Friday, July 17, 2020

Cancer: Hospice

We tried.
We really did.
Cathy tried hardest. 
But in the end, the pain won out. 

I took her home from the hospital on Wednesday, with the understanding that in order to qualify for this eleventh hour clinical trial that had just opened up, Cathy would need to be able to eat without throwing up. She had to keep food down. Or, well, you know, broth. Soup. Liquid. 

Her family was waiting for her when we got home, and they helped her upstairs and get settled. It was nice having folks around, and Cathy seemed cheered by their presence, if a little tired. She tried to eat something, but gave up. The heartburn and nausea were back. 

We tried to get home health to come out, but a snafu with the hospital showed our visits had been canceled because the social worker thought we were going to Oklahoma City. That was frustrating, to say the least, and so I spent an hour on the phone lining up meds for Cathy to be administered tomorrow. All she had to do was get through the night.

She got about one hour of sleep. The pain and the cramps were just too much. I didn't do much better, but I napped a bit, and then started calling people at 7:30 to get her some help. I was on and off the phone for roughly four hours. In the middle of all of it, Cathy said, "Call hospice." 

When everyone showed up, it was all within a ten minute window. The house was full of health care folks, and it took a bit of sorting out. In the end, this is what we decided: the Hospice people have an actual facility in Wichita Falls, and by checking her in there she'd have constant care. They would get her stabilized and comfortable, and then we could send her home for home care in a couple of days. 

Back into the car we went, and drove back to Wichita Falls. I've come to really resent that drive.

She was made comfortable, in a nice, spacious room, that looks like a nursing home room decorated by a mid-price hotel room. Hey, it beats the hospital. She was feeling better, and we were amiably chatting about I don't even remember what, when she grabbed her nausea bag and filled it. 

I jammed the button and yelled for nurses. They came running and took over as the crap in her stomach poured out of her. I've never been so scared, nor felt so helpless. 

They cleaned her up and changed sheets and all of that, and also gave her a powerful anti-nausea med in her port. Later, at midnight, she would get a drug that limits the production of stomach acid. But even after she threw up, she was feeling better. And I think we both realized at that point that what she did next was dependent on her stomach. She wouldn't be able to eat solid food anymore. And for now, liquids were working, but they may one day stop. And then the clock would start counting down. 

I read to her until she fell asleep. I watched her, until some time after midnight, and then I crashed in the chair. I woke up with a nurse in the room, and Cathy awake. "Hi, Honey!" she said. Perky. Like her old self. She was hungry, and wondered if they would bring her crackers. I told her no. But I get it; she's feeling better now. We had a long talk about stuff, interrupted only by a nurse who said her doctor had ordered some more drugs for her. He wanted to know if he should order a NG tube (that thing that went up her nose in the hospital).  I said no, she didn't want that. Cathy looked at me and said, "Well, maybe."

This is what we are currently weighing. With the tube, she's going to be able to hang on for a while. But she will have to stay in the center. She can't come home with the NG tube. If she takes that NG tube out, the timeline is shortened, but then so is her pain and discomfort. 

The drugs she is on right now seem to be working spectacularly. She has a day or two to mull it over. We've all decided that whatever Cathy wants, Cathy gets. That includes Ginger Beer, as I am under strict instructions to bring some back when I return. 

And that's all I know at the moment. She's resting and she's comfortable--well, as comfortable as she can be in a hospital bed. She's seen a lot of family and she's got more coming. She's making calls and talking to people. I don't know if this is a rally, but I hope it is. I hope we see a few of them. 

I know these posts are upsetting to a lot of you, and I don't want you to have these terrible images in your head as the last memories of Cathy that you have. I'm not going to show any more pictures of her fight with cancer. Instead, I'm going to show only pictures of the Cathy we all remember, the Cathy we know and love. This is one of the photos we took for our engagement announcement. Not a lot of people have seen it. I guess it was a little too mushy. But it's a really good picture. 

I will post again when something changes. Hopefully I can get Cathy home one last time. 
Thank you, everyone, for your friendship and your love. Thank you for your courage and for going through this with me. Thank you for everything, from me and from Cathy. You've all made an incalculable difference in our lives. 


The girl next door said...

I lovethis photo of you two! This must be from right around when we met at the gym. So glad to hear Cathy is comfortable for now. Please let her know I am thinking of her. Missy Good

SethS said...

I'm so sorry, Mark. I've been rooting for Cathy and it breaks my heart for it to come to this.

Howard Carter said...

So sorry Mark, but thank you for letting us in on what's happening. Still praying

Unknown said...

I am so sorry for you and Cathy's pain and suffering. I've not met this obviously strong lady, but when seeing this terrific photo I see the Mark I remember. I'm so proud of the courage and strength you and Cathy have shown during this. God bless you two...Michael Lucas

Unknown said...

I won't pretend Cathy and I were close, but I will never forget the way her face lit up last year at Armadillocon, when she saw me walking up to greet her at the registration desk. You can't watch two people in love, the way you two have always been, and not soak up a little bit of the spill. Same goes for the rest of it. When you love, you pay. But you don't count the cost. Love you both, buddy, love you both.

Laurie (Thomas) Roberts said...

Praying for peace and comfort!
Best to you both,

Laurie Roberts

Chris Hudson said...

Mark. I cant imagine what your going though. She is such a beautiful person. It saddens me to think such bad is happening to her . But she has you beside her to comfort her through this . I hope y'all can find some peace and love for God through this. If you need anything you have tons of us crazys that are willing to help. Love you guys y'all stay strong!!

Chris Hudson said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
jcrawfie said...

That a good pic of you two. Hope you have that framed somewhere. Having lost a father to CA i know it really sucks.Stay strong, big guy. Keep loving that girl, she is gonna need it.

Rawvans said...

"What Cathy wants, Cathy gets". That's the best way to go about it.
Comfort and happiness, as much as possible.

When my dad was ill, he made decisions that weighed up quality of life against length. And one thing he was very clear about, is that he wanted to stay at home, not go back to the hospital.

I know you both are going to make the best decisions, though it's going to be hard. Try to make them without regrets.


DeAnne D. said...

I love you guys, and I'm heartbroken that you're both going through this. I know prayer isn't really a thing in our crowd, but none the less, I've asked my folk's groups to pray for her comfort and your strength. I wish I had the power to fix this for you. Please know that I am here if you need me, and if there is anything I can do, I will do my best to make it happen. - D.

Nahteboy said...

Man, I am so sorry for both of you. As someone with chronic pain and issues, I can sympathize with Cathy. I realize she's going through so much worse pain than mine. Not to mention the pain and frustration it's putting all of you through. My best wishes to the two of you. May she hang in there and get well soon.

The photo is nothing less than what I'd expect from y'all. It's a moment capturing true love.

David Farnell said...

Mark, I can’t imagine how hard this is for both of you. I’m just thinking of you both and as always hoping that things go as well as they possibly can. The love you have for each other is awesome in the original sense of inspiring awe.

Peggy Brandon said...

I love this photo of you two and I k ow I’ve seen it before. Everyone should have someone who puts that smile on their face. Sending love and prayers your way. Love Peggy

dreamlogger said...

I just binge-watched all the talks you gave on several REH conventions, there's a bunch of them on YouTube. Really liked your insights into Howard's ouvre and how passionate you are about it. Went looking for your blog to read more about your work and instead I find you and your family in this gut-wrenching situation. I wish I could come up with something encouraging, comforting to write but I'm not good with words. I wish you and your family the best.

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