking up extra fruit while they are at the grocery and just dropping it off on our porch. I haven't been to the grocery for anything besides laxatives and Coke (my dad's current diet, apparently) in ... well, I can't remember. It's been takeout, pizza and the random can of corn that lives in the back of everyone's cabinet for emergencies like this.

Lakeside has opened. My dad is unable to go, and that breaks my heart. Last weekend he didn't want to go because he didn't want to talk to people. I understand. The day I went, no fewer than five people asked me how my mom was doing, and that was fun news to break to people I barely knew. Now the pool is less-crowded, but my dad is feeling a lot worse.

Long story short: his tumor is not resectable, and he is in Hospice care. Hosparus of Louisville is absolutely amazing, and the care and attention we've already received is beyond that of any doctor's office I've experienced in this country. No more specifics here (that's what www.webothhavecancer.com is for), but if my blogs get dreary or sparse, that's why. I'm back in caregiver mode, not leaving dad's side and loving him fiercely.