What good has worry done me, or you? Not one damn bit: what’ s coming is coming and there isn’t a thing you can do about it. Sure, you can study books, save money, watch tv shows about what foods to eat (then eat those foods), you can watch the TV news (and go insane), you can vote, get politically active, smell the flowers, meditate, have coffee with friends, have dinner with family; but, nothing is going to change the fact that one morning you’re going to pull up your pants and put your shirt over your head and you are NOT going to repeat the proscess at the end of that same day. Someone else is going to pull them off for you—poof that’s it.
So why worry? I learned this lesson from a someone I read about named Bobby Jo Dennison. He holed up in a local hotel room with his girlfriend or whore or whatever she was. He decided he wasn’t coming out. You think he was worried about retirement, his 401k, or his health insurance? Hell no, he wasn’t worried ’bout nothin’ —his life goes on as carefree as the lilies of the field, or the birds of the air, which Jesus talked about in the New Testament. Now, I don’t plan on threatening to cut off anyone’s toes or wear big jewelry, or my hat on backward, or have a teardrop tattoo, but I can try, just like Bobby Jo (and Jesus) not to worry.
Douggie Jo and Timmy Jo ain’t gonna worry ’bout nothin’ this week, as an experiment. We’ll see what happens.
10 minutes after I posted this we got a call from Doug’s doctor’s office that his PET scan is scheduled for March, 12th…a month to the day after he was laid off. This scan is to look to see the status of whether or not the cancer is gone.
Doug is scheduled to return to work on February 12th. He is looking forward to getting back to a routine he once cursed. His job is very physically demanding: he literally will lift a ton of boxes and move them per day. He has grown very soft, in a way, over the course of his cancer treatment; though the treatments have hardened him in other ways. He is just not as physically strong as he was back in December.
He is healing well. His pain level is decreasing slightly each day. He refused to take the last three radiation treatments. He seemed literally terrified when he thought they were going to wheel him down to radiation while he was trying to get stabilized in the hospital. He said he felt instinctively that his body was trying to tell him that no more treatments were necessary and the cancer was gone.
I know this whole process has changed him; but, he is still too close to the whole nightmare to really see just how much and in what way. He had never been hospitalized for the first 52 years of his life. He says it will be another 52 years so he won’t be in the hospital again until he is 104! Now that’s the spirit!
Thanks to all who have shown their support for him along the way with their visits, cards, thoughts, and prayers.
Doug will know nothing about the status of the tumor for about two more weeks, yet seems to know something in his heart. Doug might well have said the quote below himself.
“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”
This story is long from over but having Doug home makes everything much more bearable. His pain is declining slightly each day though he still walks around looking saddle sore. He is still on an antibiotic for a few more days; we are monitoring his temperature throughout the day…sometimes he acts like a crabby baby about having that done.
Now, we just wait to see if the cancer is all gone. I pray that it is because I don’t know that Doug would go through this all again. I am not sure I would ever go through it once.
He has received several calls from friends: it is so good to hear him laughing. Thanks again for all the prayers and positive thoughts.
Doug has come a long way in a day. Above is his self-portrait he sent. Yesterday had to be the nadir. Nadir is the low point. I learned that word by reading about chemotherapy where they use the word nadir to describe the low point in the body’s white blood cell count. Yesterday was so bad that I wrote a lengthy post this morning but couldn’t bring myself to push the publish button. If anybody would like to read it just let me know and I’ll email the story to you; otherwise, it is better off left behind.
In certain circles, I am accused of “over-exaggerating things” and been given the insulting moniker “Mr. Doom and Gloom”–doesn’t necessarily sound like someone you’d want to spend any time with; but, I suppose Doug has acquired a tolerance for said “Mr.” over nearly thirty years which is all that really matters. That being said; yesterday was horrible for Doug.
Today he has made an amazing rebound from yesterday’s low point. For the first time in about five days, I watched him eat almost a whole plate of food and his vanilla pudding despite the fact he felt it had a “fake texture”. If he was willing to complain about something that petty he had definitely come a long way!
He had a whole day without running a fever. His trips to the bathroom have decreased, however, he still can’t walk with his legs together–kind of like a cowboy who’d been riding too long. The dark circles under his eyes were gone. We talked and laughed and joked; it was like an hour in heaven. For the first time, he said his pain was a 5 on the scale from one to 10. He is getting hydrated finally after they gave him a big jug to drink from instead of little styrofoam cups; his urine is no longer the color of Galliano.
I had a talk over the phone with his nurse about midnight last night. That’s all I’m going to say; but since he is getting a little more attention.
He still has a long way to go but there is word on the street of him maybe getting out by Friday. However, being Mr. Doom and Gloom, I don’t see him coming home quite that soon all though I desperately hope and pray that it is so.
Keep the good vibes coming. You too Wally! I know you are here.
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:
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.
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:
First thing when I woke at 5 am. (the hospital doesn’t even allow calls through that early.
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.
6:30 am on the way to work
7:00 am when I got to work.
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:
Fever is gone, though some think a fever is a “good thing”????
He took less pain medication today: yesterday morphine wasn’t even working!
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!
His voice sounds brighter, more life in it.
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,”
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.
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!
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.