Friday, July 29, 2011

Another day

Yesterday was very busy. We had the hospice folks in first thing followed by a stream of visiting friends. Rebecca was awake and smiling through most of it. She would nap between visits and the visits only last 15 to 20 minutes before she closes her eyes and says; "OK, I have to sleep some now."

The hospice folks upped her drug intake and have prescribed all sorts of different pills for different symptomatic relief. Her pain is way down and her breathing sounded less strained in her sleep last night than it has in a while. One of the pills prescribed is a steroid, its primary purpose is to reduce the swelling in her belly and give her some relief there. It will likely have the side effect of giving her a little more energy... maybe we will drive somewhere and look at the view... or something.

Rebecca's car failed smog last week... Rebecca and her trusty steed. Trying to decide if I should try to get it fixed or not. Amazing how charged such a decision about a 25 year old car can be. I keep wandering if there isn't some way I could send Rebecca off on her final journey in the damn thing.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Big Bad News

The temptation to continue to stretch the previous post’s metaphor is huge, but that is a slope I will try to avoid.

Rebecca is now officially off of treatment and onto hospice care. This is a recognition of the fact that chemo is no longer helping and that the cancer has progressed to the point that there are no longer any weapons to fight it.

The main point problem is in her liver. Her liver is no longer performing its function properly and is leaking fluid into her abdomen. Her stomach is swollen with that fluid and very uncomfortable. Additionally her swollen liver is in itself painful even when she is in her preferred position, curled up on her side. She is taking significant quantities of pain killers to keep her comfortable which is also keeping her asleep most of the time. Between the drug affects and the blood toxicity her thinking is not always as linear as usual. She is hardly eating or drinking.

There is some small hope that the hospice folks will be able to mitigate the pain without as much sedative affect… but I’m not holding my breath. When she’s asleep she’s not in pain and she doesn’t like pain.

The oncologist guesses that Rebecca may be around for another 6 to 10 weeks but she could continue to surprise us… in either direction. From what I understand there should be a landmark along the way when she turns yellow. When full blown jaundice kicks in we will know that she is in her last few weeks. This is meant to be a fairly gentle way to go; Rebecca will sleep more and more, slip into a coma and eventually pass.

Since we heard this news Rebecca has seemed, to me, to be more peaceful than she has in a long time. She is no longer resisting her body’s natural progression through pure force of will.

Me and the kids are doing well. We are sharing a lot of love, tears and laughs together with Rebecca. All of our hearts are breaking but we know we will all be OK in the end.

I will try to keep the blog updated. Feel free to email, call or just drop in.

Love to you all,


Tuesday, July 19, 2011


To paraphrase the eternal bard: “The long slippery slope is long, slippery and slope-like”. OK, so he never said that but I’m sure he would have, if he had enjoyed my turn of phrase. What I am saying is; there are no sudden turns, few dramatic moments on the long slippery slope. There is just an inevitable, often messy, decline.

There haven’t been many updates on Rebecca’s health lately because there hasn’t been much to say. She has her up days and her down days. On an up day she makes her own breakfast (a bowl of cereal or some french toast) goes back to bed for the day and then sits with the rest of us at the dinner table while we eat and she tries to eat. Depending on how she slept that night she will spend more or less of her day between Netflicks and games on her iPad, reading books and sleeping. On a down day, she does less.

The most dramatic change, over time, is the slow addition of various pains. Occasionally, like last night, we end up in the emergency room, mainly with the hope that they will find some identifiable, distinct, specific; treatable, ailment. Unfortunately, she does not have appendicitis; that would have been so easy. No, it’s just the relentless progression down the long slippery slope. She takes more pain killers, sleeps more and has her up days and her down days.

No one knows how long the slope is although we are pretty sure we know where it ends. We have no idea if there is a precipitous drop at the end or just more of the same slow decent. Rebecca has a sense that she is approaching the end, but she has no idea at what velocity.

We are all on the slope and none of us know our journey. We know that the journey is precious and joyful; and sometimes sad. We should all live each day sharing as much love as we can with those we care about and remembering that we have to prioritize the things that are truly important to us. We bask in each others love and in the love of our friends and family, we feel blessed by that love; at least when we aren’t being grumpy and pissy.

Love to you all,