Friday, October 2, 2020

Cancer: End Stage

I don't know how much more of this I can take.  

Cathy took a turn this week, and it was bad. Last Sunday, I worked up the energy to come into the room, brightly, like I've been doing; I don't want her to see my anguish, and I know I'm not hiding it as well as I think I am. We've cried together enough. I'm trying to be a comfort to her. 

Ordinarily, she greets me with some variation of "There you are! Finally!" However, when I came in on Sunday, she was asleep. I let her be. She didn't wake up until around 9 pm. She looked surprised to see me, but couldn't really talk. I'd seen this look in her eyes before, and immediately thought about the double-up of medicines. 

But that wasn't it. She was just getting worse. Slower, weaker, more confused. 

Someone is always with her overnight; me or one of her sisters. We're all suspending our lives to help Cathy at the end of hers. I made plans to go on Thursday, because the doctor said we are getting close to the end. 

When I walked into the room, she was asleep again. This whole time, I've been able to see Cathy in and amongst the tubes and the gowns and the sickness. I could still see her, the person I've spent two decades with. 

Last night, all I could see was the disease and what it has done to my beautiful wife. The swelling, the discoloration, the distortion of her skin, the skin she diligently cared for her whole life. It was too much. I've been holding open this gaping wound over my heart since July and I didn't think I could rip it open any wider, but I was wrong about that. I cried over her, quietly, as she slept. 

She's been having pain when she uses the bathroom, and it's very likely a urinary tract infection, which can cause fogginess. They put her on antibiotics with a shrug; it couldn't hurt, they said. But they are all certain it's disease progression, a euphemism I've come to despise. 

She moaned in her sleep, all night. As usual, they woke her up every two hours to see if she was resting. I couldn't help ease her pain. I could do nothing, except wipe her mouth when she coughed up phlegm. She assured me I was doing a good job. It's harder and harder to understand her. 

This morning, she was a little more alert, relatively speaking. They gave her the scheduled meds, including the antibiotic, crushed up, and mixed with pudding, Michael Scott style. She didn't eat last night. I just want her pain to go away. I don't want her to die confused and in pain. 

Before I left, I put on Downton Abbey for her. She was watching it as I packed up to leave. There was a scene where someone turned on the phonograph and asked for a dance. Others followed suit, like one does in Downton Abbey.  I leaned over to kiss her forehead and tell her I love her and she said, "I need you do do something for me." 

"Okay, sure, what'cha need?"

"I want you to tell the doctors..." she drifted away for a second. 

"Tell the doctors what?" I prompted. 

She snapped back and locked eyes with me. "Tell the doctors I've forgotten how to dance. They need to teach me. I forgot how."

Somehow I managed to smile from behind the curtain of tears and said, "I'll teach you, baby. It's easy. I know all the steps. It's going to be all right."

She nodded, satisfied, and tried to touch my hand. "Don't cry, honeybee." Her arm was swollen and she had trouble moving it. I took her hand instead. 

I don't know how much more of this I can take. 

2010. She would hate me sharing this picture,
but I think it's beautiful. This is Cathy.


Julie Kusler said...

Oh, Mark. I don’t know Cathy, but I know you. I don’t know your anguish, but I hear it in your words. I don’t see your tears, but I weep with you. I pray for strength for you, my friend.

Christi Roe said...

My heart aches for you and for Cathy. I'm so sorry this is what the 2 of you are dealing with instead of the normal what yo eat for dinner today? Just know there are so many of us praying and fighting with you from the other side of this screen.

Charles Gramlich said...

Makes me weep for you both, brother. Thinking of you. Not much more I can say.

David Farnell said...

I’m crying, Mark. I’m feeling this so much.

Barbara V. Evers said...

I'm crying. Such a poignant moment with her. She will dance someday soon and be free of pain. I still pray for the two of you and wish I could do more down here in South Carolina.

And yes, the picture is beautiful. I've learned over the years that photos I hated at one point don't look as bad as I thought. Some are quite good. If they capture what you love in the person, they are good pictures.

Hugs and prayers.

jcrawfie said...

Still here my friend. Do what you can when you can. It will be ap
preciated , Im sure. You are doing a great job.


Bob Freeman said...

Mark, you and Cathy are in my prayers. Peace and comfort...

Bret McCormick - Epic Diabetic said...


Pooks said...

You are a valiant knight, my friend, watching over her. [gentle, gentle hugs]

Kyryn26 said...

I wish that I had better words. I wish that I could be there and do something for you both. *gentle hugs*

Ashley said...

LOVE you both and praying for peace and comfort 💔💔💔

Amy Sisson said...

Mark, I'm so sorry for what you're both going through.

Unknown said...


Tommy said...

Words cannot express. I don't know Cathy, but I cry for you both. Know that I'm praying for you. /hugs

DeAnne D. said...

I wish I could take away the pain from both of you. I'm so sorry you're going through this. Love you. I'm here if you need me.

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