A few folks may have noticed I haven't blogged a great deal lately. My heart hasn't been in it,because our 50 year marriage is coming to a slow and painful end.
I'm losing my wife to a "rival" - one of the worst of the Big C Family : Ovarian Cancer.
On July 21,2006, we celebrated our 50th anniversary. Less than four months later, my wife - whom I sometimes refer to affectionately as "Great Granny Grumbles"(or just "GGG")-made a precautionary visit to a new gynecologist. He was suspicious of what his initial examination found, and sent her for a CT scan:suspicions confirmed.
In December, 2006, just before Christmas surgeons at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey removed what they could of what turned out to be a group of highly malignant tumors. They had to re-open her in less than 48 hours, as she was still bleeding somewhere ; and for weeks she hovered between life and death.
Eventually, she was discharged to a nursing home/rehab center to learn how to walk again - this time with a walker. She hated it there - wouldn't or couldn't eat - and was finally allowed to come home.
For a while she was doing well-thanks to a fine physiotherapist from the Visiting Nurses' Association, who seemed to bring hope and sunshine into our home ; but the Silent Killer inside her was still at work-harder than ever. It was as if the surgical removal of organs had freed it of competition; and, one morning, I had to call the EMTs to have her transported to the hospital again - this time for seven days.
At the end of the seven days, she had lost much of her mobility, and getting out to visit doctors became increasingly difficult - but we persevered, and had an initial appointment with an Oncologist to discuss Chemotherapy - something I was becoming increasingly convinced she was not in shape for. I also doubted she would benefit from it. It wasn't too encouraging (to me) when the Oncologist suggested getting a temporary disabled passenger sticker for our car , because we were not likely to need one beyond six months.
Nonetheless, GGG wanted to go ahead with Chemotherapy-mostly, I think,because she thought that was what "the family" expected of her; so we had to go to a hospital in a nearby city to have something called a "port" - which allows easier,more comfortable infusion of the Chemo agents-installed in her upper chest area.
That didn't go at all well - I'll spare you the details - and the staff recommended we forget about the port and bring her to the ER for immediate evaluation. After an incredibly long ordeal in the ER,she was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit "for closer avaluation".
The evaluation-delivered the next day-was that my wife of 50 years was in fact dying : from cancer, and from a low-grade infection that could not be defeated - thanks to a grossly weakened immune system. (And a Happy St. Patrick's Day to you ,Great Granny !)
Late this afternoon, I went to the hospital and signed a "Do Not Resuscitate" order,so the ER staff will not be obliged to shock her, inject her, or take other "heroic measures", should her struggling heart fail.
Having seen the raw edge of what the Medical profession deems "theraputic", I would want her to do the same for me.
Great Granny Grumbles escaped from the hospital this morning !
I got a call at 4:23 AM from the hospital: Your wife is sinking fast. Do you want to come in and say goodbye ?
I thought for a minute, and said , " No. I think I'll wait a little bit."
The nurse said that was a wise decision, considering my age,possible ice on the roads, etc.
I told her I was going to get up and get dressed anyway.
At 4:32 AM, while dressing, I saw my wife briefly (perhaps only in my mind's eye.)
She was a young girl again-17-and she was wearing an emerald green party dress. She looked-not surprisingly-like the snapshot she had given me when we first started going together.I suppose she had told me the dress was green. I had carried that photo for -I don't know how long - until it got so dog-eared it simple disintegrated.
She smiled at me happily,waved,and asked me to say goodbye to everybody for her.
So I am.
Goodbye, honey....for now.