Not Much Better But Not Any Worse

Still, in the hospital…everything is vague.  Doug is half out of it with morphine and never asks any straightforward questions like: “What exactly is going on with my health status?” or “Why am I running an intermittent fever?” or “What is my prognosis of getting out of here?”  His appetite is almost non-existent today, has a fever of 101 (the highest it has been), still going to the bathroom every two hours, all day and all night.

I finally asked to talk to someone so that we all could have an idea of what is going on with him.

His potassium keeps dropping because of constant diarrhea, they seem to be very concerned about this and are giving him a lot of supplements.  Doug thinks he should just be able to eat a banana but he would have to eat about 40 bananas a day to replace what they are giving him in pill form. The fever is just part of how the chemotherapy and radiation attack the body.  The body thinks it is under attack so it reacts as if it were with a fever: even though there is no infection.  He is not losing any blood in his stool so his hemoglobin levels are fine.

I think what happened here is he waited too long to express how bad he was really feeling to the doctor over the phone.  Now one can’t fault him for being the person he is; Doug is just him.  He is stoic, outwardly calm (though he might inwardly be in turmoil), and especially hesitant to be any trouble to anyone. 

I want to mention that Doug’s deceased father Wally keeps giving us signs that he is here watching:

Wally on the brochure!

Yesterday, Doug’s mom was here visiting and was looking for something that would help her find some sporting event on the television.   She was shuffling through hospital brochures and by pure coincidence (NOT!) she found a picture of Wally in a hospital brochure which had been taken a few years ago, with his permission,  for a pamphlet about “options for pain control”.  He had a glowing smile on his face just to remind us all that he is still around, working to heal Doug from the “other side.”   There have been other incidents which I have personally had; but, nothing as obvious as this event. 

 

Update Hospital

From what I can tell, Doug is doing slightly better today…at least from his telephone reports.  I told him today to stop apologizing for everything as if his having cancer was his own fault and everyone else’s problem. 

I called him too many times this morning:

  1. First thing when I woke at 5 am.   (the hospital doesn’t even allow calls through that early.
  2. Then he called me at 5:15 am to apologize that he didn’t call me at 5 am to make sure I had gotten up for work; which, I was afraid I wouldn’t as a thunderstorm was coming through and I feared the power would go out and the alarm wouldn’t sound.
  3.  6:30 am on the way to work
  4.  7:00 am when I got to work.
  5.  Let’s say about ten more times after number 5.

Of course, he was worn out by my calling, and having been a patient myself way too many times, I should have known he just needed to rest.  The calls were all selfish, just for me!  So Doug told me in so many words that he needed to rest so I grew up for the first time in 30 years and just let him be. 

Of note today:

  1. Fever is gone, though some think a fever is a “good thing”????
  2. He took less pain medication today: yesterday morphine wasn’t even working!
  3. He is eating more food.  I tried to scare him into that one because I’ve had a feeding tube shoved up my nose and down through my Adam’s apple.  Believe me, it is easier to force down horrible hospital food than to have it pumped in through your nose!
  4. His voice sounds brighter, more life in it.
  5. He is still having diarrhea but it is slowing slightly, still about every two hours.

I think his colon is becoming less fried and, perhaps more par-boiled at this point, but don’t expect to see him home anytime real soon. Although I saw him walking through the kitchen last night in his beige hoodie, with the hood up and his maroon sweatpants, plain as day.  We leave footprints which exist outside of time.

I can’t in any way thank all of you enough who have even spent a second giving hope to us through prayer, meditation, fingers-crossed, heads bowed, hands held together…whatever you have done and can do is building Doug’s body back together and revitalizing both of our souls.  I will, however, try to thank you by saying from both of our hearts (hearts do speak) “THANK YOU AND MAY GOD BLESS YOU ALL,”

Empty

This house is too empty.  For nearly thirty years, Doug and I haven’t spent many nights apart.  I have never spent one in this house alone.  We think the same thoughts quite often as if our souls have been entangled together outside of space and time.  He is resting now.  He is in the safest place he can be…with those who can ease his suffering.

 

At The Hospital

Doug was very happy to see his family!  His Aunt, Mom, and Sister came to visit him and he perked up quite a bit and even got quite chatty. Doug loves his family very much.

Unfortunately, Doug started running a slight fever, which hadn’t been an issue up until now, so the doctor ordered a chest Xray to look for pneumonia since this bad flu is going around. They have found no proof of infection thus far but are treating him with antibiotics as a precaution.  His pain comes in waves and it must be quite severe because he will lie there with a grimace on his face.  I keep reminding him that one of the reasons he is here is so he doesn’t have to suffer and he is not bothering the nurse by asking her for relief; they have all been very kind here.  

We cried together today when I told Doug I saw a male Cardinal bird in the backyard when I went back home to get some things to bring to the hospital.  We have come to think of this beautiful bird as a symbol of Doug’s departed father, Wally.  I told Doug that I waved to the Cardinal and said “Hi Wally”; Wally is watching over his son—I am certain of that fact.  I didn’t intend to make him cry but he is exhausted from dealing with the pain.  We have a lot of loss and sorrow over the last year…sometimes it just gets to you; but, you have to keep grinding along.

Hospital

Doug is in the hospital which is actually good news.  He suffered for two days longer than he should have.  He tends to under-report his symptoms.  Hopefully, there is no serious infection.  People come here to sit in the emergency room because they have a cough from the flu.  We are both wearing masks because of these idiots.

Doug said he feels “way better” right now: nothing like a little Fentanyl!

Fried

Doug’s body looks fried, seared, like a Hiroshima victim.   He has to go to the bathroom every two hours, just brown water. He is barely eating, some small bits of applesauce. I keep forcing fluids on him, Gatorade.  He hardly moves from the chair in the living room. He doesn’t even have emotions: no smiles or tears.  He is a pain zombie.  He asked me to say a prayer out loud with him and I broke down, crying, heaving…not ready yet; but, now it is time.  I will hold his hand and say the prayer for him.

Suffering

Doug is suffering quite a bit right now. I have been too worried and too tired to write. Please keep him in your prayers. I have never seen him like this. It is such a helpless feeling to watch someone you care about suffer. The only positives right now are chemotherapy is over and only three more radiation treatments.  

Radiation Waiting Room

We are in the radiation waiting room.  It is intolerably cold and bleak outside, uncomfortably hot and dry inside.  There are just a couple of people here wall with sad looks on their faces, maybe not so much sad as resigned: resigned to this barbaric treatment.  I swear I can smell an odor of cooking flesh.  They have little room deodorizers all around, wonder if it’s to mask that smell.  

Patients come and go with various head coverings: wigs, bandanas, chef’s caps—whatever it takes to cover the embarrassment of having lost their hair.  Some appear to be in pain, moving slowly, getting assistance with their jackets.  There is a brown teddy bear wearing a green medical mask in view; I suppose he is here for the kids.

Doug is close to the end of his visits here.  

He has been sleeping in a chair the last couple of days for fear he might entangle himself in the tube he has to wear for three days; it’s pumping the chemicals into him.  I struggle to sleep in an empty bed thinking: “Please, I don’t want this to be practice for living alone.”  About to finally drift off, a cold sweat attacks and I’m awake for another hour, or two, or three…it’s a dismal fog at night.

I know there is snow falling outside.  I can see headlights coming in through the living room curtains where Doug is sleeping, flat on his back, not moving.  I hope the lights don’t wake him.  

Morning finally comes.  Doug awakens me, “Do you want to get up?  It’s 7 o’clock.”

Of course, I want to get up.   This is the nearly the end of all his treatments so I took the week off work as I thought if there were a time he would need me to be around, it would be this last week.  So, I accompany him, warning about touching doorknobs and cautioning him to use his hand sanitizer (probably more of a pest than a help.)

There are four old men in here now.   Three cancer patients and me.  Doug is meeting with the doctor.  He calls it “doctor and nurse day”.  I want to leave here so badly that my shoulders are scrunched up in fear.  Doug, having been doing this for at least a month, is cool and calm despite the intolerable heat of this place.

Xbox, Chemo and Frozen Doors

We’re getting close to the end of this crap.  Doug is cranky but who can blame him after getting another injection of chemo today, and having to have the pump on until next Tuesday with another batch of who knows what injected into his chest.  It is wearisome for him; the last month has seemed like a year.  He remains brave, no complaints: right now he is playing a Darth Vader pinball game on Xbox.

Yesterday we had to deal with frozen cars!  To avoid a total rewrite I’ll just paste in an e-mail I sent to a friend of ours who moved to Florida.  His name is Marquis and he calls Doug “Tom Cruise”.

Marquis,
 
Okay, all my car doors froze.  Tom Cruise, asleep.  I call, he says, why didn’t you do this and do dat? I’m like, c’mon Mr. Invincible, unfreeze my car doors!  It was 57 last night…drove home with my shirt off. It’s 17 now, NOT freeballin’ weather! We get the back door of the car unfroze, in the palatial ARGOSY parking lot, but I’m so damn fat I can’t wiggle my way to the front seat so Tom Cruise-Cancer-Invincible pulls me out of the car like a fat snake, gets in and starts it.  God Damn winter is a bitch! Then Tom Cruise takes a forty foot, orange, extension cord outside and uses a hair dryer to thaw out all the doors.  He’s thinkin’ while I’m drinkin’, just like the Marvel Comics movies.

 
Miss you Maurice.
Bring us one of them frozen alligators!
 

 

marquis

8:09 PM (20 hours ago)

 
to me

Lmfaoooooooo  you kill me free all in truth is always in town haha and I can’t believe it’s that cold there it’s been kind of cold here to and you know black people don’t mess with no wild animals lol

Marquis is one of the most kind people Doug and I have ever known…too bad he is so far away.

Blessings to you all who have stuck with Doug through this whole mess.