Friday, October 10, 2008

We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).

I have the saddest of news to tell you all. My sweet husband - my best friend - passed out of this world into the arms of his savior last night at 9:26 PM, here at our home. The sadness is for me - that I will not see him again on this earth, and how much we shall all miss him. Our Grandaughters are just broken-hearted, and Mellie is so sad. He was such an anchor for our little family, and I am so happy the Lord loaned him to us for the time we had him. I am happy for him - he will not suffer any more pain, and he is in a place where he is whole again. I wll see him again one day, and then we will be together forever. His passing was calm and peaceful, and so many amazing things happened last night that I can hardly believe it. We talked last week about his letting me know that he made it home, and how difficult that might be to do. I reminded him about that promise several times - just yesterday, as a matter of fact. Well - at 9:26 last night, many things happened, and one of those things is that our jockey light - out front - which is on a timer to run from 7:00 to 11:00 PM - went out for the night. Tonight it is back on it's 7:00 to 11:00 schedule - nothing has been changed or touched! I take that to mean that Butch is home safe.

Services will be on Sunday at our church - New Life Ministries, in Endicott. Calling hours from 2:00 to 3:00, followed by a service.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Dignity does not consist in possessing honors, but in deserving them. - Aristotle

Another October morning - a crisp 44 degrees - Autumn in New York. Butch is still sleeping (it is only 8:10 in the morning). We had lots of company yesterday - Mellie, Glenn and the girls came over in the afternoon, followed by Carolyn, Joe, Matt and Raven for a few minutes. We were able to have a good conversation with Samantha and Alexandria, about the things that are important to Grandpa (studying hard, respecting people, etc), and we talked about all the good times we have had together - it was a good talk. Butch watched the football game, and I made some soup in the slow cooker, and apple crisp with fresh apples - I told you, cooking soothes me, plus - I usually make only things I like to eat! He did eat a very small piece of apple crisp, which made me happy. Sharan is flying in from Texas today - Alan will meet her in Syracuse and bring her here. She is going to stay with us for awhile - She has many, many years as a hospice/home health nurse, so she will be invaluable to us, to say nothing of the company for me - I am so grateful. She has been ready to leave for a month - just waiting for me to say the word. Actually, just knowing that - that she was there and ready to leave - has been a comforting thing for me. Alan was coming to visit today anyway (and take the Sunsetter awning down for the winter for us), so I asked him to come (from Ithaca) by way of Syracuse. I believe Mom and Dad will be here for a few minutes today, also.

Saturday was a beautiful afternoon, so we managed to get Butch down to the car, and we went for a ride down Route 26 to Whitney Point. We stopped at the Country Wagon, and I bought us some doughnuts (he didn't eat his - I ate mine!), then we came back Rt. 81. The trees were lovely, and the clouds were outstanding - we saw them take many shapes. Do you remember when we were kids - laying on our backs and looking at the clouds - imagining that they were many different things? I used the apples I bought at the Country Wagon to make that Apple Crisp, as a matter of fact.

The hospice people are very nice, and also very accommodating. They have brought us a wheelchair, in addition to the walker we already have and the oxygen. They (Dr. Gehring) have put Butch on a 24 hour pain medication called MS Contin (morphine), and it works very well for him - he is in NO pain - however, he is very confused from time to time - it causes a lot of trouble, I can tell you. We will use the other medication - the original - for break through pain as it occurs. They are also bringing him some Ativan today (for agitation). They will be bringing in a hospital bed and we will put it in the living room. I will be able to put the sides up to protect him - two nights in a row, he has gotten out of bed in the middle of the night, and he is too weak to manage by himself. The night before that, he fell, and I had a very difficult time getting him up - luckily for us, nothing broke, but it very easily could have. He and I talked and agreed that this is the best route to take. Dr. Gehring is scheduled to make his house call on Wednesday, and we will talk with him then about anything further we need to do to ensure Butch's comfort, and safety.

The other problem we are having is that the alarm is going off on the oxygen condenser - it doesn't shut down, it just goes off - mostly in the middle of the night - kind of a high pitched noise that startles us. They are trying something and - if it doesn't work, they will replace it with another. We do seem to have an inordinate amount of things go wrong, don't we, but - I guess that is just life today. When everything is said and done, we are grateful for all the support - I couldn't do this by myself.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact. - William James

It is a crisp, autumn morning. The temperature is 51 degrees, the sun is coming out, and the leaves are turning, bit by bit. The "Frost is on the pumpkin" . Our lily is still in full bloom, and every time I look out my kitchen window, I see it standing guard in our yard. I love this time of year. I told Butch that I would love to take him for a ride to see the foliage, but, we need to pick a good day - we'll see what happens in the next day or so. They brought the oxygen yesterday , about 5:00, and it is helping him already. We have the compressor here in the computer room (actually, it makes quite a bit of noise), along with hose to reach almost everywhere on this main floor, and they brought some portable tanks for when we go out. Butch was VERY logy yesterday, and I am hoping the oxygen will help him to perk up a bit.

Hospice will be coming Thursday morning to have the papers signed, and begin to take care of us. Butch made the decision on Monday, and we called then and set it up. He recognized that he was failing a bit, and that their services would provide a level of comfort and security that would be very welcome. As I said before, if he improves in the future, he can go off again - the nurse who came last week (Susan) said people go on and off all the time. We are both comfortable with this decision. We will learn more about what to expect on Thursday.

I don't know if I ever told you about the parasites? Well, in researching CC, I discovered that there is a group of people seeking help from the veterans because it seems that Vietnam veterans are getting CC in large numbers, because they ingested parasites from the water supply in Vietnam. The parasites died, but damaged their bile ducts so that now - 30 or 40 years later, they are getting bile duct cancer, which is very rare here, far more common in Vietnam and surrounding countries. Do you know what Butch did in Vietnam? He was a Medical specialist, testing the water supplies for parasites. I have a picture of him, in the Lab there, with the water bottles and equipment - no gloves, nothing. Anyway, I am working on the paperwork to submit to the veterans for a claim. I went to the Owego Veterans on Friday and they are helping me with this. They contacted Buffalo, and have told me what to do to expedite this claim. The thing of it is, the government is aware of this, and they have chosen not to issue some sort of public service announcement to veterans - warning them to get their bile ducts checked. It could have saved Butch's - and how many others - lives, but they have chosen to be silent - you see, if the veterans die, it won't cost them any money (you have to be alive to file a claim), and - the almighty dollar reigns. So, I am going to try to shake things up a bit - at the very least, cause them some trouble!

I am going to make banana bread this morning - actually - blueberry -banana bread. Carolyn gave me a recipe, and it is delicious. I will try to tempt Butch, but - he probably won't eat it. It is the thing that just drives me crazy (well - more crazy than I already am!) about this whole situation. I understand logically that the cancer itself makes people nauseous, and food unappealing (it changes the body chemistry, so that the tastes and smells are different) , but I CAN'T get it through my fat head that he is unable to overcome that, since he knows that his life depends on eating and drinking. He is eating smaller and smaller amounts each day, and it is not enough to sustain him. Even with the bene-calory and the ensure, he probably is not getting over 1200 calories a day. It just drives me to distraction. The nutritionist from home health came out the other day and gave me some suggestions, and I am trying some new foods. I had been trying to tempt him with chocolate, and it turns out that he hates chocolate now! Thursday Carolyn is bringing us a lemon meringue pie - he asked for it, and hopefully, he will eat some. Whenever I feel low, baking always helps - it cheers me up a bit. Problem is, all those calories that Butch needs so bad - I don't need at all!

I thank God every day for the blessings of my life. At least we live in a time when we have the services of hospice available, and so many friends and family to help us through this time . At least today, there is adequate pain medication available so that people don't have to suffer as they did in former days. At least I know that they are working on a cure, and that someday , there will be a world without cancer. Imagine - I still have my parents - what a comfort! I talk to my Mom every day, PLUS I have Mellie, Alex and Sam (uh-oh - I better mention Glenn or I will be in trouble). I have a job I have always loved in which to bury myself when I return to work, and great friends and co-workers (and bosses) there waiting for me. We have our church community holding us up in prayer, and offering friendship. We do feel that we are surrounded by love. Butch and I have had a great marriage, and there are not many regrets here. The 11th of November is our 13th wedding anniversary. And lastly - I can't forget Flashy!

Alex's birthday - slide show