Some Days are better than others for anyone- but lately my Can Opener has some days that are really difficult. Like yesterday when she got a call from the Funeral Home. Of course, she also had flower deliveries as well- and that really helped. But I think it’s time I share some advice for her and for others that may be going through something as well. I call it “Twilight’s Tips.”
Within an hour of leaving the hospital, a Hospice Nurse arrived and provided everything we needed for his care- even sets of new sheets for the hospital bed- various other supplies, and of course, his meds. Everything was directed at keeping his pain under control, controlling anxiety, and keeping him as comfortable as he could be.
Our daughters and their families stayed over to make sure someone was always at his side, and to assist in his care and make the atmosphere as peaceful and restful as possible. They were an amazing support to me as well, as I was having a hard time finding time even to eat, sleep, or spend time with Sushi and Twilight.
I could tell that Twilight especially, was stressed and restless. Before the first blood clot happened, Twilight knew something was wrong with him and always stayed close to him. The kids helped with the kitties’ needs and provided food and took turns staying up at night at his bedside so I could sleep. It was hard to keep up with his med schedule, but it was the top priority since pain control was the top priority.
It wasn’t long before swallowing became too difficult and eating and drinking stopped. Soon after that, we found we couldn’t understand what he said when he tried to talk, and before long, he quit trying. We played music he liked, took turns reading the Bible to him and knowing he could still hear us, talking about happy memories. But this became harder to do as we saw him continue to deteriorate- and become unresponsive. Then we all started tuning in to his breathing without even realizing we were doing it.
After 8 days, the battle was too much for him and he passed peacefully with his whole family at his side.
There is a lot more to this story, but for now I’m stopping. We are just relieved to know that he is no longer in pain and is finally with the Lord- and I am so thankful for our kids and grandkids because they did everything they could to make sure that I had the help I needed, Twilight and Sushi were taken care of, and that he knew He was valued and loved and in good hands. They took turns staying with him after I gave him his meds, (and they took over doing his meds and recording them at night so I could sleep)- and they made sure I was taken care of as well.
Hospice was amazing and will be assisting our whole family for the next 13 months. A social worker, chaplain, and others are checking on me and the kids and keeping in touch by phone to make sure I’m okay, while at the same time offering free grief counseling for the entire family for the next year.
I honestly don’t know how I could have gotten through the last month without our family and hospice.
I am truly thankful for them all. Knowing also that I do not have my husband’s income anymore, they are also helping with keeping the kitties supplied so their needs are met. I cannot tell you how much of a relief it is.
In my last post (more than a week ago)- I wrote that my husband had finished the first chemo treatment. I discovered the next day when I went back to the hospital, that he had completed the first part of the first treatment. It took 3 days altogether for it to be done. I was thankful that they had finally allowed me to visit him, so during and after the chemo, I stayed with him and tried my best to get him to drink fluids and eat what he could.
He seemed to be doing well after the chemo – (except for having no appetite) – but he kept bleeding from his intestines and after about 5 different transfusions, it was clear that the bleeding wouldn’t stop and they didn’t want to do more transfusions (because of a blood shortage). That meant they also couldn’t give him blood thinners to get rid of the clot (still in) his leg, either.
On January 6, I came to see him and his countenance had completely changed. It was as if all hope of recovery had evaporated from him and the first thing he said to me was, “Call my sister.” I was surprised, because I had thought he had already told her about the cancer- so I took my phone to a quiet place to call her and had to let her know what was happening. Of course, she burst into tears, as I had known she would.
She asked if he was conscious and if he could talk, and I answered yes, and headed back to his room to hold the phone for him (on speaker phone), so they could talk. The chemo had somehow affected his eyes, so after the chemo he wasn’t able to see messages on his phone.
Right after I walked into the room with the phone on speaker still, a man appeared in the doorway, and asked if I was his wife. Then he simply said, “Here’s the thing. There’s no more treatment. We’ve done all we can do, and we are changing (him) to DNR (do not rescusitate). And we are sending him home for hospice care. He and I discussed this this morning and this is what he wants.”
I looked at my husband and knew He had wanted the Hospice Coordinator to tell me, and so it was. Within an hour, we were on our way back home in an ambulance.
And that began the last chapter of my husband’s life. I will write more tomorrow. It has taken me several days to get this far.
Thank you for bearing with me and for all your prayers and support. I love you all.
The days have seemed to all blend into one very long day. At the other hospital where the cancer was found and diagnosed, visitors were allowed, so our Can Opener was gone for hours every day staying at the hospital with the Back-up Can Opener.
But a new blood clot (and the same old misery with pain and struggling to breathe), sent him back to ER the day after Christmas. This hospital doesn’t allow visitors – So from the time he was admitted the day after Christmas until the 1st- our Can Opener wasn’t allowed to visit him.
Bleeding and two more transfusions later, the blood clot couldn’t be taken care of yet. Blood thinners aren’t a good idea when bleeding continues elsewhere. And surgery in this case, wasn’t an option.
After several failed attempts to stop the bleeding, they decided to attack it by attacking the tumor- with Chemo. It started Jan.1. Finally, after calling repeatedly every day, to get permission to visit when he said he was nervous about the chemo, they finally allowed our human to go see him. Today it is finally done. (First dose).
The Can Opener hasn’t been getting much sleep- so Sushi and I have been working overtime (without pay), to keep her distracted. Sushi does it by proving herself to be a true feline, leaving her presents in the floor (hairballs). I do my part by attacking her feet the second she kicks her shoes off, walking on the laptop, and hopping up on back of her chair at the desk.
She keeps herself busy when she can’t be with him at the hospital, and she’s been praying a lot. Along with all their friends and family.
We see her get her workout mat and put it down and Sushi and I immediately warm it up for her by sharpening our claws on it, and I help coach her. But nothing feels normal. She still works out to manage her stress and stay healthy- but we don’t like that he’s not here. Neither does the rest of the family.
And the little Critter turned 5 yesterday, and her Grandpa wasn’t able to be here for her birthday or see her in her Princess outfit. She knows he’s in the hospital, and she knows what’s wrong. But she’s only 5 so she doesn’t “know.”
The Can Opener finally is able to update you all – but there has been so much happening since our last post, and so many details that she just can’t cover it all in the next hour. So we decided to help her come up with a short version in hopes that we can relieve her a little.
The tumor is huge. And inoperable. There are spots on the liver too. And an ulcer. There has been bleeding when he goes to the bathroom that has been hard to control. He has had over 5 blood transfusions since the 18th of December, and there is a blood shortage.
In the last 2 weeks he has gained 20 lbs (bloating) in fluid. He has difficulty breathing. And had to be put on a diet of baby food and other easy to eat food. The tumor is pressing on his diaphragm, and the opening from the tummy into the small intestine.
The last time he had a transfusion was Dec.23- That’s when they also told him there is a blood shortage. Then they took him off blood thinners, did surgery to put in a port for chemotherapy (after Christmas), and also put a filter in his major artery to catch any possible blood clots that could happen while he was at home for Christmas.
A day before this, the Doctor called the Can Opener while he was in recovery from the proceedure for the chemo port, and told her he needed her to get the family together and decide whether there was going to be a DNR order- this completely caught our Can Opener off guard because they had up until that point, sounded very optimistic about the chemo. They had told her the day before that “fortunately this cancer responds well to chemo…” so she was feeling hopeful and encouraged. Then to suddenly get this call was traumatizing. She asked the Doctor, “if it were you in his place, (regarding the chemo)- what would you do?– What are his chances?” She can’t remember exactly how he said it, but the main idea was, not good.
So she called the family and broke the news to them and the Critters. They all decided because it is HIS wish to fight and to have the chemo so he can live and see the Critters grow up and be at their weddings, that he DOES NOT want a DNR. All of us are supporting his decision. But that doesn’t make it easy. Christmas eve morning he was sent home to spend Christmas with the family –
His hemoglobin levels are low. His body isn’t retaining nutrients from his food. They gave him iron by IV then sent him home Christmas Eve morning (the birthday of their youngest daughter)-
When he was released, the Doctors said to send him back to the hospital if he got worse, had symptoms of another blood clot, (more) breathing problems or any bleeding. And even if those things didn’t happen, they wanted him at a different hospital on Monday to start chemo as early as possible.
Christmas night his leg started hurting again (same leg they had removed the blood clot from and inserted a stent)… once again it was swollen, and so painful he didn’t want it touched. He was in pain from that and his belly and struggling to breathe. Yesterday, (Monday) the pain was worse and he was limping and the Can Opener called 911. Once again he was on his way to ER. Only at a bigger hospital where they could also start the chemo.
He was admitted, a chest xray was ordered, he was put on oxygen, and an ultrasound was taken of his heart. The xray showed his lungs were filling with fluid. No results on the untrasound of his heart yet, he is getting iron by IV again, and they have confirmed he does have a new blood clot in the same leg.
They are trying to stop the bleeding, and that has to happen before they can take care of the clot or start chemo.
We will post again as soon as the Can Opener can handle it. She hasn’t even had time to think or process anything yet.
Prayers are needed for the whole family and especially for the doctors and nurses that are working so hard to help him. They need wisdom to know the best course of treatment for him and strength to get through their day. They are working short of staff and are doing the best they can and are making a huge difference. We love and appreciate all in the medical field for all they do.
Our humans are in the fight of their lives- but God is so good to them in it all. They are strong and Sushi and I are making sure they stay that way.
Their strength is from The Lord-not their own. So that’s good- because those two Can Openers wouldn’t have a chance otherwise!
Our Can Opener has almost forgotten its Christmas! The family was called in and she hasn’t had even time to think since all this started.
She asked me and Sushi to update you all and to thank you for not giving up on our blog- all of you are also her source of strength. Sushi doesn’t do anything but sleep and hiss when we walk to close to her tail, so I decided I’d better do it.
She also said she hopes none of you are also going through anything like this- and that you all have a purrfect Christmas!
We’ll be back!! We love and appreciate every one of you! 🎄