July 29th, 2013

Kathleen died today at 12:40pm in her home, with Jan, her mum, and myself by her bed. Orville and Betty were able to say their goodbyes too. The past few nights were very hard on her physically. She was getting weaker and weaker and the pain was more difficult to control. We were up since about 2am trying to bring her comfort. By 8am, she did start to relax a little more. We had also a bonus 15min of lucidity together at about 8:30. On the TV in the livingroom, I was playing pics from our lives together and she was able to see one with us on a Cuban beach and recognize it. Then she fell asleep until just past noon when she motioned a little, her breathing became irregular and her heart stopped and my heart was ripped in two.
Half of me was relieved she would suffer no more, and the other half was just suffering the loss of my closest friend, and the love of my life.
I am exhausted now, as is Elaine and Jan. We all need to sleep a few days to catch up. I havent really had time to digest and reflect on the day, other than to feel the fog of being elsewhere now. The proverbial cancer bubble has burst for me and I am not sure where I am. On 4hrs sleep in 48, its probably best not to think too much, so I will check in one more time on the blog in a few days.

Although I have many, many pictures of Kathleen, the two I have as wallpaper on my phone are

Of course, I have many, many more at http://goo.gl/8Px5Tf but I like these two a lot for a number of reasons.


Reason #983….

… on the list of why I love Kathleen. She can still share a laugh even in the shittiest situations. Last night was a constant barrage of nausea and vomiting… Often it would just be a deep burp, but you never knew. The PSW and I were sitting on either side of the bed, somewhat anxiously waiting for the next time…. Barf or Belch? Then, cutting through the quiet like a bull in a china shop, Orville on the couch let out 3 seconds of “BUURRRRRRRRRRPPPPP“. We turned in awe at the shear volume of it and Kathleen said, “Excuuuuuse me!” All three of us just laughed and laughed.

Belching Dog

In the continuing shell game of symptoms, the vomiting was better controlled this morning. She had a bit of challenge swallowing and keeping her heartburn med down, but eventually managed to. The doctor found some sublingual versions that will allow her to just metabolize it in her mouth and not have to worry about swallowing. But then the horrible back pain returned. Our friend Jan had to use every trick in the book to get her comfortable and now has been sleeping since 11am.

Sometimes it feels like some terrible Greek fable where the central character has to pick 3 afflictions from a list to endure. Not like there are “nice things” on the list.

Profound Fatigue
Constant Nausea
Intractable Pain

Pick three. But when its just physical, her presence of mind is quite amazing. Last night was like that. She was tired, she was barfing up any bit of water she would swallow and in some abdominal pain…. Yet she could still laugh a little, and still try and enjoy a few more moments together.


Not Awake, not Sleeping

Its been hard, but we are managing so far. I havent had much of an inspiration to write on the blog as things in many ways have not changed much. They are still headed to their inevitable conclusion and symptoms that now arise are just part of that. When that is, is hard to guess. Soon. Kathleen continues to get weaker and weaker. She hasnt eaten anything for some time. Even now, swallowing sips of water is difficult and speaking is very laboured for her.

To further complicate matters, Kath has been very frightened at night. They call it “sunsetting”… Things get worse at night. She will often wake up and not recognize the PSW and be afraid and confused. So with the help of our good friend Jan and her mum, we will be with her to keep her comfortable and feeling safe. I am on night shift tonight. Perhaps once or twice an hour, she will talk aloud about the dream state that she is in for a few sentences, look at me and then go back to a place where we are not. She is not really sleeping, but not really awake either. Somewhere between.


Hospice at Home

So far we are making a go of it at home and havent yet had to think about hospice or hospital care. Kath is at a stage where she is really loosing muscle and fat. She sleeps a great deal, but when she is a awake, she is pretty foggy and weak. Occasionally, the feisty Kathleen we know and love pokes through. When her mum and sister and I were trying to understand her, we had to keep asking her to repeat what she said. Finally, in exasperation she ‘yelled’, “I have 3 deaf people looking after me!” We all laughed, even Kathleen a little. But those moments are fewer now as she slips away from us.
As she now has a hard time swallowing pills, its a little more difficult to control her back/hip pain. Also there is a lot of diarrhea to contend with. On the plus side, we found a massage therapist who works with lymphodema patients in the home. This has managed to reduce the swelling in her legs a decent amount in order to bring some relief.
Her sister Mel, is with us a few more days. She has been a great source of love and practical help for us all
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A better day for Kathleen. She is still sleeping a great deal, but a little less. She had some trouble with nausea and vomiting for the last couple of days but its better under control now with a new / old drug. She had a few bites of pasta and had a craving for a ice-cream Sunday. Elaine zipped out and got her one.
Lots of visitors today with the room packed a few times. Even when she fell asleep, she had a smile on her face. Thanks to all who came by. It really was a satisfying meal for her spirit!

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