Monday, September 30, 2013

September 16th - 22nd, 2013

"3 weeks to 3 months".

That was how long our dad's time on this mortal world was estimated to be, as mentioned by the doctors from the National Cancer Center at Singapore General Hospital.

The radiology treatment for the cancer cells in his head had stopped.
The chemotherapy for his prostate cancer had stopped.
Neither treatments seem necessary for our father - as recommended by the doctors - as his condition had been determined to be beyond "saving". His condition is terminal, and we were in constant fear of loosing him, at any given time.

The first week in SGH Block 4, Ward 26, was extremely hard and excruciatingly trying. We were all bracing for the worse. Friends and relations paraded thru, to mixed emotions of recognition, tears and abject dislike.

Dad's condition was in random flux, flitting in and out of consciousness. Lucid times were greeted with smiles and tears, for dear friends and closer relations. Dad could still say 'welcome' at times too!

Breaks my heat tho, to see mum explaining to each friend who comes visit, dad's condition, constantly (re)opening a wound ... But seeing dad smile, means the world.

Dad could not speak fully, but for random bouts of coherent short sentences, or single words, all in Mandarin. There have been numerous words mentioned and repeated. Dad has said "sorry" to everyone of us (The Heng Family) individually at at varied times.

There was even a period where devils and demons were suspect (but that will remain unspoken at this time). There is a whole other "religious" context that happened, which I will mention at another time another post. perhaps...

Dad was in constant pain - CONSTANT - quelled with constant administrations of morphine. He could articulate "Ow" leading to multiple "ow-ow-ow"-s indicating "pain". Often his pain lead to him contorting his entire body, look braced for impact. Heart-wrenching grimaces and eyes wide and glared.

His currently only mobile limb, is his right arm and hand/wrist, which has seen constant shaking (to indicate pain), to "pointing" straight up at the ceiling (fingers not straighten). His right hand is truly strong too, constantly gripping hard at our hands when we hold his. And there were constant times when he gripped at mum's hand to maneuver to his mouth, and bite down. It nearly happened to me one time too, but I held my hand steady … but it was like Extreme Arm-Wrestling.

He would be up all night in constant pain.

Ironically and frustratingly, most times when (pain management) doctors did their daily morning rounds and come by dad's bedside and ask "how is your pain, Mr Heng?", the pain suddenly does not manifest itself. And our pleas of "he is in pain!" seemed suspect, like children in anxiousness … until such my sister took mobile phone videos of dad's condition at night, when she stays over by his side.

His eye balls were perpetually turned up to the direction of his forehead, but I/we think dad could "hear" pretty decent, unable to reply succinctly though.

Dad had been placed on a "D.I.L." (aka "Dangerously Ill List") at the beginning of the week = a condition whereby there are no restrictions on the number of visitors, at any time. ("Regular" visitations are restricted to 4 individuals at any time, during specific visiting hours).

Family members were encouraged to stay by dad's side throughout the night, regardless of visiting hours. The nurses were exceedingly helpful in providing blankets and pillows, and even suggested how to align a trio of chairs, so as to enable a make-shift "bed" for folks staying over-night. Those were dark days indeed.

We "survived" Week One, and as of this post, have just entered the first day of Week Three.

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