Life goes on. By that I mean you have to take care of the everyday things that happen. Whether you want to or not.
In the midst of a storm you think your focus is on the storm itself. But if you don’t tend to the mundane, you will find yourself in a more complicated storm.
I hadn’t been in the habit of checking online banking transactions, but for some reason I went online to check my deposit amount for my pension. Lo and behold, I noticed a $246 pending charge on one of my debit cards. It was from Portage, Indiana, a place that I had not visited. I called the bank, put a stop order on the card, and the teller said I could get a new card that very morning. It appeared the debit was from a compromised hack at Dairy Queen, which I did frequent. I was grateful that I was nudged by the Spirit to check the online activity; if I hadn’t, the results could have been a disastrous.
We began our second week of radiation, and after getting Roger’s routine blood work done, we traveled to St. Louis. I brought my mom’s little wheel chair, thinking that it would be easier for me to maneuver. It was adequate, but because the wheels were not big, moving Roger around was hard.
State of Grace was invited to sing at a prayer vigil for the persecuted Christians in the Middle East It was a nice event, but so you understand this next “funny,” you need to know that it was in a Catholic Church.
We pulled up and I said, “Well here we are. It’s a Catholic Church, you know.”
He said, “Ok.” Then he said, “What’s the family’s name?”
“What’s the name of the deceased?”
He thought we were at a funeral home.
I remember being worried about him wandering. He said he needed to use the rest room, so I tagged along, following him like a detective, making sure he got to the right door and made it back to our pew. It was a responsibility that was there right up to the end.
At Roger’s 9th radiation treatment, I sat in the waiting room and looked around. These were my observations:
- Cancer is no respecter of persons.
- Old, young, rich, poor, confident, business people, poverty stricken, thin, fat, pretty, homely–all are here for one of two reasons: they have cancer or they are a loved caring for the cancer patient. And yet I see a third party: the “transport” person. It’s someone who is not emotionally or relationally involved, just doing a duty assigned to move the patient from one place to another. I wonder what they think?
- Some people begin to look familiar.
- I sit here and see people filling out the new intake form with clipboard in hand and remember that it was just nine days ago that we were doing the same thing. (Family history of cancer always stumps people. Sometimes they have to ask each other about Uncle Fred or Aunt Abigail. Grandparents’ death, parents death, siblings death, cause of death–all of those are hard to remember)
I should have thought twice about making that trip for the 9th treatment. I was exhausted. We had gone home the previous day after treatment so I could get my hair done and sing with State of Grace. Then we drove back for our Friday treatment, and turned around and went back home. I remember thinking how good it was to sleep in our own bed last night.
At this point, Roger seemed to be pretty good, although “good” is a relative term. He stills asked questions that I thought he should know the answer to.
- Did I take my pills?….he just did 5 minutes ago
- Were we here today already?……no, that was yesterday
- Where is the bedroom?……where it has always been in our house.
And yet he was so loving. He cried occasionally; he said he was so happy. That Saturday morning he made a statement that caused me to pause.
He was crying, and I asked him if he was ok.
“This isn’t necessarily the life we had picked out, but it will be OK. We planned other things for retirement, but this is what we got,” I commented.
He said, “Yes, I know I am crying, but it is because our life is going to have a tender end.”
The 10th treatment. Ten of thirty. One-third done.
While sitting for his 10th treatment, I overheard a woman say that they were going to start extended care and hospice for her husband. I wondered if he had what Roger had. I wondered if Roger would eventually look pale and numb sitting in a wheel chair, like that man. Watching them made things more real.
We took the “10 days radiation done” picture with many trials. You’ll notice that we even got a “15 finger plus 2 grapes” shot.
The previous week Roger’s platelets were 114. The current number was 127, so they were trending up. He had enough energy to go watch Scott play in a church league soft ball game. I know it made Scott glad to have his dad see him hit a home run. Before we attend an event, Roger would always ask me, “Now what is it that I have?” And l would tell him, “It’s brain cancer.” He probably wanted to be able to tell people what was wrong with him.
On September 11th we celebrated Jessica’s and Lisa’s birthdays, except Lisa was in Green Bay, so we took Jessica out to eat. She said that she thought Savannah Ruth would make her appearance soon. I stumbled across these videos we had made for Lisa on her birthday. They are so funny to me. Please ignore my lack of make-up and our lack of rap skills. I’ve also included one that Lisa made with kids on my birthday. It gives me joy to see Roger laugh.
Roger had settled into a routine by the third week of radiation. At that point he managed personal hygiene pretty well, except he needed to be reminded, AND supervised. One morning I told him (with him looking at me and repeating after me what the directions were) to shave, take off his clothes, wash, put clean underwear and get dressed. I checked on him five minutes later to find him watching TV. He grinned at me like he knew exactly what he was doing.
A new life! Savannah Ruth was born. At noon. September 17, 2014. God ordered the timing. Scott and Jess went in at 4:30 AM, and she was induced. I did school with the three little ones (Jessica home-schools them) and then we left for Roger’s radiation. I’ll never forget Ava’s excitement when we got the news that Savannah had arrived. The nurses in the radiation neurologist’s office were almost as happy as Ava to hear the news.
A side note: Getting the three kids AND Roger ready was interesting. It was like juggling plates. Three little kids and one big kid! 🙂
The doctor took Roger off all of the steroid pills, so that is good.
From my journal on September 18, 2014
- I sit in the waiting room and think that I could be the one in the wheel chair. Some men are taking care of their wives.
- Yesterday a woman rang the bell for as many days as she had radiation. She almost gave a speech.
- I also think that we are on the downhill stretch. This is day 18. After Monday we will have only 10 more days. Then what will we do with our time? I think and predict that Roger will be good for another four months. Then things will go downhill.
- We walked a half mile around Scott’s block this morning at Roger’s request. That is a great sign.