Parenting the Parents: An Update, and a Sliver of Independence

Since everyone in my “terrestrial” life always asks how my dad (and now, also my mom) are doing, and since it’s been a couple of weeks since I posted about them, here’s the latest.

Mom’s Pesky Thyroid Nodule

Mom’s thyroid nodule biopsy was “indeterminate.” Her doctor referred her to an endocrinologist, whom we saw last week. He was beyond wonderful. He spent about 20 minutes with us, and even performed his own ultrasound (himself – not one of his staff) so he had direct experience for comparison on her next visit. He classified it as a “stage 3” nodule, but that doesn’t mean it’s malignant. It’s in a spot where it sometimes interferes with mom swallowing, so if it gets worse (i.e., if it grows), her swallowing difficulty would increase, which would tell us that we need to get in to see him again sooner than the 6-month follow up we now have scheduled.

He explained what I already knew – most thyroid cancers are quite slow-moving – and something that was comforting that I hadn’t considered: if this nodule does increase in size, he would order a larger biopsy that would yield enough tissue for genetic testing, which not only would definitively tell us whether it’s malignant, if it were, it would provide better info to zero in on a much more targeted course of action. Mom is handling all of this exceedingly well. I’m attributing that to those “happy pills,” as I call them, which she’s now been taking since early April. I’m not a strong advocate for medications in general, but these have been truly life-altering for her in the best possible way.

Dad’s Tooth

Dad had a tooth extracted a week and a half ago. He did great, took all his follow-up antibiotics, and is back to his normal eating patterns (fried baloney every morning with toast – not something I’m thrilled about from a dietary/health perspective, but it’s one of the joys of his day, and there’s no way I’m taking that away from him). I can’t believe I didn’t think to offer him a $5 bill from the Tooth Fairy. . . Damn.

A Sliver of Independence?

They came over for a cookout the Sunday before Memorial Day. It marked mom’s first foray back to driving, and it was a success. We sat on the front porch for a couple of hours, chatting, listening to the birds, introducing them to our neighbors. Everyone enjoyed themselves.

I had to take dad for routine bloodwork last week, and he has a follow up appointment next week. Mom has a regular “well-check” later this week with Dr. K. If all goes well, we don’t have any other appointments for two whole weeks after that.

Dad called early yesterday afternoon because mom had gone out to pick up a couple of their new-favorite Jersey Mikes subs and he was mildly worried about her (it was the farthest she’s gone so far on her own). He asked me how long he should give her to come back before he started to get concerned that she was lost. I did the math, adding a bit of cushion to be on the safe side, telling him 1:00. He said he’d call if she wasn’t home by then, and when he hadn’t called by 3:00, I knew all was well.

Or (this is where my head goes these days): that mom had gotten lost and couldn’t figure out how to use her cell phone; that dad had forgotten to put his fall-button pendant around his neck and that he’d fallen so he couldn’t get to the phone. I stomped my worry demons into submission though, allowing my parents this wonderful little window of independence again for the first time in a long time.

Goofy Easter Selfie

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